Food Talk Friday: Ravioli

We made homemade ravioli last week.

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Filling the Ravioliera

We’d made our own pasta a few times in the last year or so, but we avoided ravioli for several reasons:

The filling — what to put in it?

The work — we’ve been told by others that they are extremely labor intensive

The unknown — we didn’t know what we didn’t know about making ravioli from scratch.

But we have a secret weapon. A family member who’s made thousands of them in her lifetime. Or at least been a helper. She knew what we didn’t know.

So we made a trip and combined her family recipe with our new pasta roller attachment.  I failed to get many pictures of the process and the finished product but we did bring some home, so I’ll do better when we eat the next batch.

The Ravioliera

The old family recipe made 1000 raviolis. We cut that by 75% and aimed for 250. We ended up with just under 200. Our mentor had her old family roller. But since we weren’t doing 1000, we tried to use this new-fangled Raviolera. It’s a metal form. In theory, you lay your pasta sheet on the form, fill the divots, top with another layer and then use a small rolling pin to fasten the whole thing together. Unfortunately, it didn’t work. I don’t know if it’s a design flaw or a production flaw, but the ridged edges are not high enough to cut through the ravioli. Instead, we had to pry each ravioli out, one at a time, after running a knife along the edges to be sure we had a clean cut. We tried it a couple of times, with the tray dry, with it oiled and with floured and oiled. The flour and oil yielded the squares a bit more easily, but not enough to make that process worthwhile. That thing is going back to the store.

The square cutter

Then we used an individual cutter: This one looks like it should have taken a long time, since we were stamping twice, once on the first layer, then again after placing a bit of filling on the dough. But it ended up being much quicker than having to pry the others out of that contraption.

We used a filling of chicken and pork. Stud Muffin seared the meat, then they were pulsed together in a food processor. Seasonings, spinach, cream and butter were added. A dollop of the filling was placed on each square. We brushed a little water along the edges, to be sure and get a good seal. Then we cut out the squares.

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The Perfect Pairing
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So good. Too bad I forgot to take a picture before the plate was empty.

The raviolis then went in the freezer. Once frozen, we put them in bags and then back into the freezer for storage. Except for that night’s dinner. We boiled them for a few minutes and served them with red sauce and parmesan cheese. We even found an Italian red wine to go with the dinner.

A little bread, a little salad, a little wine, a little pasta.

Maybe the perfect meal.

Woe! It’s Wednesday: Minor Irritants

Life in the 21st century is a marvel of technological achievement.

iphoneIf only they all worked as they’re supposed to. It took me an hour to get four photos from my phone to my laptop.

Same with people. If only everyone agreed to me, life would be much simpler. For me, anyway.

Tech hates Stud Muffin. He cannot do anything online without a tutorial or other help from me. But often, as soon as I walk into the office, the site he couldn’t find will miraculously appear. Or he’ll click on something three times and not get the result he wants. I click the same thing and up pops exactly what he was looking for. It’s a curse. For both of us.

Traffic is irritating, too. People pull in front of me as if I’m invisible.

E-mail taunts me. If I check e-mail on my phone for a couple of days, when I download it all to the computer, I can easily have a couple hundred emails. And the majority of them are not spam. Facebook and Twitter and Instagram demand to be checked, in case I’ve missed something important.

Some days it feels like all I do is chase my technological tail. It makes vacations doubly precious. Time to get away from the routine and technology. And recharge and rest.

And let go of some minor irritants.

Book Talk Tuesday: Ballroom!

I picked this one up from the library as research for my work-in-progress. It’s written by a former competitive dance champion named Sharon Savoy. She starts with her own background and journey through the world of dance, but also gives lots of background and insider information.

ballroomI learned lots of good stuff that may not make it into the book, but just knowing that process of dressing and styling is referred to as grooming is helpful. It’s the kind of little detail that adds verisimilitude to the story.

My rough draft is done, but as I go back and begin the rewrite and polish, these details are just what I need.

The book is well-written, although occasionally a bit stilted. The pictures are an album of 1990s hair and costume styles.

It’s worth every penny I’ll have to pay when I return it, overdue, to the library tomorrow.

Media Monday: Unbroken

I finally finished the book last week and saw the movie over the weekend. I wasn’t sure what to expect. A lot of comments I’d heard and reviews I’d read were fairly harsh.


I thought it was excellent. Director Angelina Jolie took a complex and sprawling story and put it on screen to run just a bit over two hours.

A few details were changed or glossed over, but the essence of the story was true to itself

Louis Zamperini was an incorrigible delinquent in Torrance, California until he discovered running. He was a star runner for Torrance High and went to the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. He planned to return to the Olympics in Tokyo in 1942. He did go to Japan, but as a Prisoner of War, after floating on a life raft for 47 days across the Pacific.

Some of the book’s details were compressed. The only real change I caught was toward the end when, in the movie, Zamperini and his fellow POWs were enslaved by their Japanese captors and forced to work in the coal mines. In the book, Zamperini did have to work, but not in the coal mines. Only enlisted men were forced to the mines. Officers (Zamperini was a captain) had other work.

I understand why the screenwriter, director, and producer changed it. The image of so many skeletal men trudging up and down walkways with baskets of coal while coated in black dust was striking on screen. It was a small detail and I don’t have a problem with it. The beatings Zamperini endured were mostly off-screen but no less horrible in the imagination. There were some kind Japanese guards and they weren’t shown. Altogether, I think the small changes were understandable and forgivable.

Many book to movie adaptions lose something in the transition. The two art forms are so different.

Before we saw the movie, we watched a profile Tom Brokaw did of Louis Zamperini and the movie and 2D11741230-today-jolie-brokaw-140225-10.blocks_desktop_largeAngelina Jolie. Her passion for this project was evident as was Zamperini’s regard for her. His determination and perseverance inspired her to do his story proud. I believe she did.

Food Talk Friday: Cheese

I once heard someone say if they couldn’t eat mayonnaise anymore, life would be hard. My husband can’t live without peanut butter and popcorn.

cheeseMy must-have is cheese. Hard, soft, semi-soft. Grated, sliced, spooned. I don’t care. I love it. I want it.

On pizza. In lasagna. On enchiladas. On crackers. By itself. On a bagel. On a burger. I’ve never had a cheese I didn’t like. I’ve never had a meal that included cheese that I didn’t like.

Smoked gouda. Havarti with dill. Stilton with caramelized onion. Pesto cream cheese. Dry jack. Feta. Cotija. Cheddar. Swiss.

You name it.

Really, I mean it. What’s your favorite?