whole foods and beyond....nourishing the body, spirit and soul

Thursday, January 19, 2012

the ravioli fiasco

"sorry this is so crappy guys. but at least try to get full." dinner should never start off with such harsh words, and yet it did last night.  to my horror, the homemade gluten free ravioli i had envisioned to serve my husband and son for dinner, played out far worse than my scariest nightmares.  spending hours in the kitchen, using up expensive gluten free flours, and six freaking organic eggs!!!....only to have it land on a  plate as a total disaster, literally left me feeling unsatisfied with my whole day as i laid my head on my pillow last night.  am i crazy or what?

not only did it taste horrible, but it looked horrible as well

so let's start from the beginning.  ever since we got to germany, i've had strange longings for foods that i haven't had in a while.  some may say pregnancy, but i know myself, and i say it's desiring to eat for comfort and to induce feelings of familiarity in a foreign place.  cheese filled ravioli has always had a special place in my heart.  whether it was the frozen garbage straight out of the bag, eaten for lunch with friends as a teenager, or ordering it in an upscale restaurant, those raviolis always treated me right.  so i've been searching for a frozen gluten free ravioli to make, knowing in advance that it would be a task and a half to try this from scratch.  with no luck (for the last five years!) i finally had the courage for some stupid reason this week, to think "hmmm ill try to make homemade ravioli for dinner one night." oh how naive of me.....

so i found a good sounding recipe from a trusted gluten free blog.  i love everything over at http://glutenfreegirl.com/, and felt pretty confident about how straight forward her gluten free ravioli recipe was.  and as a bonus, she was also rolling her dough out with a rolling pin for lack of that "must have" pasta making machine.  watch enough food network, and you too will realize that this is a necessity in every kitchen.  things were promising as i blended my flours of choice; brown rice, quinoa, corn starch and xanthan gum with the eggs, oil and salt in my food processor.  to my surprise the dough actually looked like a dough! and i was able to knead it! now we all know how rare that happens in the gluten free world... so i joyfully rolled the dough into a ball and set it in a dish to rest for a while.

things looked promising as i went upstairs to put dimitri down for his afternoon nap. just over a half hour later, i glided into the kitchen on a cloud thinking i was about to make a successful dinner from such a previously daunting task. wrong! here's where everything started to fall apart.  of course, when rolling gluten free dough, it will inevitably stick to your rolling pin. so, annoyed that this happened with my first portion of the dough, i pulled out my trusty wax paper and placed the dough between two sheets.  back and forth. back and forth. i vigorously rolled this dough out as thin as i could get it.  of course, when i tried to peel the top layer off, it was one huge sticky mess and wouldn't come off with out ruining the whole disk.  i regrouped, made a new game plan and decided to put the flattened dough, still between the sheets of wax paper in the freezer, so it could think about how to behave.  of course, my two year old had to wake up after only an hour of sleep.  so i laid down with him to help him fall back asleep, therefore leaving me more time to nurture this pasta to life. nope. didn't happen.  of course, he fell asleep, but woke up every time i moved to get off the bed for the next hour.  now this really put me behind.  the rest of my portions of dough were in the fridge waiting for me when i finally got back to the kitchen over an hour later.   so i rolled the three remaining portions between wax paper and stuck those in the freezer too.  when the first disk was finally frozen enough to take the wax paper off of it, i set out to cut them in squares, fill them with about a teaspoon of cheese and seal them off, all with a beautiful crimped
edge.  ive seen giada, mario and even bobby do this a million times on the food network in five seconds flat...how hard could this be?  ill tell you how hard it could be...i slaved in that kitchen for at least the next hour, trying to problem solve my way through this mess, as everything around me became disorderly, and my back cried out for a heating pad, only to have the dough continually fall apart in my hands and stick to everything! i did manage to get most of them into the pot of boiling water so i wouldn't be completely defeated.  at this point, i tried to get past the fact that they were all misshapen and looked ahead to smothering them in a delicious red sauce. wrong! of course, the texture was thick...like card board, and the flavor was just off, leaving a strange after taste in your mouth. it was utterly and completely gluten free. and the last thing you want to be thinking when you're eating something, is that it's gluten free.  if you can figure that fact out by just tasting something, then some where down the line things went horribly wrong. my husband comforted me by making jokes and continuing to taste them through out the cooking process.  but all we could really say in the end was "this would have been the most simple thing, had it just been regular white flour...."

if you have any information of the whereabouts of good gluten free ravioli (homemade or pre made...although at this point i think it will take a lot of counseling and reflection before i attempt to make it from scratch again) please send me the info.

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