Cook the Books: Heat~

2 12 2010

This time around at Cook the Books we read Heat by Bill Buford.  I was kind of tickled by this selection as this was one of the first “foodie” books I picked up to read on my own.  I thoroughly devoured it the first time, so this time I was able to savor it a little more in a different way.  While Bill ricochets from one culinary adventure to another in search of his own culinary niche, studying, soaking up knowledge like pasta takes up sauce, I kept getting pulled back to one thing…”The egg is very important.”

If you study the 3 eggs in the first photo you might wonder if the difference is a trick of your eyes, due to placement of the eggs, or the lighting, perhaps.  No…one is actually elongated.  These aren’t McGrocery Eggs… They’re eggs from my happy hens.  I have Silver Cuckoo Marans and I can’t recommend them highly enough.  They’re grand girls!  Now the picture just above this paragraph shows a McGrocery Egg on the left (once in awhile, even I have to buy eggs if I need several all at one time) and a Happy Hen egg on the right.  The egg on the right is extremely fresh…it might be a day old already.  And look at that yolk…it’s almost orange!  I’ll tell you…that makes the prettiest Lemon Meringue pie!  But…back to eggs…and pasta….

This is my standard egg pasta from Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Italian Cooking.  Her recipe makes about 3/4 pound of fresh pasta.  This time we’re making ravioli.  I use the regular pasta recipe, because I love the light texture of it.

My ravioli filling is an adaptation of Marcella’s filling for Cappellacci.  I had purchased and baked yams at Thanksgiving…except they were Asian yams and were very pale in color, but much drier and more sweet.   I thought at the time they would make excellent ravioli.  The flesh of the Asian yams was actually so dry that after adding parmesan and romano cheeses, and a bit of Italian parsley for color and a bit of complementary flavor, I needed to add both butter and cream to moisten the yams.  This is one ingredient that didn’t need any binder to take up moisture!

I have to agree that the egg is very important.  The very first time I made pasta, I used my own chickens’ eggs.  At the time, I had a pair of lovely Golden Seabrights, and their eggs were smaller, not Bantam small, but smaller than the large eggs I get today.  They were the absolute perfect size to go with Marcella’s recipe for pasta.  Her 1 cup flour to 2 eggs worked right on with those eggs, every time.  When I lost those hens, and these larger girls started laying, I was intimidated about pasta for awhile.  I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to make it work right with larger eggs.  I should know better though…it’s just like making bread.  You just keep working in more flour until you get that correct consistency, and then you stop.

The ravioli are served with a simple sage butter (2 Tbsp. unsalted butter heated until bubbling, drop in 10 torn sage leaves and cook a few moments; pour over cooked and drained ravioli) then sprinkled with kosher salt to taste.  All I can say is make sure you boil enough!  I didn’t and I was so sad!  I was also very glad that the rest were already in the freezer for another time.

Johanna…Great choice!  Thanks so much for hostessing us!  I had a great time with the read and with my dish!  Mr. Buford…Thank you for your insight into the back side of the culinary world.  It was a pleasure to learn at your apron strings…even when the apron was afire!  I thoroughly enjoyed reading your book!




9 responses

12 12 2010

I am so bad–I am just getting around to comment on CTB posts now. Love the ravioli–the sage butter I could just bathe in. 😉

7 12 2010

The eggs are indeed important. I have inherited my mother’s fixation for good-quality eggs. It sounds like this was a learning adventure. I have yet to venture into ravioli-land, so I applaud you.

7 12 2010

The egg is, indeed, very important. My mother made pasta always using fresh eggs obtained from a trusted source. I have inherited a fixation for good eggs from her. It sounds like this was a learning adventure. I have not yet ventured in ravioli land, so I applaud you.

6 12 2010
Kelly @ It's a Food Life

I love your egg comparison and your yam filling sounds wonderful!

6 12 2010

I loved your tale of the egg. Good advice to use only
the freshest when making pasta. Something I need
to do more of.

I enjoyed the book as well, all the cooking insights
made me want to go to some culinary classes. But,
NOT to work in a restaurant.

6 12 2010
Cook the Books “Heat” roundup « Cook the Books Club

[…] Some more home made filled pasta came from Glennis of Cantbelieveweeat who prepared yam-filled ravioli with sage butter using left over yams from Thanksgiving. Glennis, like me, had chosen Heat as one of her first ever […]

5 12 2010

Great post. Those ravioli look lovely, and how couldn’t they with those happy hen eggs.

Thanks for your tips on meat grinding.

3 12 2010
Rachel @ The Crispy Cook

What a wonderful egg. I look forward to reading more of your chickeny posts. How about a picture of those girls? Glad you enjoyed the book.

2 12 2010

Oh, WOW! You had your own hens? Lucky girl. Good eggs make excellent pasta (which is deeply yellow toned). I am glad you liked the book, it was also my first foodie books ever!

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