Saturday, September 17, 2011

Patience and Pasta and Ricotta

After posting the Friday Flick, I hit the trail and headed to visit my awesome sister in law, Joan. She has the same passion the for food, cooking and gadgets as I do.  Yesterday we decided to try out my new gadget, The Original Cavatelli Maker. It was an exercise in patience and trial and error. The lack of  specific instructions in the box must assume you know what you're doing, we did not. We both have made homemade pasta before, but this was a bit tricky. Once we got the hang of it, production of cute cavatelli was in progress.  The recipe we used called for ricotta, some pasta recipes call for just eggs to hold it together with the flour. We both concurred that if we were to go with the ricotta recipe again, we would drain it first. The difficulty we encountered was that the dough was too wet. When the strips of dough were fed through the wooden rollers, they would stick. We kept adding flour to the dough and finally came up with a dry enough dough to achieve cavatelli success.
Of course we wanted to test them right away, but we let them dry for about 30 minutes on cookie sheets lined with wax/parchment paper. We put on  a pot of lightly salted water, and some of her husband's delicious sauce was warming up on another burner.  As soon as the water boiled, all of them (about 1 lb) went into the "pool". It didn't take more than 4 minutes and those little cuties had all floated to the top.  We quickly drained them, and put them into a pasta bowl lined with sauce, then added more to coat and cover.  We each took a scoop of the hot cavatelli and put them into our awaiting bowls, grated on some Parmagiano Reggiano (with a microplane) and dove in.
They were worth the wait and the process! Amazing taste and texture.  Luckily this was not the Friday Flick, or it would have taken all Friday to film it!  Once I master the dough and the machine, I'll show you how fun it is to crank these little pasta pillows out. We had a blast.  P.S. I forgot to mention that in the 30 minutes we had to wait for the pasta to dry, we made some, easy, light and delicious ricotta cookies for desert. Here is the recipe:

Ricotta mini cakes (cookies) - they are delicious...soft & light like little clouds

2 1/4 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter - softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg (room temp)
1 cup ricotta
2 tsp lemon extract (options: 1 tsp. vanilla, 1 tsp anise)

Heat oven to 350. Coat 2 baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray.  Whisk flour baking powder, baking soda and salt together. Set aside.
Beat butter & sugar together until blended.
Add egg, Ricotta and vanilla, beat till combined.
If using mixer; On low speed add flour mix and beat until blended. Drop by tablespoonfuls (I use a mini scoop, see link) onto sprayed/buttered cookie sheets  (I use Silpat mats, or my AirBake sheets see link)
Bake at 350 for 14 min or until lightly browned around edges.
Let cool on sheets 3 min. then remove to rack to cool completely. (I never do..I just eat one right out of the oven!)

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Do you have any gadgets you'd like to see used? Do you have any favorites of your own? Post suggestions, ideas, reviews.