Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Ravioli Experiments

My gluten free goal for 2014 was to make a gluten free version of the homemade beef ravioli my mom and aunt make.  I have been reading recipes online for a couple of months in preparation.  Somewhere along the way, I decided that I wanted to make a grain free version.  I knew that Cappello's makes a gluten free, grain free pasta, and I wanted to try and make my ravioli dough with similar ingredients.  My uncle had tried their pasta at a restaurant while skiing out west and said it was fantastic.  If the shipping charges were not so pricey, I would have just bought Cappello's lasagna noodles and made gluten free ravioli with them.  I saw this idea on The Domestic Man's blog while doing my ravioli research.  You can check out the beef ravioli he made with Cappello's lasagna sheets here.  If you live in Colorado, Cappello's is available at a variety of different shops and restaurants.  You can view the list here.  

My mom told me to buy lean ground beef for my filling.  Since we were making a double recipe of pasta, I bought almost 2 pounds of ground beef.  

The filling was the easy part.  We cooked the ground beef in our stainless steel pan on medium heat, then drained all the excess liquid before adding 1 cup of finely chopped fresh baby spinach.  We then seasoned the beef mixture with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon of coarse ground black pepper, while we continued to cook the beef for another minute or two until the spinach began to wilt.  When the beef cooled, we added 4 teaspoons of Romano and 4 teaspoons of Parmesan cheese.   My mom stressed the importance of cooling our filling before making the ravioli.  

I ended up choosing a gluten free pasta recipe from the blog Nuture My Gut as the starting point for my gluten free, grain free ravioli.  The recipe contained all the same ingredients as Cappello's, except xanthan gum.  I doubled the recipe and used 336 grams (3 cups) of blanched almond flour, 360 grams (3 cups) of tapioca flour, 1 tablespoon of kosher salt, 4 large eggs plus 8 large egg yolks      (1 1/2 cups total), but then added in 2 tablespoons of xanthan gum.  I probably should not have added the xanthan gum.  My husband had a very hard time kneading the dough, and because it seemed too dry, we added 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil.  I chose to add the xanthan gum for two reasons.  The first was because Cappello's pasta contained it.  The second was that several of the gluten free pasta recipes I read online contained it, and the one I read on Living Without's website stated that it makes the pasta easier to put through a pasta roller, and it gives the pasta a firmer texture.  I weighed my flours in my mixing bowl on my kitchen scale, and stirred my dry ingredients well with a spoon and the dough hook on my mixer before adding the egg.  When I ran my mixer with the dough hook for a minute to combine my dry ingredients, it made a nice well down the middle to add in my egg.  I ran my mixer until the dough was as well combined as it was going to get, then my husband kneaded it on our bamboo cutting board with some tapioca flour for a few minutes before adding the olive oil.  

When our dough was ready to go, we hooked up our new KitchenAid pasta sheet roller to our stand mixer.  We had several issues.  It kept loosening itself as we put the pasta in it and falling off the mixer.  Once we tightened it better and I held it while Mitch fed the pasta through, we noticed that the roller was tearing small holes in the dough and oil seemed to be coming out of the pasta.  

Using a rolling pin and our handy dandy ravioli cutter, we made one ravioli to see if the dough was even any good.  

Here's a picture of our very first ravioli!  We boiled water in a medium size pot with 1 tablespoon of salt and cooked it for the three minutes recommended for the gluten free pasta in the recipe.  The filling was just perfect.  The pasta was good, but I think I will continue to try different recipes until I can say it is great. The Italian in me has very high standards when it comes to pasta. 

In the middle of our ravioli making, I realized that I hadn't made my mom's quick cook tomato sauce yet, so we decided to eat our ravioli like I did growing up, with lots of butter and some cheese.  We used a little bit of both Romano and Parmesan, since we have been buying both at Whole Foods from the cheese section.  My husband divided the dough into 8 pieces, and we left them in the mixing bowl with a towel over the top while he worked on each one.  He rolled small pieces of dough into rectangles, cut the edges with our ravioli cutter, added 1 tablespoon of the beef filling, wet the edges with our pastry brush dipped in water, folded them over, cut closer to the filling, then pinched the edges.  My poor husband spent almost 3 hours making ravioli.  I cooked small batches of ravioli for dinner as he made them, then I froze the rest in batches on a small baking sheet in my freezer.  As they set, I put them in a large freezer bag.  We have enough leftovers for at least 2 or 3 more meals.  I"ll have to experiment with cooking time when I make them.  Update -- from frozen, the ravioli cooked in 5 minutes.

I have already warned my mom that when she comes to Orlando in February, I want her to make ravioli with me.  She's the expert, and I want her help with the dough and our pasta roller.

Next time, I think I might try a recipe from Paleo Cupboard.  You can view it here.  I read all the comments this morning and there are several people that have successfully made ravioli with it.

Another option I have considered is a recipe using Cup 4 Cup.  You can view it here.

Lastly, there are two gluten free pasta recipes online from Gluten-Free Girl that we might try.  You can view them here and here.

Our experimenting will probably stop once we achieve the level of awesomeness I am looking for.  Just because I eat gluten free doesn't mean we have to settle for less than pasta perfection.  :-)

By the way, I wasn't going to even write this post until I achieved that level of awesomeness that I desire, but so many of you expressed interest in our ravioli experiment yesterday that I decided to fill you in.

I will keep your posted!


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