We’ll meet them anytime they want at their Italian restaurant

If you want to learn how to make real Italian ravioli, look for the house in your neighborhood with an authentic wooden wine press in its dining room.

That’s what we did Saturday night and we ended up spending a super indulgent evening learning all about Italian pasta, American ingenuity and Midwestern charm.

Our hostess Mary, whose cousin owns a small Italian vineyard and whose father presses wine from his backyard vineyard in Beloit, did not even break a sweat as she cheerfully taught 14 of us how to make pasta and simultaneously served us a bona fide Italian feast from Caprese to espresso.

Lesson One: Roll with gusto. I especially excelled at this part and I rolled those suckers right off the counter. (Mary graciously helped me scrape them up off the floor and authorized a quick rinse that left them good as new.)

Lesson Two: Relax. Built into certain food preparation is time to enjoy the company of your guests. From the first roll of the pasta to the last drip of espresso, our meal lasted about five hours, which seemed just about perfect.

Below are Mary’s recipes. Buon appetito!

Pasta

2 ½ cups flour (I used store brand white flour but any type of flour should be fine)

Mix in:

½ tsp. salt

Then add:

3 large eggs

1 Tbl. Olive oil

1 Tbl. Water (or more, if needed)

Mix in bowl with scraper/spoon. Using your hand, blend the ingredients in the bowl until it forms a dry ball. (If too dry, add ½ Tbl of water at a time, blend in, repeat if still too dry). Put the ball of dough on the counter and kneed by hand about 30 seconds or so, just until all the flour is well blended into the dough. Break off a piece of dough about the size of an extra-large egg (about 1 3/4 “ diameter). If you have a pasta machine, run it through at thickness 1, 5 or 6 times, folding it onto itself after each run through. Then, no longer folding between runs, run it through once at 2, once at 3, etc. until it is as thin as you desire. I usually run it up to 7.

(With a rolling pin, I think I would roll it partway and fold it over onto itself a few times before rolling it out thin.)

The pasta can be cut for noodles or made into ravioli. If you are cutting a lot of noodles, spread them out on a floured cookie sheet to prevent them from sticking to each other while you cut the rest of the noodles. Once the noodles are cut, they can go directly into boiling water for cooking. (You do not need to dry them.)

Ravioli Cheese Filling

(This makes filling for about 140+ of the 1 ¾” ravioli. If you make a half recipe, use 2 eggs.)

2 pounds ricotta cheese (the type you can get at the grocery store will work fine in ravioli)

3 eggs

A pinch of salt

A pinch of black pepper

1 cup fresh grated romano, parmesan or asiago cheese

½ lb. finely shredded mozzarella cheese

Mix the eggs into the ricotta until smooth. Stir in the remaining ingredients. This filling is also very good in manicotti crepes or any Italian pasta dish that uses a cheese filling.

Red Sauce

28 oz. can of tomato sauce (I prefer Dei Fratelli brand. It’s very fresh looking and tasting. Not available at all stores.)

8-12 cloves of garlic (depending on size), minced

1 tsp. fennel seeds

1 rounded tsp. of dry Italian herbs (any mix of oregano, basil, etc.)

3 or 4 fresh basil leaves (if available)

A pinch of salt

A pinch of black pepper

Stir together in heavy sauce pan.Simmer on low for about 15-20 minutes, stir occasionally. Be careful not to scorch the sauce at bottom of the pan. If you do, don’t stir the sauce. Instead, pour the sauce into another pan and throw-away the scorched sauce stuck on the bottom of the first pan. (That burned, scorched tomato sauce will ruin the fresh flavor.)

This was just the warm up!
Mary shows Faith how it's done.
Linda and Tami roll out the pasta.

 

If you see this in the dining room, you know you're in for a genuine feast.
Checking out the cheese tray. It was delicious too!
Is this a great table or what?

http://youtu.be/i19cB_LA_7I

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