I have just had one of the most awesome dinners of my life! I feel like dancing a Tarantella! I am [almost] speechless – and we know how rare that is. My stomach is not only smiling, it is beaming.
And what, you say, could make me feel this way?!? Ravioli. Yes. A simple ravioli. But not just any simple ravioli – a simple ravioli made by hand – by Victor.
Little cheese-filled clouds floating on a sea of impossibly-rich tomato sauce. Meatballs that defy description. Firm, yet fork-tender, with body and substance bursting with flavor.
I have died and gone to gastronomic heaven.
Did I mention speechless?!?
Victor has pasta dough down to a science. There are certain things that come naturally to some – and pasta-making is as natural to him as breathing. He has the knack and the feel for the dough and just knows when it’s right. He has used a variation on a Lidia recipe for years and it’s always perfect. But tonight it was more perfect than ever before.
He made a 3-cheese filling that would make an Italian Nonna cry. It was bursting with flavor while simultaneously screaming simplicity. And the sauce… It was the last of our freezer-stash and was gently improved upon. Our live-in Nonna filled her plate and then went back for seconds. Nonna never goes back for seconds.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 eggs
- 3 tbs water
- 1 tsp olive oil
- Pinch of salt
Break eggs into a small bowl and mix with water, olive oil and salt. In a bowl add flour and wet ingredients. Mix together with a fork until all the flour we wet and it begins to come together. Knead on a lightly floured surface about 3 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. (if too dry add a bit more water by the DROP – until the dough forms) – cover in plastic wrap and let rest for an hour.
- 1 – 15oz container of whole milk ricotta (we don’t use no stinking “part skim”)
- 1 – cup shredded whole milk mozzarella (see first ingredient regarding part skim)
- 1 – cup grated parmesan cheese – and please for God’s sake use a good one – no Kraft or anything that comes out of a green can!!!
- 2 – Eggs lightly beaten
- Finely chopped garlic – to taste. I used two good size cloves – You can use garlic powder but you may lose your “Italian Card”.
- Chopped Parsley – to taste – I like a lot and I use parsley grown in my garden. However you will not be penalized for buying it fresh at the store. But you will be shot on site if you use McCormack’s dried parsley.
Mix all ingredients together. Taste for seasoning and add S&P, as desired.
Make an egg wash of 1 egg and 2 tbsp water. Mix well.
Using a pasta roller, roll pasta to setting 6. If using a rolling pin, roll pasta about 1/16th of an inch. Thin.
Cut into squares. Brush all 4 edges of square with egg wash. Place a dollop of filling in the middle of each and top with another square of pasta. Crimp edges to seal and place on a floured sheet pan covered with a kitchen towel.
Place ravioli in gently-boiling water and cook about 5 minutes – more or less according to the thickness of your dough.
Serve with your best sauce. They’re worth a good sauce.
Awesome doesn’t begin to describe.
And since we were having a more-than-awesome fresh ravioli, I made bread to go along with it.
An Italian Bread based on a James Beard recipe.
- 2 pkgs active dry yeast
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 cup warm water [100° to 115° F, approximately]
- 1/3 cup butter
- 3/4 cup hot water
- 2 tsp salt
- 5 1/2 to 6 cups all-purpose flour
- Sesame seeds
Stir the yeast, sugar and warm water together in the bowl of a stand mixer; let sit until yeast dissolves and starts to proof.
In the meantime, add the butter to the hot water and let cool to lukewarm.
Add 5 cups of flour and the salt to the yeats mixture and mix with a dough hook on low until the dough almost comes away from the sides of the bowl, adding up to 1 more cup of flour, if needed to make a soft dough.
When the dough is soft and smooth, let rest for 5 or 6 minutes and then divide into two. Roll each half into a rectangle about 12″ x 8″. Starting from the wide end, roll the rectangle up quite tightly, pinching the seams as you roll. Grease a large sheet pan or use parchment paper and sprinkle liberally with corn meal. Place loaves on pan and cover with a kitchen towel. Let rise until doubled in bulk, about 50 to 60 minutes.
Preheat to 425° F while the bread proofs.
When proofed, brush loaves with an egg wash and sprinkle liberally with sesame seeds.
Place in oven and bake about 40 minutes or until well-browned and hollow-sounding when tapped.
The whole dinner was seriously awesome.
And I think we’re all going to be fighting over the leftovers for lunch, tomorrow…