Wednesday, September 29, 2010

As Homemade as Possible #1: Cheese Ravioli 3 Course Meal

Dinner: Creamy Cucumber Gazpacho, Breadsticks, Cheese Raviolis, and Chocolate Ice Cream
1 hour 45 minutes

After a week of waiting, it was finally time to make raviolis from Mark Bittman’s first edition of How to Cook Everything. I was so excited i didnt take pictures. I used the Egg fresh pasta for the noodles and the basic cheese filling for the insides. I wanted to make everything from scratch but chickened out and picked up Newman’s Own marinara sauce. Since the meal was only for two people, I made a half recipe of everything but the noodles. We still ended up with leftovers.

The breadsticks were started first using the food processor. They needed to rise for 45 minutes before you make the breadsticks. I was making a half order since there is no need for two people to eat 24 breadsticks. About half way through I forgot that I was cutting the recipe in half. I ended up using whole recipe amounts of oil, honey and salt. This caused the need of more flour to be used to have dough that is not just a pile of stickiness. The breadsticks were brushed with melted garlic butter while baking.

Chocolate ice cream took more time than I thought it should. Slowly heating milk on medium low heat is like watching paint dry. Once the milk was added to the egg mixture, it became custard quickly. I cooled the mixture in ice water and put in the ice cream maker while we were eating. The ice cream churned for only 10 minutes and then put into a plastic container and allowed to harden in the freezer. I used 1% milk for the milk and half-and-half instead of heavy cream to make the ice cream lighter on the fat end.

The gazpacho was the most knife intensive dish of the evening. Cucumbers, peppers, jalapeƱos and cilantro must all be chopped before being put into a blender. Not much cutting in general but still the most of the evening. Since I did a half recipe, only one and a half tablespoons of lime juice was needed. I used most of the juice from one lime. One lime should have 2 tablespoons of juice.

The raviolis were the easiest dish of the evening. The dough was made with only eggs salt and flour; and the filling is made with eggs, ricotta, mozzarella, and parsley. It is important when you are rolling out the dough to roll the dough as thin as possible; a thickness of 1/8th inch is what I rolled. The dough will plump in the water. The recipe tells you to separate the dough into 5 pieces. It is important to cut into equal pieces to make your job easier when you try to match the sheets of pasta together for the top and bottom of the ravioli.

Thoughts on the meal:
Overall, it came out pretty well considering that all of the recipes were new. The ice cream was great with the changes I made and would be even better if made with heavy cream and whole milk. The cheese mixture needed more flavoring, more salt and or a stronger cheese. The cookbook had a variation for using parmesan instead of fresh mozzarella. The noodles were perfect, no changes needed there. The gazpacho was too sour; the juice from one lime was too much juice. The breadsticks were dense but very tasty; maybe making them to recipe would be helpful next time.

What I learned:
  • When cutting a recipe in half, it is important to remember that you are when each ingredient is introduced
  • Measure the juice from a lime-Do not assume that it is and average lime and therefore 2 tablespoons of juice
  • When making bread, a food processer cuts down on kneading time
  • The only way to tell if, food is tasty is to taste it