It felt like autumn today. It was wet, windy, people at the market were wearing their jackets again after a long hot summer and somehow it felt just the way it should. I have really been looking forward to autumn this year. It has been incredibly humid and mosquitoes have found me particularly attractive, especially at night when I hear them buzzing around me, waiting to attack. So I am looking forward to colder weather, wearing jackets and gloves, eating poached quinces for breakfast and warming soups for lunch.
The Prahran market today did not disappoint my wintery outlook – it was full of autumnal fruits and vegetables: parsnips, cauliflowers and pears. As much as I love summer stone fruit, beautifully ripe Williams pears called me today and I bought a big bag, thinking I might make a pear and chocolate cake. But once I had got home, the cold weather made me crave pasta. I have been so busy since the start of the year taking photos for my cookbook (which is all about street food with no pasta dish in sight), I suddenly realised that the last time I had made pasta at home was November last year.
Once I had made up my mind to make a pasta dish, the rest was easy. Pears and blue cheese are a match made in heaven and as long as you can make pasta, this dish is easier than you think. The filling is literally just blue cheese, a bit of cream and pears cooked in butter for 5 minutes. The sauce is simple – just a bit of melted butter. You could also top the whole dish with some roughly chopped toasted walnuts or drop a couple of sage leaves in the buttery sauce. This one is a lovely warming dish for an autumn evening, with a glass of buttery Chardonnay and some bitter greens, pan fried with garlic and drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice on the side.
And while we are on the subject of pasta, I have a number of cooking classes coming up in my home in Fitzroy (Melbourne) in the next few months – two pasta making classes and a crostoli-making class. My gnocchi classes are sold out but I promise to put up at least one more in July or August. If you would like to have a look at my cooking class schedule, click HERE – I would love to cook with you!
ravioli con pera e gorgonzola (pear and blue cheese ravioli)
serves 4 as an entree (makes 18 ravioli, at 8cm diameter)
for the pasta:
200g 00 durum wheat flour
2 large eggs
for the filling:
2 ripe Williams or Packham pears (230g peeled and cored)
10g unsalted butter
125g creamy blue cheese (sweet Gorgonzola or Blue Castello)
2 tablespoons thickened cream
salt and pepper to taste
semolina flour for dusting
100g unsalted butter (for the sauce)
extra freshly ground pepper
To make the pasta, put the flour in a mound on your work surface and make a well in the centre. Break open the two eggs into it and either using your finger tips or a fork, gradually incorporate the flour until it is all mixed in to the eggs. Knead until smooth (around 5 minutes). Form a ball with the dough, wrap in cling film and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes (a couple of hours is fine).
In the meantime, make the filling. Peel and core the pears, chopping them into small dice. Place them with 10g butter in a small pan and cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes until soft. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
Place the blue cheese and cream in a mini-processor and process until smooth. Place in a bowl and add the cooled pears, fold through until homogeneous and add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Divide the dough in two, keeping one piece wrapped in cling film while you work on the other one. Make the pasta by running it through your pasta machine (if you have not made pasta before, see this post for more detailed instructions) until it is the desired thickness (I ran it through to the fourth thinnest setting “6” on an Atlas pasta machine).
I used an 8 cm diameter ravioli cutter to make my ravioli. Place heaped teaspoons of filling on your pasta sheet. Wet your finger with water and run it around the filling before folding the pasta onto itself so that the little mounds of filling are completely covered by pasta. Push down around the filling so that the pasta is well sealed, taking care not to trap air into the raviolo. Use your ravioli cutter to make circle around the filling where you have sealed the pasta. Lightly dust the ravioli with semolina flour. Repeat, keeping the prepared ravioli covered by a clean teatowel as you make others so they do not dry out.
Place a large pot of well-salted water on the stove and bring to the boil. Drop in the ravioli when the water boils and cook until al dente (mine took 6-7 minutes).
Whilst the ravioli are cooking, put 100g of unsalted butter in the pan (I use 25g per person) and heat until melted. Drop the well drained, cooked ravioli in the melted butter and toss for a minute or two so they are well covered in melted butter. Serve immediately with a bit of freshly ground pepper on top and sea salt flakes to taste.