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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Family Dinner

a joint effort by Naomi and Amy

Goodness, gracious, where have the months gone? After the big cross-country move at the end of June, everything has been a complete blur. It's been ages since we've posted anything, but I assure you it doesn't mean we've stopped cooking! (Though I admit that the hot, sticky summer months weren't terribly inspiring)

Our family has a delightful tradition of getting together for dinner every Friday night. The two of us, our mom and dad, and our husbands all go out for dinner, then come back to drink tea and talk and play games or watch movies for the rest of the evening. One particular Friday over the summer we decided we wanted to cook a big dinner from scratch instead, since we'd been doing so little cooking lately. Ravioli was on the menu.

Eggs and flour. What a beautiful thing! It would have been even more beautiful if I'd realized that the tiny little bread-maker paddle wasn't nearly strong enough for the task of pasta dough. I ended up mixing by hand.

After the chaos subsided, I did end up with a lovely-looking large oval of pasta dough, ready to be filled.

Speaking of filling, here's where it all began:

Onions, celery, carrots, and some minced garlic. I was just a tad indecisive when it came to these veggies. I started cooking them in whole chunks, then ran them through the food processor partway through because I realized I didn't want giant chunks in my ravioli, and I didn't really want to puree the entire meat mixture to the degree that I wanted the veggies diced. I think in the future I would use the food processor right at the beginning to chop these up really tiny.

The top right picture shows the seasonings we used-- salt, pepper, grated parmesan, and (if I remember correctly) allspice and nutmeg. I can't recall what the third one was, but my guess is cloves. Many apologies for the unappetizing appearance of the meat filling! I browned the meat along with the softened veggies and the seasonings, then gave it a quick pulse back in the food processor. I thought it sounded weird to intentionally give the meat the texture of Taco Bell "beef", but it really did end up feeling appropriate inside the ravioli.

After preparing the meat filling, we dropped spoonfuls of it onto the rolled-out pasta dough. If I remember correctly, we used our fingers to push it into uniform little discs that we weren't really sure looked edible. Yum.

The most difficult part of this process was definitely the folding-over of the dough. I'd heard that it was best to do it in a large sheet like this, but I'm not sure we were very good at it! We plopped filling onto only half of the dough, then juggled the other half into position, which required a lot more scraping and balancing than we expected.


We put our mom in charge of the camera since she was keeping us company during this process (since we were using her kitchen and all). Happy sisters!

Next we pushed the top layer down around the filling to seal it tightly.

Then we used a biscuit cutter (or is it a doughnut cutter? Or just a round cookie cutter?) to cut out the ravioli. It ended up being just the right size! You definitely want to leave some space on the edge so they seal well and don't have you leaking filling into your boiling water.

The cooking process was pretty simple. But the camera batteries died. Doh! So much for being prepared! At least my dad had his phone handy!

We made this sauce to go with the pasta.

The picture is kind of gross looking, but here's the finished product!

The consensus was that the ravioli needed to be more uniformly--THINLY--rolled. The thicker ones were awfully chewy. A pasta crank would definitely tempt me to make my own pasta more often!

And finally, to finish this long and much-delayed post, I should probably give you a recipe for the beef filling, but...I lost it. I suppose that isn't too surprising given how long it took me to put this post together, but I do apologize for leaving you hanging (because I know you were planning on rushing right out to buy the ingredients and whip up this meal yourself!), so alas, the only thing I can give you is the recommendation that you do this sometime with/for people you love, and enjoy the fruits of your labor! Oh, and don't be horrified by nutmeg and allspice in combination with beef. I promise it won't taste like pumpkin pie or anything. It will be wonderful and magical and perfect.


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