Adventures of Italian Cuisine. How to Make Cheese Ravioli.
My plane from Milan took off less than 12 hours ago and I already miss it. Two things I really love about Italy is architecture and of course food! It is impossible to pack up St. Peter’s church, but this time I am taking home a fracture of cucina italiana. On my recent trip to Italy short cooking course was an important part of the agenda. Chef did his best to share secrets of Italian cuisine with us – five tourists who previously thought that step one for making ravioli is… going to local supermarket and buying them. He is a middle aged Italian with dark eyes which light up then he speaks of secret pasta ingredients in his so-Italian melodic manner. And he is surprisingly thin. I guess food that tastes good does not necessarily make you fat after all. That’s good news!
So now I’m back home and determined to bring to life what I have learned. Let’s hit it till it’s hot!
Flour Volcano. It's fun, feeling like a seven year old :)
This is how it should look after 25 minutes of intensive mixing
So let’s start with fresh egg pasta for Ravioli.
Ingredients for the Ravioli dough:
Finely milled wheat flour 500g
5 Whole eggs
Sieve the four to get rid of any congested pieces. Make a flour “volcano” on the table and place eggs in its center. Important trick is to pierce yolks with a finger. Be sure to make a crater big enough, because if eggs spill over the edges, you won’t be able to mix in the flour gradually. Work the mixture with heels of your hands until it’s smooth and homogeneous. It can take up to 25 minutes to get the dough to nice homogenous state. I asked my boyfriend for a hand with this, but doing it yourself you will surely burn more calories than you are going to get from Ravioli. When you think it’s ready enwrap the Ravioli dough in the plastic wrap and leave in a fridge for a half to one hour in order for it to homogenize. It should become less elastic and easier to roll. Don’t put it in a freezer!
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Swiss Emmental cheese 50g
Fontina cheese 50g
Parmesan cheese 50g
Mozzarella cheese 50g
Caciota cheese 50g
1 egg to brush the dough
Don’t be discouraged if you can’t find right sort of cheese. Basically all you need is to mix 3-4 sorts of different hardness cheese (Hardness depends on age. Use 12 month, 6 months 3 months old and fresh cheese). I personally used Parmesan, Mozzarella, Emmental and Gouda. Just note to have total amount of about 250 g if you use only two or three sorts.
Mash cheese few pieces at a time
Cheese should not be mashed too finely
Cut cheese into small pieces and mash few at a time, it will make your job easier. Don’t make the mixture too fine.Blend different sorts of mashed cheese together and form cheese balls with your fingers.
Roll out the dough piece by piece. It is much easier to use a pasta machine, besides you can achieve even thickness of every piece. This is quite important in order to boil Ravioli evenly. Unfortunately I didn’t have one, so I used my own hands. If the dough is too sticky put some flour on top and on a rolling pin.
Cut rolled dough into stripes, brush with beaten egg, add cheese balls and cover with another stripe. Cut out ravioli and press the edges very thoroughly until two layers are inseparable. Be sure to squeeze out the air from inside the Ravioli. If some dough is left after cutting out Ravioli, put it back with the main piece.
Always keep the dough you don’t use wrapped, because it dries out very quickly. When you have enough Ravioli made, throw into salty boiling water and wait until they come up to the surface. Then boil 3-6 minutes more depending on thickness of your dough.
Cheese balls should be rather small
You can use a glass to cut out Ravioli
Preparing thyme butter sauce
Butter 100 g
Punch of fresh thyme
Remove thyme leaves and heat them together with butter, until butter is melted. I was tempted to add some salt, but actually there is plenty of saltiness from cheese.
Cheese Ravioli are also excellent with pesto or fresh tomato pasta.
The process is quite long: it averagely takes 4 hours, but can take even more, if you are inexperienced. Luckily I had a helping hand. My boyfriend usually wouldn’t boil an egg, but he helped me a lot this time. I guess men love challenges after allJ. We had really fun time together and time passed pretty fast.
With this amount of products I made enough Ravioli to feed 4 hungry people. Although Ravioli didn’t come out perfectly shaped, they had a real flavor of homemade food. Well, practice makes it perfect!
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