Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Ravioli with Dueling Fillings

I’ve been saving this nugget for a rainy day. And by golly, that’s today. After a week of 70 degree-sunshine, rainbows and Picasso, we’re back to reality. Fortunately, ravioli is a proven remedy for any damp spirits out there.

Eric and I were inspired to make these pasta pockets after we found the most adorable and intriguing mushrooms at Ellwood Thompsons: Lobster Mushrooms. Aside from the fact that they look like little gingerbread men in their dried form, it’s entirely way too fun to discuss the mushrooms. “The lob-stahs are enjoying their hot soak”. “The lob-stahs are ready for sautéing”. I suppose they get their name from their reddish hue because they neither taste, look nor smell like lobsters. Still, they are meaty and delicious.

We went all out and made a ravioli packed with 3 types of dried mushrooms enhanced with regular white button mushrooms (because those dried suckers are expensive). Even after all that we STILL had more dough than filling. Eric got creative with a kale, walnut, and ricotta salata filling to use up the rest of the dough. I was, by all accounts, impressed.

These ravioli are especially good on a cold night with a light white wine and lemon sauce with a dash of cream and smattering of chopped parsley. Bonus points if you eat them while watching a Hawaii episode of Dog, The Bounty Hunter. Just sayin.

For the Dough and Ravioli Method

The general rule of thumb is one egg per 3/4 cup flour, which I follow closely. If my eggs are really small, I'll add an extra yolk at the end.

Lots of people like to make a pile of flour on the counter and put a well in it and dump the beaten eggs into the well. Rather than make a big mess and have the eggs spill out of the well and form a slimy waterfall off the counter and onto the floor, I put the flour in a bowl and make the well in there.

Also, it seems to me that Italian Grandmothers always have the exact perfect ratio of egg to dough to make a silky noodle. I generally have shaggy dough that requires a little water. Go ahead and add it. We did 6 eggs for this recipe which made an enormous batch.

After incorporating the egg into the dough, flip it onto the counter and knead for about 8 to 10 minutes until silky and smooth. Wrap whatever dough you aren't immedietly using with plastic wrap.

We used our pasta roller to roll out thin ravioli sheets one or two at a time. We then used a ravioli cutter (you can use a biscuit or cookie cutter) to identify where the filling would be dropped by lightly cutting into the dough, but not all the way through. We dropped a little spoonful of filling on the assigned parking space, lightly moistened the dough around the edge of the inside of the ravioli with water, and dropped a second pasta sheet on top and pressed it down around each mountain of filling. Then, we used the ravioli cutter to fully press through the dough.

We coated the raviolis in flour and let them sit out awhile to dry up. When its time to cook, drop them into boiling, salted water and let cook five minutes after they float. Generally you let them cook just until floating but for some reason these needed more time.

To freeze your extra ravioli, coat with flour and let them sit on a cooling rack for at least 1.5 hours to dry out a bit. Lay flat in a freezer bag or Tupperware. If you must stack, place sheets of parchment or plastic wrap between layers.

For the fillings:

Mushroom filling

1/3 ounce each dried lobster, porcini, and shiitake mushrooms
2 tablespoons butter
1 large shallot, finely chopped
½ cup white mushrooms, finely chopped
3 tablspoons chopped fresh roma tomato
¼ cup white wine
2 tablespoons bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese

For mushroom filling:
Put the three types of mushrooms in separate bowls. Add hot water to soak your dried mushrooms for at least 30 minutes. Reserve two tablespoons of the porcini soaking liquid. Chop cooled mushrooms finely. Melt butter in a non-stick pan and sautee shallot until soft. Add white mushrooms and sautee until soft. Add your other mushrooms and sautee together over high heat for 1.5 minutes. Add the wine and porcini soaking liquid and chopped tomatoes and simmer until the liquid evaporates. Add the bread crumbs until the mixture comes together. Only add more bread crumbs if you really need it. Season with salt and pepper and let cool a bit. When cooled, toss the mixture with the grated parmigiano. Let it cool to room temp before filling the raviolis.

Kale Filling
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup finely chopped roasted walnuts (to roast, put in 300 degree oven for 8 minutes)
2 large bunches kale, finely chopped and pre-steamed in the microwave (and drained)
½ cup ricotta salata, broken by hand or grated into tiny pieces

For the kale filling:

Wash and chop the kale. Put it in a microwave-safe bowl and add a sprinkling of water. Cover with plastic wrap or a plate and microwave for two minutes to wilt the kale. Toast your walnuts in the meantime.

Heat the olive oil and add the chopped garlic to sautee until fragrant and translucent. Add the chopped kale and sautee until all the water is evaporated. Remove from heat and toss with the chopped walnuts. We added the ricotta directly to the dough and put the filling asa layer on top of the cheese. HOWEVER. If we did this again, I would definitely use regular ricotta and mix it right into the filling. I suggest doing that, I just don't know how the ratio would work out. You'd most likely want about 3/4 cup.

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