Tuesday, January 5, 2010

PRIMO PIATTO.

A month without a blog? OUCH. What have I been doing that is so important? UM. Lots.

Due to the gluttonous quantities of FOOD and DRINK that have been forced down my neck without my consent...kind of..,the snow turning house into prison, and dreadfully cosy fires, I have only just been unable to haul myself out of the yuletide stupour. And having just been handed a 'soldier' of bare, toasted, Swedish rye bread I think it is time to take a hint.

Here's to 2010!

This week's blog is a matter of life and death. It holds the first of three deliciously inspired recipes, stolen straight from the taste buds of you lovely readers. When I asked 'What would be your last supper?' way back in November you came back with some fantastic ideas. From these, I have chosen 3 courses; all very delicious, hearty and, as the season is most definitely winter, HOT.
So let us begin with the starter, just to be wild...

THE STARTER


Thank you to Mattie for her idea of ravioli stuffed with leeks and bacon:

"May I offer you in exchange the strange but wonderful filling suggestion of sweated leeks and bacon with a smidgen of cream and plenty pepper - the winner of the various fillings I tried on my teenage guinea pigs"

In truth, it's a filling that I would never normally put with pasta but, not being too far off a teenage guinea pig, I really liked it. I added a touch of nutmeg to give the filler a subtle sweetness and blended the mixture to make the ravioli melt in the mouth. As a starter I would serve two or three large ravioli for each diner in a deep pasta bowl, drizzled with butter and sprinkled with Parmesan.

FOR 8 wonderful GUESTS:
THE RAVIOLI
My new vintage pasta machine arrived with enormous welcome - the days of dead arms are over - and it has been awfully helpful for perfecting this recipe.

If you want to make the pasta from scratch, check out the basic pasta recipe on Tortellini or not Tortellini and make around 1kg of pasta. Any left over can be dried or frozen and eaten at a later date. There is NOTHING better than homemade pasta. It can take up to an hour to make if you are doing it all by hand the sweat and blood way. But with a food processor and rolling machine it should take much less.


TIP: You can make the pasta dough in advance and pop it in the fridge, or even freeze it but, if you can, leave the rolling to the last minute for ultimate freshness.

THE FILLING

4 Leeks, finely chopped
2 tablespoons of double cream or 4 tablespoons of ricotta
6 rashers of bacon or pancetta, chopped into small pieces
Pinch of grated nutmeg
Salt and pepper



VERY VERY SIMPLE. Fry the bacon until completely cooked and starting to brown. Throw in the leeks and sweat until soft (the leeks...not you). Add the cream or ricotta, and stir. You don't want the mixture to be too runny; it will turn stuffing the ravioli into slippery business.
Add the salt and pepper to taste and grate in the nutmeg. With a food processor or hand-blender, whizz the mixture to a firm, moist consistency.

Having rolled out the pasta into thin sheets (the smallest notch on the machine), cut the pasta into large 9cm x 17cm shapes (make it 6cm x 12cm if you want smaller peices) and place the filling onto of the bottom half of the rectangle.
Fold the top half over and press firmly around all edges so the filling is tucked into the middle with no gaps. If you find that the filling is spilling out, try reducing the amount, or changing the size of the pasta cut.

THE GARNISH

100g salted butter, melted
50g grated Parmesan
16 basil leaves to decorate

Once the ravioli are shaped to your fancy, pop them into a pan of boiling water for approx. 5 minutes, until the pasta is soft but slightly al dente. The time can always vary depending on your hob so keep going back to check on them. Whilst they are cooking melt the butter and grate Parmesan. Drain. Pour over buttery juice and sprinkle with a little cheese. They are now ready to serve as you starter.

Pour yourself and your guests a glass of a cold crisp white wine.
Do start. Chin chin.

Stay in tune for next week's scrumptious MAIN.

5 comments:

  1. 'handmade' pasta with the aid of a pasta maker not a wine bottle.... a key to the deliciousness of the dish i feel!!
    xxxx

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  2. Yes, quite. My hand held the dough as it went in and came out of the machine so I think it still counts. Not forgetting twisting the handle. Phew. And it tasted a LOT more like pasta.

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  3. I wonder whether one can adapt this for those of us who a) don't have the patience to make pasta from scratch and b) don't have an exquisite pasta machine! - thinking on my feet (sofa) here - making the filling and then using it as a sauce to stir into a pot a freshly cooked pasta like Penne???? Will let you know how I get on once I try it. :-)

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  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  5. Sounds perfect. Or stuff some large pasta shells with the filling?

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