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So anyway.....I decided some time ago that I was going to try my hand at making fresh pasta.....
I bought the right flour, studied what Jamie had to say and gave it my best shot. And it was ok. The only problem was that I was a little restricted in the sort of pasta I could make as I don't have a pasta machine. Basically, I ended up with lots of tagliatelle, as cutting it into ribbons was about all I could do and it wasn't as time-consuming as one might think. I did consider spaghetti, but no. Even I'm not that stupid.
Then I thought I'd branch out. I didn't want to go the whole hog and buy a machine, but I DID want to be a little more adventurous.
That's when I discovered my new little kitchen friend, the Lakeland Ravioli Cutter.
What It's Like
It's a simple little chappie that comes in two parts. There's a metal ravioli maker that's basically a rectangular tray , about twelve inches by four and a half inches, that stands on little feet, with twelve, circular holes in it and a grid of square, raised, serrated ridges, so that each hole is within one of these squares. I'm sure you're starting to see where this is going, assuming that you know what ravioli looks like.
Having rolled out a sheet of pasta, you lay it over the tray so that there is at least an inch of overlap all around.
Then you use the second part of the ravioli maker, which is a plastic, domed press that fits neatly over the cutter in such a way that the twelve domes fit into the twelve holes.
Place this over the pasta-covered cutter and gently press down to create the twelve depressions in the sheet of pasta. Take away the domed press and you can now put your ravioli filling into the depressions. Once this is done, you place another sheet of fresh pasta over the tray and then use a rolling pin to roll over the tray, pressing the sheets together and against the serrated ridges, thus separating the whole thing into twelve pieces of ravioli.
Good eh? I thought so.
Is it really so simple?
Errr....yes and no.
The equipment is brilliantly simple to use and, may I say, helps to make superb ravioli, but of course you have to make the pasta in the first place.
Making the pasta
I'm going to explain a little about making the pasta dough, otherwise you don't get a full understanding of the process.
I use double zero flour, as it gives that silky texture that you'll want, and one large egg per 100g. I also add a slug of olive oil. I mix the egg and the oil and then pour it into a well in the flour, in a bowl. Jamie says to do it on the rolling board, but I don't bother. Kneed it, roll into a ball, wrap in cling film and put in the fridge for an hour. 200 gms should be easily enough to make 12 pieces.
That part was easy, but now this is why I'm explaining about the pasta. When you get it cold out of the fridge, take just over half and put the rest back, wrapped up. The reason you're taking more than half is so that you can be sure you'll comfortably cover the tray.
On a large board or work surface, roll out your piece of pasta dough. You will need to roll it and turn it, roll it and turn it quite a lot of times as it will want to shrink back, but each time you will get it thinner. You need it thin - to the point that you can just about see light through it. Pasta dough is resilient and can take it. You might also want to think about creating a rectangle with it as you roll.
Once it's rolled out, lay it over the pasta cutter and follow the directions as above.
You can fill it with whatever you like. I find that ricotta cheese makes a good base, to which you can add whatever you fancy, but you'll have your own ideas on that.
You will have trimmed some of the first sheet, so now you can add that to the remainder of the dough, roll it out, place over the top and then roll to cut.
As you lift your twelve pieces of ravioli from the tray they will come away as one piece. Just hold one end and suspend for a few seconds and the pieces will start to come apart. I then lay them down and finish the cutting with a knife if I have to.
Place the ravioli on a tray or rack for half an hour to dry out and then cook in boiling water.
If you've never cooked your own fresh pasta before, here's a tip. Start with boiling water, but then turn down the heat, so that the pasta cooks more slowly. Otherwise the outside cooks too quickly and the pasta can go tough and rubbery.
Salt is optional, either in the dough or in the water.
The trays are very easy to wash. I've kept the box and the polythene they came in and once I've dried them off I slide them back in so they're clean and ready for the next time and the slim box stores in one of my kitchen drawers.
Cost and Value
This cost me £14.99 from Lakeland, which at the time I thought was a little steep for a piece of metal and a piece of plastic with no moving parts. However, it has won me round. It allows me to be as adventurous as I'm ever likely to be with my pasta making without having yet another bulky and more expensive piece of kit in the kitchen. The beauty of ravioli is that you can continue to be creative with what you put inside it.
It passed da test with me!