Rollin’ Out

I decided I wanted to talk about food for a minute, since – you know – this is a food blog and all. I’ll get to Chapter 6 in a few, and I LOVE keeping people in suspense.

But I keep seeing this huge bag of carrots in my fridge every time I open it, and as a result I can’t stop thinking about this ravioli.

I bought the pasta attachment for my KitchenAid, aka best wedding present ever, quite a few months ago. I used it once, and the pasta got all stuck in the roller section, an floury-eggy mess crusting up all over the place. After trying my damndest to clean it, I finally realized that the particular roller I had was a dud, and so I sent that sucker back and days later, a shiny new attachment showed up at my doorstep.

That one sat in the closet for a few months.

But sometime before Christmas, I kept looking at all the carrots in my fridge (I always seem to have a bag-full, thanks be to the CSA shares that are thankfully almost finished!) and I couldn’t stop thinking about a ravioli recipe I’d clipped. I’d bought the semolina flour weeks ago in anticipation of making pasta again and finally, I decided I could wait no more. Plus, I had some ricotta cheese on the verge of ruin, so the ingredients were there waiting for me.

It’s actually a fun little process, this making ravioli thing. But then again, I get all sorts of excited about making things from scratch, so this is no surprise, right? I can’t put my finger on it, but a certain feeling of pride sweeps up inside you when you can start with a few eggs, some flour, and a little salt, and end up with thin, beautiful strands of dough. And when the dough gets cut into the cutest little circles and loaded with a filling that’s probably good enough to eat by the spoonful, it’s definitely enough to make you sit back and grin about it.

Roasted Carrot & Ricotta Ravioli
Adapted from Food & Wine, October 2010; makes 40

time commitment: 1 – 1.5 hours

printable version

ingredients
filling
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks (3/4 pound)
1 T olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 t unsalted butter
1 T minced shallot
1 T half and half
5 ounces ricotta cheese (~1/2 c)
6 T freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 large egg yolk

ravioli
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 tablespoon semolina flour, plus more for dusting
3 extra-large eggs
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

sauce to serve with (tomato, melted butter/cheese, etc)

special equipment: pasta machine, either hand-cranked or a KitchenAid attachment; 2 1/2″ cookie cutter

instructions
Preheat oven to 400 F.

Prepare the dough. In a food processor, pulse the flour with the salt, nutmeg and the 1 tablespoon of semolina. Add the eggs and pulse until incorporated. With the machine on, add the olive oil in a thin stream and process just until moistened crumbs form. Turn the crumbs out onto a semolina-dusted work surface and knead just until a smooth dough forms. Wrap the dough in plastic and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, roast the filling: In a baking dish, toss the carrots with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cover with foil and bake for about 30 minutes, until tender and lightly browned. Let cool slightly.

In a small skillet, melt the butter. Add the shallot and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 3 minutes.

In a food processor, combine the carrots, shallot and cream and puree until smooth. Transfer the puree to a bowl. Stir in the ricotta, Parmigiano and nutmeg and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the egg yolk.

Make the ravioli: Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces and cover with plastic wrap. Work with 1 piece at a time: Flatten the dough into a 5-by-4-inch oval, about 1/2 inch thick. Dust lightly with semolina. Roll the dough through a pasta machine at the widest setting. Fold the dough in thirds (like a letter), then run it through the machine at the same setting, folded edge first. Repeat the folding and rolling once more. Roll the dough through at successively narrower settings, two times per setting, until it is thin enough for you to see the outline of your hand through it. Lay the dough out on a work surface lightly dusted with semolina.

Brush any semolina off the dough. On half of the dough, spoon 10 1-teaspoon mounds of filling in two rows of 5, spacing apart by about 2 inches. Cover with the other half of the dough and press down gently to get rid of any air. Using a 2 1/2″ cookie cutter, cut out 10 ravioli. Using the tines of a fork, seal all the way around each circle, and place ravioli on a large rimmed baking sheet lightly dusted with semolina. Repeat with the remaining pasta dough and filling.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook half of the ravioli over high heat until al dente, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the ravioli to a platter. Repeat with the remaining ravioli and serve. (Ravioli, uncooked, can be frozen at least a month in advance. Freeze them individually on a baking sheet, then toss them into a bag together until needed.)

Serve with warmed tomato sauce, or some melted butter & cheese. Or with the sauce of your liking :).

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Fashionably Late Party Tricks

edamame wontons

One. More. Day. I’m slowly trudging through one nightmare of a week. Things would be much better around these parts if the threat of impending snow wasn’t littered through the morning news, if the construction crew across Michigan Ave could take a few days off (just for me – why is that so impossible to arrange?), if some youngin’ didn’t hit me (well, not me, my car) while we were trying to park for the Weezer show, or if I weren’t forcing myself to eat like a rabbit all week. Yeah, a rabbit. I suppose rabbits don’t eat lean cuisines, but either way I’ve found myself nibbling every little morsel of food with the ferocity of those little critters – making sure I’m tasting each and every bite, because let’s be honest – there aren’t many bites in those lil’ boxes.

edamame

So let’s recap – I’m hungry. I want to bake some cookies or make fudge or maybe even another loaf of pumpkin cranberry bread. Shoot – give me cassoulet or chili – something warm and hearty and I’d shut the hell up. But as I remind myself that the week is almost over and it’s almost time for me to reward myself with some of the above, I also remind myself that I don’t want to buy a new wardrobe because my pants stopped fitting. Or because I busted through them. That wouldn’t be pretty. No sir.

wonton step1

Shoot – I’d wrestle a kitten for those pretzels I made the other day. And yes, the freezer stash was also among the casualties this past weekend. But in making those pretzels, eating them and then re-eating them this past weekend, I reminded myself just how much I love appetizers, and I definitely don’t make enough of them. Truth be told, even the ones I make somehow never make their debut here, and that’s a cryin’ shame. Well, for you it is. I get to eat them either way.

wonton step2



But I do occasionally make appetizers. Especially when we have company, as they’re sure to impress. Like these little morsels of delight. Aren’t they just the cutest? Little nibbly pretty envelopes of edamame, so cute I could pinch them in two. I made these in September, and I forgot about them. Can you believe this?! But thankfully, I remembered – partially due to my self-induced hunger and the need to continue that torture by perusing all of my old food photos. But also thanks to the pretzels for reminding me how heavenly appetizers can be. Better late than never, right?

wonton step3

 

So, thank you pretzels. Thank you, edamame and your salty, toasty dipping sauce. Thank you week for almost being over so that I can make more appetizers and cookies. The question is, what do I make?

wonton step4

 

Edamame & Ginger Wonton Ravioli with Soy Sesame Dipping Sauce
Serves 4, makes about 32 wontons

 

printable recipe

Ok, so first I’ll apologize for being late on sharing this recipe. I should have, but I was a little bit more excited about finishing culinary school – my bad! But, this should not keep you from making this for an upcoming party, as they are sure to dazzle your guests. Plus, they taste good! Who doesn’t love edamame, right? And the dipping sauce? drinkable..

 

ingredients
wonton ravioli
2 2/3 c shelled edamame
2 T coarsely chopped ginger
1/4 c chopped cilantro
1 garlic clove
1 t fresh  lime juice
salt & pepper to taste
About 32 dumpling or wonton wrappers

dipping sauce
1/4 c soy sauce
1/4 c rice wine vinegar
1 t chopped garlic
1 t chopped ginger
1 t chopped scallions
1 t toasted sesame oil
1/2 t honey

instructions
puree edamame in food processor; add in ginger, cilantro, garlic clove and lime juice. season with salt and pepper, to taste. add more lime juice if mixture appears too dry.

place ~1 rounded t of mixture in the center of each wrapper. brush wonton lightly with water to moisten. fold one corner of wrapper onto other corner, making a triangle shape. fold all three sides of triangle inward to make an envelope. keep wontons folded as they’re being made so as not to dry up.

meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil. boil in 2 batches until tender, about 2-3 minutes each. remove with slotted spoon.

whisk together ingredients for dipping sauce.