Over the past year on this blog, I’ve raved about making my own bread, delighted in the joys of homemade tagliatelle, and proudly displayed my Thanksgiving pumpkin pie. More often than not I’ve enjoyed the culinary challenges I’ve faced in the kitchen, learning from each failure and success. But last week I encountered a cooking project that almost destroyed me: homemade ravioli.
For the dough, Jim and I started with Jamie Oliver’s recipe from his newest book, Cook with Jamie, which called for 5 cups of flour and 12 egg yolks. In the past, dear Jamie has never steered me wrong. But no matter what Jim and I did, this dough would not come together. We tried adding more eggs. When that didn’t help, we added a bit of water. Finally we begged. Immune to our desperate pleas, the dough remained a stubborn mess of dry flour, and we finally had to scrap it and start over. We turned to the recipe that came with my pasta machine, which simply needed 4 eggs and 500 grams of flour, and it formed a pliable dough right away. Perhaps the inclusion of egg whites significantly improved our pasta situation. Whatever the reason, we gave thanks and sighed with relief.
We sent the dough through the pasta machine, producing smooth sheets of dough with ease. Our small kitchen table became ravioli central, as we sliced the sheets in two, placing small mounds of our arugula, ricotta, and sun-dried tomato filling on one half before covering them with the other. Next we carefully sealed the sheets together with water before cutting out the ravioli squares. But our troubles only continued: I criticized Jim’s sealing method, as I thought he was leaving too many air pockets in the dough; he thought I was too nitpicky. Our backs and our feet ached as we leaned over the table, sealing, cutting, and griping. After 3 hours we had produced 49 ravioli, and for the sake of our bodies (and our marriage), we called it quits.
As we sat around the table with my sister Melissa and her boyfriend Nedim later that night, we regaled them with the trials of our dinner preparation. The ravioli, served with a simple tomato sauce, were certainly tasty, with the sweet sun-dried tomatoes, peppery arugula, and soft ricotta forming a tangy filling. I was thrilled that most of the delicate pasta packages survived the actual boiling process. But as I relaxed at the table, my feet encased in cushioned slippers, my sore back supported by my chair, I knew I was done. The most important lesson I learned from this cooking experience is that I won’t be making my own ravioli again anytime soon.