Thursday, February 18, 2010

an Italian wanna be

I've always wanted to be Italian. Well, that or a redhead. Come to think of it, my life would pretty much be perfect if I were an Italian redhead.

Anyhow, sometimes I like to pretend I'm Italian (we're not too keen on reality here). Last night was one of those times. We got a full pound of cremini mushrooms, about 4 lbs of fresh roma tomatoes and a bunch of fresh Italian herbs from our produce co-op last Saturday, so I channeled my inner Italian Food Diva and made some mushroom ravioli while I danced around the kitchen singing along to Rosemary Clooney's Mambo Italiano.

Imagine diced fresh mushrooms with garlic and a little fresh thyme sauteed in butter, sprinkled generously with parmesan cheese, all enveloped in tender homemade pasta and topped with a fresh tomato and herb sauce. This isn't quick cooking by any means, but it's very pleasant work and not difficult.

It was la vita dolce, baby.

My homemade pasta recipe:

2 cups bread flour (semolina is best, but this works)
1 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 T. water

You can do this by hand or in a standing mixer. Combine the salt and flour, and then make a well in the center for the eggs and water. Knead it all together until you have a firm, smooth dough. The dough shouldn't be sticky.

Let the dough rest 15-30 minutes. This is the most important step of the process. As the dough rests, it softens and becomes pliable enough that it can be rolled thin. If you skip or try to rush this step, you'll end up with dough that's impossible to work with. Roll into thin sheets and dot with your filling. This video helps make sense of the process (scroll down; the video's at the bottom of the page).

By the way, you don't actually need a pasta maker for ravioli-- you can use rolling pin in a pinch (just roll the dough as thin as you possibly can). You'll end up with ravioli that's a little on the thick side, but still very tasty. Or if that's too much of a bother, frozen won ton wrappers work well. I still want a pasta maker though. This one, to be exact.

And finally, a little cooking music.

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...Erin Woodward... said...

I am impressed! Your ravioli looks SO good. I have never liked ravioli but I suspect that is because I have only had it out of a can.

I have that (or an identical looking) pasta maker. I rarely use it though. I should change that...

Angie said...

You write beautifully. Your stuff should be published in a magazine or something.
I listened to your entire playlist and LOVED it! Especially the Mombo Italiana one at the start. Too fun!

Britney said...

A) So funny. I have always wanted to be Italian too -- either that or have an Italian mother-in-law.

B) I LOVE mushrooms and I LOVE ravioli. Sounds so good right now!!!!

C) I love Rosemary Clooney

D) I have a pasta machine you are welcome to borrow anytime.

Steph said...

@Erin~ You've got to try homemade ravioli sometime. I'm pretty sure it will change your mind. Ricotta cheese is a great filling if you're mushroom-averse.

@Angie~ As I was writing this post, I was actually thinking you might like it. It sounds like something we'd have done in college. Probably much to the annoyance of Jill.

@Britney~ I am SO going to borrow your pasta machine!