Uovo da Raviolo or Runny Yolk Pasta for Valentines Day

Is there anything worse than going out for dinner on Valentine’s day? You’re lined up on tables of two like sardines in a can, there’s the pressure, oh the pressure, to gaze lovingly into each other’s eyes and dinner probably ends with a soggy molten chocolate lava cake. I’m much happier to take a rain check on dinner and stay home with some good food, good wine and maybe netflix and chill snuggle up to watch the final series of The Americans on Amazon.
Heart shaped raviolo with runny egg yolk. Perfect for a romantic dinner.

But don’t get me wrong, I’m not the Grinch of Valentine’s Day! I’ve been away all week at a conference so I thought I’d put a little more effort into my Valentine’s dinner with Paul. Ever since I became obsessed interested in making fresh pasta last year, I’ve amassed quite the collection of ravioli cutters. When this one popped up in my “suggested for you” Amazon feed I clicked “buy”, click on image to get your own (affiliate link):

When it arrived, I was surprised at the size, it’s 3.5 inches wide which got me thinking about individual ravioli or raviolo. I remembered a Uovo da raviolo dish I’d eaten many years ago in Italy. Translucent fresh pasta sheets hid a bright yellow warm yet still runny egg yolk that broke perfectly when the raviolo was split with a fork.
Three striped ravioli stuffed with ricotta and a whole egg yolk

First you make your fresh pasta, some Italian grocery stores sell fresh pasta sheets if you want to skip this step.

If you don’t have a kitchen scraper and you regularly make fresh pasta (or bake bread), then what are you waiting for? These gadgets clean up all sorts of worktop stickiness and can be used to easily cut dough into portions. Click on picture to get yours (affiliate link):

Then you make some kind of ricotta filing. Simplest was fresh ricotta, a little grated parmesan, salt and pepper for me. Mixed in a baggie to save on washing up (plus you can snip the end of your baggie to make a piping bag when you’re ready. You could also add sauteed chopped spinach or maybe finely diced and sauteed mushrooms.

I’ve always wanted to try making striped pasta and just happened to have a couple of beets in the fridge. I *should* have juiced them and just added a little of the beet juice to a small portion of the pasta but I decided that just grating a little fresh beet would work. There was no beet flavor and I kind of liked the speckled appearance.
How to make striped pasta at home

Once you’ve rolled out your pasta, you simply pipe a little ring of ricotta mixture in a circle to keep your yolk in place. Moisten the pasta with a little water to seal and if you happen to have a heart shaped cutter, go to town.

90 seconds in a boiling pan of water and these babies are good to go. Leftover breakfast bacon and a handful of mushrooms made a little bed for the raviolo to rest upon.  I also fried up a couple of sage leaves for a crispy green topping.

We have friends visiting so I made a little more than I usually would for two, if there’s just two of you, half the ingredients.

Uovo Da Raviolo or Egg Yolk in Pasta

  • Servings: 6 hearts
  • Difficulty: kind of fiddly
  • Print

Ingredients:

For pasta:
1 cup of Triple OOO flour plus extra for dusting
1 whole egg
3 egg yolks
Pinch of salt

For raviolo:
Fresh pasta (see above)
A few drops of beet juice or red food coloring if you want to do the stripes
6 egg yolks
1 cup fresh ricotta
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan or gruyere
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon butter
6 slices bacon
6-10 mushrooms (white or a mix of white and shitake)
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Optional: fresh sage leaves crisped up in a little butter or oil

You’ll also need a pasta rolling machine or Kitchen-Aid pasta attachment, plastic wrap and a kitchen scraper is helpful.

Directions:

1. On a clean surface (wood or marble) tip out the flour. Make a well in the middle and add the whole egg and egg yolks.
2. Being super gentle, start to whisk the eggs with a fork to incorporate the flour from the sides, try not to let the eggs escape over the wall, once you have a fairly shaggy ball use your hands to knead the dough.
Note that you might not incorporate all of the flour, it’s going to depend on the size of your eggs. A bench scraper is also a genius tool for getting eggy flour unstuck from your worksurface. The dough will initially feel kind of sticky and wet, keep dusting your hands and surface with flour until it no longer feels wet and starts to feel a little rough.
4. Knead for 10-15 minutes, don’t skip it, this is essential to release the gluten in the flour. Push the base of your hand into the ball of dough to stretch it out, turn 90 degrees, double over and repeat.
5. When the dough feels smooth and springy, almost like play-doh, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap.
6. Rest the dough for a minimum of 30 minutes (or it’ll happily rest for a few hours longer). Room temperature is OK for an hour or just pop it in the fridge.
7. If you want striped pasta, cut off a piece of the dough, about the size of a small ping pong ball and in a baggie, add a few drops of beet juice, smoosh it around in the baggie until incorporated.
8. While the dough rests, prepare the ricotta filling. In a baggie, dump a cup of fresh ricotta, a good pinch of salt and pepper and the grated cheese.
9. Saute the bacon or pancetta until crispy, remove from pan to drain on paper towels. Wipe out excess oil and saute mushrooms in same pan until they’re golden and smell beautifully nutty. Add bacon back to pan but remove from the heat until needed later.
10. Roll out the pasta, I do a few passes on the widest setting, folding and turning the pasta and then keep going until you can just see through the pasta sheets (setting 6 on my Kitchen-Aid). If you want striped pasta, roll out the dyed pasta until very thin, slice long strips, place on the regular pasta when it’s one setting away from being done, press lightly to stick and then do the final roll.
11. Put a large pan of water on to boil.
12. Cut the pasta into 4 inch squares, lay on plastic wrap and cover with a damp kitchen cloth to prevent drying out.
13. Cut the corner off your bag of ricotta mixture and pipe a yolk-sized circle on the bottom pasta sheets. Plop an egg yolk into the well.
14. Use a pastry brush to brush a little water around the ricotta (this acts as glue to stick the top piece of pasta down). Add the top piece (striped side out if using) and press down gently but firmly to stick together and push out any air bubbles. Trim the side or use any ravioli cutter you happen to have
15. Put the bacon/mushroom/butter mixture back on the heat to warm through.
16. Cook the ravioli in the boiling water for 90 seconds, remove gently with a slotted spoon, drain and add to mushroom/bacon pan for 20 seconds to toss in butter, add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
17. To serve, add mushrooms and bacon to plate, top with a raviolo and crispy sage leaves.

Serve with a chilled glass of a crisp Sauvignon Blanc or Champagne to cut through the richness of the egg yolk. Break the pasta with your fork and watch the perfect yolk spill out onto the plate. Warm baguette slices work perfectly to mop up the yolk!

Heart shaped ravioli pasta (Uovo da Raviolo) recipe with bacon and mushrooms

Cookbook Friday: The Kitchen Diaries by Nigel Slater

I recently announced a new weekly post “Cookbook Friday” where I plan on sharing some of the gems from my groaning shelves of cookbooks each Friday as the name might suggest!

It seems only fitting to start with one of my most favorite writers, Nigel Slater

Mr Slater describes himself as a cook who writes and, in my opinion, he does both impeccably. I’m only sad that his cooking shows aren’t shown on US television but it does allow me to binge-watch when I go back to the UK to visit. The Kitchen Diaries: A Year in the Kitchen with Nigel Slater is an utterly fascinating glimpse into his world – we get to walk around the garden, peek in the pantry, choose a fresh fish at the fishmongers and sit at the dining table as he eats his daily meals. This is the first of three superb volumes covering Slater’s annual cooking and eating habits and the author’s favorite book from his own backlist.

Readability: From the joy of a perfectly ripe cheese to the description of a restorative soup to enjoy after holiday overindulgence, The Kitchen Diaries just demands to be read from cover-to-cover. Everyday tasks and foods transform from the mundane to the compelling in this book.  There are occasional ingredients or comments that are very UK-specific but I can’t imagine they would detract from the overall book. Nigel Slater’s writing style is thoughtful yet familiar, descriptive and evocative, personal and humorous and dare I say it, sensual.

Recipes: Over 300 sweet and savory recipes and meal ideas with a seasonal focus suited for the beginner to the advanced homecook. If you’re looking for a strict recipe book with precise instructions and ingredients then this isn’t the book for you. If – like me – you’re as happy as a clam in the kitchen with seasonal ingredients and the time to cook them, and you appreciate a more conversational tone of writing then I think you’ll love The Kitchen Diaries.

Photography: Jonathan Lovekin. Need I say more? The photography in The Kitchen Diaries (as in most of Nigel Slater’s books) is sublime. There’s no complicated styling or props and it’s very clear that this is (real) food, cooked and quickly photographed (perfectly I might add) and then eaten.

My favorite recipes: 
A simple chicken broth with noodles, lemon and mint
Chicken patties with rosemary and pancetta
Braised lamb with leeks and navy beans
This is a book I read over and over and over again. I just read through “February” again and I’m already planning to make slow-roasted lamb shanks the next time I see them at the butchers.

And to celebrate the launch of this new weekly series, it’s a COOKBOOK GIVEAWAY!!!! One lucky winner will receive a copy of The Kitchen Diaries by Nigel Slater.

Two ways to win (and yes – you can do both to double your chance!)
1. Leave a comment on this post and let me know what your favorite cookbook is.
2. Follow @Mainely Eating on Instagram AND post a picture tagged #cookbookfriday it could be a picture of your own cookbook shelves, your favorite cookbook, or a selfie reading the book!

I’ll randomly pick one winner at noon (EST) on Monday February 8th and a copy of The Kitchen Diaries will be on the way as soon as I have an address. And if you don’t win, you can click on this little (affliate) link to get your own copy! If you’re wondering why the cover looks different, it’s because I bought my copy in the UK.

Official rules: No purchase necessary to enter or win. Sweepstakes open only to legal residents of the 50 states of the USA (and the District of Columbia) who are physically located and residing therein and who are 18 years of age or older at the time of entry. Mainely Eating assumes no responsibility for prizes lost in transit. Up to two entries per person are allowed through commenting on this blog post or by following @MainelyEating on Instagram and posting a picture with the #cookbookfriday tag.

Title: The Kitchen Diaries: A Year in the Kitchen with Nigel Slater
Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Avery; Reprint edition (November 8, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0670026417
ISBN-13: 978-0670026418

Baked Prosciutto Crisps

It happened again. Home from the store, I unwrap the Prosciutto di Palma, carefully layered between the wax paper. My worst nightmare.

When cut correctly, Prosciutto di Palma (or it’s cousin Prosciutto di San Daniele) is a food of wonder. The cured meat is intense yet tender, the soft white almost translucent lardo just melts on your tongue. In the summer, prosciutto can be artfully draped over slices of ripe and juicy melon, the salt of the prosciutto perfectly sets off the sweetness of the melon. In the fall we’ll eat it with plump figs. This week I had a generous antipasto plate in mind.

But curses! The prosciutto has been sliced too thick. Again. There’s no fear of tearing as I remove these monster slices from the interleaving paper. Thickly-sliced prosciutto is disgusting. Imagine chewing a dense yet flabby piece of old shoe leather. Exactly.

If you have your own prosciutto nightmare, then don’t despair. There’s a silver lining to this tragedy. PROSCIUTTO CRISPS! Unlike the bacon bits you may have encountered at a salad bar that are actually artificially flavored textured soy masquerading as bacon, this is the real deal.
Prosciutto crisps baked in the oven and crumbled

A few minutes in the oven transforms the too-thick prosciutto into savory crisps that can be lightly crushed into intensely flavored prosciutto shards or more vigorously into prosciutto dust. If you can resist the temptation to eat the crisps directly from the baking tray, they’ll transform salads, eggs, pasta, heck, pretty much anything and everything.
Slices of prosciutto baked in the oven to make crisps

Prosciutto Crisps

  • Servings: enough crisps or shards for quite a few dishes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

1/2lb ~8 large slices of too-thick Prosciutto di Palma or San Danielle

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
  2. For easier clean up, line a rimmed baking tray with aluminum foil and then a piece of parchment paper. Make sure your tray has a rim otherwise the fat will end up all over your oven and burn.
  3. Lay the prosciutto slices on the parchment paper. They should be barely overlapping (avoid overlapping altogether if your tray is large enough)
  4. Bake for 5-8 minutes. The exact time with depend on the size/thickness of the prosciutto. You’re looking for the fat to just start to turn golden
  5. Remove and turn oven (be careful, they’ll be hot!), a fish slice works well.
  6. Bake for another 5-8 minutes until the fat is a deep golden brown and the prosciutto is just starting to smoke.
  7. Remove from oven and let cool on a cooling rack or paper towels
  8. Eat or crumble into shards or dust.

The crisps or dust can be kept in the fridge for a few days. If they lose their crispness, a few minutes in a hot oven will dry them out again.

They’ll shrink pretty rapidly, a quick turn halfway through cooking will ensure maximum crispness. The parchment paper removes the risk of sticking and the aluminum foil makes clean up a cinch. 

I dare you not to lick your fingers clean after crumbling the prosciutto crisps.
Baked prosciutto crumbles

When the prosciutto looks like this, you’ll want to pull it from the oven. See the little hint of smoke starting in the top right corner?

Pasta = good. Pasta with prosciutto crisps crumbled over the top = better.