This year for Valentine’s Day I decided to honor my (hot) wife’s Lebanese heritage and cook a middle eastern inspired dish. Given my recent pasta obsession I decided to pull a stuffed pasta recipe from the Vetri book and fill it with a mediterranean dip known as muhammara. I delved into my favorite cook book from last year: Maureen Abood’s Rose Water & Orange Blossoms.
The book contains a wealth of wonderful recipes, we used it more than any other book in 2017. The recipe for Muhammara dip became one of our go to recipes – the dip is made primarily of roasted red bell peppers, walnuts, and pomegranate molasses. It is wonderful used as a spread or as a dip with sliced veggies and pita.
After getting the dip spiced appropriately I added some parmigiano reggiano and an egg. Oliver dived into the kitchen with me to help – when he found out this was Mom’s special Valentine’s Day dinner he was very eager to help.
After rolling out the dough we pipped columns of muhammara onto the sheets.
We lightly misted the dough with water to keep it from drying out and to help create a good seal. Oliver used his fingers to press the dough in between the filling, then used a fluted cutting wheel to cut between the columns.
While Oliver was tackling the pasta I braised/cooked a lamb shoulder with the instant pot … in about 30 minutes. I love the instant pot!
Although I’d like to say I served Sarai this dish and had the best Valentine’s Day ever (wink-wink) I got called to the hospital for a laboring patient .. for 5 1/2 hours. By the time I got back home it was midnight and everyone was asleep. It was also a crazy day because Catalina got sick and missed her Valentine’s Day party at school. The good thing about ravioli is that it can be frozen for up to 2 weeks and taken directly from the freezer to boiling water.
To complete the dish the pasta get a quick 3 minute boil and then we plated everything together along with some mint and pine nuts. BAM.
This go around for ravioli I selected a Taleggio cheese ravioli from the Vetri book. Sarai also had the great idea of putting a butternut squash + goat cheese filling in ravioli.
The Taleggio ravioli recipe is very simple – the cheese is a blend of mascarpone, taleggio, and an egg. I used the Eppicotispai brand 36 hole ravioli mold for this recipe – I love how it makes tiny ravioli. If you are looking to buy a ravioli press this is the brand I would go with.
The ravioli press made it easy to churn out a tray full of ravioli. The ravioli is served over radicchio with honey and walnuts.
For Sarai’s butternut squash + goat cheese filling I shaved and roasted about 1/2 of a butternut squash. We combined this in a food processor with about 5 oz of goat cheese. I used a 12 hole ravioli maker for this recipe.
Sarai got pretty good at her pastry bag piping skills.
To serve we sautéed some onions and sage and sprinkled with shaved parmigiano-reggiano. This was heavenly. Our favorite ravioli recipe so far.
In other news Catalina has started horse riding lessons. I’ve decided there is nothing cuter than my 6 year old girl wearing cowboy boots.
Learning the ins and outs of Ravioli has made me appreciate stuffed pasta immensely – the first few tries at using a ravioli stamp ended in wasted pasta, wasted stuffing, and lots of cussing. After a few recipes of making ravioli I’ve learned a great deal, especially about how to best utilize all the different tools for making ravioli.
The first recipe I made is the Ricotta Ravioli recipe from Marc Vetri’s Mastering Pasta. The recipe uses Ricotta impastata which is a form of ricotta that creamier, lower in water, and used for a variety of stuffing applications. Since I can’t find impastata in Lubbock I simply followed Vetri’s advice; you can make impastata by draining normal ricotta through a sieve overnight and then whipping it in a food processor. I used my handkerchief trick that I previously learned to make home-made Labneh and drained the ricotta overnight.
The stuffing for ricotta ravioli seems overly simple – I anticipated bland ravioli. Instead I learned that home made ravioli can be heavenly! The blend is simply ricotta impastata, some salt, a little less black pepper and even a little less fresh-ground nutmeg. Oh, and one egg. The results are astounding.After messing around with the hand stamp I also played with the Norpro ravioli press that Sara got me. Although it worked fairly well it doesn’t support the pasta well and can be a little finicky to work with. I prefer using the Eppicotispai brand ravioli makers which I will get to in a future post.
After a quick boil these ravioli hit the plate with some parmigiano reggiano shaved on top. The creamy filling was indescribably rich and indulgent.
The next recipe we made is a type of hand-rolled pasta using the caramelle shape. The recipe we made used a fig and onion stuffing which I made in the instant pot.
The filling is piped onto squares and hand-rolled into the caramelle shape.
We then boiled and served these on top of a gorgonzola fonduta. Sara thought these were incredible … they were great but I preferred the ricotta ravioli.
Next week I’ll show a few more ravioli recipes and the Eppicotispai brand ravioli makers.
I’ve decided to spend the next few months learning to make pasta. Killer pasta. When I was a resident many years ago at JPS in Fort Worth Sarai and I lived down the street from Nonna Tota, a fabulous made-from-scratch Italian restaurant. The pasta there is a heavenly experience. I’ve wanted to learn ever since.
To that end I purchased Marc Vetri’s Mastering Pasta. Sarai gave me a Marcato Atlas 150 for Christmas along with some other pasta making tools.
I’ve made the basic egg yolk dough on pg 26 a handful of times now. To get a feel for the dough the kids and I made Pici dough as our first recipe. Pici noodles are hand rolled and a labor of love. The kids really enjoyed helping … for about 5 minutes. They enjoyed eating them more.
A week later we moved on to using the roller and making spaghetti.
Catalina is a HUGE fan of helping roll and cut the noodles. We bought some pancetta to make alla carbonara. It’s an art getting the egg sauce right.
And since then we’ve moved on to forming garganelli and farfalle. One thing I’ve found is that pasta always grows in width and length when it’s boiled, so the size you form before cooking needs to be smaller than you anticipate.
Next week I’ll post some Ravioli photos.
Aaron Franklin reports his favorite chunk of BBQ happens to be beef ribs. Not the small beef back rib rack you can find in any grocery store but beef PLATE ribs that come from the underside of the cow. These ribs are enormous, they look like dinosaur ribs. The ribs have incredibly marbled meat that sits on top of the ribs.
I found these at Red Raider Meats last week. They are very easy to cook – rub with kosher salt and pepper, smoke at 285 until done.
There’s almost no trimming necessary, no need to wrap in foil and all that mess. Just smoke em’ till they’re done.
I got my 6 pound rack started on the smoker at 9 in the morning, they were done right at 5 o’clock.
I let them rest for 30 and cut into them, not that you needed a knife. Seriously – these things were soft. The flavor is pretty good although I don’t think this is my favorite cut of BBQ. They meat tastes like pot roast but with twice the flavor and 4 times the softness. You can literally put a finger into the meat and pinch out a chunk. Even Catalina liked them:
For Christmas this year I received a wok and a cookbook about chinese cuisine called: Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking.
The wok is a 14-inch carbon-steel model that needed to be seasoned before use. I followed the instructions on the wok by first scrubbing the hell out of it with a scouring pad to remove the store coating that is meant to prevent rust.
After scrubbing off the coating I heated the wok of the stove on high heat and applied/removed many layers of oil.
The resulting ‘patina’ is slick as snot and ready to cook with. I began with trying the most ‘Americanized’ recipe in the entire book: General Tso’s Chicken. I also grabbed a fried rice recipe to use as a side.
The cookbook is full of awesome looking recipes, there is also an extremely helpful section that includes descriptions of ingredients for the book that was indispensable when I went to Lubbock’s finest ‘oriental’ markets to stock up on supplies.
The General Tso’s chicken recipe went together without trouble but looked nothing like the picture … it also didn’t taste like I was expecting. It wasn’t bad, just not what I was looking for. So much for beginner’s luck!
On the other hand the Fried Rice was spectacular!!! The recipe included peas, pineapple chunks, onions and eggs.
Overall not a bad first go with the new wok.