Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Ravioli of Heaven and a Revelation

My raptures over this ravioli win will mean a lot more if I just clarify one thing.  I kind of call myself a foodie, but I don't really feel like a foodie yet.  I mean, I luuurve food and would marry some of it if I wasn't already married, but for some reason in my mind to be a foodie you reeeeally have to know your food, and I don't quite know it all that well yet.  Foodies also seem to have been born with a large vocabulary of food-related words, like braised, charcuterie, and kohlrabie - I don't have that intimate relationship with foods and flavours yet.  All I know is what's yummy for my tummy.

Wine, on the other hand, and in particular Pinot Noir, I have a very familiar relationship with due to all of the "research" Jonno and I did when picking out our wines for the wedding.   

Oops, I digress, back to food.  My precious.  Now, my mom is a great cook and we had lots of great food growing up, so I like to think that I have a good base of food learnin' in my head.  But it's been 10 years since I've lived at home; the first two years of those I spent eating university campus food, and the next five I was living in an apartment but really only cooking enough to survive, so I've only been cooking cooking for a few years now.  Include the fact that I lived in a dinky flat in Melbourne for a year with minimal kitchen implements and less money and the nine months spent on wedding planning/wine research, and that brings us up to The Wedding last November.  Also, I'm from the States, where pre-packaged, pre-prepared, processed food is the name of the game and cooking out of a box is a normal thing, so I'm completely set back in the New Zealand food world where people have been baking from scratch and growing their own veggies since forevers.  I don't know why I'm feeling the need to justify myself and lack of real cooking experience, but there it is, my history with Food. 

I'm so completely ecstatic now that I can indulge in a real relationship with all things edible that I didn't know where to start for a while.  I bought cookbooks on a whim, I took some cooking courses through Community Education and learned a little (and I mean a very little), I've baked many things including 72 cupcakes which were actually successful, and several things were which complete fails

Last week I took a Ravioli-making course at La Bella Italia in Petone and first of all, I have to say how much I love that restaurant-in-a-store-with-a-cooking-school.  The food is amazing, you can buy Italian ingredients and deli items like cheeses and prosciutto, and it just feels like a little slice of Italy.  This class was no exception - we were welcomed with some bubbles and nibbles of Italian variety, which I am of the opinion that some kind of adult beverage is essential to any good cooking class, just as it is when you make dinner!  Right?

Chef Gabriele showed us how to mix and knead the pasta dough, roll it out using the pasta machine (which I now MUST HAVE!), make two different kinds of fillings, and assemble the ravioli.  We ended up with enough for at least four good-sized portions, as well as a take-home bag filled with the recipes learned, some parmegiana-reggiano cheese, and prosciutto.  He also may have verbally told us how to prepare our lovely pasta, but I had had enough bubbly for everything go in one ear and out the other, so the first time I made some ravioli, it was just eh, ok.  
Make a well in the flour and crack eggs directly into it.

Filling made with pumpkin - delicious.

Rolling out the dough, lightning fast!

What a drinking game this would make if you took a shot after you sealed each ravioli!

But last night, oh baby, last night was magnificent.  It was literally the best thing I have ever cooked (excluded baked goods of course) - In. My. Life.  Also the first time I have ever cooked silverbeet, so this was a double win for me!!  Never mind that I had made the ravs myself, this would work with any pre-made stuff as well, it's the sauce that makes this to dieeeeee for.  Even food-indifferent Husband was swooning. 

Ravioli in White Mushroom Sauce
adapted from this recipe from Cooks.com
makes enough sauce for four serves
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 bunch of silverbeet, chopped
  • a double handful of your favorite mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 1 sm. onion, chopped
  • a good handfull of diced cooked ham or proscuitto
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesiano Romano cheese
  • 300 ml cream
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper
  • enough ravioli for four people
  1. In a large pan or non-stick wok, heat up the olive oil and butter.  Saute the onion until soft but not too translucent.  Add in the ham/prosciutto, mushrooms and silverbeet and cook for another minute til they are soft.
  2. Add in flour, chicken broth, cream, wine, nutmeg and half the cheese.  Season with salt and pepper, and simmer until you can't stand how good it smells anymore.
  3. Cook ravioli according to whatever directions they came with, then add them to your sauce and let them mingle for a minute.
  4. Serve with crusty bread and a generous sprinkling of more cheese.  Trust me on the bread, you will need it to mop up some sauce, and you do NOT want to waste any of this sauce!

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