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Eggplant and Taleggio Pasta

How often are you likely to give someone a second chance? More than two years ago I asked my husband if we could get another dog to keep Baci company during the day.  For those who don’t know, Baci is my four year old labrador.  At two years old I thought it was about time Baci got a companion.  So after some persuading, and some research we got a little labrador from a breeder.  Her name was Bisous.  As all labrador puppies are, she was adorable (and yes I am biased!) but other than that, there isn’t much that I can say about her  because I hardly got to know her.

For three days she was with us, I would take Baci for a walk very early in the morning (as I always do).   Bisous was too small to leave the house so I left her in the house while my husband slept.  Every morning as I started walking up the road I heard Bisous whimper and then she started yowling and I said to myself that she must be lonely but she would eventually stop after a few minutes.

Coming back around 30 minutes later, she would still be crying when I got home.

Pasta sheets

One day I got home and my husband met me at the door – he was frantic.

“Guess what” he said.  “Bisous has been crying the whole time”.

“Oh no…” I closed my eyes and prepared for the worst.

“The neighbor came, complaining.  They said if I didn’t make her shut up – they would!” he added.

I panicked.

To make a long story short, I called the breeder and asked her if she could take back Bisous for a few weeks and train her to be “more independent” – maybe teach her to be on her own a few hours a day so that when she came back to me she wouldn’t cry like she did that first morning. The breeder was kind enough to agree so that night my husband and I went to take Bisous back.

On the way home I was full of guilt and confusion about what I had done.  I started crying and telling my husband that we should have tried harder to train her, that he should have just woken up the same time I did every morning and kept Bisous company while I walked Baci.

Then, my husband said something that just made everything clear.

“Maybe we just weren’t ready.”

Truth was, I wasn’t.  We were working 12 hour days there was just no time for a new addition to the family.

The next day, I called the breeder who understood and was even grateful for my honesty.  But I really felt like I blew it.  I had lost my chance at getting a companion for Baci.

Six months later, my parents came for a two month holiday and I decided then that this was the right time to get a new puppy.  After all, my Dad was an early riser, he could keep the puppy company during the day and while I walked Baci (strangely enough, the new puppy never cried when we left her alone).  Again, after much persuasion (even more than the last time!), we got Bizou.

When I look back at the events that took place in order to get Bizou, I think “how stressful!”.   But then when I am sitting on the lounge, and she jumps up and lays by my side and rests her head on my lap – I know it is all worth it.  I am glad to have had a second chance.

Some recipes also deserve a second chance.  Like this one here.  When I first started blogging I wrote about how I learned to make this recipe after attending a class at the Council of Italian Restaurants in Australia.  This recipe was passed on by Logan Campbell, the head chef at Lucio’s restaurant.  Lucio’s is a two hat restaurant (awarded by the Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Food Guide) and one of Australia’s finest Italian Restaurants.

To be perfectly honest, I was not planning to blog about this pasta dish as I had already done so in the past.  But I made it tonight for a family dinner and I had to go back to my old post to look for the recipe.  I saw the old pictures and I thought I didn’t really do justice to the dish.  It is such a delicious recipe that I knew it deserved… a second chance.

Eggplant and Taleggio Ravioli

Recipe

Pasta Ingredients

  • 300 grams plain flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • pinch of salt

Filling Ingredients (you will probably have leftover filling depending on how you fill your pasta)

  • 1 large eggplant, diced
  • 1/2 bunch picked thyme
  • 100 grams diced taleggio cheese (I used Mauri Taleggio)
  • 50 grams parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 bunch chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper

To Serve

  • 125 grams butter
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • A few sprigs of parsley

Pasta

  1. Pour flour onto benchtop and make a well in the centre.
  2. Place the salt and add the eggs into the well and incorporate until the dough forms
  3. Knead for 5 minutes and rest covered for 1 hour

Filling

  1. Sprinkle the eggplant with salt and let stand 20 minutes
  2. Rinse off the salt and drain
  3. Saute the eggplant in a little olive oil, add thyme and cook until eggplant is browned
  4. Allow to cool and then mix the eggplant with the cheeses, egg and parsley
  5. Season with salt and pepper

Ravioli

  1. Using a pasta machine roll out the dough until a thin sheet is formed. Brush with egg wash and place some the ravioli mix along the sheet 3 centimeters apart.
  2. Roll another sheet and place on top of the first, pressing down around the mix to remove any air pockets. Using cutters, cut the ravioli out removing excess dough around each one. Place on a floured tray and cover.
  3. Bring a pot of water to the boil.
  4. Melt the butter in a large frying pan.
  5. Blanch the ravioli for three minutes the drain.
  6. When the butter is brown and foaming, add the pasta, balsamic vinegar and walnuts.
  7. Garnish with chopped parsley.
  8. Toss and serve.

Buon Appetito

Stumble It!

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Tortelli di Zucca

Tortelli di Zucca

A food post in October/Halloween  is not complete without at least one pumpkin recipe correct?  So here’s my favourite pumpkin recipe.  When I learned to make fresh pasta a few years ago, the first “filled” pasta we learned to make was the Tortelli di Zucca.  I still remember the lady who taught me to make pasta.  We were in a class of 10 students and she was an Italian lady from Emilia Romagna.  She was absolutely militant that there was one and ONLY ONE way to make pasta.  She would have been a great witch for halloween! haha!

No halloween is complete without a costume!  So here is one of me and my family.  Can you guess which costume I’m wearing?

Can you guess who I am in the photo?

Can you guess who I am in the photo?

She said you had to place the flour on the a wooden surface, make a well in the middle of the pasta, crack the eggs into the well and “scramble” the eggs and then slowly incorporate the flour.  Anyone in the class caught doing otherwise would always get reprimanded and, as I guess passionate Italians are, she wasn’t shy to reprimand!  I was half expecting her to take out a ruler and slap someone’s hand if caught not following directions…

Pumpkin puree, parmesan cheese, amaretti biscuits and home made pasta!

Pumpkin puree, parmesan cheese, amaretti biscuits and home made pasta!

In the end, I do have to admit that, being to several other pasta making classes, this is the one technique and recipe that I continue to go back to.

The filling, I have changed because looking at the original recipe, I realized there were no quantities.  I think we were expected to write down quantities as she talked but I must have forgotten. I was too scared to call her and ask for the recipe so… I can safely say that this is my variation on the Tortelli di Zucca and it tastes just as good as what we made that day in class!

DSC_0172

Recipe for Pumpkin Filling

  • 1 kilo pumpkin, peeled, seeded and chopped into pieces
  • 2 cups grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 amaretti biscuit, crushed
  • olive oil
  1. Place the pumpkin in a pan and drizzle some olive oil on top to prevent sticking.
  2. Pre heat the oven to 180c and bake the pumpkin for 40 minutes until soft
  3. Pass the pumpkin through a sieve and place in a bowl
  4. Add the cheese, egg and amaretti biscuit
  5. Fill the pasta sheets with the pumpkin filling and cover with another layer of pasta
  6. Shape and rest for a few minutes

For the pasta, the recipe can be found here.

DSC_0176

To serve:

  • 100 grams butter
  • a few sage leaves
  • a handful of crushed hazelnuts
  1. Heat some water until boiling and add salt.
  2. Cook the tortelli for 3 to5 minutes and drain, set aside in a warm place
  3. Heat the butter in a pan and when browned and foaming, add the sage leaves
  4. Remove the butter from the heat and pour over the pasta
  5. Add a handful of crushed hazelnuts before serving

Okay okay… the suspense must be killing you… let it be known that I CAN MAKE FUN OF MYSELF… here I am.  Did you guess correctly?

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

So sorry to C3PO, The Nurse, (Not so…)Minnie Mouse, The Overfed Indian and The Geisha (who is a bit too old to go trick or treating!!!) that I did not get photo approval ahead of time!

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The Council of Italian Restaurants in Australia offers cooking lessons on a regular basis. The classes are held at Casa Barilla in Annandale and many of them are hands on. I’ve been fortunate enough to attend a number of classes, these are conducted by the who’s who of Australia’s Italian cooking world.

Attending a class is almost as good as eating in anyone of the restaurants from where the chefs are associated with.

The first lesson I attended was a hands on class with James Kidman from Otto Restaurant where we learned the secrets to making a great rissotto. The second class I went to was taught by Armando Percuoco from Buon Ricordo. Signore Percuoco is one of the most amiable and down to earth people I have ever met. His class was entitled Cucina Povera (Peasant Cooking or humble food) where he shared pragmatic yet very delicious recipes.

Two weekends ago I managed to drag my husband to CIRA once again for a class with Logan Campell, head chef at Lucio’s in Paddington. My husband had never cooked a meal in his LIFE prior to the class so it was interesting to see how he would react to this whole new experience. I am happy to report that he LOVED it! Absolutely loved the experience.

The class was entitled “Logan’s Ligurian Experience”. The hands on class featured two dishes, Eggplant Ravioli and a Rolled Spatchcock. Both were amazingly easy to prepare (yes, even deboning the spatchcock) and can be recreated at home.

I’ve written down the eggplant ravioli recipe and hope you’ll enjoy it!

Pasta Ingredients
300 grams plain flour
3 large eggs
pinch of salt

Filling Ingredients (you will probably have leftover filling depending on how you fill your pasta)
1 large eggplant, diced
1/2 bunch picked thyme
100 grams diced taleggio cheese (I used Mauri Taleggio)
50 grams parmesan cheese
1 egg
1/4 bunch chopped parsley
salt and pepper

To Serve
125 grams butter
2 tablespoons vinegar
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
A few sprigs of parsley

Pasta
Pour flour onto benchtop and make a well in the centre.
Place the salt and add the eggs into the well and incorporate until the dough forms
Knead for 5 minutes and rest covered for 1 hour

Filling
Sprinkle the eggplant with salt and let stand 20 minutes
Rinse off the salt and drain
Saute the eggplant in a little olive oil, add thyme and cook until eggplant is browned
Allow to cool and then mix the eggplant with the cheeses, egg and parsley
Season with salt and pepper


Ravioli
Using a pasta machine roll out the dough until a thin sheet is formed. Brush with egg wash and place some the ravioli mix along the sheet 3 centimeters apart.


Roll another sheet and place on top of the first, pressing down around the mix to remove any air pockets.


Using cutters, cut the ravioli out removing excess dough around each one.


Place on a floured tray and cover.
Brint a pot of water to the boil.
Melkt the butter in a large frying pan
Blanch ravioli for 3 minutes
Drain
When butter is brown and foaming, add the pasta, balsamic vinegar and walnuts.
Garnish with chopped parsley
Toss and serve.

That’s not the end of it!

This weekend I invited a few guests to try out the pasta… here are a few shots of my version of the eggplant ravioli.


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