Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Years Eve

Hello my fellow food freaks!

New Years Eve I decided to add fresh pasta for dinner to our simple salad and flatbread menu.  It had been a very long time since I broke out the good old Mercato pasta machine.  I picked it up about 15 years ago while stationed in Italy.  My sons and I would spend rainy Sundays making multi colored pastas.  It was great family time. 

What inspired me to bring it out of hibernation was the receipt of a pair of Mario Batali cookbooks for X-Mas and feeling the need to whip up some old school ravioli!

Mario's recipe is very simple all you need is 3 1/2 cups flour and 4 large eggs.  Yes, that is it along with some elbow grease that is.  The pasta machine makes things easier but it's not a must have.

I would add if using a pasta machine start off on setting 1 run your dough through a couple of times after folding it over on itself.  This helps knead the dough as well as get it to the desired thickness.  I rolled the evenings pasta down to 8.  The finished pasta was very light and I decided next time to roll down to around a 5 or a six to give it a more hearty mouth feel.

Here it is rolled to around 5.  Hard to tell between the higher settings but when it's cooked you can really tell.

Here is a sheet rolled to 8.  The dough had been kneaded enough at this point to be very elastic and easy to manage.  REMEMBER:  Lightly flour your work surface before laying sheets down. No I forgot and it made it hard to remove the ravioli from the counter.  Lesson learned!

For the filling I must admit I was conservative with the spice.  I made a classic ricotta and garlic filling by taking a small container of ricotta, fresh ground pepper, salt, garlic and 1 whole egg.  I struggled with the flavor as I like really spicy food and I was cooking for others.  I erred on the side of mellow and it was a mistake.  And here is the reason why.

I truly knew better and I should have left well enough alone.  I made a mushroom and sage sauce by heating salted butter and olive oil in a pan with fresh sage.  I removed the sage leaves and tossed in a generous helping of sliced portabello mushrooms and cooked them down till they released their juices.  It tasted wonderful! All I should have done is toss my cooked raviloi into the pan to coat and finish with parmesan.  BUT NOOOOO!!!

After I boiled them in salted water till al'dente I added Marinara sauce to the original sauce.  Now don't get me wrong the follow up sauce was pretty good but a bit too strong for the ravioi I had made.

My guests assured me that they tasted great but I should have gone with my gut feeling and kept the marinara out of the equation.

As an added treat fresh flatbread was topped with roasted red peppers and fresh mozzarella popped into the oven till the cheese melted into a hot gooey glob of love!

Overall I know I was harder on myself than the guests but it probably would have helped my confidence if I would have done a practice run before hand.

Anyway fun was had by all and I look forward to the next gathering.  What to cook? 

I have an idea!!

Why don't you send me some suggestions!!!

"Chow for Now"



  1. I think you were a little old Italian woman in a previous life. ;) it was delicious!

  2. Come on, Queenie, he doesn't flap his hands about nearly enough to be channeling a little old Italian lady, and I know little old Italian ladies (have the scars to prove it). And I'll bet that mushroom concoction would be great over polenta.

  3. Oh, forgot the suggestion. How about white clam sauce with linguine?