Artichoke Ravioli

If you want to prepare something a little special but that will not keep you slaving in the kitchen for hours on end, here is a simple recipe for fresh ravioli. The pasta recipe can be used to make any type of pasta such as lasagne or cannelloni.

Even though making fresh pasta might sound laborious, it is very easy to prepare and it will only take you about 30 minutes to prepare this recipe from start to finish! Here is what you need to make enough ravioli for 2

For the pasta
300g Plain flour 00
3 egg
1 tablespoon little olive oil
A pinch of salt
For the Artichoke Filling
2 artichokes
1 onion
30g butter or some oil
Salt and pepper
Parmesan or grated cheese
1 egg

Start off by making the pasta dough. Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix until you form the dough. You can do this with your hands or by using an electric mixer. Once the dough is ready set it aside and prepare the filling.

Start by cleaning the artichokes. Remove the outer leaves from the globe artichokes and using a sharp knife chop off the top half of the leaves. Now slit each artichoke in half and remove the hairy choke which sits right on top of the heart. Peel the stem slightly so that you may use it too.
Now, in a pan, heat the oil or butter and fry the onion. Add the chopped artichokes and cook until the artichokes soften. It is best to chop the artichokes into little pieces before adding them to the pan.

Don’t worry if the artichokes turn dark after you peel them. This will always happen and can only be prevented if you soak the artichoke in a bowl of water and fresh lemon juice until you are ready to use. In this recipe it is not important to have white artichokes as they will be used to fill the ravioli.

Once the artichokes soften, place the cooked artichokes and onions in a blender and bliz to a paste. Now add the egg, parmesan and season with salt and pepper.
To prepare the ravioli, roll out the pastry till it is very thin. An easy test is to lift the pastry up against the light. If you can see the light through, then it is thin enough. Make sure that there are no holes in the pastry as this will make it unusable.

Cut the pastry into circle or squares, depending on the shape you want the ravioli. Circles will give you semi-circle ravioli which squares will give you rectangle ravioli. The diameter of the circles should be around 4cm. Now, place about a levelled teaspoon of the artichoke paste in the middle of the circle and brush the edges with a little water. Fold the pastry over to seal the ravioli making sure that there are no gaps which would allow the filling to escape.

Cook the ravioli in a pot of salted, boiling water for about 4 minutes. You can serve these ravioli with a drizzle of olive oil or some melted herb butter. Make sure to keep your sauce as simple as possible so that you may enjoy the delicious filling.

February Cakes

I hope you all managed to have a lovely Christmas and New Year. With this newsletter being the first of 2009, allow me to wish you all the very best for 2009.

This first newsletter for 2009 features a new cake. Sticky Toffee Pudding(picture above) comes on a 20cm base and is delicious served as dessert or with your tea. The toffee comes in a separate container so that you may warm the sauce prior to drizzling it over the cake.

Also, don’t forget the Fig & Almond cake which comes in a 26cm base and will serve over 16 portions. This cake is also dotted with dark chocolate. View my list of cakes for prices and sizes!

Did you know?

In the colourful jargon used in cooking, 'zeppelins in a fog' are sausages and mashed potatoes.

The fuzzy melon, also called fuzzy squash, hairy melon and moqua, is a winter melon that is 6 to 10 inches long with green skin and fine hair-like fuzz that disappears when the fruit matures. The shape varies from cylindrical to dumbbell-like. It's mild subtle flavor is described as somewhat like a cucumber or summer squash. They are originally from southern China and have been cultivated there since antiquity.

Louis XIV, known as the Sun King was reported by his sister-in-law to having eaten at one meal: "four plates of different soups, an entire pheasant, a partridge, a large plateful of salad, mutton cut up in pieces with garlic, two good pieces of ham, a plateful of cakes, and fruits and jams."

More of my recipes will be published this month in the Best Buy Supplement out monthly with the Times on Wednesday! Next issue will be out on February 11th

The E&D Magazine will also be out in March as well as the brand new STYLE On Sunday Magazine.

Pasta Bean Soup (Pasta e Fagioli)

Now that we have finally finished our drinks, gatherings and dinners, we can all relax to some serious hearty food.

I love post festive meals because they tend to be the simplest and warmest during the year. The cold weather we have been having over the past days has surely helped inspire me to make some soups and piping hot meals!

So this week, here is a delicious soup which doubles up as a whole meal in itself. This soup is also low in GI since in includes and good amount of beans. Here is what you will need to make enough soup for 4

100g dried canellini beans
100g pasta (ditali / zibbeg)
1 x 400g tinned tomatoes (polpa)
2 medium carrots
1 medium onion
2 celery sticks
3 cloves of garlic

Start off by soaking the beans the night before you want to prepare the soup. Then, once you are ready to start, place the beans in a pot and cover with water. Use clean water and not the one the beans were soaking in the night before. Allow the beans to cook for about 1 ½ hours.

Should there be some white foam accumulated at the top, remove it with a spoon. Make sure to keep the water well topped up so that there is constant rumbling boil for the beans to cook in.

Once the beans are cooked, add the carrots, onions and celery which has to be cut into small cubes around 0.5cm x 0.5 cm allow them to cook for 10 minutes then add the tomatoes, garlic and top up with enough water for the pasta to cook. Now cover the pot and allow your water to boil. Once the water is boiling well, add the pasta and switch the heat off.

Cover the pot and allow it to rest for about 20minutes or until you are ready to serve.

Once plated, drizzle some olive oil in each plate and serve with some Maltese bread.