The Mint Shop

The Mint Shop

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Sunday whimsies

Sometimes the best recipes are the result of mistakes. I might not got that far to claim that what we made tonight amounted to great food. But it was pretty nice. And overall quite easy, even for those who don't think they like spending too much time behind the cooker.

The original ideas came out of the aftermaths of our walk in the country side. Inevitably around this time of year you will hear me saying "why don't we go for a walk where there are trees"?

And our search brought us to Wandlebury. I am sure most of you know my obsession for the Autumnal colours. And I will never get bored enough to my ooohhs and ahhhhas.

So once back home I thought of having a menu which could go nicely with the atmosphere. Pumpkin ravioli seemed appropriate (with the plus of giving me the chance to practice once more before the next cooking class I'm going to give).

The recipe requires that you peel and cut the pumpkin into small pieces. However, our pieces were far too small and thin. The result was that they cooked too quickly and turned into crispy layers of vegetable. But they were actually rather nice with a sprinkle of salt and coarsely grated parmisan on top, a healthy snack.

Pumpkin crisps

Makes 25

250g pumpkin
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp grated almond

Peel and cut the pumpkin into small and thin strips. Distribute on a greased tray and cover and toss with the oil.

Cook in the oven for 40minutes until crispy. Sprinkle with salt and almond. Before serving sprinkle some roughly grated parmisan.

With a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, they're perfect as little nibbles.

Despite our detour, we decided to carry on with the menu. As the ravioli had lost their main ingredients, i.e. the pumpkin, I thought they could have worked equally well with porcini. I would strongly advise that you use chestnut mushrooms as they taste a lot better than normal mushrooms and probably closer to porcini. You can increase the flavour with dried porcini (the same tricks you would use for the risotto, see two posts ago).

Porcini ravioli

For 2 people

200g flour
1 egg
1 tbsp olive oil
150g mushrooms
100g dried porcini
100g grated parmisan
1 garlic clove
1 handful of parsley

1. First make the pasta. Make a well with the flour. Crack the egg in it and using a fork beat the egg catching some of the flour at the time. Pour the oil in it and continue whisking to incorporate all the flour. Finish the mix by using your hands. If it is too wet, add some flour and knead for a couple of minutes. Make a ball and wrap in cling film.Leave in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.

2. Make the filling. Soak the dried porcini in warm water and cover the bowl with a lid to ensure the water the porcini are soaking in remains in the bowl.

3. Cook the fresh mushrooms in a pan with a tbsp of oil and the garlic (only chopped into half so that once it is become brown it can be removed). Once they are almost cooked, add the parsley.

4. Squeeze the porcini from their water and add them to the fresh mushrooms.

5. I added also some strends of saffron to be fancy, but if you don't have them (and usually people don't unless they've recently been to Syria or a similar place and a friend of yours bought 3 boxes for the price of half of what you get here!).

6. Skipping most likely step 5, blend the mushroom in a mixer. Add the parmisan. The mix needs to be quite thick. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste.

7. Remove the pasta from the fridge and slowly pass it through the pasta machine making sure that you go through each number of thickness to avoid holes (from larger to thinner).

8. Once you have made long strips, place a small tsp of mushroom mix on the pasta strip making sure you leave some space in between.

9. Fold the half (horizontally speaking) of the pasta onto the other half so that filling gets closed. With a finger, create the ravioli and then cut them using a knife or a ravioli wheel.

10. Finish each raviolo making sure that each side is properly sealed as otherwise the filling will come out while they are cooking.

11. Cook them in salted boiling water for 5-6 minutes and then serve them with melted butter and sage with a generous sprinkle of parmisan.

We made a few tortellini as well but I think it is a bit too difficult to explain without showing you in person. But let's try....Essentially, you make a series of circles and in each circle, in the middle, you put a small amount of the filling. Fold the circle into half to make a half moon and seal the sides. Then stick together the edges of the moon and bend slightly the little head left. Let me know if you've tried following this explanation. IF they work, then I'm genius!

More snaps from our inspiring Autumnal walk...

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