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Ravioli with fish filling July 17, 2010

Posted by inspiredbywolfe in Fish.
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First of all, I’d like to apologise for the rather haphazard nature of the posts over the last couple weeks. I’ve been working on a Secret Project which is (thankfully!) almost finished, and have been spending much of my free time first planning it, and then working on it. You’ll see the results soon as I’ll post about it – it is food related, and out of all the silly over-the-top ideas I’ve had, this one is by far the silliest! Once I’m done with this Secret Project, normal posting will resume. Moving on to today’s post…

Nero Wolfe doesn’t seem to eat a lot of pasta – except in an extreme situation where he is cooking for himself and Archie while in Montenegro (The Black Mountain). Perhaps pasta is not fancy enough for him if he has Fritz on hand? Having never made pasta before, I decided it was time to give it a go. The fact that I didn’t have a pasta machine didn’t deter me!

I decided to make ravioli, as it is my favourite type of pasta, and began by making up the ravioli filling. I minced up some pieces of flathead as I’d decided on fish filling, and added garlic, ginger, chili, lemon rind and an egg to bind it all together. I wanted to keep the filling fairly simple while still being tasty.

Next, I started one the sauce. Again I wanted something fairly simple which was still tasty, so I used tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, carrots and an onion, all chopped into small-ish pieces. I added salt and pepper, and let the whole lot simmer for quite a while.

It was at this point that I actually started working on the pasta! As usual if I’m trying a new ‘base’ recipe, I turned to Ruhlman’s Ratio App. While I knew pasta was a combination of egg and flour, I wasn’t sure of the quantities to use. I mixed, and then kneaded the dough, letting it rest for a little while in the fridge (incidentally, the next time I made pasta, I made the dough in advance and left it in the fridge until the next day, and it still worked fine). Then I began rolling….

As I mentioned, I don’t have a pasta machine, so knew I’d be relying on my rolling pin and brute force. As it turned out, I was able to get it fairly thin without too much effort – although it did take a while to roll out evenly. I used liberal amounts of flour to ensure it didn’t stick, and was rewarded in the end with a fairly thin sheet.

It wasn’t as thin as it would have been had I used a pasta machine, but it wasn’t too bad! As I was aiming for fairly ‘rustic’ pasta I wasn’t very worried; if I’d been doing a different type of pasta I may have tried to get it thinner.

I had divided my dough into two and rolled them both out. I took one of the sheets and began to put spoonfuls of filling out onto the sheet. I used about 1 1/2 – 2 teaspoons of filling per piece.

I beat an egg, and used a pastry brush to spread the egg mix in between the blobs of filling. I carefully got my second pasta sheet and lay it on the top – more difficult than it sounds, because of course they weren’t the same size! I pushed the second sheet down with my fingers, trying to get as much air as I could out of the ravioli. The egg made it easy to stick down. Once I’d stuck it down, I used my pizza roller to cut them up into individual ravioli.

By this time, the sauce had been cooking for a while and reduced nicely. I cooked the ravioli a few at a time (since they were so large!) in a pot of boiling water. They didn’t take long to cook and were soon floating to the top of the water. After they had all cooked, I drained them well to remove any excess water, and served them with the tomato sauce over the top.

While the end result may not look like much, the pasta was delicious. The lemon and chili came through well, and the filling was much more tastier and distinct than most of the store-bought pasta is. The fish filling also blended well with the tomato and vegetable sauce, and the ravioli, while on the thick side, wasn’t so thick that the pasta overwhelmed everything else.

Having never made pasta before, I was definitely pleased with the result. Cooking this dish for me was as much about learning the techniques of making and working with pasta dough, as it was about the final product. Once again I was amazed with how easy it was to make, and the end result is definitely worth the effort involved. While Nero Wolfe may only cook pasta when Fritz is not available, I definitely think that pasta has a large place to play on the gourmet table.

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