18 March 2013

GUEST BLOG: Ravioli ravioli...

By guest blogger HELEN ROADHOUSE

The class at Chorlton High School last Tuesday promised to be a new experience for all of us: making our own pasta from scratch and creating ravioli with different delicious fillings.

The basic pasta recipe is so simple - just a few ingredients of flour, eggs and some olive oil mixed into a dough in the food processor - and it took literally seconds. It was once out of the food processor that the hard work started. The dough had to be brought together and kneaded quite hard to work the gluten and make it elastic. It has to be a very firm and almost dryish dough so as not to be sticky and so it would not fall apart when rolled in the machines. Once Kevin, aka The Ginger Kid, was happy that everyone had managed to get their dough to the right consistency and it was kneaded sufficiently, he asked for it to be wrapped in clingfilm and left to rest until we had made the fillings. 

There were two fillings: a vegetarian butternut squash one and a crab one. Kevin had bought three cooked crabs to be used and he showed us how to expertly extract the meat, and discard the dead man's fingers - this part of the crab will make you poorly if you eat it, but is easily identifiable and easily discarded. Everyone took great relish in smashing the the shells with rolling pins and winkling out the tasty meat from the legs. Most participants had not done this themselves before so found it an interesting learning bonus on top of making the fresh pasta. The crab was mashed up with herbs as was the roasted squash and there we had two delicious fillings ready for the pasta.

Kevin deftly demonstrated rolling the dough and passing it through the pasta machines. These machines have up to six notches so that the roller can be set to different widths. Each time the pasta dough was wound through, the machine was switched to a narrower notch until the dough was thin enough to use. Kevin made this process look very easy, and he said it was, although there were various disbelieving comments from the participants! It was great fun watching everyone have a go and, while a couple of people needed a helping hand, ultimately everyone ended up with great pasta. Small squares were cut and filled, some with the crab mix and some with the butternut squash, then the squares were folded over into crescent shapes and the edges squeezed together, then the ravioli was gently popped into boiling water and cooked for three minutes. 

Once drained, the ravioli was served with a buttery lemon sauce, and everyone tucked into their tasty pasta parcels topped with some grated Grana Padano cheese. How satisfying to have created your own pasta from scratch and turned it into delicious ravioli. Helena said she would have liked to have done this session with her friend or daughter; Jo said that she thought the fillings were really interesting and would have loved to have had some wine with it! Pamela was surprised at how easy it was to make the dough.

There are more photos from this amazing session here and you can still sign up for Kevin's next session, Impressive Afters on Tuesday 16 April, here.

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