Some may argue that the fact that you can go and buy hundreds of varieties of pasta off the shelf in any supermarket, is motivation enough to not bother getting flour everywhere and getting your hands dirty to make your own. This is a fair logic however opening up a plastic bag doesn’t come close to the feeling of achievement you get when you are looking at a plate of fresh pasta that you made yourself from scratch, be it tagliatelle, spaghetti or a filled variety it feels great and is incredibly therapeutic.
I am, unfortunately, a known sufferer of health anxiety. Not something I tend to shout about but it stands to reason when I have an episode or period of health anxiety that sometimes I need something to give me something to focus on, take my mind off it and realign my state of mind. Making pasta is brilliant for this as I get so involved in it I do feel relief from my stress and anxiety symptoms for a time.
To make a Butternut squash and goats cheese filled Ravioli
What you’ll need:
- 600g Tipo/00 flour
- 6 large eggs
- 1 peeled and diced squash
- 150g soft goats cheese
- Fine salt and some cracked black pepper
- A little water
- Pasta machine
- Ravioli cutter
- Pastry brush
- Put the flour into a bowl with a teaspoon of salt and make a well in the middle. Crack the eggs into the well and mix the eggs with a fork until thoroughly mixed.
- Slowly start to include some flour when mixing, going until the egg is combined with the flour.
- Now, get your hands in there and don’t be scared to get a bit messy. Start to combine the mixture with your finger tips and try and combine as much of the remaining flour as you can (Don’t worry if you don’t manage to use it all). When it starts to look less floury and more dough like, flour your work surface and place the dough on the flour.
- Knead, knead, knead. I can’t stress this enough. Give the dough a good bashing. Folding, pounding and stretching the dough until it starts to look smooth and silky. Form into a ball and wrap with cling film, pop into the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes.
- In a pan of boiling, salted water, add the squash and boil until soft enough to slide off a skewer or fork. Drain of all water and leave to cool, then mash up and add the cheese. Mixing well with a bit of seasoning.
- Now for the next part I do use a pasta machine, you can hand roll the pasta but technology is there to help us after all. Cut off about a quarter of the dough and flatten it out a little. Pass through the pasta machine on the widest setting, folding at the top and bottom (A bit like an envelope) then passing it through the opposite way. repeat this about 7 or 8 times. You will notice the pasta change in texture as you do it, this might seem a little bit monotonous but it gives the pasta a much better texture and mouth feel or rather ‘Al dente’ as the Italian’s would say.
- Now put the pasta dough through the machine working your way through the settings until you get to the bottom or penultimate setting. If it gets too long don’t hesitate to cut the dough in half to make it easier to manage, as long as the finished piece of pasta allows you to see your hand on the other side (or read a paper through it as they say) …it should flap when you blow under it, just don’t blow too hard and loose it!
- The next step is to make sure you have a good piece of pasta in front of you that you are able to fold over horizontally. Simply take your filling with a teaspoon and place it around 1 inch inside the bottom left hand corner, leaving a similar gap in-between each filling right to the end of the pasta, again leaving around 1 inch remaining at the end of the pasta. Brush the bottom edges of the pasta with water and slowly bring the left hand top corner to the left hand bottom edge. Lightly press around each side of the filling to ensure no air remains before working your way along the pasta, repeating the process until finished.
- Take the ravioli cutter and trim the edges of the whole piece, then go between each filling, making sure its pressed down well.
- Repeat the process how ever many times you need to with the remaining dough. Each quart should have between an 8 or 10 ravioli yield.
- In a shallow pan of lightly salted, boiling water, add the pasta and cook for minutes. Pop onto a plate and drizzle with a little oil and sprinkle with a touch of salt and pepper.
- Enjoy with a salad or on it’s own… but they are a lovely little treat.
Tip: Any extra dough left at the end, you can slot on the cutter to your pasta machine, roll it out 7 or 8 times as stated above, working in down to the 3rd or 4th lowest setting and put through the cutter to make tagliatelle or linguine!
For the first real recipe post of 2016 I thought I might as well do something I am known for and share a seasonally appropriate burger recipe with you all, starting as I mean to go on with something a little different while also keeping it totally achievable for cooks of any level.
As the title suggests I cooked this recipe on new years eve as a final seasonal blow out before the dark cloud of January rolled in from afar to rain on our festive parade. I am not a fan of January. I just find it comes across as the killjoy of all 12 months, hitting you faster than a speeding train it takes you from the festivities of Christmas and the week that follows and shoves you straight back into the harsh light of reality. A month long Monday. The seemingly eternal dark until the post Christmas payday! It’s not all bad but I love Christmas and all the build up that comes with it so when January takes that away from us I get a bit of a grump on the first week or so.
All this considered though, I do enjoy getting together with family and celebrating new year with good food while watching the Jools Holland Hootenanny until Big Ben chimes. As I have stated previously we have just bought a new house so we were determined to have people round as much as possible as we love entertaining and cooking for people, so I developed this recipe specifically for new years eve and it was a great success.
What is it?
Pork – three ways. A burger with a giant pig in a blanket, topped with a rich Mornay sauce on a wholemeal bun with a touch of rocket.
What do I need?
- 500g pork mince
- 200g diced sweet potato
- 1 heaped tbsp. Cajun seasoning
- 1 grated apple
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 red onions, finely diced
- salt and pepper
- Olive oil
- 4 Wholemeal rolls
For the giant pigs in blankets
- 4 97% pork sausages. I used Heck.
- 4 large rashers of Smoked back bacon
For the Mornay sauce
- 2 1/2 tbsp. butter
- 3 tbsp. white flour
- 2 cups of warmed milk
- 2 big handfuls grated Gruyere cheese
- Salt and pepper
What do I do?
- To start with you need to bring a saucepan of lightly salted water to the boil and cook the sweet potato for 10-15 minutes, or until soft enough to slide off a skewer or fork. Then drain them and put them aside to cool, then mash them thoroughly.
- In a hot pan with a little oil, lightly fry the onions until soft then put aside to cool fully (Do this alongside cooking the sweet potatoes).
- In a bowl add the pork, apple, garlic, Cajun seasoning, onion, mash potato and season generously with the salt and pepper. Bring together well and split into 4 evenly loaded patty shapes. (If you have any left over they make great little meatballs for a pizza!) Cover in cling film and place in the fridge to chill.
- In a small saucepan on a low heat add the butter and wait for it to start to melt, then pop in the flour and stir until it comes together into a lumpy texture. Slowly add a little milk at a time while continuously mixing to bring together and thicken. Repeat until all the milk is used up then add the cheese and keep stirring until you get a thick cheese sauce, then season well. Add more cheese if you want it to thicken up a bit more.
- Heat up a grill, griddle pan or in my case I used a George Forman health grill. Butterfly the sausage and wrap it in the bacon. Place it on the hot griddle and weigh it down, either with another pan or close the lid of the health grill to avoid any major curling when the sausage starts to cook. Cook for 4-5 minutes on a medium heat and then turn over and repeat until crispy.
- In another hot pan, fry the burgers for 4-5 minutes a side until browned off and cooked all the way through. Serve immediately on the wholemeal rolls, on a small bed of the rocket, followed by the burger, then the pig in blanket, topped with a good helping of the sauce. Cap it with the top half of the roll and get them served before you go at them yourself!
A celebration of Pork
The finished article
Just a quick update on the current goings on with regards to the blog in 2016. As you can see just by looking at it the aesthetics of the blog have changed considerably, meaning that it is well and truly primed and ready for lots of new content this year.
I am going to make an effort to improve on everything I have ever done so far, including but not limited to, better photography, better structure to my writing and more importantly… more regular content. I know I have been a little bit slow in getting things on here of late due to buying a house, changing job’s and literally being swamped at Christmas but this year I have everything a bit more organised and I am ready to go!
I have lots already lined up for the next week so keep your eyes peeled and I hope you enjoy reading. 2016 will hopefully be another great year for the blog and I will continue to be able to give people from all over the UK and beyond something tasty to look at and hopefully inspire other people to sharpen up their knives and fire up the stove.
Happy new year!