Supper’s Ready

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Italy is well known for its wonderful food, using fresh, local ingredients. When Mariella – a beautiful Italian mamma – offered to share the secrets of her kitchen, we did not hesitate.

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Mariella arrived carrying a huge wooden board, an enormous rolling pin and all of the ingredients required to make ravioli filled with ricotta cheese and spinach.  First she prepared the filling, using a hand stick blender to mix 300g of ricotta with a large handful of spinach, a good grating of fresh nutmeg, a generous pinch of salt and an egg.

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Next she heaped up 400g of Type 00 flour and made a well in the centre, into which she cracked 4 eggs. Using a fork she mixed the eggs into the flour at the speed of light, gradually drawing in the dry flour from the edges. Then she used the heel of her hand to knead the dough.

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The dough was formed into a ball and left to rest for 5 minutes before being kneaded a second time.

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One third of the dough was broken off, leaving the remainder wrapped in a tea towel. The smaller portion was rolled out, using only a light dusting of flour to prevent sticking. This was tough work, requiring long, fast strokes, keeping the dough moving. Not a pasta machine in sight!

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When the pasta is rolled as thin as possible, use a glass to cut out a small circle. Insert a teaspoon of the filling in the centre and crimp the edges together to make a half-moon shape. Line up the completed pieces of ravioli on a clean cloth. Repeat the process with the remaining dough. To cook, pop the lovely little parcels in boiling water for just one minute and serve with a sauce of your choice or simply with a dusting of parmesan cheese and a drizzle of olive oil. Mmmmm. If you have made too many, freeze flat before storing in freezer bags. Don’t defrost when cooking: put straight into boiling water for about 2 minutes.

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It is all very well watching and learning, but getting similar results in your own kitchen can be a challenge. We followed Mariella’s instructions and made ravioli parcels, this time filled with a ricotta cheese and beetroot mix. These ones are ready for the pot and look pretty good for a first attempt….

Ravioli with beetroot and ricotta

Apart from the ravioli – which was, incidentally, delicious – I made a traditional Umbrian dish using Umbrian strangozzi pasta with slivers of fresh, earthy truffle….

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….and zucchini (courgette) flowers stuffed with ricotta cheese and herbs, gently warmed for 5 minutes in a medium oven then garnished with fresh peas, tomatoes and parmesan. A colourful feast for the eyes which tasted just like summer….

Zuccini flowers, stuffed

Thanks to Mariella for her inspiration and education. Recreating dishes you have eaten in particular places certainly brings back memories of sharing food, wine and happy times with friends and family.

Have you ever recreated food memories and, if so, how well did they turn out?

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26 thoughts on “Supper’s Ready

  1. Alicia

    Mary and Terry, You make me miss my favorite place on earth and helped to remind me of the wonderful, fresh food that grows throughout most of the year. The photos are so beautiful that they make me hungry for lunch. Best to you both! Ciao! Con affetto!
    Alicia

    Reply
    1. maryshoobridge Post author

      Alicia, hi. So glad to have brought back some happy memories of Spello. I recall sharing chilled prosecco on the terrace with you and Eduardo after the Infiorata – happy times indeed. Xx

      Reply
    1. maryshoobridge Post author

      Thanks Eric. The pasta does take quite a long time to prepare but you are rewarded by the taste! And making a big batch to freeze means you have “fast food” waiting in the freezer. I love to fiddle with food – it is one of my greatest pleasures and one of the few things I do that is creative.

      Reply
    1. maryshoobridge Post author

      Oh Louise you would have loved every minute! How very special it was to have the keys to an Italian mamma’s kitchen cupboard! Hope you are back to full fitness and planning your visit to magic Spello!

      Reply
  2. Theadora Brack

    The photographs are gorgeous! I especially love the “egg” shot. The lighting is perfect. BRAVO. Thanks for sharing the recipe and inspiration. I’m making notes, now. Did you sift the flour? I also loved the zucchini flower dish. So pretty. Warm for five minutes in an oven? ~Theadora

    Reply
    1. maryshoobridge Post author

      Thank you Theadora for your kind words. I’ll let you into a secret – all of the food pics were taken with my phone! Seemed too intrusive to elbow in with the zoom lens! No, we didn’t sieve the flour – 00 is pretty fine already. Oh yes, heat those zucchini flowers in an oven…they taste heavenly and impress guests if you can bear to share.

      Reply
      1. Pamela

        I thought this was just a short trip??? but it seems to be lasting quite a while!!! The Pasta looked amazing….I’m off to France in a couple of weeks, the Dordogne area….but I still have longings for Italy….you bring back such lovely memories of Perugia and Assissi,….I will return !!!Pamela xx

  3. maryshoobridge Post author

    Hi Pamela. Thanks for your comment. I loved the Dordogne – hope you have a wonderful time. Glad to bring back happy memories of your trip to Italy and so pleased you are planning to return.

    Reply
    1. maryshoobridge Post author

      Thanks Otto. All of the foodie pics were just taken in the moment with my battered old phone! It just goes to prove that capturing the moment is important, not necessarily how flash your camera is.

      Reply
  4. Tales and Travels of the Tin Man

    Oh………..My………Goodness……….what a delightful post!!! The zucchini flowers made me swoon with delight!! Oh the pasta making delights of your friend and you are amazing…..call me next time……I want to come over and taste these magical delights.

    Reply
  5. maryshoobridge Post author

    Oh, Tin Man, come over anytime! We first had the zucchini flowers in a beautiful hilltop town – Montefalco. You can see my earlier post (“My Kind of Town”) to compare how well I did in reproducing it! My pasta is still nowhere near as thin as Mariella’s, but one day….somewhere, over the rainbow?

    Reply
    1. maryshoobridge Post author

      Thanks lizgrr. It tasted even better than it looked. And on Friday I will be back there again with the beautiful Italian mama and all of our Italian friends. Watch out for more posts!

      Reply
  6. Mike

    sounds lovely, will give it a go. As you like Italy, food and reading. Just finished a lovely book called ‘The land where lemons grow’ by Helena Attlee, A portrait of Italy, a blend of travel,history, art and food, but concentration on Lemons and other citrus fruits. A very interesting read.

    Reply

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