Wednesday, January 9, 2013

christmas pasta

my sweet sisters-in-law gave me the kitchenaid pasta roller attachment for christmas! phil's aunt gave us the mixer as a wedding present and it has been the greatest. i use it all the time, but the greatest gift is that every time i use it, i think of aunt pam : ) so i'm looking forward to thinking of catherine and leslie whenever i make my own pasta. the gift was from their entire families, but if they're anything like my little family, the wives are the ones in charge of gift-buying : )

after spending time with phil's family, we drove out to west texas to stay with my sister. she and her husband just had a precious baby boy, so it was easier for us to come to them to celebrate christmas this year. and sarah got a mixer as a christmas present! we decided to play with the pasta roller one afternoon as tiny baby everett napped. and i decided to do a post about it, in the spirit of one of my favorite blogs, citrus & spice!

i've never made fresh pasta, so i did a little searching for a recipe and found this helpful thread on chowhound. we used the "poor man's pasta" recipe suggested in one of the posts:

2 cups flour
2 eggs
3 tablespoons water
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 pinches of sea salt (i added this - i love salt!)

then we mixed it in the kitchenaid with the flat beater just until the motor started to struggle - it's a strong dough! then i turned it out onto a floured cutting board and kneaded for about 4-5 minutes. the dough turned smooth and elastic. then i let it rest about 30 minutes in the bowl (most recipes suggested this period to let the gluten "relax").

next, i divided it into small pieces and turned on the mixer with the roller attachment. i set the roller to its widest attachment (the 1 setting) and rolled the piece through. i folded it in half and rolled it through again - i did this about three or four times before turning it to the 2 setting. i passed the dough through on 2 a couple of times and then on 3. i left the dough fairly thick (the roller goes to 8!) because i was nervous about the filling coming out of the really thin dough.

i set each rolled out piece on wax paper to wait for the filling. i *should* have floured the wax paper. lesson learned.

i mixed up some filling based on this recipe. i altered it for our tastes and the amount of dough i had made:

1 egg
1 1/2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons italian seasoning
salt and pepper

i would have used fresh herbs, but my sister's garden is in winter mode. next time, i will add much more seasoning. first, i brushed an eggwash (just quickly whisk one egg) over the dough strips, to help create a seal when i made the little purses. i spooned globs of filling onto the sheet at regular intervals and then laid another eggwashed sheet on top. i cut in between each filling pocket and sealed each ravioli. kind of ugly, and too large.

i changed my strategy. since i didn't have a ravioli cutter (or the patience to do it perfectly), i had irregularly shaped dough sheets. they weren't matching up and i had a lot of weird edges. so i put a glob  of filling on one side of the pasta sheet, cut it into wide strips, and folded over to create my ravioli. i like these better! we had some leftover chopped mushroom from making quiche the day before, so i sprinkled some of that into a few of the ravioli.

i took each completed ravioli and pinched the edges together. it took awhile to find my groove in the correct filling amount - i tended to overfill and then make a mess when pinching edges. i separated the ravioli and dusted them with flour. i let them air-dry for about 45 minutes, then put them into containers for the fridge.

at dinner time, i boiled a pot of water with olive oil and salt. the ravioli stuck together in the containers, so next time i may try individually freezing on a cookie sheet (kind of like i did here) and then transferring into the container. hopefully, that would solve the sticking issue. anyway, i boiled them in an uncrowded pot until they started to float (about 4 minutes, max, since they were used the same day - i assume longer if straight from the freezer). i used a slotted spoon to put them in AND take them out of the water. they didn't all burst!! i was shocked. they seemed so fragile.

we didn't have any home-made sauce, so after the ravioli were done cooking (it took several batches), i poured out most of the pasta water. i kept a bit in the pot and added store-bought marinara, olive oil, and seasoning. i heated it through and then poured it over the ravioli and sprinkled freshly grated parmesan. seriously, i do NOT understand people using the already grated parmesan. i know i'm a snob, but yuck. it's like using minced garlic in a jar. the taste is different to me. is it really that hard to use a little zester over your finished plate? a block of parm will keep in your fridge FOREVER.

anyway, successful experiment!

i found a lot of good resources in my googling. did you know that ravioli is a typical christmas food for italian and italian-american families? i did not - i'm so timely : ) this post is incredibly detailed and helpful for the pasta rolling process. i looked through these photos on making the ravioli. i'm excited to keep trying and experimenting; i want to stock up my freezer with all kinds of ravioli! next try: whole wheat pasta and veggie filling.

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