January 31, 2010

Yorkshire Puddings

Yorkshire Puddings-2

 

MUNCH RATING: 5/5

 

I’m not a fan of Yorkshire Puddings and I choose not to eat them when we have a Sunday roast. But Steve’s Mum and sister were having problems with theirs not rising very well, so I decided it was time to take up the challenge of making them. Plus Steve loves them so it would be a great thing if I could get them right.

 

As always, the first place I turn to for a decent recipe is BBC Good Food and here I used Barney Desmazery’s recipe. I love the simplicity of the recipe in that it uses equal quantities of flour, eggs and milk by volume. Barney says there is no need to let the batter ‘stand’ or ‘rest’ so I just made the batter and the only resting time I gave it was the 10 minutes I waited for the oil to heat up in the oven.

 

CHANGES TO THE RECIPE:

Now I followed Barney’s recipe pretty faithfully, except that I used my silicone 6-hole muffin tin. Well it used to have 6 usable holes, but one of them split (from me putting it in the freezer to freeze egg whites/yolks) so I only put oil in 5 of the holes. But when it came to pouring the batter into the holes, in my haste I forgot about the one with the split/no oil and poured some batter in it. This one didn’t rise half as much as the others, but it was still extremely edible according to Steve! It just goes to show that you definitely need oil to cook Yorkshires!

 

Yorkshire Puddings

Anyway, I was so pleased with how the others turned out! I actually really enjoyed eating them, as they were lovely and crispy on top and not stodgy at all.

 

Yorkshire Puddings-1

 

OLD HABITS DIE HARD:

When Steve’s Mum saw them she was really impressed, but then she asked me what recipe I used and she balked at the idea of using 4 eggs! She uses a recipe that only uses 1 egg, so she was adamant that the great results I got must be due to the silicone tin I used. She normally uses a metal bun tin, so she said next time she will try her recipe using my silicone tin. She was also surprised I only let the oil heat up for 10 minutes, as she heats it for about 30 minutes and the batter still doesn’t sizzle! (I forgot to mention that before adding the oil I did put my silicone tin on a metal tray and I put it in the oven for about 5 minutes because it was wet and I wanted to dry it, so this extra heating time could have made a difference).

She also cooks her Yorkshires at a lower temperature, so I think she will try it at a higher temperature to get the rise right. I’ll let you know the results of the experiment!

 

Update: Steve’s Mum has made Yorkshires twice using her original recipe and my silicone tins, but she has exactly the same result as when she uses her metal tins. So I think it’s definitely the recipe that she needs to change, but she’s very set in her ways and has decided to just go back to using her metal tins and not change her recipe! I am going to make these Yorkshires again to try and convince her that she needs more eggs in her recipe!

 

  • Makes: between 8-10 if using a muffin tin
  • Oven temperature: Gas mark 8/450°F/230°C
  • Oven shelf: top
  • Cooking time: 20-25 minutes

 

Ingredients:

  • 140g plain flour (this is about 200ml/7fl oz)
  • 4 eggs (200ml/7fl oz)
  • 200ml milk
  • sunflower oil, for cooking

 

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 230C/fan 210C/gas 8. Drizzle a little oil evenly into 2 x 4-hole Yorkshire pudding tins or a 12-hole non-stick muffin tin and place in the oven to heat through.
  2. To make the batter, tip the flour into a bowl and beat in the eggs until smooth. Gradually add the milk and carry on beating until the mix is completely lump-free. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the batter into a jug, then remove the hot tins from the oven. Carefully and evenly pour the batter into the holes. Place the tins back in the oven and leave undisturbed for 20-25 mins until the puddings have puffed up and browned. Serve immediately. You can now cool them and freeze for up to 1 month.

 

COOK’S NOTES:

  • I used 4 large eggs, but I think I could have got away with 3 large eggs as the volume was a bit over 200ml (I have used 3 eggs and successfully made Toad in the hole with this batter).
  • I used about 1 teaspoon of oil per hole in the tin.
  • I let the oil heat up for 10 minutes and the batter did sizzle, but 15-20 minutes would be better.
  • I filled each hole about half full with batter.
  • The Yorkshires did start to burn on top after 20 minutes but still looked a little bit underdone towards the bottom, so I moved them to the lower part of the oven and cooked for another 5 minutes.
  • I made 6 Yorkshires and with the rest of the batter I added some melted butter and made 4 pancakes (as per Barney’s pancake recipe). I stacked them on a plate with non-stick baking paper between each one, then wrapped in cling film and refrigerated overnight. I will fill these with a spicy pork filling.

January 26, 2010

Chocolate Cupcakes – Hummingbird Bakery

Hummingbird Choc Cupcakes iced

 

MUNCH RATING: 5/5

 

I bought the Hummingbird Bakery book when I visited the BBC Good Food Show in London back in November, as it was a bargain at only £4.99 from The Book People. But I have been reluctant to try any of the recipes because I’d read so many bad reviews about the book. Lots of people said that the recipes had been badly converted from the quantities that the bakery uses and that the recipes hadn’t been properly tested.

 

But then other people had raved about the book and I like to set myself a challenge in the kitchen, so I wanted to see if I could get at least one recipe from the book to work!

I decided to start with one of the cupcake recipes as that is what Hummingbird Bakery are famous for and from my baking experience the quantity of the ingredients in the recipe looked in proportion.

 

However, I was intrigued that so little butter was necessary for these cupcakes and I tried to convince myself that they were therefore a bit healthier than other cupcakes I’ve made in the past! Never mind that they’re full of sugar and slathered with icing!

 

The recipe says you can use a hand-held electric whisk or a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment. I chose to use the latter as I thought it would do a better job at mixing, as it has more speed settings than my ancient electric whisk, so I’d have better control. Plus an online friend told me that to get really fluffy icing it’s best to use an electric mixer, so it was worth digging it out from the back of the cupboard.

 

The method in the recipe was a bit alien to me as it tells you to beat the dry ingredients with the butter and sugar, then add the wet ingredients. I am used to creaming the butter and sugar first, then adding eggs and then adding the dry ingredients. But I followed the recipe exactly and everything went smoothly.

 

The recipe says it makes 12 cupcakes and it specifically says to use muffin paper cases. But I only managed to get 7 cupcakes from the mixture and I have read other people had the same experience. If you used normal fairy cake paper cases then you could easily make 12, but there’s no way you could make 12 muffin sized ones!

 

I checked my cupcakes after 20 minutes, but I had to bake them for about 30 minutes (but our gas oven isn’t that great) and I was a bit worried when they came out of the oven. They had sunk a little and didn’t look too pretty! But I guess that is what icing was invented for! I only made half a batch of icing because I didn’t have as many cupcakes and this was plenty.

 

Hummingbird Choc Cupcakes

 

TASTE TEST:

Well the cupcakes went down a storm with Steve’s family! They were really light and moist and Steve’s Mum said they were the best cupcakes I’ve made so far! So she now has a new favourite! Steve really liked the slightly chewy top of the cupcake, which he said reminded him of brownies.

 

I was really surprised they were so well received, but it has given me more confidence to try out more recipes from the book. I am also very curious as to what the real cupcakes from the Hummingbird Bakery are like and if mine were the same.

 

  • Makes: 12 (if using small paper cases) or 7 muffin sized cupcakes
  • Oven temperature: Gas mark 3/325°F/170°C
  • You will need: a cupcake tray lined with paper cases

 

Ingredients:

  • 100g plain flour, sifted
  • 20g cocoa powder, sifted
  • 140g caster sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • a pinch of salt (I omitted this as I used salted butter)
  • 40g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 120ml whole milk (I used semi-skimmed)
  • 1 egg (I used a large one)
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to Gas mark 3/325°F/170°C.
  2. Put the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and beat on slow speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined.
  3. Whisk the milk, egg and vanilla extract together in a jug, then slowly pour about half into the flour mixture, beat to combine and turn the mixer up to high speed to get rid of any lumps.
  4. Turn the mixer down to a slower speed and slowly pour in the remaining milk mixture (scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula). Continue mixing for a couple more minutes until the mixture is smooth. Do not overmix.
  5. Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until two-thirds full and bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the sponge bounces back when touched. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean. Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly in the tray before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
  6. When the cupcakes are cool, spoon the icing on top and decorate if you like.

 

Half a batch of Chocolate Icing:

Beat 150g sifted icing sugar, 50g soft butter and 20g sifted cocoa in an electric mixer on medium-slow until the mixture comes together and is well mixed (for this small quantity of icing you may need to add a dribble of the milk to help it come together). Then turn the mixer down to slow and add 20ml milk gradually and keep mixing until it has been fully incorporated. Then turn the mixer up to a high speed and beat for about 5 minutes until the icing is light and fluffy.

January 25, 2010

Danish Pastries

Baked pastries - Apple close up

 

MUNCH RATING: 4/5

 

I really wanted to challenge myself, so I decided to make the Danish Pastries recipe from the October 2009 issue of BBC Good Food magazine. I’ve made Flaky pastry before, which is quite similar in its method of laying the butter over the dough and creating layers by folding and rolling three times.

 

I have to say that this Danish Pastry dough was a lot more difficult to work with and my arms were killing me after all the rolling (but it’s good when you can make cooking your exercise workout). I found the dough to be very uncooperative in that it kept contracting and shrinking back when I tried to roll it. It also wouldn’t adhere to itself when I folded it, so this lack of cohesion gave me some problems with shaping the dough.

 

Here are the unbaked pastries: a raisin wheel, an apple pinwheel, an apple turnover triangle and an apple turnover square. Unbaked Danish pastries - Raisin WheelUnbaked Danish pastries - Apple PinwheelUnbaked Danish pastries - TurnoverUnbaked Danish pastries - Apple

 

The apple turnover squares unfolded as they baked, which is a shame but they still turned out much better than I expected. I wasn’t that confident that the dough would produce all those lovely layers, so I was pleasantly surprised when I opened the oven door and saw that they had worked!Baked pastries - Raisin Wheel from aboveBaked pastries - Apple PinwheelBaked pastries - Apple Turnover TriangleBaked pastries - Apple Turnover Square

 

TASTE TEST:

The pastries were nice and crispy on the top and a little stodgy underneath, but I think that’s because I started cooking them at the top of the oven and then I moved them to a lower shelf because they were browning too much. I will cook them in the middle of the oven next time (I have frozen the rest - they were still just as good when defrosted and then baked).

 

Steve and I thought the pastries were a little bit salty, but his parents didn’t think so. I used Anchor salted butter, so next time I will leave out some of the salt in the dough (salt regulates the yeast's activity) or use unsalted butter.

 

So would I make these again? I will try making Danish Pastries again, but I won’t use this dough recipe again as it was too laborious with putting it in the fridge after every roll – I think this was unnecessary as the Flaky pastry recipe I’ve used before doesn’t require this. I think I will try this Rough Puff recipe next time as it is more simplified.

 

I decided to not copy out the recipe for the dough and fillings as you can find the recipe here and it would make this post extremely long!

 

MY OWN ADDITIONS:

I wasn’t keen on all the fillings that the Good Food recipe suggested, so I decided to make my own apple filling which worked really well.

 

Ingredients for the apple filling:

  • 3 eating apples (I used Gala) peeled, cored and chopped into small pieces
  • 25g butter
  • 50g white sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon

 

Directions for the apple filling:

  1. Place half the apples into a saucepan with the butter and sugar and cook on a medium heat for 5 minutes. Then add the rest of the apple and cook for another 10-15 minutes until soft (adding the apples in 2 stage will allow some of the apple to be more pulpy and the rest will have more bite). Allow to cool before using.

 

COOK’S NOTES:

  • I made the dough by hand instead of in the food processor.
  • I used Egg Glaze Spray from Lakeland to glaze before baking. They are still just as good without an egg glaze.
  • It was a cold day so they didn’t double in size after shaping them and leaving for 30 minutes. I did try putting them in the oven after it had been heating for 10 minutes and then turning it off, but this just made the butter start to melt, so NOT a good idea! So I just baked them straight after my little experiment and they turned out OK.
  • I iced them after letting them cool for about 5 minutes.

January 18, 2010

My version of Kettle Corn

Popcorn-1

 

MUNCH RATING: 5/5

 

Steve and I first had Kettle Corn (also spelt Kettle Korn) in San Francisco when we visited the Farmers Market near City Hall when we moved into the apartment.

 

Market-Popcorn

 

We fell in love with the sweet and salty taste and because it was freshly made it tasted incredible. They make it in huge barrels and the smell of it cooking is so intoxicating that it quickly draws people to queue up.

 

I have made normal sweet popcorn before in a pan (none of that microwave stuff for me!) but trying to recreate the Kettle Corn taste was easier than I thought it would be.

 

I used Rachael Ray’s recipe which I found online, but I tried a different method on popping corn so that you get less un-popped kernels by heating the kernels in the oil off the heat. I experimented with the method and found a way which gives the popcorn a lovely sugary coating. I do it in two batches, which makes it a little bit more time consuming, but it’s worth it to ensure the popcorn is coated evenly.

 

Popcorn-2

 

This amount of popcorn fills a 2.5 litre bowl and makes enough for me and Steve to scoff as we settle down to watch a film, but it’s normally all gone before the trailers have even finished!

 

  • You will need: a large saucepan with a lid, a couple of large bowls

 

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup (60ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt (I use Maldon)
  • ½ cup (90g) popcorn kernels
  • ¼ cup (50g) white sugar

 

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan on a medium-high heat and add the salt.
  2. Put 1-2 popcorn kernels into the oil and cover.  When the kernels pop, remove them from the pan – these are just to test the oil has come to the right temperature.
  3. Then add the rest of the kernels to the pan in an even layer. Cover and remove from the heat and leave the kernels to heat up in the oil for 1 minute.
  4. Return the pan to the heat and the kernels should all start popping all at once. You will need to shake the pan and adjust the heat so that the kernels pop at a steady rate and they don’t burn. Try to open the lid slightly every now and again to release the steam.
  5. When the popcorn has all popped, transfer to a large bowl.
  6. Then add half the sugar to the pan and heat until it has melted into a syrup. Tip half of the popcorn into the pan and stir to coat in the sugar syrup, then transfer back into the empty bowl. Repeat with the remaining sugar and popcorn. Serve immediately!

January 16, 2010

Mini Meringues with hazelnuts and chocolate

Mini meringues with hazelnuts and choc 1

 

MUNCH RATING: 5/5

 

Today on Saturday Kitchen James Martin made a variety of meringues, so I decided to make this Matt Tebbutt recipe that I’d pulled out of BBC Good Food magazine recently as I had loads of egg whites stashed in the freezer. The recipe posted on the Good Food Channel website has some errors, so I’ve copied it from my magazine.

 

CHANGES TO THE RECIPE:

Matt sandwiched his meringues together with cream, but I’m not a huge fan of cream so I’ve left them as they are. These meringues are incredibly light and crispy, but they still have a little bit of chewiness to them (not as chewy as a Pavlova meringue – for that you need to add cornflour or white vinegar).

 

The combination of chocolate and hazelnuts compliments the sweetness of the meringue and it reminded me of Ferrero Rocher.

 

Mini meringues with hazelnuts and choc 3

They were really easy to make but they look quite impressive. I like the little peaks on the top and they actually made it easier to dip into the chocolate and nuts as I had something to hold onto! Mini meringues with hazelnuts and choc 2

 

  • Makes: 24 individual ones or 12 if sandwiched with cream
  • Oven temperature: Gas ¼/225°F/100°C (we have a gas Rangemaster oven, so I set it to halfway between ‘S’ and 1)
  • You will need:  2 baking trays lined with non-stick baking paper/silicone

 

Ingredients:

  • 50g shelled and skinned hazelnuts, toasted
  • 3 egg whites
  • 140g caster sugar
  • 75g dark chocolate, chopped (I used 100g)
  • 180ml double cream (optional)
  • 1 tsp icing sugar (optional)

 

Directions:

  1. Heat the oven to 100C/80C fan/gas ¼.
  2. Line 2 baking sheets with non-stick baking paper.
  3. Put the nuts into a food processor and whizz until finely chopped, taking care not to over-process them.
  4. In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until they resemble stiff peaks.
  5. Gradually whisk in the sugar a spoonful at a time, to form a thick glossy meringue. (A good test is to turn your bowl upside down – the meringue is ready if it doesn’t fall out!).
  6. Using a teaspoon (I used a melon baller) spoon 24 small heaps of meringue onto the baking paper. Bake for about 1 hour or until crisp. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool.
  7. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of gently simmering water (or in the microwave). 
  8. Dip the flat side of each meringue in the chocolate and then into the chopped hazelnuts. Leave to set on a wire rack (or back onto the baking paper, chocolate side up!). 
  9. Whip the cream with the icing sugar until thickened, then use to sandwich the meringues together.

 

COOK’S NOTES:

  • I used 100g of chocolate and this was just enough to coat all the meringues and I was literally scraping the bottom of the bowl!
  • I had to swap my 2 trays around in the oven halfway through cooking so that they cooked evenly.

January 11, 2010

Making fresh pasta!

Spaghetti and pasta machine-1The great thing about having a blog that your other half reads is that he/she can really get to know you and what you really enjoy.

Steve must have read my post about how much I enjoyed watching Theo Randall make fresh pasta at the BBC Good Food Show/MasterChef Live London as he bought me a pasta machine for Christmas!

Christmas 2009 Mandy pasta machine

As an extra surprise he’d also requested a signed photograph from Theo Randall with a personal message saying “To Mandy, Good luck with the pasta machine! Best Wishes Theo Randall”.  The signed picture was a great surprise and a lovely touch to my gift – I’m a very lucky girl!

Anyway, enough gushing about my husband-to-be and onto the pasta machine. He bought me the Imperia Italiana Italian Pasta Maker Set from Amazon, plus The Pasta Machine Cookbook: 100 Simple and Successful Home Pasta Making Recipes.

The machine comes with a clamp and detachable handle, a star shaped ravioli tray, small wooden rolling pin and two cutting attachments so you can make ribbon shaped pasta.

On each of the attachments there is a very fine cutter and a wider one. After some research from other sources (the instruction booklet doesn’t really tell you anything about the attachments) I have ascertained the following:

  • Spaghetti – the cutter gives rounded strands less than 2mm wide
  • Taglioni (referred to as tagliatelle but this is not what I consider tagliatelle) – the cutter gives very narrow flat strands about 2mm wide
  • Fettucine – the cutter gives flat ribbons about 6.5mm wide
  • Lasagnette – the cutter gives flat ribbons about 12mm wide

The machine is really easy to put together, apart from the clamp can be a bit fiddly, especially if you don’t have a table with a decent overhang to be able to fix it securely. Unfortunately all our tables have an annoying curved edge, so I can’t get the machine to clamp very well and it takes two pairs of hands to roll the pasta whilst holding the machine down. Luckily I had Steve to help me and we had loads of fun making pasta!

I’ve watched Alton Brown’s episode on making fresh pasta and he secures his machine to an ironing board, which is a great idea but the design of the Imperia machine means you can’t do this and I don’t think Steve’s Mum would appreciate me using her ironing board for pasta!

Anyway, I’d read a few recipes on how to make basic fresh pasta, including the Imperia instruction book, the pasta book Steve bought me, Alton Brown and Jamie Oliver (from his first book The Naked Chef) and they are all different. Some use just flour and eggs, whilst others add water/oil and salt. I decided to go very basic and start with just flour and eggs. I went and bought the special type ‘00’ flour as recommended. It’s quite expensive at £1.45 for 500g from Waitrose, but I bought two bags plus some vanilla pods to make more vanilla sugar as I had a £10 John Lewis gift voucher from my Uncle as a Christmas present (I think most women my age would spend it on clothes and make-up, but I would rather spend it on food!).

Pasta Recipe:

The recipe for pasta is a complete doddle, it’s even easier than pastry! Just use 1 egg for every 100g of flour. So I’ve been using 300g of flour, so that’s 3 eggs, and this makes approx 500g of pasta dough. Of course there are special recipes that use tons of eggs, but I’ll stick with the basics for now.

Making The Dough:

The first time I made the dough, I used a food processor as you just need to whizz up the flour and eggs until it forms big lumps and then you need to knead it by hand for a couple of minutes until the dough is smooth, silky and elastic.

The second time I made the dough I did it by hand, as I didn’t want to dirty the food processor for such a simple thing. So I just placed the flour on a board and made a well in the centre, where I put my beaten eggs. I then started to draw the flour in from the sides using a fork, but disaster struck and the wall of my flour volcano collapsed and sent egg running everywhere! (So next time I think I’ll do it in a bowl, but I will still make it by hand as I hate washing up the food processor!). So once you have rescued any escaped egg and you have a semi-soft dough, then you can start using your hands and knead the dough for about 3 minutes or until smooth, silky and elastic.

If your dough isn’t coming together, i.e. there is a lot of dry flour left, then you can add a few drops of water to help bind it together. All flour and eggs are different, so you just need to adjust accordingly.

Whichever method you choose, you will need to wrap your dough well in cling film or in a zip-lock bag and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour (don’t try and cheat by putting the dough in a bowl covered with a plate as the dough WILL dry out – I did this on my first pasta-making attempt!).

Rolling The Pasta:
  1. Take the dough out of the fridge and divide it into 4 pieces, roughly the size of your fist. Recover the other 3 pieces that you’re not using straight away to prevent them from drying out.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, flatten the ball of dough you’re working with until it’s about 0.5cm thick so that you can run it through the pasta machine at its widest setting.
  3. Fold the sheet of dough into thirds and then turn it 90° (so an unfolded edge goes into the machine) and run it through the machine again at the widest setting. Repeat this about 5 or 6 times. I don’t think there are any hard and fast rules about how you fold the dough, as from my reading there seems to be more ways than you can fold a napkin! What you’re aiming to do at this stage is work the gluten in the flour by using the machine to knead the dough every time you pass it through. Plus by turning the dough 90° each time, you are creating a nice square shape for when you start rolling the dough thinner.
  4. Lightly dust both sides of your ‘kneaded’ sheet of dough with flour and then run it through the machine on a thinner setting. Do not fold the sheet. Then turn the machine onto the next setting and run the dough through again, dusting with flour if you think it needs it.
  • If you’re making a stuffed pasta, e.g. ravioli or tortellini, then roll your pasta to the thinnest setting. Stuff the pasta straight away.
  • If you’re making other types of pasta like spaghetti or fettuccine, then leave the dough a little bit thicker, dust with flour and leave it to dry for about 5 minutes before attempting to cut into shape.

Taglioni

With some of the first pasta dough we made, we used the taglioni setting and we ate it straight away with roasted butternut squash and sweet potato, peas and a bit of cream cheese thrown in to make a sauce. I just boiled the pasta for 2 minutes and finished cooking it in the sauce. We were surprised how good it tasted and it was all the more satisfying because we’d made the pasta! This style of pasta was a lot like egg noodles and we both said we preferred a wider pasta.

With the rest of the pasta dough I made ravioli stuffed with the rest of the roasted butternut squash, sweet potato and cream cheese. I didn’t use the ravioli tray that came with the machine, I just followed the method that Theo Randall used. (I aim to do a step-by-step write up with photos on how to do this). I then put them in an airtight container and put them in the fridge. I should have let them dry a bit first and put non-stick paper between the layers because they had all stuck together when I went to cook them the next day. Luckily Steve managed to save most of them by using a wet palette knife to tease them apart. He’s such a clever boy.

So we boiled the ravioli for a few minutes until they floated to the top of the water. I did add oil to the water to stop them sticking, but a couple stuck to the bottom of the saucepan, so you need to watch out for that. I was surprised that despite some of the ravioli having holes, hardly any of the filling came out into the water.

We then drained the ravioli and then fried them in butter until golden brown. We didn’t have any sage, so just finished them off with some freshly cracked black pepper. Here’s the finished result:

Squash, Sweet Potato Ravioli-1

Squash, Sweet Potato Ravioli Inside-1I have to say that they tasted really delicious. The flavour of the filling was able to stand out because the ravioli wasn’t drowned in a sauce. So here’s a rough recipe for the filling:

Peel and chop into 1cm cubes a medium butternut squash and a large sweet potato. Put them into a large bowl and toss with about 1 tsp of cumin seeds, chili powder and dried thyme, some salt and pepper and enough oil to coat. Roast on a baking sheet for about 30 minutes at Gas mark 6/400°F/200°C turning occasionally. When the roasted vegetables are cool mash them up a bit with a fork and mix in a tub of soft cream cheese (I always use the value stuff) and then it’s ready to use.

I made about 15 raviolis and the rest of the filling I used to make tortellini (with another batch of dough), which I have put into the freezer. I laid them out on a tray so that they weren’t touching each other and froze them for about 3 hours until they were rock hard before putting them into a freezer bag.

Here are my frozen tortellinis, ready to be cooked. They look absolutely fine on this side….

Tortellini copy

….but turning them over reveals how they’ve cracked.Tortellini (1) copy When I cooked them they all split and some of the filling came out, but we still ate them and they were nice. I think I should have let them dry first before freezing them, as perhaps the fierce cold was a bit of a shock to them. So next time I will air dry for about 1 hour, then put them in the fridge until they’re cold and then put them in the freezer.

With the rest of the second batch of dough we made spaghetti, which I left spread out on a board to dry and I have stored in an airtight box. I cooked the spaghetti for 3 minutes and then finished off the cooking in a Bolognese sauce I’d made. The spaghetti was nice, but it was almost exactly the same as the taglioni and not really like the dried spaghetti that we’re accustomed to. We think this is because normal spaghetti is extruded through a machine, whereas this was made from a flat sheet of pasta.

It’s been a lot of fun making pasta so far and there is still loads of learn and try out, so I don’t think it will be a gadget that is lost at the back of the cupboard never to be seen again. The Imperia machine is very well made and I would recommend it if you really enjoy cooking as much as I do!

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