My friend, Carrie with Children, shared her great idea with me a few weeks ago as her blog celebrated an anniversary and gave me the go-ahead to copy away. So, this morning, I’m sharing my very first post ever with you. It’s so fun to reminisce and see how far the blog has come. I have tons of fun giveaways coming up to share with you, in the next 30 days, so you can celebrate with me; but today, I’m feeling a little nostalgic and hope you’ll enjoy my first attempt at blogging. At the end, I’ve added a linky, where you can add in your very first post if you’d like. It would be so fun to be able to go back and read where we all started, so I hope you’ll feel free to join in my nostalgic moment! Here’s my first post:
Globs of Goo: A Ravioli Story
October 19, 2009
“Ravioli sounds good.” It was a casual remark, made in passing. What did it mean? David and I have been married for 26 years and never in that time has he asked for, nor have I offered to serve, ravioli. Just the thought of it brings back childhood memories of weeping and wailing and little canned globs of slimy goo in tomato sauce. How could this be happening? Well by the time I had collected myself with a snappy comeback involving nutrition, David was already downstairs watching the game. I never got to share my thoughts on the subject with him, but I assumed we could all just move on with life and forget it had ever happened.
Interestingly enough, over the course of the next few days, twinges of conscience and curiosity got the best of me and I started wondering if there might be a palatable way to provide my favorite guy with a plate of ravioli. Five years ago, I would have headed straight to my extensive cupboard of cookbooks, but the convenience of technology has wooed me and so I typed the link to my favorite online recipe site, Recipezaar. After a thorough search of the top-rated ravioli recipes I made my selection, Ravioli (Dough and Choice of 4 Fillings) and set off to erase my “globs of goo” terrors.
I post the original link for this delicious recipe because I want you to know where I started. I might as well come clean from the beginning. I’m a recipe alterer. And my measuring is usually something like, “It calls for x amount — give or take.” If I’m out of something or don’t like something I leave it out or substitute something else. Plus, I came from a large family. I also have a fairly good-sized one of my own and I have just never fine-tuned the ability to cook just 4 servings of anything. I desperately want to be one of those organized super-women who does Once-A-Month Cooking, but I simply don’t have the attention span to complete 30 meals in a single day. So, I often double or triple a recipe as I am preparing it for a meal. Then I have one to serve right away and one or two to put in the freezer. That’s what I did with the ravioli variation I want to share with you, today. And let me just preface the recipe by saying, “I’m not afraid of ravioli any more.” It was delicious! My only regret is that I forgot to snap a picture of the finished product, lovely and steaming on the plate. When I serve it next from my freezer reserves, I’ll try to remember to take a snapshot.
Ravioli Dough and Hamburger Spinach Filling
Yield: 48 very large ravioli noodles
- 9 cups unbleached white flour
- 1 ½ tsp salt
- 6 eggs
- 1 ½ – 2 cups water
- 1½ lbs lean ground beef
- 2 Tbl butter
- 3 cloves fresh garlic
- 2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
- 5 green onions, chopped
- 1 Tbl dry parsley flakes
- 6 eggs
- 2 cups grated Italian cheese blend
- 1 tsp nutmeg
If making the ravioli dough by hand, the recipe instructs to sift the flour and salt together and place the mixture on a board, making a well in the center. Break eggs into the well and then beat the eggs slightly. Combine the eggs and flour, gradually adding enough water to make a stiff dough.
I prepared the dough using my Bosch mixer. (That’s a completely different post for another day, but suffice it to say that my Bosch is hands-down my favorite kitchen appliance.) I put all the dough ingredients in the mixing bowl (starting with only 1 ½ cups of water). I used my dough hook and mixed everything on medium, adding a few more teaspoons of water, until it had formed what is a very stiff, dense dough. While I allowed the noodle dough to rest for about 15 minutes, I prepared the filling.
I melted the butter in my cast iron skillet and added the ground beef, onions and garlic and cooked it until the meat was nicely browned. Next, I transferred the meat to a large mixing bowl and added the remaining ingredients for the filling, combining them thoroughly.
Constructing the Ravioli
Rolling the dough will be a challenge if you haven’t let it rest long enough for the gluten to relax so it will stretch easily. Remember I multiplied this recipe roughly 3 times the original, so this is a big batch of very dense dough. I quartered it to roll it out, keeping the unused quarters covered with a damp paper towel to prevent them from drying out. Roll it out on a floured surface until it is very thin (about 1/8″ to 1/16 ” thick).
The next step is to add the ravioli filling. I elected to use my cookie dough scoop, so that the filling amount would be uniform in each noodle. I scooped 24 onto this one piece of dough.
Roll out a second quarter of dough and try to roll it slightly larger than the first. You are going to want it to stretch over the little hills of filling. This is the part where the density and stiffness of the dough are a great help. It stretches easily without tearing. Ingenious!
Once your second quarter is rolled, take a pastry brush and lightly brush the surface of the first dough with a few drops of water. Be sure to go inbetween each mound of meat and around all the edges. Place the second rolled quarter over the top of this first one, gently pushing and stretching the dough down and around your filling so that they seal.
If you have a pretty, zig-zag edged pastry cutter, this is the time to use it. I used a knife and cut my ravioli into squares. I checked all the edges for a good seal and crimped them as I went with the tines of a fork. Place the completed ravioli on a floured board, or like me, on a floured cookie sheet and allow them to dry at least one hour before boiling.
If you have created a big batch, like me, you still have two quarters of dough waiting for you to prepare the next 24 ravioli. While the first batch is drying, it’s the perfect time to finish up. Repeat all the construction steps above.
Cooking and Serving your Ravioli
I boiled the dried ravioli in boiling salt water, with just a touch of olive oil added to keep them from sticking together. They cooked about 10-15 minutes until the dough was tender and then I used a large slotted spoon to gently remove them and put them on a serving plate. We served them with our favorite spaghetti sauce and a sprinkling of grated Italian cheeses. A fresh, green salad rounded out the delicious meal!
Well, I’m no little Italian grandma, but I think things went great for my first experience making homemade ravioli. I confess I am still disturbed that I don’t have a “finished product” picture for you, so I will have to make a quick plate tomorrow and snap one. That will be easy to do, since the extra, dried, but uncooked ravioli was flash-frozen in a single layer on cookie sheets and then transferred to a gallon zipper bag. I can remove just one or two, or enough for a whole family meal, boil them in a flash and have a delicious plate of pasta ready in the time it takes to heat the sauce.
I’ll never be afraid of ravioli again! Mangia!
This recipe post is linked to Tasty Tuesday.