• - Nini

Life is Combination of Pasta and Magic, PT 2


HELLO! Now if you were reading the  first part of this post you would know that this post gives a bit more detail on how to make Ravioli with a Slow Cooked Meat Sauce and Gnocchi. If you didn’t read the last post well now you know what the content of this post contains, we are making PASTA!

With Ravioli there are two main components, the pasta dough and the filling. You can be experimental with the filling. When I was trying to figure out what to make I found this article Homemade Raviolis Better Than an Italian Grandmother's which bounced off some ideas. In the end I made Ravioli with a Spinach/Ricotta and Squash filling. Making Ravioli is a timely process, from making the dough and filling, to assembling it.

What I started to make first was the dough. When making pasta dough it’s important, after kneading, to give the dough a rest for a certain period of time. Why? Because after kneading the dough and letting it rest you’re not letting the gluten further develop. By having the dough rest the gluten is relaxed and it’s easy to shape the dough, making it somewhat more elastic. Having made the dough first, I thought as it is resting I can make the fillings as well as the sauce that way I am not hustling around the kitchen later (however I was wrong, I hustled a good five hours after)

HOW TO MAKE RAVIOLI

Pasta Dough  

300 g plain flour

3 beaten eggs

1 tsp salt

3 tsp of olive oil

Water (as required)

1.) Sift the flour and salt on a working surface (or a deep bowl). Make a well and add the liquids; eggs and olive oil.

2.) Fold in the eggs and olive oil in the flour.

3.) If the dough has dry patches add a few drops of water on your hand carefully and knead. Make sure you don’t use too much water. If the dough is too wet add more flour.

4.) Put the dough on a floury working surface as well as on your hands, knead the dough for 10 -15 mins until the dough is smooth and has bubbles on the surface.

5.) Make a ball out of the dough and put it in a bowl with a bit of flour and cover with a tea towel and let it sit for 20 minutes.

*Essentially with the Pasta dough I doubled the recipe, as the people in my house hold like to eat a lot however it was a bit too much. I didn’t count but by doubling the recipe I made enough Ravioli for maybe 10 people. During the 20 minutes I managed to get one of the fillings made as well as the sauce.

Slow Cooked Meat Sauce

3 beef shins or Oxtail (if you can find oxtail it’s better to use, at this point I didn’t so I used beef shin)

1 onion, chopped (medium)

2 carrots, chopped (medium)       [ Have to be in equal portion - the onion, celery, and carrot ] 

1 celery, chopped (medium) 

1/2 cup red wine

1 tin/ bottle of passata or chopped tomatoes (your preference)

1/2 cup water

3-4 fresh basil leaves

Salt/pepper

1.) Brown the pieces of meat. Once they are brown take them out of the pot.

2.) Chop onion, carrot and celery in the same size. To make it easier, if you have a food processor pulse it a few times. Fry onions, carrot and celery for a few mins until glossy, then add the meat back to the pot.

3.) Coast the meat with red wine and cook until the wine has evaporated. Which will be a few minutes.

4.) Once the wine has evaporated, add a tin of chopped tomatoes. Add a bit of water. Put it on a high heat and let it boil for for a few minutes.

5.) Once you add a few fresh basil leaves, put the sauce to a low flame and let it simmer until meat is tender. The process is that your slow cooking the meat, for me it took 6 hours but depends where you are it might be less.

*When it come to the meat, it all depends on what meat you get and where you get it! It could take less or more cooking time.

Ricotta and Spinach filling

450 g frozen spinach

250 g ricotta

1 onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 tsp nutmeg

Salt/ pepper

1.) Fry chopped onions with a bit of olive oil, until they are glossy. Then add spinach.

2.) Cook the spinach and the onions for a few minutes before adding the ricotta and a bit of garlic.

3.) Mix the ricotta with the spinach until most of the water from the cheese has evaporated. 

4.) Once the water is gone then add the spices nutmeg, salt and pepper.

*Out of both of the fillings that I made the least time consuming was making the Squash.

Squash Filling

2 squashes, cut in half and deseeded

Olive oil

Paprika

Salt/ pepper

1.) Preheat the oven to 200 C, cut the squash in half, drizzle some olive oil and bake until super soft.

2.) Scrape the squash into a bowl and garlic, salt, pepper and a bit of paprika or nutmeg (whatever your choice). Mash it together.

Now once I had completed making the sauce and the fillings, 20 minutes flew by so it was time to assemble the Ravioli. Now having a pasta maker is really handy, what it essentially does is it helps make the pasta dough get really thin but I’m not going lie it’s a two person job. If there is one person rolling the machine there is another holding the pasta making sure it doesn’t tear. I had my father help me out with this one.

After a few minutes on the pasta maker, we got the pasta dough to be the right  consistency for it not to be too thin and tear in the water and not to be too thick. We separated the dough into sheets in roughly the size and somewhat  shape of Ravioli.

Making Ravioli

1)  On a floured surface place two, equal sheets of pasta.

2)  On one sheet of pasta, place a teaspoon of filling. When placing the filling make sure that there is enough free space (maybe 3 cm or so) between the other fillings. Continue on with this process on the one pasta sheet until there is no room. (In order to use as much of the pasta dough, you could place 2 teaspoons of filling on top of one another place.

3) Continue on with this process on the one pasta sheet until there is no room. When placing the filling make sure that there is a enough free space (maybe 3 cm or so) between the other fillings.

4)  Once the fillings are put on the pasta sheet, wet the sides of the ravioli, and between the empty spaces of the fillings, with some egg wash (the egg wash acts like glue)

5) With the second sheet, slowly place it on top of the sheet of pasta with the filling. Slowly press down the edges of the pasta sheet until they stick together.

6) Then cut the individual pieces of ravioli with a pastry wheel that has ruffled edges. If you don’t have a pastry wheel, a normal knife will do, the pastry wheel just creates a bit of a design to the ravioli. 

7)  Once the individual pieces are cut, use the back of a fork to , press around the filling in order to seal the two pasta sheets together and make sure the filling doesn't spill. Using the back of a fork creates a simple design. 

8) Place the individual pieces of Ravioli on wax paper with flour on trays or any available surface. It is important that you put flour a fair bit of flour otherwise the Ravioli may stick to the tray and rip if the filling is to wet. *I learnt this the hard way. 

* If you are more of a visual person (like myself) and the instructions were hard to follow, go on google and just type in "how to make ravioli" and it should give you several articles that can visually show you how to make it. HERE I have placed a article I found which gives a slide show on how to assemble ravioli and it was a very similar process that I used. 

Now once you have finished preparing the pasta, the easiest part comes along cooking it.

COOKING THE RAVIOLI 

1)  Boil some water, when it starts to boil add some salt. 

2) Place a couple of pieces of Ravioli in the water. Do not overcrowd! By overcrowding the Ravioli there is a possibility that it might tear. 

3) Cook for 10 - 15 mins until the Ravioli is aldente. When cooked spread some of your sauce in a bowl and place the Ravioli in it it. Again spread some more sauce on the Ravioli. Repeat the steps until you finished your Ravioli. By doing these steps it keeps the Ravioli warm. 

Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo YOU HAVE RAVIOLI. It may be a very long process but it is well worth it. You will feel so accomplished! Try to be creative with the sauces, you don't necessarily have to meat with the ravioli a good tomato, cream or pesto is fantastic with it.  

Now it doesn't stop there, well it does if Ravioli was what you were keen to make. Either way I am now going to tell you how I made Gnocchi. Gnocchi as I said in my previous post is like a potato dumpling, compared to Ravioli the main ingredient in the Gnocchi is potato. When you create the mixture for Gnocchi it doesn't come out like a normal pasta dough. Its a more wet in terms of texture. 

HOW TO MAKE GNOCCHI

GNOCCHI DOUGH

900g  potatoes, boiled then mashed 

50g butter 

1 egg 

225 - 275 g all purpose flour

1.) Put un peeled potatoes into boiling salt water, for 20 minutes until soft. Drain Thoroughly. 

2.) Press the warm potatoes through a sieve or mash them and add 1 tablespoon salt, butter, egg and half the flour. 

3.) Put the mixture on a floured surface and add gradually more flour and knead till the dough is soft, smooth and a little sticky until its combined. 

4.) Roll the dough into 2.5 cm thick sausage shapes, and cut the sausage shapes into 1.5 cm long pieces. 

5.) Stick one finger into each piece, so the ends curl up. 

6.) Alternatively you can role the pieces over the ends of a fork and put them onto a floured kitchen towel or on floured wax paper on a baking tray . 

7.) Bring to a boil a big pot of salt water, and reduce heat so it simmers. Roughly put 24 gnocchi in the pot and have them cooked to 2 to 3 mins or until risen. 

* Now if you want to be creative with your shapes of the Gnocchi I say go for it! Square, circle, oval in any case the most important aspect of the gnocchi is quantity not quality. Be creative in the presentation! 

With Gnocchi you can have many  sauces with it, however I say a good tomato, pesto or butter with sage is great compliment. When making sauces for pasta I realised the important aspect when making it is to be simple. If you create something very extravagant that has many spices or different flavours sometimes it can ruin the whole dish. 

In terms of the photographs of the Gnocchi I took two sets of photos. One was taken in the evening when the pasta was fresh with my portable studio where I used artificial light. The other set of photographs were taken the next day using natural light. Unfortunately though I am not particularly fond with using artificial light, I prefer natural light. The trouble is that when I shot the evening in the studio the Gnocchi was fresh, shot it the next day you can tell its not fresh. It's something which I have to work on. Practice makes perfect! 

Pasta is like magic, with just a few simple ingredients you can make something really filling and it will have that WOW factor. 

What's your favourite pasta? Anything you would like to learn how to make? Do you have a favourite sauce you like to have with your pasta? Let me know in the comment box below!!! 

Hope you enjoyed the read, Have a great week everybodyyy! 

#ravioli #gnocchi #slowcookedmeat #sauce #pastamachine #pasta #potatoes #italiancuisine #flour #egg

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