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Handmade Ravioli

Tom and I have been talking about linking our posts so that what he reviews, I’ll use as inspiration for my weekly recipe. This week was a minor fail on my part as I was suppose to riff on Guangzhou. I saw myself at a slight disadvantage as I didn’t go on this trip. I felt it was tough to really experiment with a new dish based on text and pictures alone.

I was struggling, until we stumbled upon Hot Pot Instinct after a swim one evening. It had nothing to do with Guangzhou, but it did provide ample inspiration. I’ll save the review for Tom of course, but I will say one of the highlights was the prawn balls stuffed with cheese. Yes. Cheese. Noticing this odd combo, we ordered them simply out of curiosity. We were floored when they actually turned out to be good. I started thinking about this guilty little ball of pleasure and wondered if I could pull off something similar.

The prawn balls got me thinking of dumplings because one filling that’s available most of the time is prawn and chive. Adding cheese to this seemed like a reasonable idea, and like the hot pot restaurant, I decided I’d stick to a less flashy option. The recipe was finally set when I considered swapping the eastern version for his western cousin -ravioli.  The result below only confirms that pairing cheese and seafood together is a definite win.

Prawn, Chive, and Smoke Havarti Ravioli in Lemon Butter Emulsion

For the pasta

  • 400 g typo 00 flour
  • 4 eggs

flourIf you haven’t made fresh pasta before, you must. It’s a pretty simple process and the reward for your effort is ten fold compared to using the dried stuff. I have made it a few times at the Victoria, and learned the basic rule of thumb is 100 g of flour for each egg. Plan for 100g per person and multiply the recipe according to how many people you’re having round for supper.

eggs and flourPlace the flour and the eggs in a food processor with a pastry blade and pulse until the mix clumps together and looks like peas. Form the dough into a ball, wrap in cling film, and place in the fridge to rest.

pasta doughFor the filling

  • 300 g raw prawns
  • 1 cloves garlic, minced
  • dash of olive oil
  • 1 large bunch of chives, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • lemon zest
  • 175 g smoked Havarti cheese or Emmentaler

cheeseFinding the right cheese for this was important. I wanted something mild with good melting capabilities. When I hit the supermarket, I was going for Emmentaler until I stumbled upon some smoked Havarti. As you can see from the picture, it’s not a sexy cheese, but its creaminess and hint of smoke seemed perfect for this recipe.

garlicIn a small saucepan, heat a bit of olive oil on low and then add the minced garlic. Lightly fry for about 2 minutes, making sure it doesn’t brown. Remove the garlic from the pan and set aside.

prawnsSteam the prawns for 4 minutes and place in the food processor. Add the fried garlic, salt and pepper, and lemon zest. Pulse a few times until the mix is coarse, but not a paste.

blending cheeseNext, grate the cheese. I tried doing this in the food processor with a grater attachement, but the Havarti was so soft that it ended up whipping it instead. This was not necessarily a bad thing. I folded the cheese into the prawn mixture along with the chives and the consistency was perfect.

filling mixPlace the filling in the fridge until you’re ready to use.

For the lemon-butter emulsion

  • 200 g cold butter, cubed
  • a tiny bit of hot water
  • a small amount of fresh lemon juice

butter cubesBefore I started rolling pasta, I put on a pot of water to boil, and I made my sauce. If you set everything ahead of time, once you’ve sealed the last ravioli the hard work is over. All you have to do is plop them in the water and wait.

whiskingPlace a small amount of hot water in a saucepan and whisk in the butter on low heat. The water keeps the butter from separating, and eventually you should have a sauce that’s thick and rich. Season with a dash of lemon juice. Turn off the heat, but keep warm.

Rolling pasta

  • pasta dough
  • 1 egg white

portionIf you don’t have a pasta machine, it’s not a bad idea to consider buying one. You also don’t need to invest in the bells and whistles model to produce restaurant quality pasta. At home, we have the very basic Imperia model which is the same one we used at the Victoria. Rolling fresh pasta is actually quite simple. It’s not a quick process, but despite the repetitiveness, I find it quite meditative.

flattenCut a portion of the dough the size of a fist and flatten with your hands. Dust your hands in flour if you find the dough is sticking. Form a rectangle and flatten down to about 3mm. Set the machine to the lowest setting “1″ and begin feeding the dough through with one hand while you crank the machine with the other.

rollingRoll the dough through a few times until it’s smooth and uniform. Move to the next setting “2″, and again roll through two times. Progress in this fashion, rolling the dough twice through each setting until you reach the lowest “6″. At this point the dough should be thin, yet pliable.

sheetTrim the rough edges on a cutting board, and cut in half to create a top and bottom sheet. Spoon some filling on the bottom sheet. I eyeball the spacing depending on how big I want the raviolis to be.

fillingRing the filling with egg wash and then place the top sheet. Press down the top sheet to seal the two together. As you seal it, make sure to squeeze out all the air.

top sheetCut the raviolis into squares and plunge in boiling water for 4-5 minutes. You can usually “feel” when they are ready because they become soft and pillow-y.

boilingSince I am a bit of a kitchen nazi, I rarely accept Tom’s help. I’m trying to get better about relinquishing control so ravioli making was the perfect opportunity to try this out. It also helps speed things along if you have a partner, e.g. one person does the filling while the other rolls the dough. We got quite inventive when Tom found this Christmas tree cookie cutter. You can see his expert ravioli making below.

making treesYou can crank these out until you’re ready to boil them. Just make sure that you keep them covered with cling film so they don’t dry out. After they’re cooked, drizzle with the lemon-butter emulsion and sprinkle with chopped chives.

Tom's trees

13 Comments

  1. G

    wow! I’m very impressed. You work as a chef in HK right? Would love to try your cooking sometime :)

    • Thanks so much! Unfortunately the only cooking I do now is at home. I’m usually a media slut by day. I worked for a short time as a chef in London right before the move to HK. We are hoping to invite some local folks around for supper some time soon. WIll definitely be in touch. LOVE your Vietnam pics btw.

  2. Those processors make it all so easy. I remember trying the whole thing by hand and it all got a little too much. I’m now all fired up to give it another go, this time with my handy magimix helper.

    • Seriously. I don’t know what I would do without it. Although I used to do my pizza dough by hand. I think the key is that you mix with a pastry spatula or fork in a bowl until it’s not a scary mess anymore. Then you go at it with your hands. I find that’s the best way to reduce the cleanup level afterwards.

  3. I recently got the imperia pasta machine as a present; great minds must think alike as I also made ravioli. Interestingly though, you don’t seem to knead your dough at all?

  4. Nice! I’m determined to get some good use out of ours. I don’t really have a kneading step because I let the food processor do the work for me. The most “kneading” would be simply forming the result into a ball. I think it’s possible to definitely overwork the dough, so once it gets to a stage where it sticks together and is pliable, I let it rest. Same goes for rolling. You can definitely overwork it in the same way.

  5. Rav’s my favourite.
    You should start a Private Kitchen once in a while. I’m not sure though if the trend has died down a bit, but you can buck that ….

    • We actually have been tossing around the idea of doing some kind of supper club. Now that we finally have some furniture that idea is coming closer to reality. :)

  6. Great recipe Jen! Homemade pasta is such a treat. I must wheel my machine out from it’s hidey hole and give it a whizz.

  7. Thanks so much! Why is it that appliances always find their way to a “hidey hole”? I had a juicer that made an appearance once every 5 years, yet took up residence in one whole side of the cupboard.

  8. Hey, your blog is incredibly interesting.. And yes it was something I’m able to definitely refer to Ill constantly stop by to your site thus i we imagine you continue making fun and interesting posts just like it ^_^

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