Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Tiny Monkey Wrenches

I just got off the phone with the two childcare centers at the local Community College. At one, the minimum age they accept is 2 1/2, at the other, it's 3. At the first, I'll have to wait until this time next year, then apply to have The Lad cared for there for my last year of the culinary program. For the first year, I'm on my own.

Pray we can find affordable daycare, without it, I can forget about school.

Feeling Crabby

Well, I made the crab ravioli last night, and it was delicious. There were only a couple of kinks in the whole thing, but try as they might, they didn't ruin the meal. The first was that I made the ravioli a day ahead of time to save me some time last night. TFR has the Lad with her until 5:30 or later on monday nights, and last night I took over childcare duties at 3:30, so it was a good idea -- in theory. The problem was that the ravioli stuck together, and about a third of them tore apart when I tried to separate them. I refuse to let that good crab meat go to waste, so tonight I'll probably make some sort of crab dumpling soup. So let that be a warning to you -- make the raviolis and IMMEDIATELY cook them. The second bit of advice is to make sure you roll the ravioli dough as thin as humanly possible -- use a pasta press if you have one. My dough was a wee bit thick, and that made for very doughy ravioli. But the filling and the pesto were both excellent. The wine was disappointing -- we had the Eversham Wood 2004 Blanc du Puits Sec. It was too acidic, and strong -- there was no complexity to it, no subtelty. It was VERY disappointing. The salad went over well. I started with fresh baby greens, and added cucumber, heirloom tomatos, and watermelon radishes.

So while the dinner was a bit disappointing because of some of the goof-ups, I'd have to say the recipe itself was a success. The romano held the crab together well without stealing the show -- you really tasted the dingeness. and the pesto was the perfect complement to it -- fresh but subtle. So without further ado, the recipe:

Dungeness Crab Ravioli with Filbert Pesto


Pasta Dough
1 1/2 cups semolina
1/2 tbsp salt
2 eggs, beaten
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp cold water

Crab Filling
1 packed cup (approximately 1/2 lb.) chopped Dungeness crab meat
1 1/2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
1 1/2 tbsp grated fresh Parmesan Reggiano cheese
1 cup grated fresh Romano cheese
1 pinch salt

Filbert Pesto
2 cups fresh basil leaves, washed, dried and lightly packed
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup filberts, roasted and with skins removed
1/2 cup hazelnut oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preparing the pasta:
In a small glass bowl, mix the salt and semolina. Stir in the eggs, oil, and water. Remove from bowl onto a lightly floured (with semolina) board and knead until elastic. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes. While dough is resting, prepare filling and pesto.

Preparing the filling:
In a bowl, combine the crab, cheese, and parsley (the finer the parsley is chopped the better). Add just a pinch of salt, and mix thoroughly.

Preparing the pesto:
Place the basil, garlic, and hazelnuts in a food processor and pulse 3-5 times to start the chopping process. Turn the machine on and drizzle in the olive oil in a thin stream. Season with salt and pepper.

Making the ravioli:
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Place the dough on a lightly floured flat surface, and roll flat, as thin as possible. It should be thin enough that you can see through it if the surface beneath is highly contrasted. Use a medium ravioli press to cut out your raviolis. Using a spoon, scoop out 1 ½ to 2 teaspoons of crab filling, press together, and place one scoop each on half of the ravioli cutouts. Place the other cutouts on top, pinch together, and roll the sides. Once all ravioli are assembled, drop into the boiling water. Cook until the ravioli float, about 5-10 minutes. Pasta should be al dente. Strain the ravioli in a colander, move them to a bowl, and stir in the pesto. Garnish with fresh parsley or basil.

Makes about 20 ravioli, serves 2.