Making Pasta

My parents had Steve and I up for the weekend a couple weeks ago and I have been asking to experience my mother’s homemade ravioli, she finally agreed. I have never made pasta before and it was quite an experience. My dad and Steve were in charge of rolling the dough out and then my mother and I would fill the dough and cut out the ravioli.

The ravioli filling was a crab and shrimp filling that my mom described as little pillows of delicious. She was 100% right.

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Lump Crabmeat Ravioli with Red Pepper Cream Sauce and Asparagus

Makes 40 ravioli

1/2 pound cold, peeled and deveined shrimp
1 large egg white, cold
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1/4 cup cold heavy cream
6 ounces lump crabmeat, picked over for shells and cartilage
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons chopped shallots
1 large egg, beaten with 2 teaspoons water, for egg wash
3 ½ pounds pasta (buy roll from Pastazza)
Red Pepper Cream Sauce, recipe follows
16 spears Blanched Asparagus, recipe follows
1/4 cup grated Parmesan, for garnish
4 teaspoons finely sliced fresh basil leaves, for garnish

Note: To achieve the right consistency, make sure that the shrimp and egg white are very cold, and chill the food processor bowl and blade in the refrigerator for 20 minutes before beginning.

Combine the shrimp, egg white, parsley, basil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and white pepper in a food processor and pulse for 5 seconds. Scrape down the sides and pulse for 5 seconds. With the machine running, add the cream through the feed tube in a steady stream. Transfer to a bowl and fold in the crabmeat, cheese, and shallots.

Place 1 pasta sheet on a work surface. Scoop heaping tablespoons of the crabmeat filling evenly down the sheet, about 4 inches apart in 2 rows of 4. Using a pastry brush, lightly coat the areas around the filling with egg wash. Place another pasta sheet on top and press down around each mound of filling to squeeze out the air pockets and seal. With a 4-inch round cutter, cut into individual ravioli.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the ravioli and cook until tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and divide among 4 plates. Drizzle the sauce on top and arrange the asparagus on the side. Garnish each portion with the cheese and basil and serve immediately.

Red Pepper Cream Sauce:
2 red bell peppers (about 3/4 pound), cored, seeded, and coarsely chopped
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
Pinch cayenne

Combine the bell peppers and cream in a medium heavy pot, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until reduced by half, about 35 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat.

Add the paprika, lemon juice, salt, white pepper, and cayenne. With an immersion blender, or in batches in a food processor, puree the mixture until smooth. Serve hot.

Yield: 2 cups

Blanched Asparagus:
16 asparagus spears

With a sharp knife, remove the tough woody ends from the asparagus. Lay the asparagus flat, align the tips, and trim the spears to the same length.

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the asparagus and cook until just tender, 1 to 2 minutes, depending upon their thickness. Drain and transfer to an ice bath to stop the cooking; drain and serve immediately.

Yield: 4 servings

Pasta Dough for Ravioli

Makes enough for 48 ravioli

5 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon salt
6 large eggs
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

To make the pasta dough: In an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour and salt. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and continue to mix. Pour in 1 tablespoon olive oil and continue to mix until a smooth dough is formed. If the dough is too dry drizzle in a bit of water, if it is too wet sprinkle in some more flour. Dust some flour on a work surface, knead and fold the dough until it is elastic and smooth, this should take about 10 minutes. Brush the surface of the dough with the remaining olive oil and wrap the dough in plastic wrap; let rest for about 30 minutes to allow the gluten to relax.

To make the dough by hand: Combine the flour and salt on a flat work surface, shape into a mound, and make a well in the center. Add the eggs and 1 tablespoon olive oil to the well and lightly beat with a fork. Gradually draw in the flour from the inside wall and mix it with the beaten eggs. Use 1 hand for mixing and the other to protect the outer wall. Continue to incorporate all the flour until it forms a smooth dough. Dust some flour on the work surface; knead and fold the dough until it is elastic and smooth, this should take about 10 minutes. Brush the surface of the dough with the remaining olive oil and wrap the dough in plastic wrap; let rest for about 30 minutes to allow the gluten to relax.

To roll out the dough: Cut the ball of dough in half, cover and reserve the piece you are not using to prevent it from drying out. Dust the counter and dough with a little flour. Press the dough into a rectangle and roll it through a pasta machine set at the widest setting 2 or 3 times. Guide the dough with your hand as it emerges from the rollers to prevent it from puncturing or stretching. Dust the sheets with extra flour whenever the dough gets sticky. Reduce the setting and crank the dough through again 2 or 3 times. Continue reducing the setting and rolling until the machine is at its narrowest setting; the dough should

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