Itâs this close to Halloween, the spookiest, scariest, fake-bloodiest night of the year (unless, of course, it gets trumped by a sad turn with the election next Tuesday). There will be lots of horror movies, trick-or-treaters, costumes, parties, candy and, in my house, ravioli.Â
The last time I made ravioli was two years ago, around this time. There were jack-o-lanterns glowing from the inside all around the house, a fire was burning in the fireplace, and twelve people sitting down to eat in my living room. And, among other things, I served them ravioli. More specifically I served them duck confit and pimiento mashed potato ravioli with braised chanterelle and lobster mushrooms. Sounds pretty fancy, right? My dad was in town at the same time we were hosting a Dinner at Eight, and so the menu was composed of the elements of all of his favorite foods, duck confit and pimiento mashed potatoes being a couple of said foods. The meal was very good and the evening was warm and festive. Or so I thought...
Are you scared, yet?
As I said, everyone seemed happy, elated even, with the meal and the evening. It seemed as though everyone had commendatory things to say about it. To my face. But then about a week or so later I read, in a public forum, that a guest and her date did not leave pleased. Some of what I read was fair enough and some was not. Â Nature of the beast, I suppose, but it is exceedingly difficult not to take a sharp panning personally.
Now youâre scared, right?
I very rarely critique restaurants any more here and that is due, in large part, to this experience. So I asked myself, who am I to deign to review and criticize chefs and restaurant owners in a public forum? I am neither a Nobel Prize winning journalist - or hell, a journalist at all - nor an acclaimed food critic. And I do not visit an establishment three times with groups of people to sample as many menu items as possible and to check consistency prior to writing a post. What if I visited a place on an off night? We all have an off night, even the very best of us. Moving forth I decided to mention some restaurants here and there, but to be extremely cautious and thoughtful with any negativity.
What I did do following that review of, what was essentially, my style, my structure, my home, my peeps, my creative vision and my food, was make pasta over and over and over again. But not ravioli. Until last night. And it was insert expletive here awesome.
So, in some way, I triumphed. I knew that this ravioli would make even the toughest carbo-loading 'critic' warm and fuzzy inside, whether or not they arenât a fan of toothy (read toothsome).
Yes, revenge is a dish best served cold. But this ravioli is not.
Mwahahaha... Happy Halloween!
Acorn Squash Ravioli with Sage Browned Butter
Serves 4 (Main Course) or 6 (Appetizer)
Pasta Dough and How Ravioli-ize It
I happen to have a pasta machine. If you donât you can still make ravioli your just going to have to roll the pasta out with a rolling pin.
I have done this myself. It is a lot of work but it can be done. You just need to roll the dough out really thin. Do not roll the dough out too thin. The pasta will split when you are cooking it and most if not all of your filling will be floating in your pot of water.
I found that when making my ravioli it works much better if you roll out a piece of dough, fill and seal the ravioli and then start all over again. If you roll all your dough out you take the chance of your dough drying out too much and it will make it more difficult to work with and youâll end up with a very tough pasta.
Remove your ball of dough from the bowl and knead all of the flour and crumbs in for a couple of turns. Now cut the dough in half. Then cut each half in 4 pieces. You will end up with eight balls of dough. Put all of the dough except for the piece you are working with back into the bowl and cover it with the towel.
Flatten your dough a bit and dust with flour.Â
Now place the piece of dough on your clean and floured counter surface.
Using a spoon place a dollop of filling along your piece of dough in a straight line, leaving about an inch of space in between and on each end. Each dollop is a little bit less then a teaspoon of filling. You really have to play with your filling because each piece of dough is going to be a different size. No two pieces of pasta roll out the same width or length.
Have a small bowl of water on the counter and dip your finger in and run a damp bead of water down each edge of the pasta and between each spoon full of filling.
Now flip the dough from the back over your filling.
Run your finger between each pocket of filling to remove most of the air and cut each ravioli apart. Trim it up just to even the edges.
Run your fingers around the edge of the filling forcing the air out. Use a fork to seal the edges.
Homemade pasta cooks really fast, about 2 minutes. You will be able to judge whether your pasta is too thin or thick if you cook a few when you first get started. To cook the ravioli boil a pot of water and add ravioli. Gently boil until the ravioli float. Once they are floating the filling and pasta are cooked through.Â
1 acorn squash, diced and roasted*
1/4 cup yellow onion, dicedÂ
2 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
1 tablespoon butterÂ
1 garlic clove, mincedÂ
1/4 cup mascarpone cheeseÂ
1/4 cup parmesan cheeseÂ
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg Â
1/2 teaspoon sherry vinegarÂ
dash of red pepper flakesÂ
salt and pepperÂ
4 tablespoon butterÂ
2 teaspoon fresh sage
Pre-heat the oven to 350 F. To get maximum flavor from the squash, peel the rind and dice into small cubes. Place the cubes on a foil or parchment lined baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Roast for 30-45 minutes until all sides are nicely caramelized. *Note: If you don't have the time (or patience) to peel the squash and cube it, you can alternatively follow this procedure: halve the squash. Place each half cut-side down on an oiled parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 30-45 minutes.
In the meantime, warm 1 tablespoon butter in a medium sauce pan. Saute the onions and 2 tablespoons chopped sage until the onions are transparent. Add garlic, salt, and pepper. Saute for one minute longer, then set aside.
When the squash is finished roasting, combine the squash, onion mixture, mascarpone cheese, parmesan cheese, nutmeg, sherry vinegar, and red pepper flakes in a food processor. Pulse until the texture is creamy. Add salt and pepper to taste
Sage Brown Butter
4 tablespoons butter
8 sage leaves
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Melt butter in a 12 to 14-inch saute pan and continue cooking until golden brown color ("noisette") appears in the thinnest liquid of the butter. Add sage leaves and remove from heat. Add lemon zest and set aside. Add the cheese, spoon over ravioli and serve immediately.