Thursday, August 7, 2014

Homemade Spinach and Cheese Ravioli #CookbooksandCalphalon

Making your own pasta dough is right up there on the satisfaction scale with baking bread. You know what’s in it. It’s fresh and the taste is far superior to store-bought. Best of all, it’s surprisingly easy. 

You might notice, if you stopped by earlier, that I am posting twice today. And that’s because, despite my prior Sunday Supper commitment (I’m hosting for the very first time, guys! So excited about this week’s theme: Saving Summer!) I couldn’t turn down a request from my fellow blogger Colleen from Souffle Bombay to talk about cookbooks and what they mean to me.

I am a card-carrying, silver-plated, officially stamped, internationally certified member of The Cookbook Junkies. And that’s the truth. But today, at Colleen’s request, in exchange for some pretty cool giveaways for you, my readers, (from Calphalon and Page Street Publishing – Yay!) I am going to tell you about one special cookbook, in my case, it’s the Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook, 1980 edition. It was given to me and my husband for our very first married Christmas, back in 1986, by my mother-in-law.

My husband thumbed its pages more than I did that first year. He was working offshore so, on his time off, he was househusband, cooking meals and doing laundry while I was at work. I’d often get phone calls with random questions, like “What exactly is a Dutch oven and do we have one?” and I’d know he was planning dinner, hunched over that big book with its four-color photographs of Every Single Dish (no kidding) and making his shopping list. He made a pretty mean lasagna back in those days!

It was the only cookbook I took with me when we first moved overseas in 1987. In the days long before the internet and handy Google searches, it was my lifeline to classic recipes with tips on hostessing, how to fold fancy napkins or calculate food and drink amounts for party guests and, before too long, baby showers. With each move we have made over the years, and no matter how many cookbooks I’ve since collected, Old Faithful was the one cookbook that came in the suitcase. I didn’t dare put Good Housekeeping in the shipment! What if it went missing? And, of course, I’d need it before the shipment could arrive six weeks later anyway. I have made recipes from its grease-stained leaves more times than I can count so it broke my heart when it started to fall apart. Its pages were spattered with dishes and desserts and gravies from family meals too numerous to count. Sticky baby fingerprints got ever increasingly bigger as our daughters grew into capable young women and became competent on their own in the kitchen. But far from outlasting its usefulness, and despite its own shattered spine, our Good Housekeeping still formed the backbone of the kitchen repertoire.

The great book was probably close to 20 years old when I first searched online for that same 1980 edition and bought a stranger’s less-used spare. I knew it was only a matter of time till the original would have to be retired. And then it suddenly occurred to me that my daughters would need their own copies when they moved away from home! Otherwise, how would they make their daddy’s pancakes and waffles? Or our family’s apple pie? Not to mention the basic yellow cake that celebrated so many early birthdays! Boxed cake mix? Pfft. Couldn’t find those most places we’d lived, even if I'd wanted to. I found two more copies online and held them dear until it was time to write the inscriptions in the front covers and send them, and their girls, out into the world.

In due time, the original cookbook was indeed retired and is now up high in a safe cupboard, carefully inscribed newlywed Christmas message intact, its same edition stand-in doing the same remarkable job in my kitchen.

It’s still the only cookbook that comes in my suitcase when we move.

Making fresh pasta
Whenever my daughters are home, we make ravioli with the fresh pasta recipe in our most dependable cookbook. If friends are around, everyone gets into the act. I took these photos a couple of years back and never have posted them or this recipe. But this seemed like the perfect time to share. Pasta making should be a group affair, dare I even say, celebration. Just try to ignore the cluttered counter, okay?

For the pasta dough:
2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cups or 280- 315g flour (plus extra for rolling out the pasta)
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon olive oil or salad oil
1 teaspoon salt

For the ravioli filling:
3 oz or 85g grated mozzarella
3 oz or 85g cream cheese
1 3/4 oz or 50g freshly grated Parmesan
4 1/4 oz or 120g frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 egg
Few grinds fresh black pepper

In large bowl, combine 1 cup or 125g flour, 1/3 cup or 80ml water and remaining dough ingredients. With mixer at slow speed, beat for two minutes, occasionally scraping bowl with a rubber spatula.

Using a wooden spoon, stir in enough of remaining flour to make a soft dough.

Turn out onto floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Wrap in cling film and let stand 30 minutes.

While the dough rests, we can get on to the ravioli filling. It couldn’t be simpler. Mix all the ingredients together well in a mixing bowl. Set aside.

Once the dough has rested, cut off a small piece about the size of a tennis ball or perhaps just a little smaller. Wrap the dough again with the cling film.

Flour it well and use a rolling pin or a pasta roller to roll it out quite thinly to the size of your ravioli plaque.

Flour your ravioli plaque liberally and lay the sheet of pasta on top. Fill each hole with about a teaspoon of the filling.

Cut another piece of dough off of the big ball and, following the same instructions, roll it out to the size of your ravioli plaque.

Use a pastry brush to wet the pasta on the plaque between the spoons of filling.

Carefully, starting at one end, lay the second sheet of pasta on top of the filled one, sticking the two sheets together and pressing out the air as you go along.

Turn the ravioli plaque over and let the filled pasta drop out onto your countertop. If it sticks, just gently pry it off.

Trim the ravioli around the edges and cut them apart.

Set them aside on a plate lined with cling film and flour.

Continue the process until all the ravioli are rolled out, filled and cut apart. If you can get an assembly line going, it goes much faster. And it's much more fun!

Bribe the workers, if you must.

The ravioli can be stored in the refrigerator, covered with cling film or even frozen until you are ready to boil them.

To cook, boil water with salt and a little olive oil in a large pot, as you would for regular pasta and lower the ravioli in gently. Fresh pasta only takes a few minutes to cook.

See that? It's my biggest Calphalon pot.

Serve with the sauce of your choice.

It is my pleasure to introduce you to my fellow Cookbooks & Calphalon bloggers who have chosen recipes from or inspired by a cookbook that means a lot to them and are sharing their food stories.




Now on to the GIVEAWAYS! 

Many thanks to Colleen from Souffle Bombay for organizing this great event and to our sponsors Page Street Publishing and Calphalon for generously donating the items for our giveaways. Please be aware that these prizes will only ship to US addresses. You must be 18 or older to enter.

First Prize 

Second Prize

a Rafflecopter giveaway
And another chance to win from Calphalon!

Also, now through September 1st, Calphalon is celebrating couples! From the first meal they create together in their new home to the meal they share on their 25th anniversary, couples cook up memories! The cookware they choose serves as the foundation for which these “Couples Cooking” memories are made.

Calphalon wants to recognize these #CouplesCooking moments by asking couples to share pictures of the meals they cook together for a chance to win $1,000 in Calphalon cookware! Calphalon is inviting couples to post photos of the meals they prepare with their significant other on Calphalon’s Facebook page.  To enter, couples will be asked to share why the dish is unique or special to them and use the hashtag #CouplesCooking. How fun is THAT?!

***Disclaimer: This giveaway is being sponsored by Page Street Publishing and Calphalon. Cookbook & Calphalon Bloggers have not received products or been compensated as a part of this giveaway. ***

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