Before I get started, I’d like to crown this recipe as the most labor intensive thus far. Sam, thanks for making us work. If I has chosen to make the cauliflower raviolis in my tiny San Francisco apartment, I don’t doubt that there would be flour on the walls, cauliflower on the ceiling, and a serious case of lactose regret (I don’t keep lactaid pills in my home). Luckily, I was able to borrow Bill and Betty’s expansive Moraga kitchen, and instead had an enjoyable, albeit challenging, experience.
I began my day with a lovely walk to the farmer’s market, where I had the choice of not one but 2 different types of cauliflower. As this group is all about experimentation and, thanks to my sister and her bizarre taste in colors I’m on somewhat of an orange kick, I opted for the cauliflower that was the color of macaroni and cheese. I asked the nice cashier what the difference in the two varieties were and he shrugged his shoulders and pointed me in the direction of another man. Forgive me for assuming that the man who worked at the vegetable stand knew anything about vegetables. My mistake, sir.
My next trip was to Safeway (praise god, there was no trip to Real Food involved this time). I loaded up on what felt like every cheese that Italy had to offer, picked up my pancetta, grabbed wonton wrappers (just in case) and walked home with my goods.
My first order of business was to tackle the good old fashioned art of home made pasta. After looking at about 15 different recipes, I painstakingly chose one and decided out of curiosity to incorporate one part semolina flour, which another recipe had called for. I have no idea how this particular flour is different, but the name reminded me of Thumbelina and it sounded dainty and precious and I could only hope that my ravioli should be so lucky. Much to my surprise, Betty had a blender with a dough hook, which saves these delicate arms from too much heavy kneading. The recipe required that the dough sit for at least an hour, so Betty and I decided that the best way to kill time was to go to Urban Outfitters.
When we got home, it was time to grab the rolling pin and bring out my inner Streganonna (anyone remember?) So I tirelessly rolled that Thumbelina dough until my arms were sore and the result was a beautiful sheet of pasta through which I could see my hand. I covered my ravioli sheets with wet paper towels to maintain their unblemished complexion, as I got to work on what I will heretofore refer to as the cheese trifecta. As a side note and an explanation for my previous comment about “lactose regret”, two of the three cheese that this recipe called for did not contain “active cultures”, which are the ingredients that most cheeses contain that allow me to eat them. Alas, for the sake of k1tchenb1tches and being a team player, I threw caution to the wind (no pun intended). I made the cheese trifecta in the Cuisinart while the beautiful orange cauliflower cooked. I’ve never really given a second thought to cauliflower, but I of course had a small sample while it was bathing in butter. Newsflash – cauliflower is AWESOME!
Not to mention, I forgot that on the next burner over, the pancetta was bubbling and boiling and being the rockstar that it always is and making my kitchen smell epic. I could already imagine the sweet music that my new orange friend and the salty, fatty pancetta would make when they were finally united in my mouth.
For some reason, I’m assuming in order to avoid the cheese melting, everything was supposed to chill before making the raviolis, so I took this opportunity to whoop Bill in a round Jeopardy. Then I headed back to the kitchen to assemble my raviolis. This is where I encountered some teachable moments:
1) raviolis are not supposed to be the size of napkins
2) no matter how thinly you roll dough, it will stretch back up if you let it sit for long enough
So using combination of carefully rolled ravioli dough, awkward scraps, and wonton wrappers, Bill and Betty and I assembled a ragamuffin bunch of ravioli. We let them bask in a bath of boiling water and then assembled them on our plates with roasted corn and a world famous Bill salad. We dug in…
The consensus: although the homemade dough had a better flavor, it was way too thick on the edges and had to be cut off. The wonton wrappers, while less flavorful, were the perfect texture. Thin and a bit slimy, they allowed the amazing cheese and cauliflower medley to shine. The sauce was delicious – did anyone else realize that it called for olive oil AND butter? How could it be anything less than awesome? Overall, my guests and I were pleased with the dish and I was endlessly proud of myself for making pasta from scratch for the first time. We finished off the meal with some fresh picked blackberries from the creek in the backyard. Suburbia much?
I wish the rest of you the best of luck in your endeavors, and look forward to hearing your trials and tribulations.