Life is Combination of Pasta and Magic, PT 1
When the moon hits your eye, like a big pizza pie that’s amore” Well if we want to dissect those famous lyrics I think having the moon hit your eye would be a very dangerous scenario as that person would die, but also the planet would be non-existent I assume. LOL. Sorry, but don't you ever just question whether the lyrics for some of these catchy tunes actually make sense or even rhyme? Especially those songs that were top of the charts and in another language, for example Gangnam Style, or better yet the summer chart topper Despacito! I read the English version of Despacito the other day and I can honestly say that it's a good thing that it is in Spanish. The reason why I'm talking about languages and dissecting lyrics is that this past weekend I made a recipe from one of my mother’s cookbooks and the recipe wasn't in English but in German.
Every Sunday I try to challenge myself by either cooking something difficult or making a big meal for my family. Two Sunday’s ago, I had an urge to make pasta, specifically Gnocchi, though my father was keen for some Ravioli. Being the lovely daughter that I am I heeded his request, and saved the Gnocchi for later in the week as the main course for a dinner that my mother was planning . The recipes that I used to make the Ravioli and Gnocchi were from my mother’s German cookbook on Italian food. In hindsight for those who don’t know me I am half German but my communication skills in German are lacking, so luckily my father (the full bred German) translated the recipe. With him translating the recipe I was bit uncertain at first thinking that he may forget a partial ingredient or step which is crucial to the recipe. However, he does speak 4 languages fluently so who am I to judge!?
The beauty of pasta is the variety of sauces which you can have with it. It can be a simple standard tomato sauce, pesto genovese, or Bolognese. The list is endless! But I must admit, the sauce must compliment the pasta which you are having. Personally I love pasta in a good tomato sauce , I mean for me its good comfort food and rather simple to make.
The fillings in Ravioli can vary. I decided to make two, one that is known traditionally to be the filling in Ravioli; spinach with ricotta, and decided to make a squash filling as well. Squash is a very delicate vegetable and I thought it would be an interesting compliment with the sauce.
The sauce that I made was a meat sauce that was slow cooked, as the meat here in Nairobi is quite tough and with this sauce I needed the meat to fall off the bone. I used Beef Shin, though initially I would have used Oxtail (which is essentially better for stews or as a base for a soup/sauce) but they didn’t have it at the butchers so I had to make due. Overall cooking the sauce took over 6 hours, although it was well worth it! That piece of meat just melted in your mouth, it was definitely an orgasmic food moment.
Ravioli with slow cooked beef sauce.
After being in the kitchen since 1pm in the afternoon and finally eating at 7pm I thought to myself... “Shit Selina all that hard labour in the kitchen was well worth it” Metaphoric high five to me! However my Pasta making didn’t stop there! Since I made enough Ravioli to feed an army my mother had suggested on serving it to her guests which she was having on Tuesday (Nov 14th) but the trouble was that it wasn’t enough for the guests, so mum suggested we make gnocchi too that way we can have both! Enjoy it all, why not!
Making Gnocchi has a similar process to making Ravioli, although there is one big key ingredient: potatoes. Gnocchi, you can say, is an Italian potato dumpling. To make Gnocchi it requires a mixture of mashed potatoes, butter, egg and flour (lots of it) and a good kneading session of again 10-15 minutes until it gets an elastic consistency.
What’s fun about making pasta, I think, is creating the patterns and shapes. When mother and I were creating the shapes of the gnocchi we did have a bit of a disagreement on what shape to make. I wanted it round, she wanted it square… sadly in the end I made them square (when you’re the sous chef it’s best not to disagree with the chef) even though my way was better haha. With the Ravioli I used the back of a fork to seal the pasta sheets together, it was the simpler approach but yet pretty. Well I think I could have done better but in the end I was just hoping that the filling doesn’t spilt the dough when it's in boiling water, because all of that hard work would have gone down the drain.
Unfortunately though I would say my only failure was that I didn’t take any good quality photos of my Ravioli. Due to myself being the kitchen the whole time and the Ravioli being a very practical process I was only able to get some decent shots through my phone. Tried to take photos of it the next day but I didn’t have time during the day and tried to take the photos with my portable studio but it just wasn’t working. Need to experiment more with artificial light, but my personal preference is natural light. IT’S THE BOMB! I was able to take photos of the gnocchi the next day but due to the pasta being very moist in texture it didn’t have the right kind of essence as it did the night before when it was fresh. In this post I’ll show you the photos in natural light and the ones I took in the portable studio, you will see and understand how the fresh gnocchi looked more delicious whereas the next day it looked clumped together. Mind you though it tasted exactly the same as it did the night before. Something I need to work on; trying to cook or bake in a timely manner for me to be able to shoot it after or work on shooting with artificial light!
Gnocchi taken on the day it was made, in a portable studio with artificial light.
Gnocchi taken the next day in natural light.
Anyway I just realised that this is a bit of a lengthy post , so in the next post I’ll post the recipe process on how to make Ravioli and Gnocchi and how I made the fillings and sauces. GO READ THE NEXT POST and learn how to make FRESH PASTA ! Impress your familia or friends.
"LIFE IS A COMBINATION OF PASTA AND MAGIC"
- FREDERICO FELLINI
READ PART 2 AND LEARN HOW TO MAKE FRESH PASTA !