Friday, January 20, 2006

Recipe for disaster – Ravioli with mushroom and cheese stuffing

Ok! I admit… I sometimes cook very VERY stupidly.

I admit… I did not look for any recipe or try to learn something about pasta before attempting this dish.

The result? Well let’s say that while some parts of the dish were excellent, the texture and even the overall flavour were wrong. And I worked hours to produce that deceiving meal. Let me explain what happened.

A few days ago, I decided that I wanted to make mushroom and cheese ravioli and serve them in a mushroom broth. I thought this would be simple but I was wrong. Well no... it is simple... but I cooked like an idiot.

The stuffing and the broth were excellent. The stuffing was made from a mushroom duxelle, polish sausage, a few vegetables, chive, parsley, parmesan and ricotta cheese. You know the kind of flavours that can’t go wrong together. The broth was made with a simple mirepoix (celery, carrot and onion) some bones I had in the freezer (rabbit and lamb) a few herbs (parlsey, bay and thyme) as well as some of the delicious dried mushrooms from my fall foraging in the forests near my home (porcini, yellow footed chanterelles and a few other agarics). I also added a bit of balsamic vinegar to adjust the flavour at the end. It tasted very good, the flavour from the lamb was perceptible but at a very subtle level… it would have made a delicious sauce.

Where was the problem you ask me? The problem was that I made my pasta dough blindly. I knew most pasta dough recipes include both normal flour as well as semolina flour so I made mine using these two types of flour along with eggs and a little bit of water. What I learned after diner when doing some research on what went wrong was that while semolina flour, added in small quantity in pasta dough, gives a nice bite to pasta it can also make it grainy, almost sandy, when added in too large quantities. For ravioli, I feel that the finer the texture of the pasta the better is the final result. My dough had about equal amounts of normal flour and semolina flour; and this is simply wrong. On top of that, I rolled it too thick which resulted in the opposite of the fine and delicate ravioli wrapping I had in mind. My dough could have been ok in a lasagna but it was terrible for my ravioli.

Lesson learned:

  • Spaghetti dough and ravioli dough are not the same.
  • I'll use OO flour or fine bread flour to make ravioli wrapping next time.
  • I should also roll the dough relatively thin. Position #4 on my pasta machine is way too thick.
  • Alternatively, I could just stick to dumpling or spring roll wrappers. They are cheap, widely available and work very well.


bob said...

I love your blog, i can't believe i just found it and you live in ottawa!!!

If you know where to get 00 flour in ottawa, i'd love to hear it. I would basically stick with a mix of the hard n soft from herb n spice for ravioli (only made once using regular AP flour, no problems), but basically use the durum semolina with just water for everything else.

MagicTofu said...

Thanks for droping by Bob, I found my last bags of 00 flour in a small 'European' grocery store next to the Food Basics on Carling street. I bet you can find is some in some of the good Italian grocery stores in Ottawa (Bodega, Nicastro...).

As for pasta, I think I've learned my lesson. If you want to get a nice bite to your pasta, use semolina; if you want something delicate and silky, use a fine white flour.

Anonymous said...

I'm planning on making ravioli with somw friends tomorrow (New Year's Eve) and was hunting around for some stuffing ideas when I ran across your blog. We lived in Ottawa for 8.5 years and I got a smile out of remembering the stores you refer to. I use hard white and hard whole wheat, find it's less sticky to handle. I can't remember if there is Bulk Barn in Ottawa - but that's where I get mine. Your stuffing sounds WONDERFUL!! Mal the Quilter from Cape Breton