Monday, June 21, 2010

Ghosts of Pasta Past


The first and last time I made pasta was about eight years ago.
I can't remember the finer details, as I've tried to block the traumatics out of my memory, but I'm presuming I was on school holidays and needed something to occupy myself with. I don't really like sitting still, you see.

So on that day I got out my Jamie Oliver book flipped to the pasta section and read and re-read the pasta dough recipe. I'd seen him to do it 100 times on TV with complete success, although admittedly he did become a little sweaty in the process. I had studied him intentely. And so I got the ingredients out, and set them nicely out on the benchtop. I rolled up my sleeves. I put on an apron. I was prepared.

The next few hours, (...yes hours) was a blur of rolling, kneading, cranking and pulling. In the end, I somehow produced what I thought to be taglietelle at the time. Although mishapen and sporadic in size, I had made my first batch of pasta.

Now, to accompany this I decided a nice beef stoganoff sauce would do the trick. I knew my family liked the dish so I'd hoped I was onto a winner.
By now it was beginning to get dark and no-one was home yet from their various weekend activites. Not to matter, I got the steamy sauce ready and carefully boiled my pasta. I assembled the meal onto six plates.

And then I waited.

And waited.

And then after waiting no more, ate the meal, all by myself.

And so the moral of this short story is: if you're going to spend all day making pasta, be sure your family, or generally pretty much just anyone will be there to have some too otherwise it makes the effort seem worthless. And don't wear ugg boots during this process as flour is hard to get out of fake suede.

Which brings me to today, when I faced my demons and decided to make pasta for the second time. Things are still a little shakey, but it was certainly a more pleasant experience than last time....


Pasta Dough
(from Jamie's Italy)

600g '00' flour
6 large eggs

Put the flour in a bowl and create a well in the centre. Crack the eggs into the well and with a fork start to break the egg yolks up while pulling in the flour from the outer circle. Keep mixing with the fork until eggs are incorporated. Pour the dough out onto a clean, floured benchtop and start to knead quite enthusiastically until the dough is soft, smooth, and elastic with no bumps (you may need to add an extra egg yolk or two to get to this consistency). This can take about 5 minutes. Roll the dough into a ball and wrap in gladwrap to put in fridge to rest for an hour or so.

Pumpkin and Goats Cheese Ravioli with Walnuts


For the filling:
600g pumpkin cut into small chunks
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
2 tsp olive oil
120g goats cheese, crumbled into small chunks, set aside

For the ravioli sauce:
1 bunch watercress, stalks discarded (or use spinach)
Few stalks of lemonthyme (optional)
3 gloves of garlic, thinly sliced
3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
2 tbs chopped walnuts
1 tbs lemon juice
Salt and pepper

To make the filling, put the cut up pumpkin pieces in a baking dish, and drizzle with oil.
Crush corianer seeds, fennel seeds and chilli flakes with salt and pepper in a mortar and pestle. Sprinkle this mixture over the pumpkin. Cover the pumpkin with a piece of damp baking paper, like a blanket and bake in a hot oven (200 degrees celsius) for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, take the baking paper off and turn the oven down to 140 to bake for a further 15 minutes. When cooked through and soft, remove from oven and cool slightly.
Once cooled, mash the pumpking into a somewhat chunky mash.


Now comes the trickier part - rolling the dough to make the pasta. I recommend using a pasta machine because unless you are popeye it takes quite a lot of effort to do it with just a rolling pin.
Cut the dough into even smaller sections, I got about 6 out of my ball. Grab one section and lightly roll out with a rolling pin. Make sure you have a floured benchtop and keep flouring the dough as it gets thinner because it can stick together very easy. Push the section through the largest setting on your pasta machine (1) and then flour the dough. Push the dough through the 2nd setting on your machine, and then flour the dough before pushing it through 3, 4, 5, 6, and then to the thinnest setting, 7.

When all 6 are completed you should have 6 long ribbons of dough, about 1m long and around 10cm wide. Get one ribbon and add a teaspoon of the pumpkin mixture in the centre of the strip. Add a small chunk of the goats cheese ontop of the pumpkin. Repeat this step all the way along the strip of pasta, with about 2.5cm between each filling. Now with a pastry brush, lightly brush warm water around the edges of the strip and between each filling. Taking another ribbon, carefully lay the pasta ontop of this, being careful to line the edges up and push out any air sockets. Presh the two sheets together in a cupping action around the filling to create the ravioli. When the sides are firmly sealed, cut the strip up to make the individual ravioli. Make sure there are no holes in the pasta and that the sides are firmly sealed, otherwise the filling will seep out when cooked. Repeat until all pasta and filling is used up.


Now's the time get the pasta sauce going. Add the oil to a medium heat pan with the garlic slices and lightly fry off, but be careful not to burn them. Add the walnuts, watercress, lemon juice, salt and pepper and nutmeg. Keep the sauce warm while cooking the ravioli.

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add 4/5 ravioli at a time, cooking for about 4 minutes. Remove the ravioli with a slotted spoon and add directly to the pan with the pasta sauce (keep the heat on very low). Repeat until all ravioli is cooked and added to the sauce pan.

Serve with shaved parmesan, a side salad of rocket, and a nice sourdough baguette.

1 comment:

  1. I knew where this story was were truly traumatised weren't you chookin?
    Well this blog is looking mighty fine. Liking the photos! Anon xx