A few weeks ago my brain was possessed by a rogue Italian gene. How it happened is unknown since I am a descendent of Norse Vikings and Germanic tribes. It is possible that one of Caesar’s goons, with the broom-topped helmet and short metal skirt, had his way with a Barbarian wench when the Roman hordes swept into parts of Europe. Or is it possible a Viking stole a Roman woman and brought her to snow covered Norway? Either way, this rogue Italian gene survived the millennia and possessed me.
What happened? Rogueinius, the name I’ve given this Italian gene, convinced my brain that it could make ravioli from scratch. One more time folks: make ravioli from scratch!
You’ve seen the recipes, right? You’ve watched the chefs on TV dump a pile of flour on the table, make a well in the center, crack an egg in the center of said well, add some water and then gradually mix it all together into something resembling a “smooth elastic ball”. They make it all look so easy on TV but let me tell you, it is one messy chore. When the dough is stuck in chunks on your hands you wonder if it is ever going to mix together at all.
The German-Norwegian genes curse the gene, Rogueinius, but with their combined stubbornness the G-N genes fight on. That Roman gene will not get the best of them! Cursing in languages unknown to me they fight through the mangle of what looks like a failed grade school craft project. Eventually this mess of flour, egg and water does form into an “elastic” ball. Step one is done! It’s a downright miracle.
This beaten mound of dough is supposed to rest so I tuck it into plastic wrap, dim the lights and sing it a lullaby (in German, of course).
While it naps I work on the filling. I looked up recipes online and in the Italian cook book I have but ignored most of those and did my own thing: garlic (freshly crushed – best thing in the world), onions, mushrooms and the dreaded chard. Why do I call chard dreaded? Because I dislike it. Chard is a tough mean green but I get what seems like truckloads of it over the growing season so I freeze it and use it throughout the year. (Sure, the rainbow stuff is pretty, but it’s still nasty.) So I sauté it in garlic and olive oil which helps somewhat but not enough to make me like it. So, that’s my filling, sautéed garlic, onions, mushrooms, chard and cheese. After that it’s on to the tricky ravioli making bit.
Take a rolling pin….roll dough ‘til paper thin. Yikes! Do you know how hard that is? How do you handle paper thin dough? It doesn’t really matter in this case because I never quite succeeded at getting it that thin. It looked more like that homemade paper you make from dryer lint only it wasn’t blue or red.
The evil Rogueinius forced me on. Roll out the dough, as thin as possible. Cut the dough into strips. Put spoonful amounts of filling x-distance from each other and the edge of the dough. Fold the dough over and join together. What a sloppy mess. Chard was sticking out of the edges, onions poking out of the other side. So it’s all “filled” and stuck together. Now, cut strips with little crimpy roller thing. What? Crimpy roller thing? Apparently there is a tool out there that creates those fancy little ridgy ravioli edges. No, I did not rush out to buy one. I used my pastry knife…is it a pastry knife? I don’t even know its official name but it’s the thing the TV chefs use to cut dough and scoop things up with. I suppose I could have used the pizza cutter.
Anyway, I cut the ravioli into squares. They were ugly but I wasn’t going to stop and throw them away. I boiled some water and tossed them in.
Once they were done I put them in a baking dish and covered them with tomato sauce and more cheese. Then to the oven!
15 – 20 minutes later the ravioli was done. Stunned at my accomplishment I stared at the steaming dish of ravioli. Was it edible? It smelled like it. It resembled an edible dish of food. The Italian gene Rogueinius taunted the German-Norwegian genes. Mangiare. Eat.
And they did. And they survived.
But when Rogueinius offered more ravioli and wine the German stepped back and said “Nein, gib mier bier und bratwurst.”
Addendum: I have been asked if the ravioli was any good. Yes it was quite tasty. The Norske within said “Det er bedre enn rømmegrøt”. If you know what rømmegrøt is, you’ll understand.