Saturday, January 26, 2013


In the last two weeks I have made pasta three times - once rolled out by hand and twice with a hand cranked pasta machine.

I had NO IDEA how easy it is to do, and now I think I am addicted!

I used Jamie Oliver's recipe from his Naked Chef cookbook which has well written and easy to follow directions that are accompanied by great illustrative photos.

After trying it by hand and succeeding, I decided to be bold and make roasted squash ravioli for my book club!

First, I roasted the squash, skin and all, the night before, making sure it got caramelized.

Then, I whizzed it up with our immersion blender and added freshly ground nutmeg to taste, about a third of a cup of freshly grated Parmesan and an egg and put the whole mixture into a smallish ziplock bag in the fridge.

With the filling done, I set out to roll the pasta dough into thin sheets for the ravioli. This proved to take more time than skill.

The process involves repeatedly putting the dough through the pasta machine, folding it onto itself and then running it through again at a the next smaller setting.

My dough was initially a little wet, so I kept adding flour dusting to it each time I ran it through resulting in more elastic dough. I also cut the pasta into smaller strips as I got to the smaller settings so that the dough was easily manageable. As I got to the desired thickness I placed the finished pieces on cookie sheets that had wax paper on them and sprinkled semolina flour on each layer so the dough did not stick.

Once all of the dough was rolled out I placed the pieces of dough on the counter, used a brush to give it an egg wash, and then piped a small quarter-sized portion of the squash filling onto the dough. Then I folded the dough over itself and sealed the contents in by lightly pinching the dough together and removing any air pockets when possible.

This is the most important step since an improperly sealed ravioli is likely to come undone while cooking.

By the time the gals arrived for book club I have made the ravioli, but still needed to boil them for about a minute and a half and then coat them in melted butter and sage. Lucky for me, my guests are long-time friends and game for waiting a bit for the finished product.

I served the ravioli in batches, so it wasn't long until everyone had a batch of three followed another three.

I did miss the final step, a dusting of Parmesan, which would have rounded out the flavor.

Oh well, not bad for a first go of it!

I had left over pasta dough, so Mark brought home some ragu sauce from Tails & Trotters for Sunday night's dinner. Yum!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

So far, 2013 is shaping up to be a great year.

Okay, I know that we are merely one day in, but today Mark and I got to spend the day together doing things we love to do.

That may not sound like much, but since the opening of the Tails and Trotters shop I don't get to see a lot of him, and when I do, he is either distracted by a large work-related to do list, exhausted or both.

So, a whole day together = awesome.

So, what did we do?

I created two hachiya persimmon jams. One with just the persimmons (about 2.5 cups), juice of 1 lemon, a third of a cup of sugar, and 1 teaspoon each of calcium water and Pamona's quick pectin.

The other had these ingredients and about 1 teaspoon of ground up allspice and about an inch of mashed fresh ginger (I tied the ginger into cheese cloth so I could remove it when I felt the ginger level had reached the right level.

This was the first time I used the Pamona's pectin, and I am pretty excited about it since you can make lower sugar jams with it that really allow the fruit flavor to shine through.

It was also my first experience making persimmon anything, and I have to say YUM!

I also used about a  cup of some apple sauce I made the other day to make an applesauce cake (Joy of Cooking) which is very good. We plan to move it into our regular dessert rotation, so I will freeze 1 cup portions for easy accessibility.

For his part, Mark whipped up steaks with a fabulous wine reduction sauce, green beans with a lemon Dijon sauce and tater tots (yes, tots). Delish!

Yep, so far 2013 is shaping up just fine!

Next on the canning docket? Why, I have some pink grapefruits and I plan to marmalade those bitches up next weekend!

Happy New Year!