"Life is a journey up a spiral staircase; as we grow older we cover the ground we have covered before, only higher up; as we look down the winding stair below us we measure our progress by the number of places we were but no longer are.”The Winding Stair, W.B. Yeats
Eric Ripert brought me here. Well, not in person (although that would've been nice :-) ), but the other day I was watching him make ravioli on Avec Eric with this motherly and rather delicious Italian mamma. One chef was French and the other Italian, but for the sake of the programme and its global viewers, they communicated the virtues of homemade ravioli in their heavily accented English. The whole episode made me smile, not so much for the language irony but for the ease and elegance of the ravioli-making process. Something about the way Monsieur Ripert's hands was massaging the dough was hmmm... sexy. And it made me want some. Ravioli, that is.
I looked back at my pasta-making experience to date and can only really recall two times. Yes, you read that right - two. Once was when I made lasagna noodles out of red cabbage(!) and the second time was an attempt at making fetuccine out of tamarind pulp. Why hadn't I started with just plain dough? I don't really know the answer to that. I have a disturbing history of jumping in at the deep end and praying for things to work out alright ;-). Most of the time, I have been lucky. The rest of the time, I've conveniently forgotten about. Optimism pulses through my veins like a welcomed curse.
So I started to do some research on how to make ravioli and then dammit, I came upon artisan ravioli. Gourmet ravioli. Dammit, because they looked absolutely gorgeous! Even while I was learning and figuring out how to make the beautiful, striped ravioli, my brain hijacked itself and urged me to go spiral instead. From the recesses of my memory, I pulled out a technique for getting the spiral effect on pastry and theorized it would work for pasta dough as well. Basically, you need to use different colored dough that are layered one on top of the other, then rolled up like a cinnamon bun, sliced and finally flattened on the cut edge. Did you catch all that? Hmm, there's a reason why they say a picture paints a thousand words!
|My colorings: Green - Matcha powder, Black - Black Sesame powder, White - Plain dough|
The matcha and black sesame flavors were subtly released upon cooking, however it was the fresh filling of green pepper, cherry tomatoes, black olives, celery leaves and cream cheese that gave the ravioli the punch. I ate this with a simple garlic and butter sauce which complements all the wonderful flavors already contained in my spiral version of artisan ravioli. Eric, you should come over and learn to make these from this mamma!
Spiral Matcha and Black Sesame Ravioli
2/3 cup plain flour1 tablespoon plain flour, to adjust dough consistency
1 tablespoon matcha powder
1 tablespoon black sesame powder
1/2 green bell pepper, diced finely
4 cherry tomatoes, chopped
6 black olives, pitted and diced
1 stalk celery leaves, chopped finely
100g cream cheese, softened
salt and pepper, to taste
1. Place the flour in a food processor. Add egg and process for 10 seconds until the flour is moist and crumbly. Adjust by adding some more flour to the dough if it is extra sticky and process further. Each time you stop the machine, pinch the dough between your fingers, it should feel firmer each time. After about 30 seconds of processing, the dough should come together and form a loose ball on top of the blade, and feel moist but not sticky when pinched.
2. Take the dough out, and cut into 3 equal portions. Leave one plain, to each of the other knead in the matcha and sesame powder. Sprinkle some flour on a hard wood surface and start to knead the dough pieces separately. With the heel of one hand, push the ball of dough away from you. Fold it back toward you and rotate the dough a quarter turn. Repeat this process until the dough feels damp without being sticky, then stop kneading (about 1-2 minutes). Shape dough into a ball and cover with a large overturned bowl, let it rest for 30 minutes.
3. Take the green dough and roll to flatten. Divide the plain dough and black dough into two pieces each. Place one piece of black dough on top of the green dough, then wrap the green dough around it. Pinch to seal edges, and roll again to flatten. Repeat process of wrapping and rolling with the rest of the dough pieces. (The layers and sequence - green, black, white, black, white).
4. Roll the layered dough to form a ‘cylinder’, then slice across the cylinder to get round discs about 1/2 inch in thickness.
5. Run each disc through pasta machine as per the instructions, until it is thin enough for your ravioli sheet (I went up to No. 4). You will see the spiral effect on the flattened dough, almost like a Mexican sombrero.
6. Mix together the ingredients for the filling in a bowl. Place about a teaspoon of filling (for each ravioli) on top of one spiral sheet and place another ravioli sheet to cover it. Pat down around the filling to seal dough, then cut into shapes with a ravioli cutter. Gently pinch edges of ravioli to seal it further.
7. Boil water with some olive oil and cook the ravioli for about 10 minutes until the edges are soft but still chewy. Serve immediately with (chopped) garlic sauteed in butter sauce.