You probably have noticed already that this month I was pleased to host among this creative walls one of the most interesting challenge out there in the blogosphere: Paper Chef.
Strangely from the usual chaotic recipe development process, the first idea to come out and to be scribbled over one of my notebooks was the winner. Do not get me wrong, I wrote down short of a tenth of candidate dishes but either sleepiness or the recognition of a sparkle of efficiency made me concentrate on the first pasta dish.
The perfect Teutonic efficiency stops here because it was only when I had almost completed the dish that I realized one of the four PaperChef’s ingredients in my head was wron. Peaches went in instead of candied orange peel. No big drama, the two fit quite well with each other so, more fun for our papillae!
What I propose you today is a sweet and earthy savory dish, a really lovely and elegant one that I really won’t mind having in a tete-a-tete dinner by the candle light even if with a mirror.
Cutting it short, here I present you my
Middle Eastern raviolo served with cranberry-sage butter sauce, fresh peach crescents and thyme leaves
Ingredients (serve 4):
- 100g flour, semolina if possible;
- 1 egg;
- 1/2tsp salt
- 1 egg white for brushing.
- Canola oil;
- 200g minced meat;
- 1 medium shallot, minced;
- 1 little pinch of baking soda;
- 8 sprigs of thyme;
- 1/2cup white wine;
- 1/2tsp cumin seeds;
- Ca 30 black peppercorns;
- 1tbsp egg white;
- 4tbsp whipping cream;
- 2-3 dates, coarsely chopped;
- 1tsp candied orange peel;
Cranberry butter sauce:
- 50g Butter;
- 3tbsp dried cranberries;
- 8-10 medium fresh sage leaves, chopped (reserve 4 whole for decoration)
- Few drops of lemon juice
- Black pepper.
- 8 thin peach crescents;
- Thyme leaves.
Let’s start by doing the pasta. Mix together the flour, salt and the egg till it comes together in a ball of dough. Knead the dough for a good 30 minutes adding more flour or water if needed along the way if the dough seems to you either too wet or too dry; keep in mind though that the dough may absorb the excess moisture while kneading. At the end you should have a silky smooth ball of pasta dough; wrap it in Clingfilm and let rest in the fridge for a few hours.
For the meat filling; warm up in a saucepan the canola oil, add then the minced meat and brown it nicely. When all the excess moisture will be evaporated, add the minced shallots and sweat them till translucent. Add now the baking soda and half of the thyme leaves; let it cook for another 10-15 minutes over medium fire. Deglaze the saucepan with the white wine and let it evaporate completely. In the meantime lightly toast the cumin seeds until fragrant and pulverize them with the black peppercorns in a mortar. The meat mixture should be ready by now, take it out of the fire and let it cool slightly before mixing in the spices; season it with salt and set aside to come to room temperature, covered.
When the meat mixture will have cooled down, place it in the bowl of a little mixer with the egg white and half of the cream. Mix till smooth adding the rest of the cream a little at a time. Check for seasoning and fold in the remaining thyme leaves; refrigerate till ready to use it.
Roll the pasta dough using your pasta machine or your loyal rolling pin till very thin; cut 8 squares of roughly 13cm x 13cm (5”x5”) setting them aside over a clean dish towel sprinkled with some semolina or cornmeal. Divide the farce in four portions and place it over the center of four squares of pasta, dot now the farce center with the dates and candied orange peel uniformly. Brush the free pasta frame around the farce as well as the remaining 4 squares with some egg white and close the ravioli paying attention to not leave any air pockets inside them. If you want you can use a fork to make decorative patterns all around the ravioli frame.
Before cooking the pasta, prepare the cranberry butter sauce. Rehydrate the dried cranberries for 10 minutes in enough hot water to cover them. Melt the butter with the sage leaves. When it will start to brown and smell nutty remove the whole sage leaves keeping them warm on a plate. Add the cranberries with all the leftover water to the hazelnut butter and let the sauce reduce till all the water will be evaporated. Season with lemon juice and pepper, keep warm.
To cook the pasta, fill up a large saucepan with salted water and bring to a boil. Using a spatula lower the ravioli one by one into the water letting them cook for 5min. Lift them out with a slotted spatula and place them on warm plates drizzling the sauce and the cranberries all over them.
Garnish the dish with 2 crescents of sweet peach, few thyme leaves and the crunchy fried sage leaves.
I really quite enjoyed this dish. The aromatic earthy filling of the ravioli is punctuated by the sweet notes of date and orange peel while a cumin aroma lingers in the background. The smoothness of the farce is underlined by the slight bite of the pasta dough. The butter sauce brings richness to the dish with a warm nuttiness and sage aroma; the sweet-sour cranberries lift the fatty notes. The aromatic thyme leaves and peach crescents provide fresh juices and aromas that clean the palate making this dish fresh and summery.