Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Awful-No-Good-Horrible-Terrible-Trainwreck Ravioli

I started my day by crushing fennel seeds with a little salt. That went exceedingly well. Sometimes accomplishing the most minuscule of tasks gives me an out-of-proportion view of my abilities. These fennel seeds were part of a gift package from Sausage Debauchery. As I breathed in their heady aroma, I could do no wrong. I was-Italiana-cook from the mountains of Italy. I was one with the fennel.
This would be a finishing touch for my non-existent ravioli. I started backwards. My first mistake.

The ravioli filling was delicious - who needed the noodles? I swiped a small ramekin and had a few tablespoons on the side.
Herbed Goat-Cheese Mascarpone Ravioli Filling with a nod to Mario Batali
8 oz creamy, plain goat cheese
8 oz mascarpone
3 tbl chopped rosemary
4 tbl chopped thyme
3 tbl chopped sage
4 tbl chopped Italian parsley
1 tbl freshly ground nutmeg

Whip your goat cheese and mascarpone together till light and fluffy. Add your herbs and nutmeg and combine all until there are herbs in every spoonful. Salt and pepper to taste (I didn't. I was happy with herbs.) I remained on top of the mountain. Grandma would be proud. Her genes glowed.

I finally was able to break open the special "00" flour from Sausage Debauchery. I couldn't wait to sink my hands into some dough. I was in a pounding mood. But I had two laptops sitting on the kitchen table, 8 books, five days of mail, a newspaper, and English muffin and at least 45 pens, so I turned to the mixer.

Who truly did a good job.
Pasta Dough - for 80 raviolis (yes, 80. I need to rethink my life.)
4 cups 00 flour
additional flour for dusting (I used all-purpose)
4 eggs
4 tbl olive oil
a few grinds of salt
(If this sounds suspiciously like Laura Schenone's recipe that is because it is. It is also my mother's, although she says basically, you add flour and eggs until it feel like "this." My mother never really knew what "this" was and so has had a hard time handing me Grandma's wisdom as to ravioli. She didn't get the ravioli gene. Alas and alack, it appears mine is also dormant)

But I did get it all elasticky. I let it rest for an hour, actually cleared the kitchen table and set up my hand-crank pasta machine. (I am not Ms. Schenone - yet. I like the hand-crank machine.) My real challenge was keeping the dough free of animal fur. The fur flies off my dog when she breathes and the cat thinks he is the centerpiece of any table where the action is.

I cut 80 one-inch squares. And put a whopping tablespoon of filling in each. Methinks a wee bit too much.

I folded them into an envelope. It seemed like a good idea at the time. It wasn't. The dough was triple-thick on one side.... and super thin on the other. You may seem where I was going with this.
I dusted wax paper with flour. Put the wax paper on a baking sheet. Laid the raviolis on it. And put on another dusted sheet and laid new raviolis on top of it and another and I was doing that, I actually thought, "This is probably not a good idea. I bet they will be too heavy and stick to each other."
Truer words were never spoken.
On Easter Sunday, I peeled the raviolis from the top (undusted - I know, I know) leaving lots of little tears - in the noodles - on my eyelids. I then put them into gently simmering water so as not to disturb these little guys any more than was necessary.

And the filling leaked into the pasta water. I must say the pasta water was scrumptious - truly a savory, herb mixture. Which was good as I was finishing the raviolis with a Mario Batali method of dusting with the crushed fennel seeds (remember the fennel?), fennel fronds, dried orange peel (dried in the oven for 20 minutes) and - pasta water! Delicious, scrumptious, savory, herby-cheesey pasta water! I would cover my empty ravioli noodles (that now looked like wontons) with herbed-goat cheese pasta water.
I really covered up those noodles. I was not in theatre for nothing. I know how to repaint, re-costume and cover, cover, cover when there are mistakes.

And so I did. And that was Easter dinner.


Ciao Chow Linda said...

Well at least it tasted good. That's all that counts. PS - I use an old coffee grinder (electric) to grind my fennel seeds.

Kim said...

Mascarpone has to be one of the very best things in the market. I would also be eating this filling on it's own. Too bad they didn't turn out like you wanted, but it sounds like you forged ahead with the day!

Whats Cookin Italian Style Cuisine said...

You have no idea how good this made me feel! I really know the feeling and totally relate. Have done this similar with ravioli, I didnt seal my edges with the flour and water glue mixture and press hard enough and mine open up too! I know its so much work and then when that happen you do want to cry, but amazingly enough they still tasted great and the loving people at your table couldnt have cared less they have you, your talents and love, these are gorgeous! I'd have been proud to put these up on my blog with admiration, no an easy task every time, these are perfect!

Maureen Brady Johnson said...

I love the way you made the absolute BEST of the situation! I've done the exact same thing with my pierogi!!!!

janet said...

You made an absolutely lovely presentation of those! It's comforting to know I'm not the only one who has mishaps when cooking for family gatherings:)I figure it was made by hand with love and it tastes good- so - perfection!
I can almost smell those herbs, wonderful. Looks like we must have something Italian tonight!;)

Wanda..... said...

I've heard a lot of now famous dishes were actually mistakes that just happened! Your ravioli could be called favioli...short for fake, failed, or favorite ravioli or savioli for saved ravioli!

Glad you managed save the day and end up with a beautiful looking and tasty meal!

Anne said...

All your hard work paid off because at least it tasted good! This weekend we are having some friends over for dinner. I am going to make your cherry tomatoes stuffed with cheese for starters. Such an elegant way to start the meal. Yum!
Have a great weekend.

Vrinda said...

Thanx for sharing the ravioli recipe,lov fennal seeds,i use this in my chicken curry...

Anonymous said...

I always think that as long as it tastes good its always well worth eating!! It seems you definetely succed in creatinf something that tasted divine!!

chow and chatter said...

sorry Claudia after all the effort but its still looks yummy to me!

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

Claudia, I too am sorry about the effort, but taste always wins in my house.

Anonymous said...

That has happened to me too a few times before where the filling leaks out of ravioli. Your concept is terrific though and the filling sounds super delicious!

Nancy said...

Anything that tastes good is a success in my book -- and that filling sounds fantastic! I'm sure there are many ravioli successes in your future.

Mary Bergfeld said...

I'm sorry it was not all that you wanted it to be. A quick read of the ingredients lets us know it had wonderful flavor and reading your commentary lets us know you have a marvelous sense of humor. I hope you have a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

Kirsten Lindquist said...

Fantastic post! Love it, with all of the tears and warts! looks gorgeous, thanks for a lovely story.

Angie's Recipes said...

hehe...Italian wontons...I love the cheesey filling, so creamy, rich and comforting.

Gigi said...

I found Laura's book after a search on books about anything Italian. It hit me because I also had a recent desire to make home made pasta.

I was wait listed for a pasta making class in NYC tomorrow but unfortunately I seat didn't open.
So, I guess I'll have to give it a try without the lesson.

Wish me luck!

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Oh my, Claudia! I know you must have been disappointed to have them fall apart after doing all that work, but they still look good and I bet they taste just as good! I would have called them "deconstructed" ravioli and told everyone it was the latest food trend :-)

Claudia said...

Can I let you know how much you make me smile? Between all of your encouraging words, Wanda telling me about "fake" ravioli, hence favioli and Pat's remarks about "deconstructed" ravioli - I am laughing about it far ahead of the time frame I expected. Thanks, all.

theUngourmet said...

Oh, how disappointing! I hate when I work so hard on a recipe and it doesn't come out right. Well, it still looks scrumptious to me! :)

Reeni said...

Good save, Claudia! I'm so impressed that you made your own ravioli - something I've never done. I'm sure they were delicious - mascarpone and goat cheese are heavenly all by themselves. I like Pat's idea about calling them deconstructed.

Antonietta said...

hahaha- I lvoe this story because I can totally relate! It's heartbreaking to see your fabulous filling oozing out into the pasta water! thank God for theatrics!

My Little Space said...

I would cry too! Btw, next time try to chill them before boiling! I'm sure that will help.

Unknown said...

don't worry it's happened to us all! Please forgive me if I posted your post on my fan page tuscanycious on facebook. I had started this quiz on your favourite filling and thought this post would be inspiring! i hope I haven't offended you!

Barbara GF said...

Exploding ravioli are still good, Claudia. I know, I make them quite often. :)

Claudia said...

Oriana - it is my pleasure to have you feature the filling! Thank-you. I love these new names for ravioli: exploding ravioli, deconstructing ravioli. Who knows? Enough mishaps and there may be a mishap cookbook in the offering! My Little Space: I did chill them - I should have frozen them!

Jen_from_NJ said...

I would happily have a dish of this "train wreck ravioli." The filling sounds just delicious!

I have had quite a few train wrecks of my own and unfortunately I have no experience in theatre and never could manage to pull off a great cover up!

I am sure that they will come out just perfect next time - you now know exactly what not to do. You may be on to something with that herby-cheesy pasta water!

Katy ~ said...

Hugs! You are totally awesome for posting this, and even more so for the delicious save. The ingredients sound soooo very very good. Next time, it will be much better.

OysterCulture said...

I'll shed some sympathy tears as I've done the same thing - its always the same, when I think of something like that but do the opposite, I regret it. As unattractive as those ravioli were, I bet nothing could disguise the deliciousness of what was in them and the love that was used to make them. I think that makes them a thing of beauty! Which is what they look like to me

joe@italyville said...

nice cover up Claudia! Sorry it didn't turn out the way you hoped but I'm sure there was plenty to eat at your house.

La Bella Cooks said...

Don't worry about the mishap if it ended up tasting delicious! Looks wonderful to me and you can't beat a meal like this knowing a lot of love and effort went into it.

3 hungry tummies said...

Looks so delicious! Now I want a pasta machine!

Gera@SweetsFoodsBlog said...

The filling leaking into the pasta water is a very common problem but the flavor is still there. Anyway your filling is scrumptious!!



janelle said...


I love nodding toward Mario;).

And we ALL have moments-gone-awry in the kitchen;).