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When I started my retirement travels - the first of which was my solo overseas trip to Italy in 2009 - I wanted a way to share it with family and friends as it happened. Hence, "My Travel Journal". However I realized I wouldn't always be on a trip and wondered what to do with the blog in between times. My daughter pointed out, wisely, that travels can also include trips to the kitchen to try a new recipe, trips to visit family, trips to my neighborhood Starbucks, or a fun day trip with a friend. You're welcome to join me on any of these journeys!

P.S. I've set up separate pages for each of my major trips (see tabs above).

I recently added an "Italian Word a Day" thingie which shows up at the bottom of every page. You see the word and can click to hear it pronounced. I've been enjoying it and I think my accent is improving as time goes by.

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March 01, 2010

Ravioli Report #1

Finally worked up the nerve yesterday to try making my first batch of ravioli.  I don't know why I get so intimidated every time there's something new waiting for me to try.  I remember when I built my first dollhouse, it took me about a year and a half just to get the kit out of the box!!  And, then it was only because Chris was visiting and I asked him to help me get just the foundation set up.  And then every step along the way to completion, I would have to stop work and read and cogitate and do some self-doubting, etc.  When it came time to electrify the house, work shut down for probably around three months!

At any rate, last night I got started and strangely enough decided to make the more complicated pumpkin-filled ravioli recipe I had earmarked.  With this one, you add minced cilantro to the pasta dough and the filling is a mixture of the pumpkin, ricotta cheese, minced sun-dried tomatoes, roasted garlic and fresh ground black pepper.  I made the dough first and it went surprisingly well.  The recipe said to make it in a food processor (which I don't have),  and it also said to use two eggs to a scant one cup of flour which I couldn't bring myself to do.  But I decided I would try using my little mini mincer thing that works like a processor and see what happened.  So I put in half a cup of flour, one jumbo egg, the cilantro and some salt and processed that.  It seemed pretty dry and I was supposed to be adding another half cup of flour or thereabouts, so I added a little water and processed again.  Now, I had a fairly glutinous bunch of stuff.  I decided to not add any more flour in the mincer and instead, dumped out about a quarter cup of flour on the counter, scooped out my glop onto that and dumped another quarter cup flour on top and just started digging in.  It was quite a sticky, messy, mess but I kept at it and finally ended up with quite a lovely dough which I kneaded and kneaded.  I was pleased because I think I'm learning not to worry - just keep messing around in it and it finally turns into dough.  Here's a picture of the dough "resting".

While it was resting, I made the filling.  Discovered I didn't have any decent garlic (what I had was fairly old), but I roasted some anyway and tried to mash it up.  Aside from making a fairly big mess and having what seemed like everything in the fridge out on my counters, the filling went together easily enough.  I took a picture before I mixed it showing the separate ingredients.

Now it was time to roll out the dough.  I wasn't real sure how well that would work with the cilantro in there since I still have memories of my "stretched" basil pasta, but it went very well.  I took it all the way to the thinnest setting with no tears or anything.  I only did one half of the dough but that turned out to make 8 raviolis which was plenty.  I laid the dough out on my vinyl cloth so I could cut out the rounds without worrying about marking my countertop and here they are.

Then it was time to fill them.  I put what seemed like a good amount on each one (I was folding each circle over rather than putting two together).  When that was done I looked at them and thought "I'll never get those folded over and sealed without everything gooshing out", so then I took a little filling off each one.  Moistened the edge of the circle with water, and folded them over.  It worked and they didn't come apart while cooking, but I think I will definitely get myself one of those two-piece tray thingies that make square ravioli and also make it so you can't put in too much filling.  So here is my finished dinner.

The recipe said to just dress the ravioli in a tablespoon of the oil from the jar of sun-dried tomatoes which I did.

So, after all that, how was it?  Well, it was good enough that I ate it all, but the filling was nowhere near as good as a pumpkin-filled fresh ravioli that I bought once at a Whole Foods store.  And the pasta itself was fine - very soft and delicate.  But again, as with the sage noodles, I couldn't taste the cilantro at all.  I think all the flavor of the herbs must boil away.  So I don't think I'll bother anymore with the extra work of putting herbs in the dough.  And I'm going to try the simpler pumpkin recipe next (which is just pumpkin, parmesan cheese, nutmeg and salt) and am wondering if I should try putting some flour or maybe an egg in the mix.  The pumpkin filling in the ravioli from Whole Foods was relatively firm, whereas this first one I made was quite moist and soft.  And I was going to say I still couldn't get the pasta salty enough but I just remembered - I forgot to add salt to the water!  That's been a problem though.  Some recipes don't even call for salt in the dough and so that's how I started out, but just salting the cooking water isn't enough - it tastes basically like dough.  I don't want it to taste actually salty, but there needs to be enough salt to do whatever salt does to make things taste "right".

In other words, still a work in progress, but I'm gaining confidence about the dough.  Next step - order the ravioli maker, then try the simple pumpkin filling, and someday (this will be one of those three-month or longer courage-building processes) try rolling out the pasta with a rolling pin.  I came across a video in my search for ravioli recipes and it's inspired me. :)  Here's the link:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NkoSY50FUBM.

I'll be posting again when I've done the next batch.  Also, I'm going to be going to New York City the end of this month.  I told my friend Jamie a few weeks ago that I had decided to go while Chris is still working up there (with an apartment across the street from Rockefeller Plaza!!) and she said she wanted to go.  I never thought she'd do it, but she is, and I'm really looking forward to it.  We'll drive over to Virginia/Maryland, spend the night there, and then take the train to NYC (courtesy of Chris's Amtrak miles).  Poor Jamie has to take the train back to Huntington on Sunday and that's a 14 hour trip (if you're lucky!)  But being retired (nasty little smile here), I'll stay however much longer I decide to stay.  So there will be reports on that also.


January said...

Sounds (and looks) delicious! I bet, though, that the simpler one will be even better. Your ravioli sure do look official, though - good job!

Mary Lynne said...

Thanks, January. It was good - don't know if I'd go so far as delicious. For one thing, the oil as a dressing was kind of a loss - as far as I could tell, it had no flavor. I hope on the simple one, my sage butter has some flavor...

vrmichie said...

Maybe they add cilantro or sage because it looks so pretty but I agree that if you can't taste it, why bother. And I agree that the simpler pumpkin mix might taste better -- more pumpkiny if nothing else and maybe the parmesan would help thicken it. Sure am jealous of your NY trip but hope you have lots of fun -- it will be nice to have Jamie to go around with during the day.

Christopher said...

Looks like store-bought pasta, so you must be doing everything right! And I think at this stage in your journey (life, cooking, pasta machines, fondu pots, etc.) you can move directly onto the next phase without a few weeks of needless worry... ;) Jump in with both feet!

Christopher said...

PS--Last night I watched the youtube video link you provided in this post---really neat story and demo! That's a serious rolling pin, and a massive countertop!

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