Tuesday, December 22, 2015

still wondering what to cook for Christmas?

Squid Ink Fettuccine with Octopus Ragu and Squash
Minus 3 days to Christmas!  Nothing can be more last minute than these squid ink fettuccine with octopus ragù and diced squash. Last minute intended as thought and made today for lunch.  So if you're still thinking of something to make for Christmas, here's an idea that will solve it all.  It's perfect on Christmas Eve if you follow the meatless tradition and even if you don't.

Stay tuned, more is coming up. Squid Ink Fettuccine with Octopus Ragu and Squash
Squid Ink Fettuccine with Octopus Ragù and Diced Squash
Serves approx 4 people

Squid Ink Dough 
480 g hard durum flour
cold water
16 g squid ink

Add the squid ink to 125 ml of cold water, mix well.  Make a well with the flour and pour the squid ink water in the centre.  Start mixing the flour and water, add more clear cold water as needed.  Knead the dough at least 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic.  Wrap with plastic film and set aside for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes, roll out the pasta and allow to air dry.  Dust the sheet of pasta with semolina flour.  Roll up the dough and with a sharp knife slice vertical strips.  Unfold the strips and let the fettuccine dry on a dusted tray.

Octopus Ragù
600-700 g circa, fresh octopus
1 carrot
1 small onion
1 celery stick
300 g circa, butternut squash, diced
extra virgin olive oil
1/2 glass of white wine
1/2 glass of water

Rinse the octopus under cold running water. Remove the eyes, beak and any innards.  Thoroughly rinse and scrub the tentacles with rock salt.  Use a sharp knife to finely chop the octopus.  In a preheated pan add 3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, the finely chopped carrot, onion and celery and octopus.  Stir with a wooden spoon so that all flavours absorb with one another.  Add half a glass of water and leave to simmer.  When the water evaporates add half a glass of white wine.  Allow the wine to evaporate. Season with salt to taste. Remove from heat and set aside.

In another pan, add the 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil and the diced squash.  Allow the diced squash to brown lightly on all sides.

In a big pot of boiling water, add a handful of rock salt and the squid ink fettuccine.  The pasta is ready when it floats to surface and the boil regains. Drain the pasta, add to the pan containing the octopus ragù.  Add the cooked squash and serve.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

wondering what to cook for Christmas?

This stuffed pasta reminds me so much of an ornament that I had to hold myself from not hanging a few on the Christmas tree but I did decide to add them to our Christmas menu, which, in a way or another, settles the urge.

Stuffed with a mixture of potatoes, fresh mint and pecorino cheese, these tasty-good-looking ravioli from Sardinia are called culurgiones. The decorative closure is less intimidating as it may seem, all you need is a good dose of patience to find the right stitch and pinch gesture.  Once you make a few you'll get a hang of it and before you know it, your kitchen will turn into a culurgiones factory!

Hope this finds room on your Christmas table as well.
Culurgiones with Simple Tomato Sauce

Pasta dough
120 gr durum flour
80 gr plain flour
warm water
a pinch of salt

2 big potatoes
50 gr aged pecorino cheese, grated
50 gr fresh pecorino cheese, grated
8 leaves of "fresh" mint
1 garlic clove, finely chopped or grated
pinch of salt
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

tomato puree
1 small onion, finely chopped or sliced
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
pinch of salt

Boil the potatoes, peel and pass them through a potato masher.

To make the dough, mix both flours in a bowl and a pinch of salt.  Add the warm water a little at a time until the dough is formed.  Knead until smooth and elastic.  Let it rest for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile make the filling by adding all ingredients in a bowl, mashed potatoes, fresh mint, both pecorino cheese, a pinch of salt, extra virgin olive oil and the garlic.  First mix with a spoon and then with your hands to get all the ingredients together.  It would be best to make the filling the day before so that the flavor have time to absorb.

Make the sauce.  In a preheated pan add a the extra virgin olive oil and the onion.  When the onion is translucent add the pureed tomato sauce and a pinch of salt to season.  Let it simmer the 20 minutes.
Roll out the pasta dough and use a glass to make round disks (approx. 6 cm diameter).  Fill each disk with the filling and follow the video below for the closure.

Cook in a large pot of salted boiling water for about 3/4 minutes or until the culurgiones float on the surface.  Drain and serve with the fresh tomato sauce and some more pecorino cheese.