Sunday, July 8, 2012


Last night I was sitting around thinking, "What on earth am I going to use all this delicious homemade ricotta that I just whipped up for?"

If you saw my last post you'll know that the ricotta I made, while initially it tasted a bit salty, ended up with a fantastic mellow flavor that I could have easily used interchangeably with a store bought variety. This gave me the issue of having too many options! I know, boo hoo, such a big issue... but I started to narrow my options down when I remembered we were supposed to have company over today so I wanted something that I could prepare ahead for everyone to enjoy as soon as we got home from church, and I wanted to give them the best chance to enjoy it, even if they weren't whey-cheese lovers. Pasta!

As I mentioned previously, I bought a ravioli stamp while we were on vacation last month, and a pasta maker from the charity garage sale I was working at a few weeks ago. And this was clearly the chance I was waiting for to try them out! Any time previously that I've thought about making up pasta, I didn't have what I needed to make a yummy filling (which sounds ridiculous given the wide range of things you can stuff in there, but honest! I didn't!). This time I had no excuse. There was a delectable bowl of fresh cheese sitting on my counter begging me to wrap it up in fresh dough, newly rolled out.

Care to hear some wisdom I garnered from last night?

Rolling out pasta with a pasta bike is not something one masters on their first try. Like, not even close. I knew I was supposed to 'catch' the dough on the underside of the bike, but between rolling too slow, my dough perhaps being a bit too sticky, and just not bothering, I very often got my dough torn up from wrapping around the rollers. The worst part was the number of times I did this when I was almost completely done rolling a piece. You start a pasta bike on the #1 setting, gently feeding through a slightly flattened lump of dough. You continue to feed it through #1 for a few turns, folding it in half each time, before you progress to #2, then #3, then #4 and #5 and, finally, #6 (there are more numbers but I was pushing my luck getting to #6!) Each number goes a bit thinner until you have a sheet resembling phyllo on your last crank. And about 4 times I got up between #4 and #6, and halfway down my sheet something would snag and tear a big line down the center. ARGH!

Which brings me to garnered wisdom point #2:
Rolling pasta is a two person job.

That's not a strict rule. I successfully finished 2 out of my 4 lumps of dough all by myself (after a couple tries). But there's just no denying how much quicker everything went when I fed it through the machine and caught it, while Matt turned the crank.

Point #3: Don't be a chicken - turn that crank like you mean it!
I started getting skittish about having my pasta snag, and so I started turning the crank slower to make sure I had the bottom, but somehow, that just made it worse. Turning the crank at a nice, even clip helped push the bottom clear.

Point #4: Don't start making homemade pasta for the first time at 8:20 at night.
Yikes. This is a pretty big one. If I were more skilled with a pasta bike, this might not have been an issue, but for a newbie who had to continually redo some pieces, this was rough. My children were tired. My husband was exhausted. I was beat! But I couldn't stop and come back to it later because the dough would dry up, so I had to keep going. I was done by 10:30, and if I had more skill it would have been sooner, but as a reward for their patience (??!?!) I let the boys sample some of the finished product (which I overboiled so it was rubbery - whoops!) But note the mess in the picture? I still had to clean that up before bed!

The verdict? That was some flipping delicious pasta filling!

Ricotta Ravioli Filling:
1 c. fresh ricotta
1/4 c. grated parmesan
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
zest of a lemon
1 egg

Oh, and it sounds fabulous and all to make homemade ricotta and fresh handmade pasta, but if you judged kitchen skills by how well you make Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, I'd get a failing grade. Half of them were burnt and the ones that didn't burn were squished, and somehow when I was flipping one, the top came off and the cheese folded in half (yah, I really don't know...)

A sure sign that I should stick to cheese and pasta.

Mrs. VanderLeek ;)

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