It’s been a while, hasn’t it?
It looks like it’s finally spring here in Chicago. I’ve been biking and running more, and it was so nice today that my class managed to convince our professor to have class outside.
I’ve also been so busy that I’ve stayed up late enough some nights to see things like this.
Now, this recipe. I actually forgot about this for the longest time, which is silly. I made these for a potluck I had with some friends… oh, I don’t know, a month or two ago? I think right after spring break… So a while. And I’m sorry to say I haven’t been baking much, but I expect that will change soon enough.
So here we go. A serious word of caution: get someone to help you roll out the dough for the love of god. My forearms were in so much pain the next day, as were the palms of my hands. I have mad respect for Italian grandmothers after this. Also, this is the most imprecise recipe ever, so don’t feel obliged to follow it exactly.
- 1 egg for every 3/4 cup of flour
- pinch of salt
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ricotta cheese (I ended up using 2/3 container)
- pesto (you can use any filling you want, by the way)
I ended up making 5 servings, so I think I must have used 3 cups of flour and four eggs. So what you want to do is take your flour and dump it on your counter or table, forming a well in the center. Put the eggs, salt, and olive oil into the well.
Then, get your hands in there. There’s no way around this; you just have to stick your hands in and knead it. My roommate was totally grossed out, naturally, because it’s gross, but it’s also awesome.
Knead until the ingredients are well-incorporated. The dough should be a little bit moist and kind of tacky–it should definitely not break off in clumps. If it does, add a wee bit more egg. Making pasta dough is about finding a balance between wet and dry, so experiment a little first if you’re going to make this for other people. (I learned the hard way, as usual.)
Roll out the dough until it’s super thin–we’re talking 1/8 inch. It will take forever. Put on a movie. Listen to The Ring Cycle. Recruit your friends. Embrace the pain.
Yours will probably look nicer than this. I rolled out little chunks one by one and wrapped the dough I wasn’t working with in plastic wrap so it wouldn’t dry out.
Then, cut out the ravioli.
This part is way more fun. So you’re going to need a little ravioli stamper. They make fancier objects with which to make ravioli, but a) those are expensive and b) they’re really not necessary.
For the filling, I mixed ricotta cheese with some spoonfuls of pesto and threw in some slivered almonds for a nice crunch.
Take a spoonful of the filling and plop it on the dough. Lay another rolled-out sheet on top, pinching around the filling a little bit so it doesn’t spread out. Then, just stamp through both sheets.
Repeat ad nauseam.
I do highly recommend doing this with friends, which I did not for the most part, because it doesn’t require a whole lot of thinking. Just rolling and stamping and rolling and stamping and also rolling, rolling, rolling…
But look at the finished product! Store-bought dry pasta is so prevalent that it’s easy to forget how easy it is to make yourself, and so very rewarding.
Cook these for 4-8 minutes (this is also highly variable) in gently boiling water.
I’ve read some pretty good books lately, but actually the film Tampopo, by Juzo Itami is what I really wanted to talk about. It’s a Japanese movie from the 1980s that is often called a ramen western, because it’s sort of a satire of American spaghetti westerns. It’s a tremendous movie, and very sweet, and it’s really funny in how it satirizes so many aspects of American and Japanese culture. Basically, it’s about this truck driver who rolls into town at stops at a noodle stand with this apprentice truck driver (played by Ken Watanabe, who looks like a little baby in this). The ramen they have is pretty awful, so he gives the owner–a young widow–some tips and starts to head out when she begs him to teach her the ways of ramen-making. Cue epic quest to make the perfect ramen. The film is interspersed with vignettes of a western etiquette class gone awry, an old woman who compulsively squeezes food in a grocery store, and, my favorite, a number of scenes about a gangster and his girlfriend. The gangster, incidentally, is played by Koji Yakusho, who was in Memoirs of a Geisha as one of the only Japanese people along with Ken Watanabe, and is also a total babe.
It’s kind of a hard movie to get a hole of, but if you can find it, I highly recommend it. I’m doing a presentation on it for my art history class and have also been placed in the esteemed position of “person who works DVD player” to show it in my Japanese politics class. (My professor let me borrow the DVD, which is from the Japanese consulate, so I feel terribly fancy.)