The meal is different but this is a reprint of last year’s New Year’s Eve post… I can only wax poetically about new years so much…

If my mom ever cooked anything special for the new year, I really don’t remember it. The first time I recall hearing about good luck New Year’s foods was when I was in the Navy. Working with lots of guys from down south, Hoppin’ John entered my vocabulary. As I got older and moved around the country, more traditions arrived.

When I lived at Lake Tahoe, working for the Hyatt, I worked with a lot of Mexicans. They made tamales and brought them in for everyone to share. Somewhere, I remember King Cake – that was probably Boston. Black-eyed peas and cornbread followed me around the USofA, and landing in Pennsylvania, it became Pork and Sauerkraut. Victor would divorce me if I ever made pork and sauerkraut – so much for good luck.

After years in the restaurant and hotel business, the very last day I want to be out is New Years Eve. It’s even worse than Mother’s Day. I don’t know if you can even imagine the horror of delivering pizzas on such a night, or dealing with drunks throwing glasses in the general vicinity of a casino fireplace. We were still finding shards of glass for weeks after that one…

Other than a few small house parties, First Night in Boston was probably the most fun of the New Year festivities I’ve experienced. Definitely the most unique. Outdoors in a cold, snowy Boston with performances ranging from classical to contemporary in a score or more different venues. And the crowds were relatively well-behaved.

We had bullets raining down on us when we lived in San Leandro – why people think it’s a good idea to shoot guns into the air boggles my mind. We flew across the country on New Year’s Eve 1999 to bring in the year 2000 with Victor’s family – on a near-empty flight in deserted airports. And being locked out of Times Square after seeing The Producers with Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick less than a half-block away was pretty aggravating. We ended up heading back to our hotel and had a champagne toast with the bartender, the Beverage Manager, and a couple from Norway as the clock struck twelve.

Normally, I eschew crowds – especially the throngs out on a New Year’s Eve – but I do think I’d like to ring in the new year in a European city, Rome, London, Paris, Florence, Barcelona… I dunno… Outdoors in a huge plaza, somewhere – and within walking distance of wherever we were staying. The biggest stipulation being within walking distance of where we would be staying. I wouldn’t want to have to deal with any sort of transportation. And I could definitely envision a moonlit walk through Paris at 3am

It’s nice to dream…

But what I didn’t have to dream about was last night’s dinner… Victor made a egg yolk-stuffed ravioli that was simply out of this world.

Stuffed Ravioli

It was one of those meals that simply could not be improved on. It was perfection on a plate.

The pasta dough is based on a recipe from Alon ShayaThe filling is pure Victor!

Pasta Dough

  • 1 1/4 cup 00 flour
  • 1/2 cup semolina
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tsp olive oil

Mix flours. make a well and add the eggs, egg yolks, and oil. Slowly mix in the flour and knead until smooth. Let rest 30 minutes before rolling to desired shape.

Ricotta Filling

  • 2 cups ricotta
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup shredded Italian cheese blend
  • 1/2 cup grated parmigiano reggiano
  • 1 tsp fresh oregano
  • pinch garlic powder
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 egg yolk per ravioli

Mix all ingredients – except final egg yolk – together. Refrigerate until ready to use.

To assemble:

Stuffed Ravioli

Roll dough through pasta roller or roll out by hand. Cut into rounds – one slightly larger for the top.

Stuffed Ravioli

Place a scoop of cheese mixture on top and make an indentation for the egg yolk.

Then add the egg yolk…

Stuffed Ravioli

… and top with a pinch of shredded cheese.

Stuffed Ravioli

Moisten edges and place second round of dough on top, gently pushing out the air and sealing well.

Stuffed Ravioli

Cook in lightly boiling water about 4 minutes, give or take.

Stuffed Ravioli

Serve with your favorite sauce…

Stuffed Ravioli

And then cut into it and watch that lovely yolk run out…

Stuffed Ravioli

It’s even better if you have a loaf of fresh-baked bread to sop everything up.

Pane Pugliese

This is a loaf Pane Pugliese – one of my favorite breads to bake. Pane Pugliese is a rustic bread from Puglia – in Italy’s heel – and  comes from The Italian Baker by Carol Field.

This bread requires a starter – biga – that needs to be made the day before you want to bake the loaf.

Pane Pugliese

Biga

  • 1/2 tsp active dry yeast (or 1/10 package fresh yeast)
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 1/4 cup water (room temperature)
  • 3 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Stir the yeast into the warm water and let stand until creamy – about 10 minutes.  Stir in the remaining water and then the flour, one cup at a time.

Mix with the paddle attachment on the mixer at the lowest speed about 2 minutes.

Remove to a slightly oiled bowl, cover, and let rise at cool room temperature for 6 to 24 hours.  The starter will triple in volume and still be wet and sticky when ready.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Pane Pugliese

  • 1 packet dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 3 cups water; room temp
  • 1 cup biga
  • 7 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp salt

Proof the yeast in the warm water. Add 1 1/2 c water and the biga, mix till blended. Add flour and salt, mix till dough comes together and pulls off the sides of the bowl. Knead 3-5 minutes in a mixer, longer by hand. Dough will be very soft and elastic. Let rise about 3 hours, shape into 2 small round loaves or 1 big flattish one. If you have baking stones, place loaves on baking peel or on baking sheets sprinkled corn meal. Let rise about 1 hour. Preheat oven to 450°, and 10 minutes before baking flour the loaf tops and dimple them with your fingers. Bake 50-60 minutes for big loaves, 30-35 minutes for small. Tap the loaves to test for doneness (hollow=done) and cool on a rack.

The perfect bread for the perfect pasta and a perfect end to the year.

 

 

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