It has been far too long since my last, things have been a little crazy in the past few months with a new project in the works and a few new menus in the restaurant. I have finally found some time to do what I love, make pasta! I do not know why I like tortellini over ravioli but I suppose it’s the same reason why some people like fettuccine over linguine.
Sweet corn season is right around the corner and I cannot wait, it is one of my favorite vegetables. These little tortellini’s pack quite a punch with their Parmesan and herb enriched corn center. The filling is nice and smooth and just melts when you bite through the pasta.
3C Fresh Cut Corn Kernels (about three ears of corn)
1/2ea White Onion (Reserve other half for corn stock)
2C Finely Grated Parmesan
2T Heavy Cream
1T Champagne Vinegar
1T Chopped Chives
Once you remove the kernels from the cob of corn be sure to save the husk and the cob to make a corn stock. The husk has a much stronger corn flavor than the actual kernels so I usually add a half white onion to the stock and simmer for a couple of hours.
Thin slice the white onion and saute in the butter until it is soft.
Add the corn kernels and cook until soft.
Combine the remaining ingredients and the sautéed corn in a vita-mix and puree until smooth.
Place the corn puree in a bowl, add chives, and season, then place in the fridge until cooled.
Tortellini’s are fun and very easy to make once you get the hang of it. Start by putting your corn filling in a piping bag or in a plastic bag to make it easier to pipe onto the pasta.
Start by rolling out the pasta dough to the third largest setting
Brush the sheet of pasta with the egg wash.
Using a circle cutter, cut out pasta circles, you will want to cut them bigger than you think, about 2.5″ to 3″.
Pipe the corn filling onto the center of the pasta circles. Be sure to leave yourself some room around the edges to make folding and bending the pasta easier.
Fold the pasta in half to create being careful to not let the filling seep out in the process. You will end up with a half-moon shaped filled pasta. Pinch the edges to ensure they have sealed properly then, using your finger, spread a little egg wash on the corner of the half circle. You will see this in the picture below.
Here comes the hard part, place the pasta in your fingertips with the rounded part toward your palm and the center of the filling side against your ring finger.
With the other hand wrap the pasta around your ring finger, connecting the two corners the were egg washed.
The edges should turn upwards on their own but you can help them in order to get the desired shape. Pinch the two corners that just came together, and viola! you have corn filled tortellini. It is important that you go through this whole process fairly quickly to avoid drying out the pasta dough. If it dries, it will crack and tear when you try to wrap it around your finger.
Once it has been formed you can let them sit and dry on their own to allow for easier handling.
For assembly, bring a pot of water to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Cook the pasta until it begins to float and then remove from the water and let dry for a couple of minutes. In a saute pan melt a tablespoon of butter and saute the tortellini for a few seconds, de-glaze with white wine then add about one cup of corn stock. Simmer the tortellini until you have reduced the stock by 3/4 the amount. Season and serve.
The tortellini goes great with spicy greens, such as arugula and watercress, and any kind of dried cured meat, I used coppa.
I love scallops and I love pasta even more and this dish is light and satisfying. Grilled scallops have a completely different flavor over pan seared scallops, you don’t get the nice crisp crust but you get the flavor of the grill which is just as great. The micro greens are grown for us in Sisters, Oregon and we receive them weekly in their grow trays and we clip them when we need them, we dressed them with a nice blended balsamic and local hazelnut oil.
Beat the egg with a little water, place filling into a pastry bag.
To make these pyramid shaped pastas, roll out your pasta dough into sheets, the sheets should be the width of the roller (5.5″). You can use a fluted cutter or just a knife, cut the dough down the length in the center.
Now you have to strips about 2.25″ across, make multiple cuts down the sheet to create squares.
Very lightly brush the squares with the egg, if you use too much egg the pasta will not stick together, so its best to wipe the excess egg off of yuor pastry brush before applying to the pasta.
Pipe about 1/3oz of filling onto the center of the squares.
Take all four corners of the pasta and join them in the center to form the peak, pinch all of the sides that meet to ensure that the filling will stay in.
Sprinkle some flour or semolina flour onto a tray or plate. Place the fagottini on the semolina and you can either leave them out until you are ready to cook them or you can place them in the fridge. I would not recommend freezing this pasta because the filling can be very delicate and will probably break when reheated from frozen.
1/2C Heavy Cream
Combine all and whip to soft peaks
For plating you will need roasted salsify and beets, chopped and roasted hazelnuts, micro greens, cured egg yolk, three brined scallops, a well aged balsamic and a bright olive oil.
Scrub your beets, about one golf ball size beet per plate, with the rough side of a sponge and then rinse them to remove the dirt. Toss them in oil, S&P, roast at 350° rotating them every 20 minutes until soft and the skin can easily peel. The beets can take up to an hour to roast, once finished, peel the beets and slice them to 1/4″ thick and cool.
Peel the salsify and toss them in olive oil and S&P, then roast them at 350° until they feel soft in the middle, about 30 minutes. Once cooked let cool.
Once the vegetables are roasted you can set them aside until you are ready to plate, you will reheat these about five minutes before plating.
Preheat your oven to 450°, prepare your grill, or you can sear the scallops in a pan if it is more convenient. Put a pot of water on the stove and bring it to a boil, salt the water and drop your pasta in. Reduce heat to a simmer and let cook until the dough is soft, about 7-11 minutes.
Once the pasta is in the water put your vegetables in the oven to reheat, season and begin cooking your scallops, once the scallops have a nice sear on both sides, remove from the pan onto a paper towel and let rest in a warm area.
Remove your pasta and let drain, remove your vegetables and set aside.
Begin plating to your hearts desire. I finished the plate with a nice drizzle of the balsamic and olive oil followed by the cured egg yolk.
To satisfy my addiction for pasta machines/devices, I broke down and bought a Torchio manual pasta press. I have been drooling over this little machine for a few months and I now have it in my possession. The dies are pretty expensive but you can create all of your favorite pastas and its great to show off when you have company over. With the proper pasta dough you should not have any problems with this device, on the other hand, if your dough is too soft it will extrude improperly. You can buy a Torchio through Pastabiz.com
It is currently bolted to my workbench as I do not have space on my kitchen counter for it at the moment. Two of the other dies create different pasta; gargati and strozapretti.
I am addicted to devices that extrude or shape pasta and I tend to buy them the second that I see them. Cavatelli is a type of shaped pasta, meaning “small pasta shell” that is shaped like mini hot dog buns with ridges. You can use a traditional egg or flour pasta dough, but the most common style of dough for cavatelli is a ricotta dough. You can buy the cavatelli crank on Amazon and they are very affordable.
I feel that eggplant is very under-utilized in the kitchen and I have grown to like it more and more every time I cook with it. I grew up not caring for it, which is why I venture into cooking items like this. Young (early spring) eggplants are not normally bitter but when you get into the fall season the bitterness increases. The bitterness comes from phenol’s which are found in numerous different types of plants and is a defense against herbivorous. There are two ways of removing this flavor; the first is by slicing the eggplant, salting the flesh, and letting it sit for an hour or so in a colander. After it has set, you will see little droplets of water that were pulled from the eggplant, just pat it dry with a towel before using it. The second approach, which I use most often, is to make a “brine” with salt and water. For eggplant you want the brine to be salted enough so you can taste it in the water.
Since I am in Italy I figured I might as well post a recipe that I know by heart and love to make. Pasta is so versatile and is much better when its made at home. The key to a good pasta dough is durum flour, which has a very high gluten content, allowing the dough to stretch without tearing. Durum is usually only available online and at some high-end stores that probably charge too much, Nuts Online is a good place to buy some that isn’t too expensive.
•Place the flour in a bowl and make a well in the center, this can also be done on the counter.
•Add the egg, yolks, olive oil, and milk to the center of the well.
•Mix ingredients by hand until incorporated then knead on the counter top until smooth.
•Wrap the dough well and refrigerate until needed, a minimum of an hour to allow the dough to rest.
•Roll the dough with a pasta roller and make your choice of pasta by cutting it with a knife or filling it and making tortellini or ravioli. You can also run the pasta dough through a cavatelli crank.