I am finally finding time to publish this post, which I have been neglecting to do for a week’s time. Finals just ended, and now I am left (at least for a few days) with the pleasant feeling of having no obligations.
Putting forth the commitment to cook a meal like ravioli requires plentiful amounts of patience. Patience requires distraction. In the realm of music, distraction assumes the form of a substantially complex album, one that I might enjoy playing repeatedly.
“Yellow House” by Grizzly Bear
Lately it has been overcast. Luckily, I scored a sunny day to make my ravioli, but otherwise, Vitamin D has made itself scarce. Often, I wish for the sun to return (my basil plant has definitely seen better days), or at least for the weather to finally break into a storm.
Grizzly Bear puts forth a great accompaniment for days such as these. The sometimes melancholy, sometimes eerie, sometimes secretive music compliments the image that the band selected for their album cover—a dusty yellow room, dim yet warm.
Listen to “Easier”
Listen to “On a Neck, On a Spit”
Yellow House is a relatively quiet album. For this reason, the songs seep perfectly into the warm, confined space of an apartment, heady with the scent of cooking, while the grey and shivering wind gathers against the windows, seeking to find a way in through a crack or cranny. And, inside, harboured from it all, you are surrounded by the gentle darkness of Grizzly Bear’s music that somehow keeps the wind out.
Listen to “Colorado”
Peach and Basil Ravioli with Vanilla Riesling Beurre Blanc
*Makes approx. 18 ravioli
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup semolina
A pinch of salt
1 large egg
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon olive oil
3-4 tablespoons of cold water
½ cup chopped basil
2 medium-sized peaches, skinned, sliced (I ended up using 3 peaches because mine were quite small).
2 ½ tablespoons olive oil
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
½ cup fresh ricotta cheese
¼ cup fresh blue cheese
¼ cup toasted hazelnuts
1 tablespoon honey
Vanilla Riesling beurre blanc
*A note on the beurre blanc: the flavours of this sauce are relatively simple. This allows the flavours of the ravioli to really take centre stage, so to speak, on your plate. Thus, I would recommend splurging a bit on some of the ingredients (i.e. a high quality unsalted butter and a trusted vinegar).
¾ cup (+ ½ cup) Riesling (I used Léon Beyer Riesling from Alsace)
¼ cup white wine vinegar
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 vanilla bean, split in half (reserve seeds)
¾ cup heavy cream
6 tablespoons (approx. 3/4 stick) of unsalted butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Toasted hazelnuts, chopped
Step 1: Making the ravioli dough
In a small bowl, combine the flour, semolina and salt. Pour on a flat surface and create a well in the middle.
In another small bowl, whisk together the egg, egg yolks, and olive oil. Pour the mixture into your flour well. Slowly begin to incorporate the flour mixture into the egg mixture until your dough starts to form.
At this point, the dough will be quite crumbly—don’t worry. Slowly add your water (1 tablespoon at a time) to the dough and continue to incorporate. Once your dough has come together and you can form a ball (again, don’t fret—the dough is supposed to be quite firm), knead for five minutes or so, then wrap the ball in plastic wrap and set it in the fridge for 1-2 hours.
Step 2: Making the ravioli filling
Meanwhile, make the ravioli filling. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and put the hazelnuts on a baking tray.
Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a pan over medium heat. Toss the peach slices into the pan and coat them in the oil. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper. Let sear for a few minutes until the peach slices are soft. Remove from heat and let cool until just warm.
Add the hazelnuts to the oven and let them roast for 15 minutes, or until you begin to smell a nutty aroma (in my experience, roasting nuts can be a finicky process—make sure to check up on them regularly so that they don’t burn).
If your hazelnuts have yet to be skinned: Once out of the oven, let the nuts cool for a half an hour, allowing the swelling of the nut to subside. Wrap the nuts in a kitchen towel and rub together until most of the skins flake off.
Chop nuts or grind them gently in a mortar and pestle. Combine the ricotta, blue cheese, and 1 ½ tablespoons of olive oil in a medium-sized bowl. Add cooled peach slices, honey and basil and mash/blend well.
Step 3: Putting the ravioli together
Take the ravioli dough out of the fridge and let thaw for thirty minutes. Cut the ball of dough in half and place on a flat, floured surface. Roll out each ball into a lengthy strip (they should be about the same shape so that they might be superimposed onto each other later on). You can use a pastry maker here instead, if you please. The dough should be about 1/16 of an inch thick once rolled out (if your dough is too thick, you won’t be able to properly taste the filling, so use those forearms).
Make your egg wash by whisking an egg and a teaspoon of milk together in a cup; brush it on a single side of each of your dough strips. Scoop your ravioli filling into a pastry bag. Squeeze teaspoon-sized dollops of filling onto one side of the dough strips, leaving enough room in between each dollop to properly seal your ravioli. Brush egg wash again in between the filling dollops.
Carefully lay the other piece of dough on top. Using your fingers, seal each ravioli and try to squeeze out as much air as possible. Press the edges of the dough firmly together. Cut the ravioli into strips using a pasta cutter (I used a cookie cutter for circular ravioli instead).
The ravioli should be cooked fairly soon after this process. If you’re not ready yet, you can put them on a semolina-dusted baking sheet in the freezer. When you cook them from the freezer, do not thaw. Simply allow an extra minute in the boiling water.
Steps 4&5: Making the beurre blanc / cooking the ravioli
In a medium-heated sauce pan, add ¾ cup of Riesling, the white wine vinegar, the split vanilla bean (seeds scooped out and reserved), the peppercorns, and the sliced shallot. Heat and allow the mixture to reduce by half.
Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. You’ll add the ravioli to this shortly.
If you’re wondering where that other ½ cup of wine comes in, pour it into a glass and start sipping. My reasoning: by this point, you’re probably wondering why you ever thought it was a good idea to make such a complicated meal. You’re tired and now you have to stand over a pan for the next ten minutes and watch butter melt. Hence, the wine. Don’t worry, we’re almost finished!
Add the cream to the wine mixture in the pan; allow mixture to reduce by half once more, making sure not to let the mixture boil. Remove the peppercorns and vanilla bean.
At about this time, you’ll have brought your pot of water to a rolling boil. Gently plop your ravioli into the pot (don’t overcrowd, I did six at a time for a medium-sized pot). Boil until the ravioli begins to float to the top of the water and the pasta is relatively soft (approx. 6-8 minutes).
Meanwhile, back in the saucepan: Reduce heat to low. Slice your stick of butter into ten increments. Add one slice of butter and whisk continuously into the sauce. Once that slice of butter has nearly melted, add the next and continue to whisk. Repeat this process until all of the butter has been blended into the sauce. Make sure that your sauce doesn’t boil—this will cause the mixture to separate.
Add vanilla bean seeds, salt and pepper to the sauce. If you are fussy about black specks in your sauce, omit vanilla bean seeds and substitute white pepper for black (however, I do recommend abandoning fussy tendencies for this sauce).
When your ravioli are finished, fish out with a slotted spoon and let sit on some paper towels before putting them into a serving bowl. Gently toss them with some olive oil.
Serve the sauce immediately (cooling or overheating will cause it to break down). Pour over your ravioli and top with toasted hazelnuts, chopped basil, and peach slices.
Enfin, bon appétit!