Yumellini Tortellini

Sunday, March 21, 2010

I have a new obsession...and it would be homemade pasta. I tell you, obsessed. All week, I couldn't stop thinking about homemade tortellini. So, while Steve was off shooting a wedding last night, I slaved away in the kitchen for 3 hours fulfilling my need for tortellini.

I found a basic recipe on Barefoot Kitchen Witch for a cheese-filled tortellini, and a simple tomato sauce recipe on Use Real Butter. Recipes are at the end, but first I'll walk you through the process.

It was the same start as other pasta recipes - the well of flour that you crack and beat eggs inside of. Remember my struggle with this when I made the spinach noodles? Ugh, this was even messier! Egg eww'd and goo'd all over the place, but somehow I managed to keep it contained.

For the first time since I've been making pasta, the dough didn't come together. The recipe called for 4 jumbo eggs are 5 large eggs. I only had extra large eggs, so I only used 4. I ended up with just flour crumbs everywhere. Gah. So I threw it in the KitchenAid with the dough hook, added another egg, and it finally came together. I kneaded it by hand to finish, and ended up with something cohesive, finally. It's not prettiest, but it got the job done.

After the dough sat for around 30 minutes, I started rolling out my strips with my KitchenAid pasta roller. My round cutter was around 1.5-2 inches in diameter. If you have a metal one - use it. The plastic cutters don't cut through as well. I would cut out circles for 1 or 2 strips, make the tortellini, and then do more. This helped break up the process since I was doing this alone.

After cutting out your circles, put some of your filling in the center. This is a mixture of part skim ricotta, parmesan, and mozzarella. It will be very easy to tell after doing one or two if you have too much filling - it will ooze out once you fold it!

Using your finger, get the bottom half of the circle a little wet, fold the top of the circle over and pinch it closed.

Fold the half-circle in half and wet the two ends a little bit so they'll stick, and pinch the ends together. Make sure everything is closed tight so it won't ooze out later!

Line a baking sheet with a clean towel and start lining up your finished tortellini. They do dry out as they sit there, but that's fine.

I can't help sharing another close up, they just look so cute!

Put the finished tortellini in a pot of boiling water. As they start to bubble up to the top, take them out of the water with a slotted spoon. I put all of mine (about 50-60) in the water at once, so a handful of them stuck to the bottom of the pot. It might be easier, depending on how many you make, to boil half at a time. I ended up throwing out a lot of dough, because I couldn't handle making any more - I was hungry! But what I made gave us two hefty servings.

As I scooped them out, I put them in a bowl until they were all done.

Earlier on, I made up my sauce and had it waiting, so as I boiled the tortellini, I could just re-heat the sauce and add it to the hot tortellini.

I started with 1 pound of tomatoes. The recipe called for 2 pounds...so I just halved the recipe because this is all I had.

The tomatoes needed to be peeled. Usually I boiled water and add them in, but this recipe suggested you boil the water and pour it over the tomatoes. Genius! I could use the tea kettle instead of a pot. I love peeling tomatoes! See how the skin was raising away from the flesh?

After peeling, seeding, and chopping the tomatoes, I added them to the olive oil and garlic that I had cooked up, and let it simmer. Toward the end, I added the tomato juice that I had saved from the tomatoes, and then reduce it down.

Once all of the tortellini had been cooked, I added the sauce (what little there was - it definitely didn't make enough!) and added some freshly grated parm. Manga!

Yes, 3 hours later, I ate. And it was de.lic.ious. Amazing. I can't wait to make these again, but I would try out a meat filling (although the cheese mixture was great), have Steve been in charge of the sauce, and get an extra set of hands so that the actually production of the tortellini goes faster.

Are you ambitious enough to make your own tortellini?!

To Make the Tortellini

For the pasta
4 jumbo eggs (or 5 large)
3 1/2 cups of all purpose flour

For the filling
1 1/2 cups ricotta (I used part skim)
4 ounces mozzarella
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan

Mound the flour on your work surface and make a well in the center. Put your eggs in the well and whisk the eggs together with a fork. As you do this, begin to incorporate flour into the eggs, working around the edges of the well, keeping the walls intact so you don't have a flood of egg on your counter.

You'll get to a point where using the fork is pointless, so squeeze the dough off that fork, toss it in the sink and dust your hands with flour. And start kneading. It will take a while for the whole rough mass to come together into something actually workable. You've got to knead it for a long time - about half an hour by hand or use a dough hook in the KitchenAid.

When the dough has been kneaded the right amount, you will know. The surface will be smooth and soft, and as you are kneading, you'll notice that when you do that pulling part, stretching the surface of the dough, the surface won't crack any more. The dough will seem to breathe. You can poke it and the indentation will push back when you've taken your finger or knuckle away.
At this point, wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and let it rest at room temp.

Mix all of the ingredients together for the filling, add salt and pepper to taste. You could also add fresh or dried herbs, some nutmeg, red pepper flakes, etc.

Unwrap the ball of dough, and cut it into quarters. Keep one of them out and wrap up the other three. This is a very dry dough - it won't stick to your work surface, for instance, so you do not need to dust that with flour.

Cut the dough into quarters and roll very thin, either by hand or with a pasta roller. I went down to Level 4 on my pasta roller, which got it quite thin - I think just about right. Use a round cutter between 1 3/4 - 2 inches to cut out your circles.

As you cut the circles out, stack them up and cover them with a drinking glass or bowl or something to prevent them from drying out. You can also sprinkle a TINY bit of flour on each side of the dough before you start cutting, and smooth it over the dough surface with your hand, just to prevent the circles from sticking together.

Okay, now you can either go through each quarter piece of dough and cut ALL the circles out first, or you can do it in batches, which is what I chose to do. Either way is fine.

So you take some circles - a few at a time, because the dough will dry out - and set them down on your work surface, and place a small bit of your filling in the center. As long as you seal the edges well, the tortellini won't burst open while cooking.

To form the tortellini, after you put a teeny tiny bit of filling in the center, dip the tip of your finger in some water and very lightly moisten the dough all around the edge of the circle. Then you want to fold the circle in half and press along the edges to seal the filling inside. Then, holding the half moon of dough with the rounded side toward you, bring the points together and overlap them, pressing together to seal them.

Place the finished tortellini on a dry dish towel or other clean cloth, and leave them at room temp. They'll start to dry out, but that's just fine at this point.

Put a large pot of water on the stove and while it's heating up, make a sauce, if you're making one (or do it beforehand, like I did). When the water came to a full boil gently added about half the tortellini. They sink to the bottom and then as they cook through they gently float to the top.

To Make the Tomato Sauce

2 lbs ripe tomatoes
3-4 tbsps olive oil
6-8 cloves garlic, minced
pinch sugar
salt to taste
pepper to taste

Place the tomatoes in a large bowl and pour boiling water into the bowl until the tomatoes are covered. Let stand for 5-10 minutes or until you see the skins splitting on most of the tomatoes. Drain the tomatoes and peel the skins off. Discard the skins.

Place a sieve over a bowl. Slice each tomato in half along the equator and shake or scoop the seeds out into the sieve. Strain the juice from the seeds and pulp. Discard the seeds and pulp, reserve the juice. Dice the tomatoes.

Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and simmer until the tomato flesh begins to break down (about 20 minutes). Add the reserved juice and let simmer down to a sauce consistency. Season with a pinch of sugar, salt, and pepper to taste. Toss the sauce with the hot tortellini and top with grated Parmesan and chopped flat-leaf parsley or fresh basil, which is what I did.

1 comment:

Mrs. Hot Cocoa said...

Ooh, very impressive! And looks delicious too.

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