Saturday, 14 October 2017

let's cook: gazpacho and bread rolls




Our summer cooking challenge was gazpacho and bread rolls. My attempt is shown on the left and my mum's is on the right. Audrey also joined in with this challenge, but unfortunately I don't have a photo to share.

I think the trickiest part of this challenge was the bread as the gazpacho is pretty quick to make (as it doesn't involve any cooking of course!). For my rolls I followed this recipe from The Comfort Kitchen for no-knead crusty rolls.

I liked the sound of no-knead, and these rolls were easy to make, bearing in mind that you need a few hours in between mixing and baking for the mixture to prove. I made the mixture one day and left it overnight to prove.

When I came to bake them I did find the mixture a bit sticky and think I might have knocked a lot of the air out of the dough when transferring them to the baking tray as they didn't rise as much as I'd hoped. The flavour was delicious though and fresh from the oven they were nice and crusty.





I think I'll try making these rolls again one day as they are so easy that the mixture can be cobbled together one night, and then baked the next evening after work. Hopefully they'll rise a bit better next time too.

For my gazpacho I followed a recipe from an allotment gardening cookbook we have. As expected it was super quick to make. We picked the perfect time of year for this challenge as it was just around the time that our allotment greenhouse tomatoes were fruiting and I was able to harvest enough homegrown tomatoes for the recipe. What a treat!





As I made quite a big batch of the gazpacho I tried out a couple of different consistencies when serving.

For the first portion I used our food processor to blend the mixture so it was a slightly chunky consistency. Ben really liked this texture, but I wasn't convinced (particularly by the appearance).





When we had the gazpacho the next day I used the blender to make a smoother consistency and I think this looked a bit more like traditional gazpacho. It tasted good too!





My mum unfortunately didn't enjoy her gazpacho and thinks it's an acquired taste. She said she's never had 'cold soup' before.

Luckily she wasn't judging, and my brother and dad were. Her gazpacho looks good to me, and the poppy seed rolls look delicious, although I've heard reports that they were a little on the hard side (super crusty!?)





Audrey also made her gazpacho with homegrown tomatoes (bonus points?) and John made a loaf of rustic Spanish bread to accompany it. They were really successful with both, and have since made it again for a dinner party.

It's great that these cooking challenges can lead us to discover new things that we want to make over and over again! My mum might not agree on the gazpacho front, mind.


The scores

Ben was very happy with the gazpacho and the rolls and tried to give me 9/10 for this challenge, but I don't agree as the consistency of my bread rolls wasn't right. They tasted delicious, but were a bit flat, so I docked myself a mark and am going to settle with 8/10.

The review from my dad on my mum's gazpacho was that is was as good as he's had when eating out before, and the flavour and texture deserved 9+. Great score!

However, although the rolls looked good, both him and my brother said that they were a bit too tough to eat, and were probably around a 6/10, so overall they gave my mum 7.5/10. 

Audrey and John both enjoyed their gazpacho and bread and collectively gave themselves a 10/10 - a very successful result!

We all did pretty well this time round.


Next up

My mum has demanded we make something sweet next time as we've done a couple of savoury things in a row now, so we're going for carrot cake.

I've never made a carrot cake before and am on the hunt for a good vegan recipe.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

let's cook: a Mexican feast

Here's our most recent cooking challenge - a Mexican feast.

It was back to the original cook-off team, with just me and my mum taking part in this one. We set ourselves the rule that whatever we chose to make had to include homemade tortillas and at least two side dishes.

Here are the resulting platters - my mum's is on the left, and mine is on the right.





What nice spreads!

My mum made lamb and vegetable fajitas, with guacamole and salsa cruda on the side. And I made black bean & plantain tacos and barbacoa mushroom tacos, accompanied by refried beans, tomato salsa, guacamole and tortilla chips.

I loved this challenge as Mexican food is a big favourite of mine, and I enjoyed browsing Pinterest for vegan recipes (some of which can be found here).

As a side note: I haven't had much luck with Mexican food since eating a vegan diet and have twice been accidentally presented with cheesy dishes whilst eating out. Now I'm a bit scared of ordering things because of the moral dilemma!

Here are the recipes I used if you want to give them a try, as everything was easy to make and delicious (even if I do say so myself!)





Tortillas

I found this recipe for the best ever homemade flour tortillas, and they certainly lived up to their name.

They have very few ingredients and are really easy and satisfying to make. They also taste so much better than shop bought tortillas, so I would definitely recommend them!





I admit, not all my tortillas were as perfectly round as the one above. There were a few wonky ones in the batch too, but I cut up some of those and baked in the oven with a little oil to make tortilla chips for dipping.


Salsa, refried beans & guacamole

I found this recipe for a classic tomato salsa which was quick and easy to make. It also makes loads so we had some leftover to enjoy with some nachos later in the week.

The refried beans were equally simple and only took a few minutes. Here's the recipe if you want to give them a try.

The guacamole recipe I found was billed as the 'worlds best' and, like the tortillas, it also lived up to it's name. I omitted the coriander (because it's horrible) in favour of parsley, and in my opinion that will only have improved the recipe.





Tacos

For the taco fillings themselves I decided to try two different recipes out - after all, it's nice to have a couple of dishes if you're going to have a feast.





The first (pictured left) were these plantain black bean tacos - they had a lovely spicy sweetness to them and I really loved the texture of the plantain. I topped them with plenty of guacamole and some crispy kale too.

The second were these barbacoa mushroom tacos which had a lovely smoky taste.

Both recipes seemed to compliment each other well and there was enough food for me and Ben to have a feast two nights in a row (excellent news!)

I think the hardest thing about this challenge was co-ordinating all the different elements and ensuring everything was ready and warm at the same time. We had a couple of rounds of the plantain tacos as these were definitely best straight from the pan.

Here's a snapshot of the different things my mum made:





She said that everything went pretty well, but she found the tortillas a bit of a hassle and doesn't think she'd make them again. The opposite of my thoughts!


The scores

I'm lucky Ben likes Mexican food as much as me as he gave me a very generous 10/10 for this challenge. I think he's hoping his score will encourage me to cook it all again!

My mum also did brilliantly and scored 9.5/10 for her spread. My brother was chief judge and said that although the tortillas weren't quite perfect, the guacamole was particularly great!

Luckily my mum didn't have my dad as the sole judge this time as he was trying to deduct marks for the presence of guacamole, and what he calls 'off cream'. Fussy eater. He still gave it a 9 though, so not too harsh.

Excellent results across the board!





Keeping up the momentum, next time we've decided to make gazpacho accompanied by bread rolls. Perfect for the summer!

I'll see if we can get any other cooks to join in again, but otherwise it'll be another head to head with me and my mum. Wish us luck!

Friday, 28 July 2017

let's ALL cook: hot cross buns

You'll have to forgive me for being so behind with documenting our cooking challenges. We've actually completed two more this year since the quiche, so expect another post to follow shortly.

This time, the challenge was hot cross buns! Seasonal at the time - not so much now. This was another group effort resulting in four different batches of buns:




Clockwise from top left: Ben's mini vegan hot cross buns // My mum's traditional hot cross buns // Audrey's chocolate orange hot cross buns // My vegan hot cross buns


Don't they all look great? All recognisably hot cross buns - good batch baking!

Ben and I actually used the same recipe from Vegan Life magazine for our buns. It was really easy to follow.

Unfortunately Ben had a bit of an issue as his buns didn't really rise and ended up quite small and dense - he thinks he might have heated the milk through too much and killed the yeast. I had a little more luck though as my buns doubled in size whilst proving.





I really liked making the crosses. Having never made hot cross buns before I assumed that the crosses were always piped onto the buns (like shop bought ones) but our recipe called for thin pastry crosses instead. I like how thin Ben made his! They look really cute.

My mum and Audrey both went for the piped method instead. My mum found it a bit messy I think - she reckons she made the dough too thick, so it was hard to pipe.

In the end I was really happy with my buns, they came out of the oven looking lovely and brown and the flavour of the recipe was spot on. I would definitely make them again instead of buying them - a lovely toasted snack for the spring months.





The scores

Ben made his buns first and although the flavour was delicious, the fact that they didn't rise meant that they had a very doughy and dense texture. I tried to give him a 5 but he argued me down to 4/10.

As my buns followed the same recipe, but I had the advantage of not killing my yeast, I got a very high score of 9.5/10 from Ben. The half mark was docked because some the crosses were a bit hard and some bits fell off when cutting. I think piped crosses might be a less fragile approach.

Audrey's hot cross buns looked brilliant (just like the photo in the recipe!) and the chocolate/orange combo sounded like a winner, but unfortunately they didn't pass the taste test, scoring a 4/10 on taste and texture. She's instead going to opt for a traditional recipe next year as the chocolate and orange was a disappointment.

My mum was awarded a 9/10. The taste and texture of hers were highly praised, but I think one mark may have been knocked off because of the slightly hard and messy crosses. I'm tempted to give her back a mark for her improved food photography though.





So, overall a mixed result this time, but it was nice to do another seasonal challenge.

Next up, we're making a Mexican feast, which must include some homemade tortillas and a minimum of two side dishes (salsa, guacamole, etc).

We've already finished this challenge so I'll share the results soon!


Monday, 27 February 2017

let's ALL cook: quiche

The cooking challenge is off to a good start this year, with a record number of entries to our quiche cook-off. Thanks to the enthusiasm drummed-up in the Chrismas stollen challenge.

Here are the quiches:



Clockwise from top left: Derek's red pepper, leek & broccoli vegan quiche // Audrey's roasted tomato & parmesan quiche // My mum's cheddar, bacon, tomato & chive quiche // My roasted tomato, spinach & pine nut vegan quiche.

They all look pretty good - no baking disasters this time! It's impressive to have two vegan entries too - especially as quiche is so traditionally egg-based.

Derek made his filling using tofu and tahini, whereas I found a recipe which called for a filling mixture of soy cream, chickpea flour and ground cashews.

Here's the recipe I followed. I added basil and pine nuts to the ingredients too as they're my favourites.





The pastry was really easy to make, and simply substituted butter for olive spread to make it vegan. I decided to blind bake it first to make sure it was extra crispy and didn't go soggy once the filling was added.

The recipe actually made enough pastry and mixture to fill my quiche tin, with some left over for an extra mini quiche. Lucky us.






I was super pleased with how they both came out. The pastry was crisp, and the filling was firm. I really like the way the roasted tomatoes look too - it's quite a pretty quiche.

And luckily I made enough so that Ben and I could enjoy it cold for lunches throughout the week too.





The scores

Derek's was the first entry to come in. He had to self-judge his one, and he gave it a 7/10, docking himself points for adding too much filling (he said he was greedy).

I made mine next - it was a bit of a challenge as Ben normally doesn't like quiche that much due to the egg giving him tummy ache (hence the vegan approach). It paid off though as he said it was one of the best quiches he has ever had, and he didn't get a tummy ache either. He scored me 10/10 - success!

Audrey (Ben's mum) made hers next, and scored a very respectable 8/10 for her quiche. John (Ben's dad) later said that he would have given her an extra point if there had been bacon included too, which sounds very similar to my dad's approach to judging.

My mum made hers last, with my dad as the judge (luckily there was bacon!). He said he couldn't fault it and gave it full marks with 10/10. Well done mother!





This felt like quite a competitive one as there were so many of us taking part, so it's great that we all did so well.

I really enjoyed the quiche I made (especially when it was cold) and it was great for lunches at work, so I definitely think I'll make it again sometime soon. Good picnic food too!





Our next challenge is hot cross buns, and is scheduled to be completed by Easter.

I'm looking forward to this one as I love hot cross buns. Although at the moment I have no idea about how to do the cross. I'd better do some research...

Saturday, 11 February 2017

let's cook: stollen




We decided to schedule in a festive cooking challenge this Christmas, partly because my mum was stalling with her sushi, and partly because it would be an opportunity for a side by side taste test as we would all be together in the same place.

The one shown on the left above was my stollen, and my mum's is on the right. My mum's definitely looks the most stollen-like.

The recipe I chose was this one, which was described as 'Nigel Slater's version of the perfect Christmas stollen'. I'm not sure where I went wrong, but I would say mine turned out far from perfect.

We hosted Christmas at our house this year, so Ben and I took to the kitchen on Christmas eve for a bit of a cooking session. A good day to bake a traditional German fruit bread too!





The ingredients list for the filling of Nigel Slater's stollen was definitely a winner: cardamoms, cherries, mixed peel, sultanas, ground cinnamon, flaked almonds and marzipan. It smelt delicious when it was all mixed together in a bowl.

Well, apart from the cardamoms, as I accidentally left them in the pestle and mortar and we only discovered them on boxing day - oops! I must have got distracted by the gravy/nut loaf/mushroom stuffing.

However, I think it was the construction where things started to go wrong for me. The filling was rolled up in the centre of the dough, rather than being mixed in, which meant it ended up as sort of filled tube of plain bread, rather than a lovely moist fruit loaf.






My mum seemed to get on better with her recipe. She followed a Delia Smith one she found in a newspaper (it might be this one). Hers had a long stick of marzipan running through the centre of the mixed-fruit dough, possibly more in line with the traditional Stollen.

It looks good!






So, to the judging...

We did the taste testing after a boxing day stroll and were lucky enough to have five judges presiding over this one. 

I think both of ours fell down for being a bit dense and not as moist as they should be. Although they were both a few days old when we did the testing - especially my mum's, who made hers a couple of days before Christmas.

I would be the first to admit mine wasn't a winning bake and was very pleased to receive a collective mark of 6/10 for my loaf. I think it might have been a bit generous actually.

My mum did much better and got a score of 8/10 for her stollen - success! It definitely did look the nicest.





For the next challenge, we've decided on making a quiche.

And we had a couple of new sign-ups to the challenge on boxing day so this one might be more of a group bake-off. Things are going to get competitive!


Sunday, 15 January 2017

let's cook: sushi



It's been a while since I posted about one of our cooking challenges.

It's not because the swiss rolls put us off, although you could understand if they had. In fact I made my sushi way back in July, straight after the disastrous swiss roll, but my mum has been waiting until my brother visited until she made hers. Unsurprisingly, my dad was decided to be a bad choice of judge for this challenge; he doesn't like salmon and he doesn't like sushi.

Here's what we made...



Mine is on the left and my mum's is on the right. My mum made smoked salmon, avocado and chive maki rolls.

I went all out with my sushi and decided to try lots of different types:




Clockwise from top left: Prawn, avocado and carrot hosomaki // Salmon nigiri // Prawn, cucumber, avocado and carrot California rolls // Salmon, cucumber, avocado and carrot futomaki // Salmon hosomaki

I really enjoyed the whole process and love how colourful it all looks as a platter.

I heard from a lot of people that the rice is the key to making great tasting sushi, so I asked my friend Tiago (expert sushi maker) what recipe he follows and he recommended this video, which worked a treat!

Cooking the rice was the longest part of the process, but once it is ready and cooled I was really impressed with how quickly it all came together. And the rolling was much easier than I thought it was going to be; even the California rolls didn't fall apart (thanks to the stickiness of the rice).



Now, to the results...

My brother gave my mum a score of 5/10 - he said rice was the main issue. My mum didn't follow the video recipe I shared with her and said she wasn't very happy with hers at all, hence the single photo of her sushi. I think they look ok though.

Ben, on the other hand was really pleased with his sushi feast and gave me a top score of 10/10, both for taste and appearance. Hooray! I've turned it around since the last challenge.

I will definitely be making sushi again, as it tasted really delicious, and wasn't quite as technically challenging as I thought it would be. A good summers evening spread.




Our next challenge is a festive one: Stollen

We planned this one so that we could make something whilst my mum was waiting for my brother to return, so the cook-off is in fact already complete and I will share the results soon.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Hanover house numbers 51-75

Happy new year!

Here's another set of photos from my house number series to start the year off.



As the numbers get higher, the amount of houses to choose from gets smaller, but I think there are some good finds in this selection. 57 and 74 are my favourites here.

My original goal of getting to 100 in the series by last July was a little optimistic, but I'm confident I can reach 100 this year! My work is moving back to Brighton so the streets of Hanover will be back on my daily walking route.

I'm uploading the photos over on Instagram under #hanoverhousenumbers if you want to see more as I find them.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

let's cook: swiss rolls

I was tempted to change the title of this post to 'let's fail to cook: swiss rolls' as I'm afraid this challenge wasn't our finest hour. We actually completed this bake-off way back in April, but I've been holding off posting about it as it was such a disappointment.

Here goes though...promise not to laugh too much.



All I can say is that swiss rolls are harder than they look.

My effort is shown on the left (no amount of icing sugar can cover up that sorry mess), and my mum's is on the right.

I actually had two attempts here and this is the best of the two, which is really saying something. With my first effort I attempted a cake with no refined sugar but boy was that a mistake. The recipe used stevia as a substitute which I found out after baking has an aftertaste that will make you need to scrub your tongue (I actually had to do this).

Ignoring the taste, my first sponge came out pretty nice and fluffy. It cracked a bit while rolling but wasn't a complete disaster. But of course I had to start again, because of the stevia. I used a more traditional cake recipe for my second attempt, but think I rushed the whisking part and didn't get enough air in the mixture as my cake came out of the oven very flat and rubbery (with a distinct eggy aroma). Awful!

I also failed with my filling as I was aiming for something tropical, yoghurty and light, which instead ended up sloppy, oozy and gross. Oh well! You can't succeed at everything.



My mum's sponge actually looked ok, although she also reported a slightly eggy taste when freshly baked. I think her troubles were caused by baking for slightly too long, leading to this interesting geometric swiss roll.

You can't go wrong with a traditional jam filling though - sometimes it pays to play it safe!

We actually had an extra entry into the challenge this time. My brother Tim decided to take part too, and just look what he came up with:



A rather perfect looking swiss roll, which rather steals the show.

It totally looks the part, although both him and my mum confirmed that it was a bit dense and eggy too. Why are swiss rolls so hard?

And to the results...

Ben was very sweet and tried to give me a score of 2/10 but I've overruled that and awarded myself 0 marks as we had to throw the whole thing in the bin.

If I remember correctly my mum was awarded a 3/10 for her effort, and of course Tim came in first, although still with a fairly low score of 5/10.

I think we'll all have to give them another go one day, once the disappointment has worn off.

Next time we'll be making sushi. I'm looking forward to this one!
We can't do much worse...

Friday, 15 July 2016

I'm back, seedjack.

I've been going through a bit of a creative dry spell lately, with very little time spent making, drawing or crafting outside of work. I'm not sure why, but I think I need to rediscover some creative energy.

The only area where I am finding motivation, and enjoying making things, is in the kitchen. I've been setting time aside most weekends to do a spot of baking and Ben and I have been trying new recipes non-stop during the week. It's been a good time for our tummies!

I thought I'd share a little recipe for something I made at the weekend, as it was a successful baking experiment, inspired by a tasty seedy snack one of my work pals shared with me last week.





Savoury seedjack
(Makes approximately 12)


Ingredients
150g rolled oats
50g mixed seeds (plus extra for sprinkling)
100g grated cheddar cheese
50g mozzarella cheese
1tbsp melted butter
3 eggs
Small bunch of fresh chives (or other herbs)
Salt & pepper


Method
Preheat the oven to 190ÂșC and line a 20 x 20cm baking tin with parchment.

Mix the oats, seeds, cheddar, mozzarella, butter, eggs and herbs in a bowl and season with salt and pepper.

Put the mix in your lined tin and ensure it is evenly distributed right to the corners. At this stage I sprinkled the top of my mixture with a small handful of linseeds. 

Put in the oven and bake for 25-30 mins, until golden brown on top.

Transfer to a rack to cool, and then slice into flapjack pieces.

So easy! Now enjoy...







They're perfect for a mid-morning work snack. Lovely and cheesy. I think I'm going to make another batch this weekend, with extra seeds.

Let me know if you try this recipe out as I'd love to hear how you get on!


Sunday, 10 April 2016

A week in new recipes

I've started to think much more about the food we eat at home recently and am trying to make a conscious effort to be more healthy and sustainable in our food choices.

On the whole we are already a pretty healthy household - our diet is mostly vegetarian (with the occasional foray into seafood) and we prepare nearly all our meals from scratch - apart from the occasional shop bought pizza! However, I'm a sucker for sweet snacks and want to try and wean myself away from the refined sugar and onto more healthy snacks.

I'm also keen to cut down on both gluten and dairy, both because I think it will probably improve my day-to-day health, and for environmental reasons. I've watched a couple of documentaries about the food industry recently, including Cowspiracy, and it's hard not to want to make a change after listening to some of the facts about how the food we eat impacts the environment.

I've also recently been inspired by Rachel's 365 Recipes project. She cooks delicious and healthy plant-based food and her feed is a feast for the eyes. While I can't commit to trying a new recipe every day like Rachel does, I would love to boost the number of new recipes I try and experiment with using less processed ingredients in our meals.

So...I'm going to try and post a bit more regularly about our food choices and some of the recipes we try in an aim to capture the recipes for future reference, and encourage myself to keep cooking new things and move gradually to a better way of eating.

Here are some of the things we've been eating in the past week or two...

Clockwise from top left: Parmesan, parsley & paprika biscuits // Pea pancakes // Chocolate shortbread // Banana & blueberry bread

Parmesan, Parsley & Paprika biscuits
These were based on the Parmesan biscuits recipe from this book. Although not the healthiest of snacks we needed a savoury snack to counteract the leftover Easter chocolate. I added parsley to the cookie dough, but if making again I'd probably increase the quantities of parsley & paprika for more of a flavour boost.



Pea pancakes with roasted tomatoes, houmous & homemade ketchup
This recipe was very pleasing for me. The pancakes were from a recipe in this allotment cookbook and while we first had these a couple of weeks ago with roasted asparagus & feta there was enough mixture left over to freeze and use another day. Today was that day, and I enjoyed a delicious late brunch in the spring sunshine - the pancakes are delicious, and a great colour too!

Ben made the ketchup from a recipe found in this Hemsley & Hemsley book (a recommendation from Rachel) and it complimented the pancakes really well, especially when topped with lots of roasted seeds.

Chocolate shortbread
Ok, I know I said I was trying to be healthy and eat less sweet snacks, but this shortbread recipe is pretty low on sugar (let's not mention the butter) and I was making them to share with friends. Another one from the Cookie Magic book - it has a great variety of sweet & savoury biscuits!

Hemsley & Hemsley banana bread (with added blueberries)
Another one from The Art of Eating Well - this gluten free loaf uses natural sweeteners (maple syrup) and will make a perfect early morning snack for us to take to work for the next few days. The temptation to reach for shop-bought cereal bars in the morning needs to be curbed.

I really like the texture and taste of this bread, and will definitely be making it again!


Other recipes cooked but lacking photos include:
  • Hemsley & Hemsley Asparagus & Pea Quinoa risotto with mint & parsley oil (turned into Quinoa risotto balls the following day)
  • Hemsley & Hemsley Feta & Black bean burgers (cooked by Ben and served with Courgette Fries & Homemade tomato ketchup)
  • River Cottage quinoa salad with courgettes & onions

I hope to share more soon. I'm enjoying spending my evenings browsing recipe books at the moment. Tonight, we eat macaroni peas!

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

let's cook: ravioli



Three cooking challenges in three months - we're doing really well this year! This one was a tough one too. We set ourselves the challenge of filled pasta, which actually involves a lot more thought than I first imagined.

First we had to decide on the form of pasta and the dough recipe, then we had to think of the filling, and finally decide on a sauce/accompaniment to serve with. A lot of elements to consider.

We both went for ravioli as you can see - mine is pictured on the left above, and my mum's is on the right.

I've broken the process down into stages below with some recipes too if you'd like to try it yourself.


STAGE ONE: THE PASTA

I had never made pasta before (nor had my mum) so this was an exciting one for me. I always had visions of it being really difficult, making a lot of mess and needing a lot of space, but thankfully none of the above turned out to be true!



I didn't want to stick with just plain egg pasta dough so I decided to make two different batches of pasta - one with parsley & one coloured with beetroot - both of which filled me with more pleasure than balls of dough should.

For the parsley pasta I used the "advanced" mixing method of forming the dough directly on work surface by cracking the eggs into a well made in the flour. I felt like a pro! I wasn't quite as adventurous with the beetroot one (mostly because I didn't want to stain the whole kitchen pink) so opted for the food processor approach with that one.

Isn't the colour great? Like pink bubblegum!



The recipes I used were as follows...


Ingredients 

Each of these makes about 450g of pasta.

Parsley pasta 
2 eggs
1⅓ cups 00 pasta flour
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons olive oil

Beetroot pasta
2 eggs
1½ cups 00 pasta flour
1 small roasted red beetroot (pureed)
1 tablespoon olive oil


Method (the professional way!)

Place your flour on the work surface and make a well in the centre.

Crack the eggs into the well and add the oil and extras, e.g the herbs.

Using a fork, beat the mixture in the centre, slowly incorporating the flour. If you're like me, you'll find you might get a bit eager with the fork and break through your flour walls so be on the lookout for egg overflow. As more and more of the flour begins to combine with the egg you'll probably want to abandon the fork in favour of using your hands.

Once the mixture is combined into a solid ball knead the dough for about 10 minutes until it becomes stronger and more elastic. When your dough looks smooth and no longer feels sticky, shape it into a ball and cover with a tea towel/clingfilm to keep it moist.

Then let the dough rest for at least 30 minutes.

When you are ready to use your dough, cut it into quarters so you can work on one piece at a time, while keeping the other pieces covered to prevent them drying out.



I actually invested in a pasta machine for this project as I had some vouchers I'd been given for my birthday. Beforehand I thought I'd just make my pasta by hand, but decided to treat myself, and I'm very pleased I did!

Because I made two lots of dough I had enough to make some extras on top of my ravioli so I used my pasta maker to roll out the dough and then cut it into tagliatelle & fettuccine. It worked really well, and was a nice added extra for this challenge! I have frozen some of the fresh pasta to eat at a later date too.



STAGE TWO: FILLING & CONSTRUCTION

Back to the ravioli. The filling I decided to used was taken from this Food 52 recipe and was a combination of parsley, mint, ricotta and goat cheese.

It was just a case of combining all the ingredients in a bowl and then dolloping on the rolled out pasta. I found this whole process very relaxing; rolling out the dough, passing it through the pasta machine until it was thin, and then constructing the ravioli.



I bought myself a round ravioli cutter (I also got a square one for my mum!) so was able to create some nice uniform shapes. They looked really nice I think, and held together well.



STAGE THREE: SERVING SUGGESTIONS

I made my ravioli in the day time while Ben was at work, but couldn't wait to the evening to try them so made myself a small portion of super fresh ones, which I served on a bed of fettuccine with a homemade avocado pesto and load of parmesan. Delicious! And so quick to cook!

It was the first day of the year that it was warm enough for me to eat my lunch in the garden too so that was an added treat.



I think the ravioli was best cooked fresh as I wasn't quite sure how to store them once constructed and put them in the fridge, but after a while I think the filling began to seep into the pasta a bit and they got a little sticky. Perhaps I rolled the pasta thinner than I was meant to?

Anyway, there were still some good (non-sticky) ones left for Ben to try when he got home from work. This batch was a mixture of herb and beetroot ones, and I served them on parsley tagliatelle with sauteed asparagus and walnuts in a lemony buttery sauce, using this recipe from Green Valley Kitchen.

It was a nice feast!


My mum made her batch on Easter Monday and she said that she found it pretty challenging one too - apparently there was flour everywhere!

She opted for an egg pasta dough, but tried two different fillings. One which was spinach based, and the other a ricotta one. With no pasta maker available she rolled out her pasta by hand and thinks she may have left it a little thick as she found the ravioli took a while to cook. Look how neat they are though. Like little pillows.



She served it with a pomodoro sauce, although confessed that it came out looking a bit like chutney, which is a little odd. Good to see a healthy helping of parmesan too though.

Now, on to the scoring...

Ben gave me a very respectable 9/10 with one point being deducted by the disappointment of me having to throw some of the super sticky ravioli pieces into the bin. I definitely think I'll be making pasta again though so I'll try and make it when he's not at work next time so we can both enjoy it super fresh!

My dad gave my mum another high score with 8/10, possibly with a couple of marks being deducted due to the thickness of the pasta. I did have the advantage of having a pasta machine so I would bump that up to a 9 too I think.

Another pretty good round! This challenge is really improving our skills.



My mum has requested an easier challenge next time (not involving dough) so we have opted for swiss rolls or roulades. I've already started pinning some recipe inspiration.

The thought of them is making my mouth water already.