Thursday, December 28, 2006

princess reggiano (holiday raviolis part 2)

My kid definately takes after me in the application of parmesan. I remember as a kid putting a layer of it on anything allowed. It was the same with romano. Minestrone got three applications if the portion was prodigious and the bowl it was served in was deep enough. Layer one would be applied, and the "skin" that formed on contact with the hot soup would be devoured while still gooey. Layer two would be applied, and if you obliterated the first quickly enough the soup would still be hot enough to melt this. If the bowl was deep enough, and this was often the case if you managed to melt the previous two layers of cheese, you could throw on a third layer, warm it sufficiently to release the sheepy goodness of the cheese and snarf that down too. And then came seconds, because despite the cost of the cheese, the soup is cheap to make (today it is a mere $20 for 8 quarts, WITH great ingredients).

What can I say? My broccoli would be equally obscured from recognition if this was my plate as a kid. When I saw the monkey had "sprinkled a little" of the reggiano on her raviolis, enabling them to look like moguls near a collection of dwarfed firs, I recognized the gene and took the picture. This was our second serving of ravioli from this batch and it was on x-mas night that I served this.

With the subject of this post being concealed from view, the suspense must be killing you. Shall we get on with it and construct some ravs for that there sauce from the other day?

Day two began with making a dough and letting it rest. Then I mixed the filling and let it rest. While they rested, I went to the store. Even though I was making ravs, there is no rest during the cookie season that had started. (Just kidding, more like your mouth gets no rest incessantly grazing on broken pieces and "rejects" that had been around for a few days already.) The hour before dinner I removed the ingredients from the fridge and got down to work.

The filling consisted of spinach sauteed in olive oil that had been infused with sage earlier. To this I added fresh parsley, oregano and rosemary, salt and pepper, heated briefly and then set aside to cool. The ricotta mixed well with this, and I used a few eggs to finish the bonding process. This acts as a nice paste for spreading and is difficult to stand over without salivating on it. With this in place, I turn 180 degrees, take a step, and roll out number 2. With the top sheet in place it is time for the best part: using the pin.

After placement of the second sheet, you simply roll the pin while applying a consistent downward pressure, from front to back, that is if there is just the right thickness of filling, and you have accounted for the inevitable squishing forward that occurs. After a little practice you can easily roll out some 60 or so "survivors" with each attempt. Which to me makes alot more sense than the prevailing mold and stamp technique.

It is a genovese style of making raviolis, and involves a piece of kitchen equipment that few here know about. Like the folks who SELL THEM. When I purchased my latest model a few years ago, I initially made a request for a "ravioli rolling-pin." The sales clerk said "a what?" and brought me to the section of the store containing "anything that could be considered a rolling-pin." When we arrived, I spotted the pin, picked it up, and began admiring it while daydreaming of ravs. The clerk said "oh, that's what that is." He pointed to the chef behind a nearby counter and mentioned that she actually did the ordering for them. I approached and asked if they could order a larger sized one and she thought about it and said no. Then she admitted that she may order them but doesn't know how they work. Am I really in Dean and Deluca? In Napa County? It just shows to go you that often times knowledge resides in tradition, not corporations. I gave her a brief description of process and walked out happy, that having given away my last pin as a gift, I now had a replacement. And amused, very amused, when it dawned on me that you can school folks in food, as I'm sure a fair portion of the staff was, but food is a great big wide world, and I have some knowledge here and there that is definately handed down. I love the niche I occupy in my family tradition of pasta and with this batch, the monkey supplied some downward force, becoming the fourth generation to see the way of the pin since the knowledge left "the old country" along side much more.

Thank you Nana C. And Grandma. I think of you two often. Three cheers for raviolis! Now how is that for a christmas colored meal? It even snowed in Oakland this year!

1 comment:

Lis said...

The ravioli look soooo good! And I'm diggin the sauce - I never made sauce with meat in it before a few months ago, when I wanted to recreate a friend's lasagna recipe. Her sauce called for pork shoulder. I loved it. The meat gives the sauce a rich flavor. I can only imagine how good it'd be with beef!

Thank you so much for commenting on my lil blog and letting me know you're here! I've skimmed some of your past posts (you crack me up!) and look forward to coming back when I've got more time to read more! And your monkey? She's adorable =)

Happy New Year!

Ohh.. e-mail me at with your e-mail addie and I'll send my Dad's calamari sauce recipe. =)