Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Pasta Party

Sundays have long been a creative day for the kitchen. I remember the giant roast beef and potato lunches of my childhood. I don't know how my mom could spend such a busy morning at church (sometimes teaching Sunday School--always in the choir) and then come home and prepare such a feast! And we usually had at least a couple of guests if not more.

Well, I can't handle the Sunday lunch thing...but I do enjoy Sunday dinners! I try to make a point to invite someone during church-usually at random, so if you're wanting an invitation you'd do well to sit near me! In my experience, you don't really get to know someone unless you've eaten a meal with them at their house. It's just something about the setting and food together.

For the last few months we've been trying a milk delivery service. It's great to always have milk on hand. However, since one of my two milk-age children has a dairy allergy and both us adults only consume enough milk to lighten our coffee, we're finding an abundance of half-gallon containers in the fridge. Normally it is a sea of green fat-free cartons, but I switched it up a bit last week opting for a gallon of the red whole milks to compliment the green.

But what to do with all that whole milk? My super skinny girl won't even drink it. And then I stumbled upon a recipe for making Ricotta cheese! Make cheese, you might ask? (I asked--thinking in my modern mind that normal everyday humans actually lacked the capacity for cheesemaking--don't you need a factory and machines and secret enzymes for that?)

The answer is that ricotta is the easiest thing in the world! There are only 4 ingredients--all very normal.

1/2 gallon of whole milk
1 c heavy cream
3 TB white vinegar
1/2 tsp salt

(Watch the new video for instructions!)

So my Sunday project started out as ricotta making...and from there progressed into making homemade pasta, rolling it out into ravioli filled with various ricotta concoctions (and a non-dairy option for the dairy challenged), all with some fun new friends and their 2 kids helping out.

It was so cute to watch four little people catch the ribbon of pasta as it rolled through my handydandy Kitchenaid Pasta Roller. They were amazed at how long the ribbon stretched. Then they were all put to work placing a small spoonful of filling every couple of inches on their own personal pasta ribbon. "Gluing" the pasta together to make ravioli involved chubby preschool fingers dipped in water painting the whole surface. And then they all got their own knives (a very big deal as you can imagine) to cut the pasta into square-ish ravioli.

Kids just love food so much better when they get to help make it. I believe I heard comments from the table like, "Can I have more of the best food ever?" and "This is my favorite dinner in the whole world." Pretty darn good reviews if you ask me!

(Be sure that there will be a pasta video up shortly!)

My favorite fillings included:

Creamy homemade ricotta, lemon zest, lemon juice, s/p, pine nuts all topped in a sage butter sauce

Creamy homemade ricotta, chopped basil and parsley, parmesan and pecorino cheeses

Oh and the last use for that superb ricotta:
Bread toasted with olive oil, rubbed with garlic. Ricotta broiled with a bit of olive oil, then spread on the bread. All topped with a relish of sun-dried tomatoes, parsley, lemon zest, and shallots.

Wow! It was good! And so much fun to have friends over and let the kids help with dinner.


Joann said...

Curious - how much did the ricotta recipe yield? Would you consider trading a cup?

julie jams said...

Good question-about 3 cups. I think I'll make it again in a couple of weeks...we'll be in touch.

Jessie said...

yum! great recipe :)

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