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Ravioli Regrets? I have a few.....

ravioli.jpg

Why is it so hard for me to learn this lesson: shortcuts -- at least in cooking -- never, ever work for me. The bread-making disaster with my mother in February, fiascos with no-cook lasagne noodles.......the record is painfully clear.

I was once again reminded of this with another cooking disaster last Friday night. My friend Gwen, who is an excellent cook, was visiting for the weekend. It's a long trip from Alberta, so she doesn't visit often. We had several fun things to do while she was here: dinner with other friends, a fabulous brunch to attend, sites to see, catching-up to do.

We had decided to have dinner at my place one night during her visit, and just relax at home with a movie. I thought it would be fun to cook something I had learned from Letizia in one of her wonderful cooking classes near Assisi at alla Madonna del Piatto.

Perhaps lasagne? Letizia's recipe has worked very, very well for me several times. It's light but a bit labour intensive -- still, always worth the time. I learned the importance of simmering the ragu for several hours, to get the best flavour; and to not mess around with no-cook lasagne pasta, because it soaks up so much liquid that it can seriously alter the recipe.

But my time was tight during Gwen's visit, so I decided to make ravioli instead. I used Letizia's ravioli recipe with delicious pecorino and a pear filling (which turned out beautifully.) Unfortunately, the dish took a very bad turn when I decided to try a shortcut for the pasta itself.

I borrowed an idea from the cookbook: Giada DeLaurentis' Everyday Italian, which a friend gave me for Christmas. Giada, a beautiful celebrity TV chef, has some very nice ideas and quick recipes. But she led me astray on making so-called quick 'n easy ravioli.

Giada suggested it was possible to use wonton or eggroll wraps instead of making your own pasta. Just put a small amount of filling on the wrap, seal the edges, and that's it! "Homemade" ravioli!

Needless to say, it didn't work. I pressed Gwen into helping me lay out the wonton squares and we desperately squeezed the edges together with a fork to try and seal the imposter ravioli.

Like flailing lobsters, when these imposters hit the water, they became very unpleasant. They floated for a minute or two, then fell apart. What a mess! I should have realized (as Letizia has since pointed out) that wontons are normally steamed or fried, not flung into boiling water. The dough just isn't up to that kind of action.

Time for plan B. I had A LOT of filing that I didn't want to throw away. I also had some fresh lasagne sheets, so we cut those up into smaller squares and floated a few. (See photo above.) These at least held together, but because the pasta was quite thick, the consistency just wasn't right. Boiling for 7 or 8 minutes still wasn't long enough to really cook the pasta, but any longer in boiling water and the packages (I won't call them ravioli any longer) began to fall apart.

I drank quite a lot that night, as did poor Gwen. I think it will be a long, long time before she comes to my house again for dinner.

Comments (18)

Sorry, Sandra. But I had to laugh. I hate these cooking disasters, and it seems like I manage to get myself in one of them at least once a month.
The good thing is that you won't try cooking shortcuts anymore,maybe.
And I am sure your friend will be back for dinner again.

sheri:

Sandra, I admire you for attempting to make raviolis. I always wanted to try myself, but then wind up going to the corner store where they sell freshly made raviolis.

At least you attempted to make ravioli. I buy them at the store...although they have been more difficult to find lately. Ravioli are my absolute favorite pasta but I am too lazy to make them.

What was Giada thinking? Maybe you should send her a link to your blog post :)

I am sure your friend will be back and won't hold your cooking disaster against you.

Barb Cabot:

I'm sure she'll be back sooner than you think. I think the title of this post is so funny. The pecorino pear fillings sounds wonderful.

I'm sorry for your disaster but glad to learn that wonton wrappers don't work! And thanks for the link to the recipe - that filling sounds wonderful.

sandrac:

Candi, I'm glad I'm not the only one with a track record for cooking disasters!

Sheri, I did a cooking class in Italy, at Letizia's, where we spent a day on ravioli. They really are fun to make, and not difficult -- if you do it properly (which clearly, I didn't!)

Girasoli, I also love ravioli -- actually, I love any pasta that is kind of like a little purse with a filling inside. I can't wait to try tortellini and tortelloni (I think I have the spellings right?) in Bologna.

Hi Barb, the pear filling with pecorino on top is really, really good! The balsamic also adds a nice touch.

Annie -- this was a valuable lesson! Wonton wrappers really should only be used for wontons. (What was I thinking?????)

Brad'll Do It:

I think Palma and I tried the wonton wrapper thing, but made a tortellini-style package, and only cooked them for a minute or two, max. They were okay, but we missed "real" pasta.

We've made ravioli a bunch of times, but normally "flash freeze" it. I wonder if ours would stand up to "immediate immersion."

And relax about the food. Your friend and you will look back on that night and laugh. Next time, ask her what SHE wants to cook with you!

Marcia:

For one, sorry for your troubles, but it was an amusing post. I have wondered about using won ton wrappers, and also think you should share this with Giada. But I give you props for pasta making, period, something I do not have patience for. And finally, having a plan B is always good.

sandrac:

Brad, that's very intriguing. When you say tortellini style, I'm assuming you perhaps twisted the pasta into a little circle? Perhaps that would have held together better. And the short-boiling time makes sense.

I think making a large lot from scratch, then freezing it, makes the most sense of all and what I'll do next time!

Hi Marcia, I'm all about the Plan B, since my Plan A's usually blow up in my face! What I really must start doing, is experimenting alone in my kitchen BEFORE guests are expected, rather than using them as my guinea pigs!

Very cool story! It reminds me of one of my disastrous pasta dinners where ALL of the handmade tortellini unfolded in the water, letting all of that luscious cheese filling out, to swirl around in the boiling water. YUK!

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Sandra, I'm sorry to hear about your cooking disaster, but I found your post so well written and funny. It reminded me of my own very memorable garlic/cheese mash potato oven incident with 8 dinner guests that I can't live down until this day. Yet, it wasn't long before they asked when the next get together was! :)

So I think your friend will not only fondly remember her visit with you, I am sure she will want to return soon. Lots of Kudos to you for making such a great effort in making the raviolis. I like the photo too!

sandrac:

Brenda, you know my pain! It's so sad to see the strips of pasta drifting around while the filling glues to the side of the pot.....

Thanks for your kind words, Kathy! But now I'm very intrigued by your mashed potato story. Did they explode?

The upside to kitchen/dinner party disaster stories is that they can make great anecdotes later (much later!) and certainly give your guests something to talk about!

Did you remember to brush a small amount of water on the wrappers before placing the second wrapper on top? The water seals them together. It is weird that they didn't stick.

Pear and Pecorino ravioli is one of my favourites. We made it in Florence with Judy and have made them many times since then. Come to think of it, I think we have some in the freezer right now. MMMMMMM

I'm sorry about the ravioli but the story was quite entertaining! It seems as if you had a memorable weekenda nyway! menehune

sandrac:

Jerry, I did brush water along the edges and it still wouldn't seal! I think a real ravioli cutter probably would have sealed the edges (although I suspect the wonton wraps still would have failed.)

Thanks Menehune, it was an experience! Oh well, live and learn.

Hi Sandra, I am so proud of you! Not because of the disaster but because I know how intimidating certain recipes can be particularly if you have guests. Nevertheless you tried and surely your next ravioli will be perfect!
What better excuse for doing extensive ravioli tasting and evaluation of texture and filling next time you come to Umbria!?!?!

sandrac:

Thanks Letizia! I expect to do a LOT of ravioli related research when I'm in Umbria (and in the E-R region, for that matter!)

Had to laugh at your post! Who hasn't had disasters . . and I agree about shortcuts, although I do resort to them now and again. But I too was anxious to try short-cut ravioli with won-tons skins. They turned out just fine. Sealing was a bit laborious but with my sister and I doing it together, it was at least fun! The squash filling was scrumptious as was the sage butter we then served them with. A good experiment for me.

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