During the next six years I published three to five articles a year and began speaking at conferences, which meant writing papers for them. Then I was offered a job as Senior Editor at Windows Tech Journal and began writing a bi-monthly, and then monthly, editorial in addition to a couple of articles a year. The amount of writing I've done since then has fluctuated, but writing became how I identified myself. In 2003 the last magazine I edited (and computer magazine I wrote for) closed down and left me bereft of a writing outlet - so I started Seriously Good (a reference to a search for great food and not a statement about either the food's or writing's excellence.)
At first I didn't post a lot, partially because writing reminded me I was out of work and didn't have an inkling of what to do about it. But eventually I found a groove mostly creating new recipes and writing about it and SG became a cherished part of my day as I focused on efforts to build a professional life around food and cooking.
Then in January ofÂ last year things suddenly took off. I sold a few gift certificates for Christmas, I picked up a couple of new clients, cooking classes took off, and I picked up a weekly column, semi-monthly column, and sold three free-lance pieces. Whew!
But the work has come at the expense ofÂ my blog.Â A beloved and dependable friend. This past weekend I decided I needed to cook something specifically for it. Casting about for ideas I settled on homemade ravioli, but what to fill it with?
I had some shrimp and ricotta left over from a client's meal and with a little thought, came up with this. It's packed with shrimp flavor, nicely tweaked with an Italian herb mix and hot Hungarian paprika. It is Seriously Good.
Makes about 1/2 pound
1 1/3 c all-purpose flour
2 ea eggs
Place flour in a food processor. With motor running add eggs. Dough should quickly form a ball. If dough is too dry, add water a teaspoon at a time to running machine. If dough is too wet, add additional flour a tablespoon at a time and then process. Form dough into a ball, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate until ready to roll out - at least half an hour.
Set pasta rollers on widest setting and flatten dough enough to go through rollers. Fold dough in thirds, horizontally and roll again with a seamed edge first. Repeat four more times. This process kneads the dough and develops the glutin giving the pasta a toothiness.
Reduce roller setting by one and roll dough through. Repeat ruducing setting and rolling pasta through until desired setting is reached. Note 1: when the dough becomes too long to handle comnfortably, cut in half and finish rolling out each half. Note 2: If pasta begins to stick to rollers lightly dust with flour.
1/2 lb fresh pasta
1 lb shrimp - shelled
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1 tsp hot Hungarian paprika
1 tsp dried Italian herbs
3 tbsp minced fresh chives
2 tbsps olive oil
3 cloves garlic, large - peeled and minced
2 tsp unsalted butter
1/4 c ricotta cheese
1/4 c parmesan cheese - grated
1 ea egg - beaten
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 c shrimp stock
1/2 c white wine
1/2 c heavy cream
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
Coarsley chop shelled shrimp and season all shrimp with salt and cayenne to taste. In a 12" skillet, heat 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 clove garlic over medium heat, add shrimp, and saute until just cooked - about 1 minute per side. Add butter and toss to coat. Devide shrimp into two equal portions and allow to cool.
Place 1/2 shrimp, ricotta, and parmesan in a food processor and process until finely chopped. Stir in egg.
Roll out pasta, but mot too thin - it has to be strong enough to hold the filling. Cut a strip in half lenthwise. Place heaping teaspoons of the filling in the center of one the strip, separated by about one inch. Brush edges of strip and between mounds of filling. Carefully lay the second strip over the top and press edges, and between mounds to seal. Note: try to include as little air in each sealed packet as possible. Trim the edges and but each mound into separate ravioli. Place on a lightly floured platter or baking sheet and refrigerate. Repeat for other strip of dough. Allow ravioli to chill for 30 minutes before cooking.
In a 12" skillet, heat garlic in 2 tbsp olive oil over low heat until fragrant and translucent. Add tomatoes, salt, and cayenne and increase heat to medium. Cook until reduced by half. Add wine and cook until reduced by half. Add shrimp stock and cook until reduced by half. Allow to cool.
Put remaining chopped shrimp and sauce base in a food processor and process until shrimp is finely minced. (For a smoother sauce, use a blender.) Return mixture to the skillet and add cream. Return to a vigourous simmer and reduce to desired consistency.
Cook pasta for about two minutes in vigorously boiling, salted water. Spoon sauce over the top and garnish with minced chives.
KevinÂ Weeks is a Gather food correspondent (Paisano), personal chef, cooking teacher, and writer in Knoxville, Tennessee who spends too many hours on his feet, cooking. "Paisano" is a column focused on peasant dishes from around the world. To read more of Kevin's writings or connect to him click here. His blog,Seriously Good, is read by 100,000 cooks a month and in addition he writes a weekly column forSpot-Onand is the Guide for Cooking for Two at About.com.