Jul 18, 2013

Ravioli Capresi

This past April I had the wonderful opportunity to visit the island of Capri during the off-season. When I gladly accepted the invitation of friends who offered accommodation, I did it with an agenda in mind.

I'm always eager to learn about traditional local cuisine, which is usually prepared using the produce and specialties grown and made on the premises. This is especially true when you're on an island. I had heard about ravioli capresi once before, but I had no idea what they were.

So I brought my Home Cooked crew with me and decided to conduct a little filmed research on the ancient and traditional island recipes of Capri, taught directly by the locals, on their turf.

So I found out that perfectly round pasta pockets filled with caciotta cheese, eggs and marjoram are Capri's signature dish. The ravioli are prepared according to an ancient recipe, handed down from generation to generation. Signora Assunta is the housekeeper of the Villa where I stayed, and she offered to let me watch as she created dinner with her hands, using just a few simple ingredients.
Here are her secrets.

For the ravioli dough:
500 gr (1.1 lbs) all-purpose flour
2 tbsp olive oil
500 ml (2 cups) boiling water

For the ravioli filling:
300 gr (1 1/3 cups) caciotta type cheese, grated
4 eggs
200 gr (1 cup) Parmigiano cheese, grated
Fresh marjoram

For the ravioli sauce:
Fresh tomato sauce
Parmigiano cheese, grated
Fresh basil
Extra virgin olive oil

Let's begin with the ravioli dough.
Place the flour in a mound on a flat, dry surface. I use my mother's wooden olive wood board; some prefer marble. Make a crater in the middle and pour the olive oil and hot water into it. Knead to obtain a compact, firm dough.

Break the eggs in a bowl and add the caciotta, Parmigiano cheese and the marjoram leaves. Work together with a fork, and refrigerate.

On your floured work surface, cut your ball of dough into 4 sections. Use a rolling pin to roll out the first quarter of the dough into a thin sheet, about 3mm (roughly 1/8 of an inch).

On half the sheet, place teaspoonfuls of the eggy cheese mixture, spacing the balls about 6 cms apart. Take the other half of the sheet and cover the first half. Proceed to separate the ravioli, cutting around each ball with either a ravioli cutter or a glass, with a diameter of roughly 2 inches.

Repeat this procedure with each of the remaining quarters of the dough.

Once you have finished making all your ravioli, place them on a kitchen towel without overlapping them.

Cook the ravioli in boiling water until they float to the surface.

Serve dressed with a simple fresh tomato sauce, a generous dusting of grated Parmigiano cheese, and a few fresh basil leaves. Uncork the chilled Falanghina and prepare to serve seconds.

Last image by lavandainterrazza

Jul 3, 2013

Best Gelato in Rome

Not to be mistaken with fattier (and colder) ice cream, you can find gelato artigianale — artisan gelato made using strictly non-industrial guidelines — in gelato parlors, which in recent years have acquired fine dining status. They include ingredient pedigrees, unusual flavor combos, and savory haute cuisine savory variations. They also get social media coverage worthy of prime minister sex scandals.

The number of new and top-notch gelaterie seems to increase with each passing summer, making your choices seemingly boundless.
Needless to say, I'm an avid gelato consumer. I also love lists. Here are my Rome favorites.