February 29, 2012

Adventures in Ravioli Making

Finally, another blog post. When I was in Florida a few weeks ago, my cousin Jen asked me to start blogging recipes again. I think her basic message was "Your running is cool & inspiring & sh*t... but I miss the recipes. Please post recipes." Ok Jen, here ya go!

I've always wanted to make my own fresh pasta. About 12 years ago, when I lived in Soho, there was this cute little Italian place close by that served amazing fresh pasta. That was before I was gluten free and I ate there at least once a week. So yum. But since I was diagnosed with celiac in July 2003, I haven't had fresh pasta and I've missed it. Every few months over the last few years, I decide I'm going to make it. So I shop around for pasta makers, do the research on gluten free pasta recipes and then my something else gets my attention and it falls to the back of my to do list.

Last month, my fantastic friend Nancy gifted me with a gluten free cookbook as a thank you for being so awesome ;) As I flipped through the pages, a gluten free pasta recipe caught my eye and once again, making fresh pasta was on the top of my list. The recipe seemed really easy and so, there I was, shopping for pasta dough rollers. Then I had a brilliant idea: why not just try the recipe once by rolling out the dough by hand. If I liked it, I would then invest in a quality pasta roller. So that's what I did. And I learned a giant lesson: NEVER roll out pasta by hand. OMG. Seriously. The overall experience of manking my own pasta was both rewarding and hysterical. It went something like this.

I piled the flour on my counter (as instructed in the recipe I'm posting below) and then poured the eggs in the center. But maybe my mound wasn't high enough or I didn't use the right technique to mix in the eggs because the minute I started combining, the eggs poured out in streams and started dripping down my counter. I panicked and using both of my entire hands, and maybe a little chest, started scooping up the eggs and combining into an insanely messy dough. Then I realized I'd probably lost too much liquid, tried to measure how much I might need to add... and put the entire mess in my cuisineart, added another egg and pressed the dough button. Hooray for modern technology! Luckily, I was able to form a successful dough and let it rest to absorb the liquid while I mixed my ravioli filling (I might have forgotten to mention I was making ravioli. Now you know.)

And then it was time to roll the dough... and to roll, and roll, and roll. I spent about an hour rolling just half of the dough, trying to get it as thin as possible. I started sweating, my arms were tired and sore. It was the hardest workout of my week. The entire time I kept thinking, these ravioli better be awesome.

Good news: they were pretty awesome! I texted my friend Melissa, who just happens to live across the street and is also gluten free, a pic of them and within a half hour, she was over to enjoy. I'm happy to report that Melissa agreed that they were pretty good, the flavor was there and that they just needed a bit of finessing. But for my first try, I was pretty excited with the result!

So here's what I learned:
1. It's imporant to open a good bottle of red wine and enjoy a glass or two while you're making the pasta because it makes the whole experience more authentic. Or at least that's the excuse I told myself.
2. Using modern technology isn't cheating. It's necessary for nice Jewish girls like myself who don't have an Italian grandma to show her how to make fresh pasta
3. Rolling out pasta dough on your own is insane. It takes forever and it's pretty difficult to get the pasta thin enough (as you'll see in the last image below). I'll definitely be investing in my pasta roller asap!

And now for the recipe.... I decided to go with my new favorite flavor combo: Ricotta, Pumpkin (or squash), and Sage. My very wonderful, talented, beautiful friend Abbe first introduced me to this combo a few months back and I can't get enough. I even used it in my recent Mac n Cheese recipe! For more incredible pasta recipes, check out Abbe's blog. She's awesome & wonderful.... I know, I repeat myself.

Gluten Free Pasta Dough
adapted from Gluten Free Artisanal Cooking
1 1/4 cups Brown Rice Flour
3/4 cup Sorghum Flour
2/3 cup Cornstarch
1/4 cup Potato Starch
1 tbsp + 1 tsp Potato Flour
3 tsp Xanthan Gum
1 tsp Salt
4 Eggs, beaten

Sift together the flours & the xanthan gum until they are well incoporated. Following your cuisinart instructions for mixing dough, add all the ingredients & well, make the dough. Or, if making the dough the old fashioned way, make a mound of the flour on your work surface with a very deep well in the center. Add the salt & the beaten eggs to the center. Using a finger or two, carefully swirl the eggs around, incorporated the flour mix, and adding more & more flour until all is incorporated. Knead the dough for a few minutes and then let it rest while you prepare the filling.

Pumpkin Ricotta Ravioli Filling
1 cup Ricotta
1 cup canned Pumpkin (pure pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling!)
salt to taste

Combine the the ricotta (please use the good stuff, not the fat free yucky stuff... you don't want yucky ravioli after all this work!) and the canned pumpkin. Season with salt to taste. Set aside.

Assembling & Cooking the Ravioli
Fill a large pot of water, add a drop of oil to prevent the pasta from sticking together, and bring to a boil.
Roll your pasta dough into long rectangular strips. Place a tablespooon of filling about 2 inches apart, fold the dough over, and using a ravioli cutter, cut each one out. Of course, the assembling process will vary based on the shape of ravioli you want to make, etc... But this is how I did it. Carefully drop the ravioli into the boiling water and cook about 5-7. You'll know they are done when they float to the top.
Butter Sage Sauce
4 tbsp Butter
4-5 Sage leaves, chiffonade
While the ravioli is cooking, melt the butter in a saucepan and add the sage leaves. Remove from the heat before the butter burns, and pour over the cooked pasta. YUM.

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