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“On top of spaghetti,
All covered with cheese,
I lost my poor meatball,
When somebody sneezed.”

I really struggled to pick a cookbook from The Overburdened Bookshelf to feature as the Flavour of the Month for April 2008.

As much as I love my baking, I wanted to focus on something other than sweets. The gardening bug is starting to get to me but while it is spring, we are still at least a month or so away from even considering going out into the garden. It will be awhile before we’re harvesting any local vegetables or fruits so I didn’t want to pick a cookbook that focused on fresh goods from the garden.

Stumped, I perused my stacks of cookbooks again and again until I finally decided on a book written by Johanne Killeen and George German called On Top of Spaghetti .

Killeen and Germon are the famous chef/husand and wife team behind the restaurant Al Forno in Rhode Island. The couple has been featured on television and in print and their restaurant is quite famous (note to self: must visit one day).

I bought their cookbook last year and kept promising myself that I’d try some of the recipes. We’re big pasta eaters and while we have a fairly steady repertoire of pasta recipes, it’s always nice to augment the usual with something new. As well, I’ve been promising myself that I would spend more time making homemade pasta.

I’m lucky to belong to a family of master pasta makers. On both sides of my family, there is no shortage of skills when it comes to creating great pasta dough. I stand by Mama Cream Puff’s pasta recipe and firmly believe that my mom is a true master and I’m not just saying that because she’s my mom.

Having chosen the book, I decided to dive right in and head straight to the chapter on fresh pasta. Using my mother’s pasta recipe as a basis, I decided to try making ravioli for the first time on my own (no help from my mammina).

I thought it best that I try a fairly straightforward filling so I went with a filling of ricotta, egg, Parmigiano Reggiano and a touch of nutmeg.

Here’s a little photo essay of my journey into ravioli land:

Like most Italians, we have a hand cranked pasta maker that we used for years. However, about a year ago we invested in the pasta attachments for our Kitchen Aid mixer and haven’t looked back!

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Using my mother’s recipe as a guide, I prepared the dough and then rolled out the pasta sheets to the second last level of thinness on the pasta roller. I then laid out my pasta sheets to await their destiny.

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After making a simple filling of ricotta, beaten egg, salt, Parmigiano Reggiano and a touch of nutmeg, I mounded spoonfuls of filling at equal intervals on each pasta sheet.

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I carefully folded one half of the pasta sheet over the mounded filling and then pressed down in between each mound to remove any trapped air and to secure the filling. Before folding the dough over, I dampened the edges of the dough with a bit of water to help the dough stick together.

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Using a decorative roller, I trimmed the edges of the folded pasta sheets.

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I then used the roller to cut out the individual ravioli.

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I prepared a very basic tomato sauce, which I used to adorn my ravioli after boiling them. I was so anxious about the boiling process and keeping an eye on my ravioli to ensure that they didn’t open that I didn’t take any photos. At that point, I then became so eager to try the fruits of my labour that I didn’t bother with any photos of the finished product.

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They were good.

They weren’t as good as Mama Cream Puff’s, but they were good. And I know she was proud of me.

Now I don’t want anyone fretting. There will be lots of sweet things on this blog during the month of April including some long overdue cookbook reviews. But there’s also going to be a lot of pasta.

Carbs, here I come!

Ciao!

For a pretty darn good pasta recipe, click here.

For the filling: Mix together 1 cup of ricotta with 1 cup of grated Parmigiano Reggiano, beat in one lightly beaten egg, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. black pepper and a pinch of nutmeg (optional). Set aside until you’re ready to use as a filling.