Monday, February 8, 2010

Whirlwind


This last week has been a big one for me. The kind of week when the great changes and shifts in life are palpable and present, and when the choices that are made are with the awareness that, gulp, they are choices that will effect at least the next several years of my life. Traditionally when I have stood at a crossroads like this it has been in a puddle of soggy tears, feeling that the responsibility of my own fate is just too much to handle. I have always been baffled and jealous of friends who would handle decisions like this with joy and excitement. I know, I need to lighten up and learn to embrace change. Thankfully, there have been no tears this week, and while I have been feeling lots of excitement it has also been coupled with a lot of stress and the occasional and unavoidable “I just don’t know what to do!”
After three days at a job fair in Cambridge where there was a lot of preoccupation with resumes, and first impressions, selling yourself, and "professional attire", I was so relieved and happy to visit with a few friends in Cambridge Saturday afternoon. I met my friend Nick in Harvard Square for lunch, and then my friend Myles swooped in and picked me up at The Coop. We went and had some delicious espresso and then Myles suggested we visit the Institute of Contemporary Art, which is also close to the train station.
“I thought it might help you decompress after a stressful few days,” he said.
It was a thoughtful gesture and come to find out, to visit something beautiful, walk inside, gaze, and be quiet was exactly the right way to end my visit and take a break from thinking so much about myself and the future.
Myles also told me about the delicious homemade ravioli he and his girlfriend have been making, and his description of the butternut squash filling and rosemary infused butter sauce had my mouth watering as we rode in the taxi back to South Station. I have never made homemade pasta but it’s been on the list for a while. When I woke up yesterday morning in my own bed and began to figure out how I wanted to spend the day, making these ravioli as well as visiting with some good friends were the only things I was willing to put on my agenda.
The ravioli dough was really the most challenging part. I just experimented and ended up using three eggs for three cups of flour, but once I got into it I realized this was really too much flour. The internet told me to put the flour on a clean counter, make a well, and then put the eggs in the well, beat them and then incorporate the flour from the edges as you go. This method worked for me. I then had to roll out the dough since I don’t have a pasta machine, and I had a hard time getting the sheets as thin as I think they should be. Because some of the sheets ended up thick, some of the pasta was a little tough after they were cooked. However, the later batches were thinner and came out perfectly tender and supple.
Myles suggested making the sauce with rosemary and pecans, but I opted for sage and toasted walnuts (since this is what I had in the cupboard). Tossing the ravioli in the sage infused butter, with the crunch of the toasted walnuts was absolutely delectable, along with a crush of black pepper and some more Parmesan cheese.
The filling with the squash and pears was extremely warm and comforting and I think would also make a great filling for butternut squash lasagna with a bechamel sauce. Lea was over and also sautéed up some tasty kale with garlic and olive oil, which was a perfect, healthy side dish.
With everything still very much up in the air, this week is also likely to be an intense one. I made it to the second round of interviews for a teaching position at a neighboring public high school, and Wednesday I have to teach a 90 minute lesson to 25 9th graders I have never met before, while the classroom teacher and principal observe.
Pass the wine please!
Butternut Squash and Pear Ravioli
For the filling:
I medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks
2 pears, peeled and diced (I used Bartlett)
2 cloves garlic
A pinch of nutmeg
½ - ¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Boil the squash and garlic until tender, and add the pears for the last few minutes (just to get nice and soft). Drain out water and then puree in the food processor or with an immersion blender until nice and smooth. Add cheese and seasonings, set aside. (Come to think of it, roasting the butternut squash would also be delicious- try it and let me know!)
For the Dough:
Maybe 2 cups of flour
Pinch of salt
3 eggs
A little water if dough seems dry
I realize this is vague. I probably shouldn’t even be including instructions for making the pasta dough since I really don’t know how to do it myself! Anyway, what I did was put the flour on the clean counter and made a well. Crack open the eggs and beat them with a fork in the well, adding flour as you beat. Then begin kneading the dough, adding more flour and maybe a little water. Once you have a nice, elastic dough, roll out into two sheets. The dough should be pretty thin. Then scoop the filling and put it on one sheet of the pasta so that you make a little grid with the filling. Put the other sheet of pasta over it, and then cut out the ravioli. Moisten the sides with a little water to make the sides stick. Place in boiling water and cook until they begin the rise to the top.
Sage butter sauce
3-4 Tbs. butter (or more!)
5 sage leaves
¾ cup toasted walnuts
Melt the butter with the sage in a skillet and cook on low a few minutes. Remove the sage leaves. Put cooked ravioli into the skillet and coat them with the butter. Sprinkle toasted walnuts on top, and some more Parmesan cheese if you want. Add salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

5 comments:

  1. Sounds Yummy! Good Luck Wed. Will be thinking of you. Aunt Stph

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  2. Im tempted by this recipe---but i know its just not going to come out....ever get that feeling? Its the pasta part. Did you have a little hand-cranked pasta-dough flattener?

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  3. No, but I really want one. It would make the whole pasta part so much easier. Getting the right consistency for the dough isn't hard- just rolling it out nice and thin. I think you could do it. Last night actually I used wonton wrappers and made little raviolis with the rest of the filling- very tasty actually!

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  4. sophie that sounds sooo good! will you make it one day when i'm home please??
    love, Simon

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  5. yum! I'm thinking of you giving your observed lesson today. can't wait to hear how it went! also, general compliments on your blog. I love the seamless transitions from life developments to cooking developments.

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