Homemade Raviolis: Caramelized Shallots, Mushrooms, Goat Cheese

I thought you could only make fresh pasta if you had one of those fancy machines…or some kind of attachment for another fancy machine. I have none of those things unfortunately, so when Cooks Illustrated sent me a weekly newsletter entitled “Fresh Pasta Without a Machine”, I was like, oh, ok!

I knew this would be a “weekend recipe” when I read that after mixing the dough you have to let it rest for 1-4 hours… So, I let the week fly by, while I dreamed up my ravioli creation. And when Sunday finally arrived, it went a little something like this:

Start with 1 egg and 3 egg yolks whisked together with, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Then add 1 cup of all purpose flour and mix well. The dough should end up a little sticky but not so much that it sticks onto your fingers – I believe “tacky” is the word.

Lightly flour the work surface and knead until the dough is smooth. You might have to add a little more flour if it’s too sticky. Roll it up into a little log shape and cover it with plastic wrap. This has to rest, like I said, for 1 – 4 hours, so I made it in the morning and then went about my life until about an hour before lunch.

The dough doesn’t rise or change in any visible way, however, according to Cooks Illustrated the resting makes the dough less elastic, so rolling it out is easier because it won’t shrink back. Without really understanding the chemistry of the “why?”, it’s true – I poked it before and after to see for myself. Probably has something to do with gluten and whatnot…

Next, I made the filling. I started by caramelizing 4 thinly sliced shallots in a little bit of olive oil in one pan and in another sautéing some garlic and sliced mushrooms.

When I finished cooking, I removed the garlic, chopped the shallots and mushrooms together, and then began on the ricotta mixture.

I used 1 cup of ricotta and about 1/2 cup of goat cheese (the kind that comes in a roll). I used an immersion blender to make a smooth mixture to which I added the mushroom and shallot mixture, as well as 1/4 cup of chopped toasted walnuts, a teaspoon of honey, and a couple of pinches of salt to taste.

At this point I realized that this could also be a delicious spread for crackers or on bread… In fact, that’s exactly what I did with the leftover filling that didn’t fit in my raviolis.

Now it’s time to roll – get that dough and divide the log into 3 equal pieces. Start with the first, stretch it in your hands into a 3×3 inch square. Then use a rolling pin, rolling out from the center, to make a big, super thin rectangle. It should be so thin you can see the outline of your fingers through it (or in my case, that fabulous black and white marble I’ve got in my kitchen). As you roll it, be sure to lift it from the surface to be sure it’s not sticking – dust more flour on it if it is.

At this point, you have 3 sheets like this and you could choose to cut this into fetuccini or form some shaped pastas if you prefer. I cut it in half and then into squares about 3×3 inches (kind of big raviolis, but I really didn’t feel like spending the next 15 years of my life filling tiny raviolis…)

Fill a little bowl with water and use your finger to wet the edges on both the top and bottom squares. Then put a little spoonful, about 1 tablespoon, of the filling in the center and put the top over it, sealing the edges with your fingers and trying to not let any of the filling escape. Don’t over fill them or else the filling will get everywhere and you’ll get irritated and end up scratching the whole thing and eating the filling with a spoon…

The 3 sheets made about 15 raviolis in the end, which I would say is perfect for 3 people (you could serve it with a small salad and make a nice dinner of it). Also, see what I’ve done here, arranging them nicely on a plate? Don’t do this! Lay them separately on a towel or tray, but don’t overlap them – they are moist and WILL stick together and when you unstick them, if you don’t do it super incredibly carefully, they WILL rip open and you WILL cry. Learn from my mistakes, friends.

Give them a minute to seal well while you bring a big pot of water to a boil. Gently drop them in, one by one, and let them cook for 3-4 minutes. If you do more than 15, you might need to do them in batches so they don’t stick.

I didn’t want a sauce that would cover up the flavor too much of the filling, so I just heated some cream in a pan with some chopped basil and a bit of salt (to taste) to make a light basil infused cream. Once the raviolis are cooked, I added them to the pan and tossed them until the were coated. If the sauce get’s too thin, just let them all cook there for a minute or two until the sauce thickens a bit.

Ridiculously delicious…

So, feel free to fill them with whatever your little heart desires. Or don’t fill them, cut them into strips and make a nice bolognese or a carbonara. Or what about leaving them whole for lasagna… While making raviolis are a bit of a labor of love because you have to fill them and close them all, actually making the dough took all of 10 minutes (resting period aside) and rolling them about another 10, so I think I’ll be making fresh pasta again!

Here’s the ingredient list and a link to the fresh pasta recipe (they have good trouble shooting tips and demos of how to make bow-ties and other fun stuff!)

Pasta:

  • 1 egg plus 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all purpose flour

Filling:

  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, toasted and finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 4 shallots, finely sliced
  • 8 mushrooms (small), thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • salt to taste

Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 5-6 basil leaves, sliced
  • salt to taste

*Fresh Pasta without a Machine: Cooks Illustrated (link)

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Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips & Walnuts

Banana Bread muffins to be exact. It’s not the kind of thing you can plan to make. It has to happen because you got carried away and bought more bananas than you could eat, and then you went out of town for a couple of days, and then came back to bananas that looked like this:

And that’s when you know that special time has come. It’s pretty exciting. In my own humble opinion, banana bread is a bummer without chocolate chips. We had a neighbor when I was growing up who made us a loaf one time and I’ve been hooked ever since.

Over the years I’ve tried various recipes, and finally, it’s happened – I’ve found the best banana bread recipe ever. So, check it out – it starts with 1/2 cup (100g) of unsalted butter at room temperature and a cup of sugar. Cream them together ’til they’re that nice light yellow color. Then add 2 large eggs, one at a time, mixing each one.

One. And Two.

Then mash up those over-ripe bananas (minimum 2, but I used 4 for extra moisture, sweetness, and all around banana goodness) using a fork, or a potato masher. Add it into the butter, sugar, egg mix. Also, add 1 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Now it’s time for the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix 1 1/2 cup of flour, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Add the dry to the wet and mix until fully incorporated.

Now add semi-sweet chocolate chips (about a cup).

And chopped walnuts (or not – up to you – about half a cup).

Now you can put this into a loaf pan – you’ll probably need two, but I’m not sure because I always make them in cupcake molds. I have these super cool silicone cupcake molds shaped like hearts. They are good because they are reusable and don’t stick, so you don’t have to put any cooking spray in them.

These go into a 350ºF (176ºC) oven for 12-15 minutes until they are golden brown on top. Like this!

This mix made 16 muffins. That’s a lot of yummy muffins to have around tempting me…

Anyway, now you know what to do when your bananas get too ripe. Try it, you won’t regret it.

Now, here’s the ingredient list:

  • 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup ripe bananas, mashed (more makes it more moist!)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

*Props to epicurious.com for this one (link)

Classic Fudge Brownies

Again, I’ve been MIA for several days. Sadly I was without a kitchen this past week because a few months ago a radiator leak damaged part of the wood floors in my living room. After putting the repair off week after week, I finally relented and let them come to sand and re-varnish the whole living room. Unfortunately, my kitchen is part of the living room, and I was left without access to anything. I ate a lot of junk food in bed this week… Actually, now that I think about it, it was kind of just like college… Anyway, I was not feeling my best by Saturday when I was finally allowed to go back in. And the only part of this that is related to blogging is that I was in no mood to talk about the delicious things I couldn’t cook while living in my bedroom. So, right before this whole ordeal commenced, I made these amazing, delicious brownies.

I made them for my cousin’s birthday. The last time I had seen her she had mentioned that one of the best discoveries she made while living for a few years in the good old US was brownies. It’s no wonder to me that foreigners gain weight while visiting us… But, I have to agree that brownies are pretty darn good. So, when her birthday rolled around she had a little get together at her house and I decided to make these for her. Now, I want to explain (or make a disclaimer about) this “finished product” picture. I made the brownies in the morning before going out to lunch with my “Spanish Family” or, to those of you who know them, the Collia’s. It was a lot of lunch, and even more wine…at some point I came home and took this picture. I only noticed it was blurry, out of focus, and kind of unflattering to the brownies the next day when I scrolled through the recent pics on my camera.  But, trust me, they are the rich fudgey brownies you crave. Oh, and the rest of the pictures are good.

So, this recipe is only slightly more difficult than a boxed mix (which is the only type of brownie I had made until this point). Start with 3/4 cup of all purpose flour, 3/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder, 1 cup of white sugar and 1/2 cup of brown sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt, whisked together. Note from me: I couldn’t find “unsweetened” cocoa, so I just reduced the amount of sugar to 1/2 cup white sugar and 1/2 cup brown sugar)

Then, in a double boiler (or if you don’t have one of these, like me, two saucepans of slightly different sizes, the larger one filled with water and the smaller set inside, floating on the water) melt 6 tablespoons of butter and 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks. Once it’s melted, add one cup of milk (any fat content works, I used fat-free). Whisk it over the boiling water until it’s nice and smooth.

In a separate bowl, lightly whisk two large eggs. Then very slowly, add this chocolate mixture to the eggs, whisking constantly. Since the chocolate is hot, you want to do this a very little bit at a time so that the eggs don’t cook. So a little continuous stream is the way to go. Lastly, add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Once that’s finished go back to the dry ingredients. Add another 1/2 cup of chocolate chunks to it and 1/2 cup of walnuts (if you want to). Then add the chocolate egg mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until completely incorporated.

Pour this into a baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup of walnuts (if you chose to use them). Bake at 350 degrees for about 17-19 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with crumbs, but not molten brownie mix.

Let them cool completely before trying to cut them, difficult as it may be. I know I can’t prove the chewy goodness of these brownies with a picture of the finished product, but I will tell you that I took this entire pan to the party and when I left the plate was empty. So you know, just saying…you should try these.

Ingredient list:

  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips/chunks, separated half and half
  • 3/4 cup walnuts, separated 1/2 cup and 1/4 cup
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten

*Recipe courtesy of cookinglight.com (link)