Happy New Year friends.
For the last two weeks Scotty and I have been back in Perth, Western Australia spending the Christmas and New Year break visiting my Italian family and spending much needed time with my two gorgeous nieces. Before we left Sydney, I had this wonderful idea that I would sit at my parents holiday house putting together post after post of my recent cooking escapades. Alas, what actually happened was lots of eating (posts to come), lots of nanna napping, and a desire to ‘unplug’ from online sources for a little while – there are times when you need to listen to what your body is telling you methinks.
After my short break, I am back and ready to push on with an exciting year of food ahead. To start the year with a bang (and to make up for a two week hiatus) I am offering up three spectacular recipes for you today as a treat.
During the final week of work at Opera Australia last year, our Director of Development decided that our department (made up of my sponsorship team, the philanthropy team and the special events team) would do something a little different for our end of year celebration. Our team of twelve is a great group of food lovers so it was decided that we would all cook a three course meal together, then sit down and eat it as a group. The two of us planned the entire menu in the weeks leading up to the date as ‘Team Bulding Menu’ was added as a special item on our weekly meeting agenda. We decided on the following menu:
- Entree: Lobster Ravioli with Lobster Tail and Prosciutto
- Main: Baked Veal Involtini in Tomato Passata
- Dessert: Crème Brûlée
When the day arrived we were ready to go with all ingredients pre-purchased and the wine chilled and ready for drinking. The only time sensitivity would be whether we could put together all the courses before we had too much wine!
We all arrived and split into two groups – I lead half the team in making the fresh pasta and lobster ravioli and our Director of Development led the other half in making the veal involtini. Our dessert had already been made and all it needed was a quick torch of the top of the crème brûlée before eating.
It came together beautifully and effortlessly, and as we all sat down to eat the food, we were so proud of what we created and were definitely closer as a team – it was a great success!
Lobster Ravioli with Lobster Tail and Prosciutto
400g “00” Flour (bread and pasta flour)*
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
¼ tsp chilli flakes
1 lobster tail, cooked, meat removed and shredded
Sml handful continental parsley, finely chopped
Zest of ¼ lemon
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
(Modified from a sauce by Neil Perry)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
250g tomato passata
3 slices prosciutto, julienned
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/2 cup cream
400g green (raw) lobster meat, cut into 1cm cubes
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
Place the flour on a clean bench. Make a well in the centre and crack the eggs into it. Beat the eggs with a fork until smooth. Using the tips of your fingers, mix the eggs with the flour, incorporating a little at a time, until everything is combined. Then add the olive oil. Knead the pieces of dough together until one large lump forms. You then need to work it until the dough become smooth and silky (about 10 minutes). What you are doing is developing the gluten in the flour and if you don’t do this properly, your pasta will become mushy when you cook it instead of al dente. Once you have worked the dough until smooth and silky, wrap it in glad wrap and pop in the fridge for 30 minutes.
In a bowl combine the filling ingredients together and mix well (ricotta, garlic, chilli, lobster, parsley, lemon, salt and pepper) . Remove dough from fridge and cut a lump of the dough (about the size of a small orange) flattening it out with the palm of your hand. Set your pasta machine at the widest setting and roll the lump through. Then set the machine down a level and roll the dough through again. Continue this process going down a level each time until you get it as thin as you desire (the penultimate setting is usually better for ravioli – if it is too thin the pasta will tear while cooking). Repeat with all of the dough until you are left with fresh lasagna sheets. You are now ready to make the ravioli.
Taking one long lasagna sheet, lay it on a floured bench and brush the side facing up with water, then place teaspoon sized portions of one of the fillings 3 cm apart. Take another lasagna sheet the same size and lay it over the first sheet working from one end to the other pushing the sheets together and working around the filling as you go ensuring there are no air bubbles. Once the filling is covered and the pasta sheets firmly together it is time to cut them into ravioli. I like making round ravioli using chef rings. Cut circular ravioli out of the pasta. Repeat this step of filling and cutting the ravioli with all of the pasta until you have used up the pasta.
Make sure you flour all your surfaces well and also make sure you don’t lay the finished ravioli on top of each other, they will stick together otherwise. Now, at this point you can either cook them, or freeze them to have at a later date!
The fresh pasta will take about 3 mins to cook so get ready by preparing a heating a pot of salted water on the stove until boiling.
In a large frypan preheated over medium heat, place the butter, garlic and chilli. As soon as the garlic begins to turn golden, add the passata, stirring with a wooden spoon and cook for 3 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the fresh ravioli into a pot of boiling and salted water. They will be cooked when the ravioli rise to the surface of the pot (about 3 minutes) remove from heat, drain water and set aside.
Add the prosciutto to the frypan and season with salt and pepper, then cook for 1 minute more. Then add the cream and the lobster meat and cook for 1-2 minutes or until it is just cooked.
Add the parsley, give a final stir and toss in the cooked ravioli.
Mix well and divide among 4 bowls to serve.
Baked Veal Involtini in Tomato Passata
1 small eggplant, thinly sliced
6 veal scallopini, pounded thin, about 1/8 inch
2 Large handfuls spinach leaves
Small handful pine nuts
50g provolone, in 4cm long x 2cm wide lengths
2 tbsp olive oil
400ml tomato passata
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 handful continental parsley
Freshly grated parmesan cheese
Lay the eggplant slices on a board and salt the eggplant. Leave for 10 mins until the salt releases the eggplant liquid then pat dry, turn over and salt the other side. Once the eggplant has released its fluid, pat dry and fry in a chargrill pan till dark then set aside. Lay out a veal scallopini, season and place a slice of grilled eggplant, 6-8 spinach leaves, about 4 pine nuts and a slice of provolone on top. Carefully roll veal; closing the sides so ingredients do not fall out, and secure with skewers or kitchen string. Cover the roll tightly in plastic wrap.
Repeat with all remaining veal scallopini and then refrigerate for at least one hour. Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Remove pork involtini from the fridge and unwrap.
In a large baking dish place half of the tomato passata on the bottom and top with garlic and 1/2 of the parsley. Add the involtini to the pan and top with the remaining sauce. Season with salt and pepper then top with remaining parsley and a handful of freshly grated parmesan.
Transfer to the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, cut off string and serve with salad or vegetables.
600ml thickened cream
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
6 egg yolks
¼ cup caster sugar
120g granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 120°C.
Place the cream, vanilla bean and seeds in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to scalding point, then remove from heat. Remove vanilla bean and discard.
Whisk together egg yolks and caster sugar in a bowl for 2-3 minutes or until pale.
Pour hot cream over egg yolk mixture, continuing to whisk until well combined. Strain mixture into a jug, evenly divide between 4 x 200ml ramekins
Carefully place ramekins in a deep roasting pan lined with a folded tea towel. Pour boiling water into pan to come halfway up the sides of ramekins. Cover pan loosely with foil.
Bake in the oven for 40 minutes or until the custard has just set. Remove ramekins from the water bath, and set aside to cool.
Sprinkle granulated sugar evenly over the surface of the baked custards. Run a kitchen blowtorch over the custards, or place under a preheated grill until the sugar bubbles and caramelises. Serve.
In other news: I have just found out that I was the overall winner of December’s DMBLGIT competition with my Braided Cinnamon and Pecan Bread picture. Thanks so much to all the judges and to Jehanne from The Cooking Doctor who hosted this month’s competition. I was touched to read the great feedback on my pic from Katie Quinn Davis of What Katie Ate.