Nettle Ravioli

Nettle ravioli, with wild garlic pesto...

Nettle ravioli sounded like the next logical step after making garlic pesto. I just wish I hadn’t tried to make it for four adults and two children…

My parent were visiting and as we’d picked a load of wild garlic the day before, I decided to make the nettle ravioli recipe from the River Cottage Handbook No.7 Hedgerow book. Partly as I quite fancied making some stuffed pasta, but also due to the fact that it had wild garlic in the filling and the serving suggestion was for wild garlic pesto. Essentially I was going for wild garlic overload.

I didn’t quite follow the recipe when it came to making the pasta dough, as I had a load of egg yolks in the fridge. So I followed the enriched egg pasta recipe from The Geometry of Pasta and added the nettles as it al lcame together. For some reason, half the dough didn’t want to go through the rolling machine, it just fell to bits. The other half went through fine and produced a veritable mountain of vibrant green pasta sheeting.

I could tell straight away that the amount of filling specified in the recipe was never going to fill the amount of pasta sheet I had, let alone all of the pasta sheet that I should have produced. In the end the filling ran out before I’d got through about a third of the pasta sheet. Having said that, I did switch to making mezzaluna (half moon), rather than ravioli in an attempt to speed up the process, as it was supposed to be dinner, but I was running way over time. I also made some tagliatelle with what leftover dough I managed to force through the rollers.

As I’d run over time for making these to feed everyone for dinner, I ended up freezing them and having them for my dinner a few weeks later. They were a touch on the squeaky side and not overly powerful with any of their flavours. I do think they are probably something that is best prepared and eaten fresh, especially to get the proper punch from the wild garlic.

As we have a patch of nettles just out the back of the garden, it’s definitely something I’d like to try again. If I go with the wild garlic filling again, I’ll be making double, maybe even triple quantities. I might have a go at Yvan’s method of making the nettle pasta dough though, as his looked much, much better than mine.

North African Squash and Chickpea Stew

IMG_20130401_192423_1

I quite like Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Veg Every Day book, it’s my kind of simple unfussy cooking. I’d been wanting to cook this North African Squash and Chickpea Stew recipe for a while, but the rest of the household had always vetoed the idea. We needed something hearty and warming one weekend though, as the weather was pretty dire, so I finally got my wish.

It was ridiculously easy to make, as everything went into the one pot. I also made some pitta breads to go along with it, shame I can’t remember whose pitta recipe I used. I thought it was really nice, but the kids found it a bit much, I think it was the teaspoon of ground black pepper that did it. Just a bit too much warming heat and spice…

As we had two portions left over, it meant that I could have it again at my leasure. So one evening last week, I took a tub of it out of the freezer and had it for my dinner. I paired it with some plain couscous that I stirred some of my homemade harissa into and it worked really well. It’s definitely something I want to make again, whether I’ll be allowed to or not, is another matter…

Macaroni Cheese

I love macaroni cheese, I think it’s the combination of pasta and cheese that does it, you canny beat a bit of pasta and cheese, mmmm, pasta and cheese… Anyway, I bought The Geometry of Pasta a while back, I’m not sure why, as it’s not exactly veggie friendly. It’s great to flick through though, as the design of the book is amazing with all the black and white line drawings and any book that tells you how to make Cacio e pepe is a winner as far as I’m concerned.

The recipe for macaroni cheese is quite nice, it doesn’t contain tomato for starters, sorry Felicity, that’s just wrong. It can feel a bit greasy though, which I think it mainly down to the choice of cheese. I need to try it with fontina, rather than cheddar and see if that makes a difference.

Having made this recipe quite a lot, I think the one thing that affects the outcome more than anything else, is the thickness of the bechamel sauce. Too thick and it all becomes a bit of a sticky, lumpy mess when it’s served up. Keeping it on the thinner side, means it’s nice an oozy when served up and feels less like eating a bit greasy brick of pasta.

One other thing about this recipe, is that it claims it serves two as a main course, two giants maybe, as it can easily feed all four of us and leave us all wishing we hadn’t eaten quite as much; so it should serve three normal adults with no worries.

I’ve also been looking at buying Modernist Cuisine at Home, that kind of scientific cooking looks quite interesting, if a bit involved. However, if you do the Amazon look inside thing on this book, you’ll see there is a whole chapter on Mac and Cheese, with a number of different ways of preparing it. The recipes are all there for you to see in the preview, so I’m really tempted to buy some sodium citrate and give a couple of them a try…