Tuesday, February 2, 2010

It's a Pasta Thing!

I enjoy learning new cooking techniques and last year I decided that I was going to learn how to make pasta. I did try, rather unsuccessfully to make it by hand, i.e., sans a pasta maker, and didn't do too well.  It was well, a bit thick and tough.  I decided then that it would probably be best if I invested in a pasta machine.

Working at the Viking Store has it's perks and one of them is a very nice employee discount.  So in November, when we got an additional percent off, I told the husband that he was going Christmas shopping for me.  Off we went to the store and "he" bought me several Christmas presents, to include an Atlas pasta maker.  I have used it a couple of time since then and each time I am getting better.  I am learning the nuances of adding flavorings to the dough and the effect it has on the consistency.

Last Friday afternoon I was debating what to prepare for the Pantry Challenge when I spied a brick of cream cheese, a little bit of basil, four mushrooms, and a handful of sun-dried tomatoes so I decided I'd make sun-dried tomato ravioli stuffed with cream cheese, Parmesan, sautéed mushrooms and garlic and basil.  I was very excited!

Making pasta dough is a breeze with a food processor.  Yes, I know that traditionalist would make it by hand but I'm just not there yet. It's much too easy to throw the ingredients in threw work bowl and hit run.  Here's my basic pasta dough recipe.  See the note at the bottom of recipe about adding flavorings.

Basic Pasta Dough

3 large eggs
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oils
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
1 teaspoon kosher salt or 1/2 teaspoon fine salt

1. In the work bowl of a food processor, pulse the eggs and oil to combine. In a small bowl, stir together to flour and salt.  With the machine running, add the flour through the feed tube. Process until the mixture holds together or forms a ball. (If the dough is too dry, add few drops of warm water and process briefly.  If the dough is too sticky remove it from the processor and knead it with just enough flour to make it smooth and elastic.

2. Remove the dough from the work bowl and cover with plastic wrap; let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes at room temperature.

3. Cut the pasta dough into fourths.  Wrap three pf the pieces in plastic wrap; set aside until needed.  Flatten the remaining piece into a rectangle, approximately the same width as the pasta machine rollers.  Adjust the pasta machine rollers to their widest setting. 

4. Roll the rectangle  of pasta through the rollers one time. Then, fold the rectangle into thirds and dust with a little flour. Feed it through the rollers 6 to 8 more times, folding the dough into thirds each time, dusting with flour, if necessary to keep from sticking.  Tighten the rollers of the pasta machine one notch, and feed the dough through the rollers without folding. Continue to feed dough through the rollers without folding, tightening rollers one notch each time, until the pasta is the desired thickness.  Repeat the rolling process with the remaining three pieces of dough.  Allow the pasta sheets to dry for 5 minutes before cutting, shaping or filling.

NOTE:  Add flavoring in with the egg in place of the olive oil.  Roasted red pepper, spinach and sun-dried tomato are examples of great flavorings for pasta.



        

Here's my stuffing recipe, such that it is!

Cream Cheese Ravioli Stuffing

1 8-ounce block cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup mushrooms, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh basil, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

Put softened cream cheese in the work bowl of a food processor.  Pulse until smooth.  Add Parmesan cheese and pulse until blended.

In a small sauté pan, heat olive oil over a medium heat.  Add minced garlic and stir for a minute or so.  Add mushrooms and continue to cook for 5 - 7 minutes.  Remove from heat and cool.

Add garlic/mushroom mixture to the cream cheese mixture. Stir until blended.  Add basil and salt and pepper. Blend well.

Fill each ravioli with 1 tablespoon of stuffing. (If making small ravioli, use 1 teaspoon.)





To cook the ravioli, bring 2 quarts of water to a rapid boil in a large stock pot (or pasta pot); add a generous amount of salt to the boiling water.  Drop the ravioli in one at a time.  Gently stir to separate if sticking together.  Cook for 3-4 minutes for small ravioli and 5-6 for larger ones.  Ravioli are generally cooked when rise to the top of the water.  Drain and top with your favorite sauce.  I've included a simple brown butter recipe.

                                                     

Brown Butter

Heat a small sauté pan over medium heat; add butter and melt. Cook just until the butter begins to brown.  Remove from heat immediately. Serve over ravioli. 




Pasta making is not as hard as it appears.  It does take a bit of practice and understanding of how the dough changes when flavorings are added, but if I can succeed at it so can you!






1 comment:

  1. These ravs look so good. And you made it look easy enough. Now I'm annoyed at myself because I gave away the Atlas pasta roller that sat unused in my cabinet.

    ReplyDelete