St. Martins day feast (and mlinci recipe)

St. Martins day is the best holiday of the year. Yes, Christmas is great and you get presents, but there’s nothing like celebrating the fact that the years wine harvest is finally ready to drink by eating delicious food and drinking.

St. Martins day is celebrated on the 11th of Novemeber each year, and it’s celebrated around central and eastern Europe, but I think only in parts of Slovenia and Croatia it celebrates the wine, because wine is quite important for us. Luckily, Maribor, the city I come from, is big on celebrating it and ever since I can remember, we had goose and red cabbage and mlinci every year. The menu sounds a lot like the traditional Christmas menu for UK I guess, but there’s an actual reason for eating goose on this special day. The story goes that this lovely lad named Martin was to be ordained a bishop, but because he was a simple man, he didn’t want to become one. So when the officials came to get him, he hid in between a gaggle of geese – but the large white bastards betrayed him by running away and exposing him. So we avenge Martin by eating a goose each year.

Unfortunately, geese are both large and ridiculously expensive (and hard to find in London), so it is acceptable to eat duck, if you’re cooking for just 2 or 3 people. There is however no way you can avoid red cabbage and mlinci, those are a must. (you also usually eat some baked apples and cranberries)

I know, you’ve probably ignored this weird word throughout the post, but its finally time for you to find out what “mlinici” are and I’m even going to share a recipe! You can also serve them with your usually Sunday roast, they are a magical accompaniment for roast chicken for instance. They’re really easy to make, you just make a dough very similar to pasta dough, roll it out, either with a pasta machine or a rolling pin. Then it becomes slightly weird, because you also bake them. And then it becomes magical, because you steam them and then smother them in whatever fat has run off the thing you were roasting.

Ingredients:

-350g of strong white flour
-1 tbsp oil (sunflower, but you can also use olive)
-2 eggs
– water as needed

1. Mix the ingredients to get a lump of dough. Add just enough water so everything sticks togeteher. Knead the dough for roughly 10 minutes or until it’s quite elastics and spings back when you oush it. Let it rest for 30 minutes.

2. Heat the oven to 180°C. Roll out the dough to approximately 3 mm thick. (5 on my Titania). Put on baking trays and bake just long enough that the dough starts to turn brown and big bubbles form. (around 5-10 minutes). *You can do that in the same oven you’re roasting the roast. In this form, they can stay edible for months.

3. Break the mlinci into smaller pieces (approximately 3 – 5 cm), boil some water (or even stock) and cover them with it. Let soak for about 5 minutes, then drain any water that’s left over,

4. Smother in goose/duck/roast fat, serve and enjoy!

5:2 diet – Vegeterian fast days 5&6

Another 2 fast days done (and I’m writing this at the end of the 7th one) so you could say my diet is still going strong. And now I’m definitely not giving up – besides noticing my tummy getting smaller and my boyfriend claiming that it’s obvious I lost weight (which are both arbitrary and I don’t trust all the time), the progress is starting to show on the scale. I have lost somewhere around 2 kg since I started the diet and I think that’s quite great. I’m now at the lowest weight point in the last 4 or 5 years and I feel amazing. There’s still a bit to go to reach my goal weight, but I’m really confident I’m going to get there, for the first time in any of my weight loss experiments (and trust me, there have been quite a few).

I’ve decided I’m going to do these reports for 2 days together from now on. The recipes will start to repeat themselves and I’m just not really fascinated by the amount of food that goes into 500 calories and have stopped taking pictures :).

So here goes, fast day 5 and 6.

Breakfast 5 : milk gritz (no idea what the English word really is) and plum – 150 cal

25 g uncooked semolina (or gritz?) (80 cal) +100 ml semi skimmed milk (50 cal) + 1 plum (20 cal)

On fast day 6, I slept extremely long and decided to do an experiment, and not eat breakfast. Not a great idea, because I actually had trouble getting the 500 calories in and did something rather stupid, but fun, at the end. You’ll see:))


Lunch 5: Tuscan soup 145 cal

35 g onion (15 cal) + 80 g savoy cabbage (25 cal) + 65 g celery sticks (6 cal)+ 50 g carrot (22 cal) + 100g chopped tomatoes (22 cal) + 1 clove garlic (5 cal) + 50 g butter beans (50 cal)

This is a really nice atumn soup and so easy to make. Just chop everything, throw in a pan and cook for 30 minutes with a bit of thyme, salt and pepper.

Lunch 6: Tomato lentil soup: 171 cal

230 g Chopped tomatoes (51 cal) + 40 g lentils (120 cal)

This was just leftover pizza sauce cooked with lentils. Not glamours, but tasty:)

Dinner 5: roasted veggies 208 cal

125 g butter nut squash ( 52 cal) +130 g cauliflower (50 cal) + 1 tsp olive oil (40 cal) 5 g mayo (35 cal) + 50 g low fat yoghurt (30 cal)

Cut the vegetables, sprinkle with olive oil and bake on 200°C for 20 minutes. In the mean time mix mayo, yoghurt and some herb salt for the dip.

Dinner 6: Turnip gratin and vegetables: 236 cal

250 g turnips (73 cal) small egg (54 cal) + 70 ml semi skimmed milk (16 cal) + 10 g light cheddar (23 cal) +1 clove garlic (4 cal) +130 g mushrooms (21 cal) + 10 green beans ( 36 cal)

For the gratin cut the turnips into thin slices. Mix the egg, milk and chopped garlic, add salt, pepper a bit of cayenne, a bit of fresh thyme. Place the turnips in an oven-proof dish, pour over the egg and milk mixture, grate the cheese on top and bake on 180°C for around 45 minutes. If it starts getting brown, cover with tin foil.

aaaaand then there was the stupid thing: 16 g dark chocolate with hazelnuts- 91 cal

5:2 diet: vegetarian fast days 3&4

I’m quite busy at the moment, so day 3 and 4 will have to be jammed together into one post. Fasting is getting both easier and harder, which, I know, is an oxymoron. It’s easier, because I now know exactly what to expect in the day, the hunger and moods and all. But it’s also harder, because I know exactly what to expect, the moods and hunger and all.

Then there’s fact that I’m not really loosing weight, which is making me question the whole experiment. In the two weeks, I didn’t even loose a kg. I lost somewhere between 5 dkg and 8 dkg, which seems like almost nothing and I’m not even really sinning on the non fast days. (Ok, maybe I am, but by drinking way too much craft beer which always seems better than cakes, even though it’s more or less exactly the same or even worse, with the alcohol and all)

Anyway, tomorrow I’m planning on day 5 and I feel a cold coming on. If I wake up tomorrow feeling like shit, I’ll probably give up on the whole diet. If I feel OK, I’ll definitely fast, because some friends are coming over tonight and I made banofee pie;)

Anyway, here’s my fast days 3 and 4.

Breakfast 3: Cinnamon apple oatmeal (142)

20 g oats (71 cal) + 1 apple (71 cal)

Breakfast 4: apple&yoghurt&cereal (162 cal)

10 g malted wheats (34 cal) + apple (71 cal)+ 0 fat yogurt (57 cal)

Lunch 3: Cous cous with creamy mushrooms (200 cal)

1 tso olive oil (40 cal) + 50g onions (20 cal) + garlic clove (5 cal) + 5 g dried porcini mushrooms (14 cal) + 150 g chestnut mushrooms (48 cal) + 50g 0 fat greek yoghurt (29 cal) + 25 g couscous (40) cal

Soak the porcinis in about 1 dcl of water. Chop everything that needs chopping, heat the oil, add the onions and garlic, saute for 5 minutes. Then add the chestnut mushrooms and the now rehydrated porcinis (chopped if they are big) and just enough of the water the porcinis were soaked in to cover everything. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook on low heat for about 5 minutes. Prepare the cous cous in the mean time. Just before serving, mix the yoghurt into the mushrooms. Serve topped with a bit of chopped parsley.

Lunch 4:Chick pea curry (141 cal)

100g drained check peas (72 cal) + 100 g frozen spinach (26 cal) + 100 g chopped tomatoes (22 cal) + 40 g white onion (16 cal) + 1 clove garlic (5 cal) + 1 tsp curry powder ,1/2 tsp fenugreek, ½ tsp cumin + ½ tsp mustrad seeds (lets say 0)

In a nonstick skillet saute the chopped onion, garlic and spice with a tbsp of water for 5 minutes. Add al other ingredients and cook for 20 minutes.

Dinner 3: Mixed baby greens and egg salad (140 cal)

2 cups mixed baby greens (15 cal) + 1 small egg (60 cal) + 15 g 0 fat greek yoghurt (10 cal)+ juice of half lemon (5) + 2 tsp mixed seeds (50 cal)

Dinner 4: Broccoli stir fry (204 cal)

1 clove garlic (5cal) 50g yellow bell pepper (16 cal) + 50g carrot (20 cal) + 150 g broccoli (49 cal) + 50 g tofu (38 cal) + 5 ml sesame oil (41 cal) + 1 tsp mixed seed (25 cal) + 1 tbsp soy sauce (10 cal)

Heat the oil, add garlic, add carrot and bell pepper, fry for 3 minutes, add broccoli, a bit of water and soy sauce, fry for 5 minutes. add tofu, cook 3 more minutes. sprinkle with seeds before serving.

5:2 Diet: vegetarian fast day 2

My second fast day is done! Just as the first one, and probably most of the rest is going to be, this one was vegetarian. It was slightly tougher than the last, because I also had full on PMS. And that always makes me crave fatty foods. Contrary to what you may think,  I did get them, in a way, because I had some tasty cauliflower and cheese for dinner:) (yes, again, there was room fr cheese in the 500 calories. Isn’t that amazing?)

On the weight loss front, absolutely nothing is happening. I have more or less the exact same weight I had when I started a week ago. I’m also blaming PMS for that, because it always feels like my ankles absorb a ton of water from the air, because it’s so much more fun for everyone when they’re swollen.. So I’ll give it another week and if nothing changes till then, I’ll stop with the diet and try out something else.

Anyway, here’s what I ate on fast day 2:

Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with veggies – 141 cal

b2

50 g chestnut mushrooms (16 cal) + 50 g yellow bell pepper (16 cal) + 50g white onion (20 g) + 1 medium egg (88 cal)

Lunch: Minestrone with barley – 151 cal

l2

100g chopped tomatoes (22 cal) + 50g leeks (12 cal) +50g frozen peas (33 cal) + 100 g celery sticks (10 g) + 50 g carrots (22 cal) + 15 g instant barley (52 cal)

(Chop the veggies, put in a pan, add tomatoes, some basil, oregano and seasoning, cover with water and cook for 10 minutes. Add barley and cook for 10-15 more minutes)

Dinner: Cauliflower&cheese – 200 cal

d3

5g butter (32 cal) + 5g pastry flour (18 cal) + 15 g mature light cheddar (46 cal) + 75 ml semi skimmed milk (18 cal) + 200 g cauliflower (76 cal) + 1/2 tsp wholegrain mustard (around 10)

Cook the cauliflower for 10 minutes, save some of the water. Melt the butter, add the flour and milk and cook until it thickens. Add ¾ of the cheese, mustard, salt and pepper. If the sauce is too thick, add a bit of the cauliflower water. Put the cauliflower in an oven proof dish, pour the sauce over and grate the rest of the cheese on top. Bake for 20 minutes on 180. I made 2 servings of this, because my boyfriend also had it for dinner (with some steak, obviously:)), and I would recommend you do the same, otherwise the amounts of everything you’re using are so small, it gets hard to cook.

Ps: I’m using the android app “My fitness pal” to calculate all of the calorie values, just so you know where I get the numbers from. I hope it’s accurate. It has this cool feature where you just scan a bar-code and the app has the product with all of its nutritional info in the database, which makes a lot of things a lot easier.

The 5:2 diet: my first vegetarian fast day

I have started a new diet. And if you’re from the UK, it’s obviously not going to surprise you that’s it’s the 5:2 a.k.a the fast diet. If you’re not and you don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s a diet almost everyone around here has tried at some point since it became popular at the beginning of 2013 and it’s incredibly simple. 5 days of the week you eat as you normally would. You can even have guilt free cake and fired chicken and Franco Manca (I have yet to find another place that makes anything I’d call pizza here:)) and things like that. But two days a week (not one after the other), you fast. (Some people might think you starve, but it really ain’t that bad). You eat at most 500 calories, which, at the first glance, sounds like nothing. But as I’m going to demonstrate here, it’s really not. There’s even room for cheese. Cheese! I’m not saying I wasn’t hungry and everything felt wonderful all the time, but honestly, I’m always hungry. I’m hungry at this very moment and I had wholegrain pancakes with golden syrup and a ton of raspberries for breakfast two hours ago.

My only problem is that I’ve also started a new general diet, in which I only eat meat at most once a week. (I can never become a vegetarian, but I just had to stop pretending eating meat all the time is healthy and not bad for the environment). And most of the fast day recipes involved chicken, because, well, everyone loves it and it’s really low in calories. I, however, don’t love it that much, so I had to do without. And here’s what I ate:

Breakfast: 150 calories

brekfast1

25g porridge oats (90 cal) + 100 g/one half of a pear (60 cal) + tsp of cinnamon (0 cal) + green tea (0 cal)

Lunch: Creamy lentil, carrot and coconut soup: 160 calories

lunch1

30g red split lentils (90cal)+1 medium carrot (25 cal), + 50g leek (12 cal) + 1 tbsp desicated coconut (36cal)

If you want to make it, just wash the lentils, chop the carrot and leek and place everything together in a soup pan. Season with salt, pepper and coriander seeds to your taste, cover with water and cook for around 30 minutes. Then blend. If you don’t like tiny piece of coconut in your soup, use coconut cream, if you have it. I didn’t:)

Dinner: courgette “pasta” with tomato, garlic and aged cheddar (I didn’t have parimganio):180 cal

vecerja1

200g courgette (40 cal) + 2 cloves of garlic (8cal) + 180g fresh tomato (50 cal) + 1 tsp olive oil (40cal) + 10 g mature cheddar (42 cal) + basil (0, at most 1 cal)

If you want to make it, make the pasta out of the courgette with a vegetable peeler (google it, tons of instructions on line if you have no idea how to make it). Than fry the garlic in the oil, add the “pasta”, add chopped tomatoes, season with fresh basil and salt and pepper. Cook for 5-10 minutes. Serve with the cheese.

So, all together, I even had 10 calories leftover. (well, my scale is far from precise, so it reality, it was probably a calorie or two more than 500, but I think that’s not a problem).

I’ll have a report like this for every fast day, because even though the internet is full of recipes, there’s not really that many vegetarian meal plans for the whole day (this one could even be vegan, if you substitute the cheese with something) and I hope this might help some people. I’ll also report on the weight loss front:) My goal is 5 kg, which, I hope, I’m going to achieve in less then 10 weeks… I was extremely slowly losing weight anyway, even before I started this diet. I’m a new devoted runner (really started 2 months ago), and have a goal to run 200 km till the end of November, starting this week. I obviously don’t intend to run on fast days, because I’m not that kind of a masochist. I will do yoga and will have to walk the dog however…

If you’re also following the diet and write a blog, I’d love to follow a few people on the same journey, so please leave a comment:)

(traditional Slovenian) Wild Mushroom and Potato Soup

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If you were to ask me what a traditional dish from where I come from is, I’d probably say Potica, because it’s what every Slovenian says from the top of their head. And I would then explain to you that’s it’s a cake and all of it’s variations and … But then you might ask me about savoury dishes and I’d probably have to take a minute to think about my answer. It’s hard to define our culinary national identity, lots of the dishes we claim are “ours”, you can also find all around central and eastern Europe. But then I’d remember this wonderful soup, so simple and ubiquitous in the specific area where I come from (The area around the Pohorje mountain), no-one probably even thinks about it as anything special. Every shady restaurant will serve a variation in mushroom season (late spring-early autumn), but if you’d actually take the time to go to one of the mountain cottages (they’re usually quite large and can host more than a hundred people, the “cottage” part is just an expression) you’d get something so delicious, you’d speak about it for years. (Just ask my friend D….).

Traditionally it would be served with one of the best things that ever came out of a kitchen, something I’m going to call buckwheat polenta, because I don’t think the word “Žganci” has an actual translation. You make it by cooking coarse buckwheat flour until you get something resembling potato mash – but because I had no buckwheat flour on hand, I couldn’t make it here and won’t write a real recipe until I try it with available products (In Slovenia you can obviously buy a product called buckwheat žganci). Then on top of the poletna and soup, you’d get a large spoonful of ocvirki – pig fat and cracklings, which is pretty much the only thing in the world that’s slightly better than bacon.

Anyway, here’s the recipe for the soup part of the dish. It has potatoes in there, so the buckwheat is more a luxury than a necessity and if you really wanted to have something meaty in there (and didn’t have “ocvirki”) you could add bacon lardons and that would probably be almost as good as the version you’d get on Pohorje. My version also had carrots in it, because I feel guilty if there’s almost no vegetables in my dinner and because that’s how I’m used to making it.

You’ll need

(for 2 hungry people if it’s a main, 4 if it’s a starter)

  • 2 cups wild mushrooms, cleaned and cut into strips (I had 4 porcinis and 1 chantarell that I brought back with me from Slovenia. The soup is better with more chantarells, but it’s really tasty with just porcinis. Using store bought button mushrooms would probably produce something good to, but that just wouldn’t be the same.)
  • 1 cup diced potatoes (very small dice. Around 0.5 cm)
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 medium brown onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp dried majoram (or use oregano, but than use ¾ tsp. They are basically the same, oregano is just a bit stronger)
  • 1 bunch of fresh parsley
  • around 700 ml (3 cups) vegetable stock
  • around 100 ml (around 1/2cup) dry white wine, preferably from the north east of Slovenia;) (if you don’t want to open a bottle of wine, use around a tbsp of white wine vinegar and add more stock)
  • 3 tbsp soured cream
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • salt and pepper to taste

sestavine

1. In a soup pan heat the oil and butter and add the onions and carrots. Saute on medium heat until the onion gets translucent. Add potatoes, saute for 2 minutes.

2. Add the garlic, saute until you can smell it (30 seconds) then add the mushrooms. Add a good pinch of salt and saute for 5 minutes, all while mixing everything gently. (don’t break the mushrooms into too small pieces)

3. Add enough stock to cover all of the dry ingredients and the oregano and let simmer for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked. In the meantime chop parsley.

4. Add the white wine or vinegar (it is VERY important to wait with the wine until the potatoes are cooked. If you add acid to cooking potatoes they magically won’t cook at all), cream and a tbsp of parsley and cook for 5 more minutes.

5. Sprinkle with more fresh parsley, serve and enjoy.

6. Dober tek!;)

juha

Whole Grain Wild Garlic & Cheddar Scones

wg scones head

Wild garlic season is my favourite season. Mostly because it’s also known as the beginning of spring, but the fact that some forests are lined with green luscious leaves that make the world smell like garlic isn’t bad either. Supposedly Great Britain is full of such forests, but I have no idea how to find them. I also read a blog or two about foraging in London, but the only forest in walking distance is an artificial one(for someone coming from a land that’s more than 50% forests it seems quite ridiculous that one would decide to plant a forest, mainly because one has nothing better to do) that frequently hosts illegal raves, so I don’t really like the idea of eating anything that grows there.

Luckily, I was on a short visit to Slovenia, and Norbs mother brought me some wild garlic she picked in the completely natural Slovenian forests and I brought it back home with me. I travelled with Wizz air and with the smallest possible luggage size so unfortunately I couldn’t bring tons of it, but just enough to make a few dishes. And for the first one I had to combine Slovenian products with British traditions. So I made scones. We’ve established that I’m almost a bit too fond of scones, I think I’ve also told you once or twice about how much I love garlic, so the fact that I made two batches in the last 3 days should not be a surprise to you. The second time, I even took some pictures of the process, to restart my blog with something amazing. So here’s the recipe:

Whole grain wild garlic&cheddar scones

You’ll need:

ingridents

  • 100 g self rising flour
  • 100g whole grain flour
  • 100 g butter (I use unsalted and add salt to the recipe, but use whatever you have on hand)
  • 100 g cheddar, grated
  • 1 handful of wild garlic leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tsp backing powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • seasoning to taste
  • 3/4 butter milk (or cup of milk+1 tsp neutral tasting acid (e.g. lemon juice, rice vinegar))
  • 1 egg (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a baking tray with parchment paper.

2.Combine the two flours with seasoning and both levelling agents.

3. Rub the flour and the butter together until most of the butter has been incorporated and you only have a few larger(pea sized) pieces left.

4. Add the wild garlic and cheddar, mix well.

5. Slowly add the butter milk until everything clumps together. You might not have to add the whole 3/4 cup or you might have to add more, that always depends on a number of factors.

6. Knock the mixture onto a large cutting board a shape a rough rectangle approximately 2 centimetres thick.

7. Cut out the scones with a knife (whatever size you like). You could use a round cutter if you really wanted to, but it’s easier to just cut them with a sharp knife because the large pieces of wild garlic that are in there could cause problems. Place on the lined baking tray.

*8. Brush tops with egg wash.

pečica

9. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden.

wgscones1

Mango jam (with spiced rum and lime)

Although mangos aren’t in season in the winter, you can get them incredibly cheap on the markets these days. We got 18 for 2 £ and a friend of mine got 8 for 1 € in Brussels. I guess the dealers have to get rid of their stock before they go bad completely or something like that. They are not really that good while raw, but they make great jams and chutneys. I know, because I made both- what else was I to do with that ridiculous amount? I haven’t really tasted the chutney yet (you know, it has to mature or something for 8 weeks), but I have eaten quite a lot of the jam. Mainly because we ran out of jars, so about a ton had to be eaten fast:). But that wasn’t hard, the jam tastes amazing! So if you come across really cheap mangos that you just have to buy, but don’t really know what to make out of them, here’s my recipe. You should really give it a try.

You’ll need:

  • 10 mangos (around 2.5 kg when peeled and destoned)
  • 1 kg of sugar for making jams in 2:1 ratio (alternatively, buy enough pektin for 2 kg of fruit)
  • 1 kg of brown sugar
  • 1 dcl of spiced white rum (like Captain Morgan) – don’t worry, the alcohol evaporates completely
  • 4 limes

1. Peel the mangos and cut them in small even cubes. The pieces should be around half a cm wide and pretty much the same size. It took me 3 hours to do that, so I recommend you do it while watching a film or two (it might have taken me only 2 if I didn’t watch the films, but at least I was entertained).

cutting

2. Transfer to a very large pot, add the zest of 2 limes, the juice of all four, the rum and both sugars. If you’re using pektin, read the instruction on when to add it to the jam, it’s usually meant to be added at the end (I think.)

3. Cook on low heat for around an hour or until it reduces by around a quarter. Then turn the heat up, so it boils and it starts to gel. When weired little foam appears on top, it usaly means it’s ready. The best way to test if a jam or jelly will solidify when cold is to do the plate test. Take a small ceramic plate and put half of a teaspoon of the jam on it. The cold plate will cool it immediately and if the jam hardness it’s time to jar it. (Use clean, disinfected jars for that). Let cool over night, store in a cool place.

jaring

Ari is helping

This jam taste pretty great, it has quite an exotic touch (for me, I’m used to all kinds of berry jams) and goes perfect with a wide variety of things. Like cake.

Or wholegrain crepes.

Or in some oatmeal in the morning.  

Minced pork & white bean ravioli

pork&white bean ravioli

Once you learn to make ravioli, you realize you’ve just discovered a whole new culinary world. You could make a different kind each day for quite some years and you still wouldn’t run out of recipes. Here’s one we made recently and tastes amazing. You can serve the ravioli with a rich tomato sauce, or just some olive oil, chillies and parmesan cheese. The beans give the stuffing a nice, creamy texture. To make this recipe, just prepare the dough as described here and then make the stuffing (while the dough is resting).

You’ll need:

  • 300g minced pork
  • 1 small can of white beans
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • tbsp olive oil

1. Heat the oil and sauté the onion until translucent (5 minutes). add the garlic, cook for 30 seconds than add the pork. Brown the pork evenly.

2. Drain the beans (reserve some of the liquid in case you’ll need it) and add them to the meat. Cook on medium heat for 5 more minutes. While cooking, mix well and squish the beans with the spatula, until you get a kind of a mash. If the mixtures gets a bit too dry and starts to burn while cooking, add a bit of the reserved liquid from the beans, however, the mixture has to be quite dry when cooked (no visible liquid anywhere)

3. Add the herbs. Transfer the mixture to a wide bowl so it cools faster.

4. Make the ravioli.

How to make ravioli at home (for beginners)

Home made ravioli is a staple of my fathers dinner party repertoire. Every time we celebrate something, ravioli have to be somehow included in the meal (e.g. the ravioli in the soup on Christmas eve). I helped him make (and eat) millions of them and I would say I’m quite experienced in the area (you know, in a home cook kind of way). I think one of the things that made Norb really fall in love with me was my knowledge of making home made pasta. He’s even more passionate about it now than I ever was, so for Christmas, I bought him a pasta maker and soon he had too add the ravioli maker to our arsenal of kitchen appliances. (I’m going to write a whole blog post about buying things for making pasta and taking care of them. There’s some things a novice should know, before they spend money on anything). Anyways, I wanted to write a guide on how to make ravioli at home for anyone who’s suddenly in possession of a pasta machine and a ravioli maker (I saw awesome imperia/titania sets in TK maxx for just 70 pound before Christmas, someone out there must have gotten it as a gift:)).

 For the dough, for about 4-6 people (this is a basic pasta dough that you can also use for noodles, tagliatelle, lasagne sheets, … but you’ll need more materials to feed 4):

  •  300 g of 00/pasta (or strong white bread) flour
  • 2 (medium) eggs
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • cold water if needed (every flour acts a bit differently and one never knows how much moisture it will need until one starts working with it)
  • pinch of salt

 1. If you’re making the dough by machine, just add all of the ingredients to the flour slowly(one by one) until a dough forms and then knead it for about 10 minutes. Got to last step.

2. If you’re doing it properly by hand, pour the flour in a bowl and make a well in the middle (prepare to get your hands really dirty). Beat both eggs in a separate bowl a bit. Add half of the eggs to the flour and start mixing with your hand. When it has been mostly incorporated, add the other egg, then add the oil. Mix well. If the dough isn’t coming together, add water by tablespoons until a ball forms. If the dough is too wet (you can’t knead it), add a bit more flour.

3. Transfer the dough to a well floured surface and knead until you get a firm, but elastic dough, around 10 minutes.

4. Wrap the dough in a damp towel (or cling film, if you want to be all fancy and modern) and let it rest for at least 30 minutes in the fridge.

 Rolling the dough:

 Rolling the dough is an art form in itself and the most fun and most time consuming part of making pasta at home. You can obviously do it without a pasta maker, with your hands and a rolling pin, but that takes even longer.

 1. Clear the biggest table you have in your house and dust it with generous amounts of flour. Clamp the pasta maker to one side very firmly.

2. Unwrap the dough and cut a small, egg sized piece of with a sharp knife. Rewrap the rest of the dough (be careful to never let any dough that isn’t in use sit unwrapped. It develops a crust and that kind of ruins it). Flatten the small piece with your palms a bit and cover it with flour. (Very generously. ) Put it through the thickest setting on the machine (fun fact, on a Maracdo that’s a 1, on a Imperia that’s a 6). It will probably come out in an awkward, shrivelled shape. Don’t worry, that’s not unusual. Fold it lengthwise and roll it thorough the thickest setting again. If the flour was absorbed during a roll, just dust the dough some more. There can never be too much flour when you’re rolling pasta- it should never ever ever get stuck in the machine (which can happen if it gets too sticky). Repeat the whole rolling on the thickest setting, folding, rerolling process until you get a nice, smooth sheet of pasta, almost as wide as the machine (that takes about 6 repeats usually)

3. Set the machine on the next thickness setting and carefully roll the dough through it. Then repeat that until you get to the second thinnest thickness (does that make sense? the one before last, whatever that is on your machine). Dust with flour between rolls. Again- we do not want the dough to stick to anything. The sheet will become longer and longer and if it gets too long for handling, you can cut it in half. Just be careful that you’ll get a sheet of pasta long enough for the ravioli maker at the end.

4. Start making ravioli with it immediately. If you’re making noodles, you let the sheets dry out a bit before you cut them, but if you’re making ravioli, the sheets have to be fresh.

Making the ravioli

 A lot of people (my father included, that’s how I know), make the mistake of buying a ravioli maker that attaches directly to the machine and is operated with the same little rolling handle. If you already have it, make the best of it. But if you don’t, do not buy it. EVER! My father bought 3 different kinds (for different sized ravioli) and they all had the same problems: you can’t really put as much stuffing in as you’d like, even if you try to squeeze it in each ravioli separately; the stuffing gets stuck to the plastic parts and then the dough gets stuck to that and then everything gets stuck together and you hate everything in the world and never want to make anything by hand again; there is no way of really cleaning this thing (you can not wash pasta makers with running water or god forbid in the dish washer. You should only ever use damp cloths). What you should buy is something that looks like this. It doesn’t necessarily have to be made by of the fancy Italian companies and you can get it for less than 15 pounds. It does take a bit more time to make ravioli with this (well, more then it would take for the other kind if it worked properly), but you have absolute controll of how much you stuff your ravioli and nothing gets tangled into anything.

1. Dip the metal part of the ravioli maker in flour and shake off the excess. Place a sheet of pasta, as long as the maker, over it. Now press in the plastic cup part, to make holes for the stuffing. Do that rather gently, you do not want to tear the pasta sheet, nor do you want the plastic to get stuck to the dough.

2.Fill each new little opening with a tsp of stuffing (or more or less, just be careful it’s not too much). Even it out on top.

3.Place another pasta sheet on top. Try and gently press any air that is between the two pasta sheets out.

4. Now roll over it with the pin until the metal edges show through the dough.

5. Gently press on top of each ravioli to get it out of the mould.

6. Roll another sheet of pasta and repeat the whole process until you run out of either the dough or the stuffing.

*cook in boiling water  for approximately 3 minutes