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    Sunday, June 11, 2006

    Weekend Cooking with Friends

    We had have a couple of weekends away and have had a lot of fun cooking
    with friends who like me, find being in the kitchen a pleasure, not a chore.
    There was a great success and also a big failure I’ll show both!!!
    We’ll start with the success.
    I have never made fresh pasta before as I have never invested in a machine, but my friend Diana who has a wonderful kitchen, and all sorts of gadgets and mod cons has made this investment…so we decided to go all out and make ravioli. After all I have seen enough Chefs on the Food Channel making if they can do it I can.
    It’s a bit time consuming but very enjoyable. If you haven’t got a companion to talk to…put on your favourite music and “boogie on down!!!”

    Now as you can see from the blurb I am not an expert pasta maker but this worked for us.
    This fed 4.
    To make the pasta

    1 ¼ cups sifted strong flour
    Pinch salt
    2 large eggs

    Make a well (with high sides) of the dry ingredients and drop in the eggs.
    Start mixing the flour into the eggs slowly with a fork… just a little at a time
    keeping the little well highish, so that the egg doesn’t run all over the bench, which is terribly messy…
    when it is nearly all combined start using your hands and knead well.
    You may need to add a little water if too dry, do it by the teaspoonful or better still just wet your hands. You don’t want a wet dough.

    When it is a nice smooth ball (about 5-7 minutes) wrap in glad wrap and leave to rest for about an hour.

    Cut into 4 and take out 1 quarter and keep the rest covered while you work the dough.

    Start to wring the dough through the machine on the highest setting, fold in half and then put it through again, repeat for about 8 times to get it nice and silky.
    Now down a notch on the dial and keep on squeezing it through, changing the setting down till you get to number 1.
    You should have a nice long rolled out piece of dough.
    Put to one side and repeat all of this with the next quarter.
    They should be about the same size.
    Lay one on the bench and place teaspoonfuls of filling every 3 cms into little mounds.
    We got 7 out of each long strip.
    Brush exposed dough with a little water and lay the other strip over the top.
    Press around each little mound tightly with your fingers.
    Use a 7 cm cookie cover and cut out your dear little raviolis. Very pretty.
    Each one needs to pressed firmly with your fingers to get out any air bubbles.

    Sit on a piece of parchment paper till ready to cook.
    Continue on with the rest of the dough to complete

    While the dough is resting make the filling.

    250 gms ricotta cheese
    ½ pkt frozen spinach balls cooked drained, squeezed dry and finely chopped
    10 leaves basil finely sliced
    ½ grated finely tasty cheese
    ½ cup mashed roasted pumpkin or squash (you can use boiled if easier)
    1 egg white
    Nutmeg freshly grated
    Sea salt & black pepper to taste

    Mix all ingredients well

    1 cup extra virgin olive oil
    3 cloves garlic
    1 tsp chili flakes or 1 finely chopped freah chili

    Shaved parmesan
    And freshly ground black pepper
    Extra basil leaves

    Heat through gently till garlic tender we are only just flavouring this oil.

    Now take the raviolis and drop into a large pan full of well salted boiling water.
    Cook them for about 4-5 minutes.
    Drain and plate up
    Drizzle 1 tbs of dressing over warm plates.
    Lay the raviolis out, say 4 per person.
    Drizzle well again with the dressing, some parmesan, black pepper
    And then the basil. Beautiful.

    Now not so beautiful is
    “Honey We’ve Stuffed up the Duck”

    I have to show this as it is probably one of the worst dinners my friend Debbie (who by the way is an excellent cook) and I have ever done.
    The ducks had been simmered in a very tasty Asian master stock for a couple of hours and then all that had to happen was a bit of roasting along with the kumara (nicely seasoned, halved and oiled.)

    Of course I think the imbibing of some very nice champagne and too much talking
    ...maybe our seemingly loss of smell, had something to do with it…anyway voila…

    Here you have it people…how not to make:
    Wild Duck with Kumara

    I will add we did eat it.
    Those little black pieces that look like leather soles in the front were the kumara, (which was OK when all the black toppings had been carefully peeled off).
    The duck was like old leather, but the bits you could tear off with your teeth were tasty... the Asian master broth had done it's duty.
    By the way it did not ruin our evening.

    So I thought I would share these adventures with you.