Zach and I met in an English Lit. class at college, called “Metamorphosis and Transformations”. I’m still not certain as to what that class was about or if I learned anything, but moments of that class will never be forgotten. I would watch him walk back to the dorm building we both lived in after class, fast and deliberate. It never occurred to me that I would fall in love with this skinny gangly redhead with baggy clothes and pierced ears. One day, while walking home behind him, for some reason I struck up conversation. We talked about the events of the day’s class and his love for day-time soap operas, in particular “Passions“. I found him strange. Our walks home turned into a quick stop at the food court for some Church’s Chicken strips and “accidentally” running into each other followed by long conversations standing around the lobby of the dorm. Soon everyone in our 20 person class knew that we walked home together and we were reading our assignments together.
Since we were income-less college students, our “dates” consisted of hanging out watching movies on the university’s movie channel and talking until the sun came up. As we got to know each other better, we scheduled special “dates” at the food court in the basement of the library for some Pizza Hut and Chick-fil-A, using our stash of special meal points. Eventually, we developed a routine as a couple; visiting the C-Store for some Red Baron Pizza for Zach and a Rocket Pop for me. Oh, how junk food filled our lives and started our relationship.
After a 11.5 year relationship and 5 years of marriage, our dates and routines still center around food, but home-made fresh foods and local sustainable restaurants, with an occasional indulgence on fried chicken. Now we have evolved to cooking together, learning new skills and experiencing new cuisines. We recently went to a pasta class and learned how to make delicious pasta with just eggs and flour. Watching my man fumble around kneading the pasta dough, but cut and fold ravioli with precision reminded me why I fell in love with him. How could this carbivore not love a man that can make pasta?! As we’ve grown older, we’ve grown to savor and love our food and each other. Zach and food are my weaknesses. I hope your love story is as yummy as mine.
Yield: 10 oz, approximately 2 large servings
3 oz Semolina flour
3 oz all purpose flour
Pinch of salt
Hand Kneed Method: Mix the 2 flours together and pile flour on work surface. Leave a little bit of flour off to the side (to add back into the dough if it’s too wet). Make a well in center of flour and crack the eggs into the center of the well. Use a fork to scramble the egg whites and yolks. Slowly, using the fork, begin to incorporate the flour, starting with the inner rim of the well. As you expand the well, be sure to build up the sides to hold in the mixture. When the majority of the flour is incorporated, the dough will begin to come together and you can begin kneading. Make sure to flour your hands before touching the dough. Fold dough repeatedly until flour is incorporated. If your dough is too sticky, kneed in some extra flour that you set aside. Knead for 10 minutes until the dough is elasticy. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.
Rolling out the Pasta: Start by cutting the ball of dough in half, to make it more manageable to work through a pasta machine. Coat the half of the dough in flour and roll it through the thickest setting of a pasta machine. Flour the dough again; throughout this process be sure your sheet of pasta has plenlty of flour on both sides, giving it a “dusty” appearance; this will ensure that your dough does not stick to itself after being rolled through the machine. Roll your dough through the next-thickest setting on the machine. Continue rolling your dough through each setting, getting thinner and thinner to achieve your desired pasta sheet thickness. Don’t worry if you think it’s too thin, it will plump up while cooking. Roll it to as thin as you can manage without it breaking.
We cut our pasta into long 1 inch strips for Pappardelle. We also made raviolis by putting a dollop of filling about 1/2 inch apart on a long sheet of pasta. We then covered the filling sheet with another sheet of pasta right on top. To make ravioli’s press the pasta sheets together around the filling, making sure there are no air bubbles in or around the filling. The cut the sheets into squares with each dollop of filling in the middle of each square (we used a pizza cutter).
Cooking the Pasta: Fresh pasta cooks much more quickly than dried. Fresh pasta should be cooked in heavily salted water that has come to a rolling boil. Ravioli take approximately 5 minutes from the moment they hit the water; Pappardelle (depending on thickness) take 2-3 minutes to cook. It’s always a good idea to taste one piece of pasta to see if it’s reached your desired texture before draining the entire pot.
Yield: 2 Quarts
1 1/2 cups diced onions
3/4 cup diced carrot
3/4 cup diced celery
6 cloves garlic, sliced
10 oz of your favorite cheap vodka
2 qts canned stewed whole tomatoes
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 bay leaves
Red pepper flakes to taste – optional
1 large handful fresh basil with stems
Salt and pepper to taste
Sweat onions, garlic, carrot and celery in olive oil until soft, about 7-10 minutes. Add tomatoes and then vodka, and simmer for about 30-40 minutes. Add cream and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove bay leaves, Puree in blender and adjust seasonings
Mushroom, Parmesan, and Ricotta Ravioli Filling
Yield: 30 Servings Ravioli
3 shallots, minced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 # mushrooms, chopped
2 1/4 cups shredded parmesan cheese
4 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
1 egg yolk
salt and pepper to taste
Saute shallots and garlic and mushrooms in olive oil over medium heat until mushrooms are cooked and excess liquid cooks off. Remove from heat and cool. Combine parmesan, ricotta, eggs, and mushroom mixture in bowl and mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside and use in ravioli.
Yield: 3 cups
3-4 cloves fresh garlic
3/4 cup pine nuts, sliced almonds or chopped walnuts
2 ½ oz grated Parmesan
½ lb basil leaves.
3 oz lemon juice
1 – 1 ¾ cups olive oil, depending on desired consistency
Salt and pepper to taste
In food processor, process garlic first, then nuts and cheese until nuts are just chopped. Add basil and lemon and pulse until leaves are chopped, while adding the oil. You might have to add basil in batches in order to fit it in the work bowl. Continue adding oil in steady stream until desired consistency is reached. Use less oil for spreading applications, more oil if you are topping pasta. Season with salt and pepper.