Some things are worth making from scratch, and some things are not. But how do you tell which is which? The money I save is balanced by the time I spend baking my own bread, but then when I add in the baker’s triceps, the air freshener, and the warmth of the oven, it’s definitely worth baking my own bread Fall through Spring. But homemade pasta has always seemed to me really not a great investment. I hold some traumatic early memory of a rubbery, chewy glop that my mother spent hours mixing and rolling (no idea, mom, if that’s a real memory or something I invented), and fresh local “homemade” pasta is so readily available and reasonable priced at the Central Square Farmers’ Market and Capone’s that I just haven’t even really considered trying. Forget that a few years ago my mother gave me a wonderful, simple, hand-crank pasta maker and even led me through a ravioli-making session. All I remembered was that it was indeed more complicated than she’d said. But last week we made a pumpkin puree that brought back a much better memory - the creamy inside of a ravioli savored at kitchen table in Tuscany years ago, the rich Siena flavor cut just perfectly by tender dough and bright peals of laughter. The puree was way too rich as a side, but with a dash of cayenne and a wrapping of perfect homemade sheets, it was as good as my best memory.
Amy’s Basic Ravioli Dough
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. salt
3 whole beaten large eggs
2 ½ tsp. cooking oil
½ c lukewarm water
Sift flour in large bowl, make a well in center and add salt, oil, eggs, and water. Mix liquid and flour gradually until absorbed. Place dough on floured board and knewad thoroughly for 3-5 minutes until dry and smooth (add more flour if dough is still sticky). Make into 8 balls, wrap in plastic wrap and set aside in fridge 30-60 minutes. After the dough is chilled, feed it through the sheet part of a pasta maker set at the thickest setting (1). Repeat, shifting up the setting each time, until the dough is one step away from becoming weak (that’s setting 7 on my pasta maker, but they do differ). After the first or second pass, it becomes difficult for one person to hold both the dough going in and the dough coming out of the pasta maker: this is definitely best done with a friend. When the pasta reaches the desired thickness, lay it flat on a lightly floured surface. Drop about a teaspoon of filling onto the bottom left corner of the dough. Cut the dough off with ½-1/4 inch left around the filling. Fold the dough in half over the filling, letting as little air as possible remain between the filling and the dough. Using the tips of your fingers, firmly close the dough around the filling. Repeat until you’ve gotten through the whole piece of dough, then roll out another and keep going. As the ravioli are filled, set aside on a lightly floured pan or counter. When they are all done, cook in batches of 12 or so 3-5 minutes in rapidly boiling water.
Spicy Pumpkin Filling
Peel, chop, and steam the flesh of one medium pumpkin or orange-fleshed winter squash. In a large bowl, mash with a potato masher. Add 1-2 sticks butter, ½-1 cup milk, 1-2 tsp. salt, ½ -1 cup grated parmesan, 1 tsp. pepper, dash nutmeg, and 1-2 tsp. cayenne and mash.
Squash and Mushroom Filling
Reconstitute 1 oz dry porcini mushrooms in 1 -1 ½ cups white wine. Cover and let sit 1 hour.
Cut a winter squash in half, seed, and turn cut-side down in a roasting pan with ¼-inch water. Roast at 350 for 40 minutes or until tender.
Remove cooked squash, scrape it out of the shell and mash until smooth.
In a frying pan, heat 1 T olive oil. and 1 T minced garlic. Remove mushrooms from wine (save wine), squeeze until dryish, coarsely chop, and add to pan. Then add ½ tsp. dried or 1 tsp, fresh chopped sage, ½ tsp. black pepper, ¼ tsp. salt, 1 tsp. butter. Cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Then add 1 T mushroom liquid and stir. Remove from pan and mix into squash.
Serve the ravioli with a tureen of mushroom sauce:
Make a roux : heat 2 T butter to melting, stir in 2 T flour and whisk. Add, whisking constantly, the reserved mushroom liquid, 2 T milk, salt, pepper, dried basil thyme, tarragon, and parsley. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in ¼ cup grated parmesan.
Serve with a fall greens salad (chickory, argula, etc.) with a sharp vinaigrette.
To round out the fall meal, finish with apple sauce upside down cake
In a pan, sauté:
1 T butter
1 cup peeled, thinly sliced apples
¼ cup sugar
1/8 cup rum
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix
1 cup apple sauce or apple butter
2 eggs, beaten
½ cup sugar
1 tsp rum
1 tsp. baking powder
1 cup flour
1 cup apples peeled and cut into 1/3-1/2” cubes
Pour the sliced apple mixture into a bundt pan and spread evenly. Pour the batter over the sliced apple mixture. Bake at 375 for about 60 minutes.
Drizzle with homemade caramel just before serving
Melt ¼ cup demerara or white sugar until hot and bubbling. Drop in 3 T butter. Stir 30-45 seconds, until melted. Remove from heat and stir in ½ cup heavy cream.