Roly Poly Ravioli!!

Roly Poly RavioliI am not a Master Chef but I am a pretty good cook with plans to open a pizza/bakery/fresh pasta establishment in the near future.  To that end, I set to a recipe for homemade ravioli. To maintain a purist bent I went with a seasonal buttternut squash filling.  Roasted squash, maple syrup, fresh nutmeg, a touch of cream, salt, pepper and a splash of apple cider vinegar just because. Very tasty indeed.

Now for the fun part: Fresh Pasta!!

I broke out my handy, dandy Marcato Atlas pasta machine. In my opinion the optional motor drive is the way to go.  Hand cranking . . . eh . . . motor drive . . . oh yeah!Marcato Atlas Pasta Machine

You can see the package of Semolina Flour in the picture above. Semolina flour is ground from the endosperm of the hard durum wheat berry. It is the perfect flour for your pasta making due to its very high levels of protein and cellulose (the substance that helps keep the cooked pasta firm).  I chose to follow the recipe on the package which called for equal parts AP flour and Semolina.  The package called for 6 large eggs to be added.  All I have are medium sized eggs and the dough was a little dry to start. (I’m okay. I have a healthy self image.)

Cuisinart Food ProcessorI tried to mix the dough in my new Cuisinart food processor which sports a dough kneading feature. In Cuisinart’s DVD it works great with baguettes and soft doughs but not so much with this pasta recipe.  So I took extra time and care running the dough through the pasta rollers, on the widest settings, until I got a smooth elastic sheet to make my raviolis.  I would insert the dough into the rollers and collect it as it came out. After folding it into thirds I would would reintroduce the pasta to the rollers (Rollers – Pasta, Pasta – Rollers) at a 90° angle. I spent about half and hour running sheets through the rollers to get the right consistency.  Next time I’ll use my mixer with a dough hook.

Lesson learned.

Pasta Sheet

Filling these little beatsies took a gentle hand as too much filling spills on to the sealing edges and can cause a blow out when boiling.

Egg Wash

Butternut Squash Filling

After placing a sheet of pasta on the ravioli mold and making the depressions for the filling, egg wash is required. We applied this to the entire surface of the bottom and top sheet of pasta. This is literally the glue that binds the two together.  A little gentle pressing with the hands then a roller to cut the edges and voila!  Ravioli, Tom Fool Cookery style.

Edge Cutting Ravioli

I cooked these little guys in gently boiling salted water until they float evenly on the surface. Using a small strainer I fished them gently from the water, tapped the strainer bottom on a towel to remove excess moisture then plated them up!  Hmm, perhaps a little brown butter to top them off. What do you think?


Eat Well and Smile Often!!



Tom Whining


p.s. I suggest enjoying them with a little wine.

Some Rise, Some Set: The Falling Fate of the Egg Soufflé

Leek and Goat Cheese SouffleI did it, I did it, I did it!! I made soufflé!

Okay, it really wasn’t that hard. I started off easy with a Leek and Goat cheese that utilizes a roux for structure. Traditional soufflés are just whipped egg yolks and whites folded together and promptly placed into a hot oven where they spring to life. Time and temperature are critical as the goal is not to overcook the outside while the middle rises and sets. The French have a specific culinary term for a soufflé that falls into the overcooked, flat in the middle, category, “Merde!” (The French are so unforgiving.)

I chose to go with 4 smaller ramekins rather than a large soufflé dish. This turned out to be very instructive as the disparate placement in my oven yielded varying results. The ones further most to the rear were browned on top, sides and bottom and completely cooked through. The front most were browned bottom and side but the top was just golden and the inside still had a pocket or raw mixture. Now I had been given this information before, that the front of the oven is cooler than the rear, but had never experienced it’s effect like this before. I will admit to being unsure about the exact timing and opened the oven door a few times during the cooking process to inspect my little charges. Undoubtedly I released some heat altering the cooking times of each portion. Mea culpa.

All in all it was great fun and them little sucka’s were mighty tasty! Total time to prepare . . . about 20 mins.

FYI: These soufflés must be served immediately out of the oven so timing is everything. As the French are want to say, “The soufflé waits for no king!”

Eat Well and Smile Often,


Below is the recipe forwarded to me by Suzanne of Cooking by the Bay.

Goat Cheese and Leek Souffles Serves 6

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 leeks, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced in half moons
1 ½ cups hot milk
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch cayenne
Pinch each salt and pepper
4 ounces goat cheese
2 eggs separated, yolks lightly beaten
Melted butter for ramekins
¼ cup panko
2 additional egg whites
• Preheat oven to 400°.
• Heat olive oil in a large skillet and sauté leeks until tender, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat.
• Melt butter in a saucepan and whisk in the flour, stirring 1-2 minutes to create a roux.
• Gradually whisk in the hot milk stirring constantly to create a thick sauce, about 2 minutes.
• Season with cayenne, nutmeg, salt and pepper.
• Transfer to a large bowl, whisking to cool slightly, and add leeks, goat cheese and egg yolks.
• Brush ramekins with melted butter and coat with panko.
• Whisk the 4 egg whites (or use electric mixer) until soft peaks form.
• Quickly, but gently fold 1/4 of the whites into the base with a rubber spatula.
• Fold in the remaining whites taking care not to overmix.
• Divide the batter among the prepared ramekins, place int he oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 350° and bake until golden, puffed, and just set in the center, about 30 minutes.
• Serve immediately in ramekins, or use a knife to cut soufflés out and place on plate.

p.s. May I have some more?

I Like Spam-a-Lot . . . With a Side of Eggs Please!!

Green Eggs and SpamLast night I FINALLY had the opportunity to see Spamalot. (Thank you to my host.) Spamalot came out several years ago and hasn’t made it to the West Coast until now. Being a Monty Python fan from way back ( . . . your father smells of Elderberry) I was ecstatic at the chance to see the live performance. Needless to say, it lived up to my every expectation and even surpassed a few. Favorite musical numbers included: The Finnish Fish Slapping song, Always Look on the Bright Side of Life and He’s Not Dead Yet. LOL funny!! All this inspired me to try something I haven’t had since I was a child: SPAM!!

One of my favorite commercials was the “MORE SPAM PLEASE!” It made me laugh every time but failed to move me to the store. This cannot be said for Spamalot as I stopped into my local grocer at 11 p.m., on the way home from the theater, to make sure I picked up a can to have with my eggs for breakfast. I could hardly sleep being bemused at the idea of Eggs and Spam. To be honest, I was happily surprised with the result.

Spam, you see, is a contraction of Spiced Ham. Hormel first packaged Spam as Hormel’s Spiced Ham. One year later they changed the name and the rest is history. Upon opening the can I couldn’t help but think of the work of previous generations of chefs who tried, failed, and tried again at preserving meats so that they wouldn’t spoil. Until refrigeration became so commonplace in our society, canning was the best and only way to preserve foods mainly to last us throughout the winter months. One of my favorite preserves in Duck Confit. Duck Confit is duck meat poached in duck fat and covered completely in a jar with the same renderings. The perfect seal of fat prevents any bacteria from getting in contact with the meat causing it to spoil. It’s might tasty too! Confit is shortened from the French: Confiture, which is a preserve of fruit.

Spam, while commonplace today, is an example of the pinnacle of the process of food preservation. It utilizes all edible portions of a pig, wasting nothing. It provides protein calories at a very reasonable price and it has a long shelf life. The knowledge and skill needed to accomplish this is beyond most home cooks and chefs alike. My hat is off to Spam in the year of their 75th anniversary, for feeding generations of families and spawning such a fantastic musical farce.

My breakfast today: Fried Spam, whole wheat toast, a glass of low fat milk and 2 eggs sunny side up garnished with both cilantro and jalepeno chutneys. I’m a happy, preserved meat eating kind of guy today.

Eat Well and Smile Often.


Pam Don’t Take My Spam (click it, I dare you)