Homemade Ravioli – An Italian Easter Tradition

When my grandmother passed away, we spent time as a family reminiscing – going through her home, her things, and sharing our favorite memories. As we discussed who would get certain items, I had two things that I desperately wanted in my home to remember her by and continue her legacy. Both items had lived in her kitchen, and both reminded me (and still do) wholly of her. One was her pasta maker. My grandmother always hosted Easter dinner; full-blooded Italian, she and my grandfather made homemade ravioli and homemade Italian sausage every year. It was our family’s tradition, and we looked forward to that meal for 364.5 days – from the last bite of ravioli one year, we were already already thinking about the next year. It was the one thing I could’t resist eating the spring I had my wisdom teeth out and was sidelined for two weeks with pain and black and blue chipmunk cheeks. They were delicious and such a special reminder of our family heritage and the importance of tradition.

So when Grandma Olga died, I made a promise that I would continue the ravioli making tradition, and so far, even if I have made them just for two people, started the process at 2:00pm Easter Sunday, or made and frozen them until we had time to sit down and enjoy as a family, we have kept our word, and our Italian tradition continues. My ravioli are slightly different than Grandma’s – maybe less traditional Italian, but they are homemade with love and nothing feels more like Easter than pulling out the pasta maker and filling sheets of fresh dough with ricotta cheese and herbs.

PASTA:

I start with a fresh, egg-based pasta dough. I don’t have Grandma’s original recipe, but it was simple, and generally pasta dough is extremely simple – eggs and flour. For a special, richer dough, you can use additional egg yolks or semolina flour or special Italian 00 Flour. (Here’s a simple pasta recipe from Mario Batali). You can add fresh herbs or ground pepper to the dough for a twist, and typically our Easter ravioli include herbs from recently rejuvenated perennial plants, like thyme, sage, and rosemary.

Rolling pasta sheets

Rolling out pasta dough for ravioli

I roll out the dough until it is fairly thin – usually the second to thinnest section on the pasta maker. I keep the dough moist and workable by placing each sheet between layers of thin, slightly damp dish towels (the lightweight flour sack kind).

FILLING:

While the noodles are resting, or preferably before, I mix up the filling. (If you make the filling in advance, cover and keep in the refrigerator.) While you can add whatever you like to the inside of the dough, I like to keep it simple and somewhat traditional, so my filling includes ricotta cheese, egg, grated Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and fresh herbs. (Sometimes I’ll add chopped Prosciutto.) When I have time, I will make the ricotta cheese fresh the day before.

Filling homemade ravioli

Filling the ravioli

To fill the ravioli, I lay out one noodle sheet either on a slightly floured counter, cutting board or a piece of parchment paper, and drop 1-2 tbsp size mounds in a line along one side, leaving enough room between each mound and the edge of the sheet for sealing. To seal, you can either fold the top edge over to meet the bottom edge of the pasta sheet OR you can spread out another line of the filling across the top and cover with a second sheet of dough.

Sealing the ravioli

Sealing the ravioli

To seal, run a wet finger along each edge of the pasta sheet before matching up the second layer of pasta. The water will act like glue with the dough and keep the filling inside. Then take a sharp knife and cut around the filling, leaving enough of an edge to prevent breakage and leaking.

filled and sealed ravioli

Filled and sealed ravioli

 

Filled and cut ravioli

Filled and cut homemade ravioli

I place the completed stuffed and cut ravioli onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. If you plan to cook immediately (same day), they can be added directly to a pot of boiling water from the cookie sheet. If you would like to save, place the cookie sheets in the freezer. Once the ravioli are individually frozen, place them in plastic Ziploc bags to store in the freezer for later use. When you are ready to cook, they can be added directly to boiling water from the freezer.

Grandma served her ravioli with a homemade red sauce and sausage. While we haven’t traditionally made the sausage, (my sister carries on that tradition), we will buy local Italian sausage and whip up a red sauce, or we will opt for no sausage and toss the ravioli in a bit of olive oil and shave some Parmesan over the top for a lighter, fresh, spring meal.

Aidan helps make ravioli

Aidan helps make ravioli

Making ravioli can be a bit time consuming, but it’s a simple, fun process that is absolutely worth the wait. (Kiddos like to help!)

The other item of Grandma’s that is now in my kitchen is an ornamental Tyrolean sheep bell with a recipe printed on it. Also a remembrance of our Italian heritage, it hung in Grandma Olga’s kitchen and now hangs in mine. I love it, and someday, I will make the recipe that is painted on the front of the bell.

But for now, a very Happy Easter!

 kristi

Happy Easter

Happy Easter

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Kids on the Farm

harward busses farm field days 2015 In the course of 4 days, over 5,000 2nd graders will visit Harward Farms in Springville, UT as part of the Utah Farm Bureau’s Farm Field Days event.   At a series of stations, kids learn about soil, farmers, farm equipment, what it takes to grow food, and ultimately, nutrition and its impact on our bodies. Many of us do not have direct ties to agriculture, and the gap is only increasing with each generation. Giving children a tangible opportunity to experience – smell, see, taste, and feel where their food comes from, not only provides a valuable, memorable lesson, but it’s fun!

During this interactive day, our state dairy ambassadors have a blast talking about milk and its journey from the farm to your fridge.   If your child’s school doesn’t participate, reach out to the Utah Farm Bureau and your school administration to see if the opportunity can be added to your child’s curriculum.  Or, if you are a farmer interested in hosting an educational tour of your farm, contact the Dairy Council of Utah/Nevada or Utah Agriculture in the Classroom. Then you can ask, “what did you learn on the farm today?” 

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Utah Cheese Pairing Guide

Utah Cheese Pairing Guide

We love all things with cheese, and the bottom line is that there are no hard-fast rules to pairings – enjoy what you like and what tastes good to you.

But…

There are a few classic pairings, and Utah has some wonderful cheesemakers to check out. (A few months back we did an individual profile on each of these Utah Cheesemakers, so check out the in-depth posts, if you are looking for more – links below.) Here we offer some classic pairings from a recent workshop with dietitian and culinary professional, Amy Myrdal Miller, as well as our fresh-off-the-press, Utah Cheese Pairing Guide for you to download.

Woodland Blue Cheese

Gold Creek Farms – Woodland Blue

Blue Cheese + Honey + Walnuts

Blue cheese is noted for its crumbly texture and silky consistency. The blue veins are actually a mold produced most-commonly by a bacteria in the Penicillin family. It has a piquant, earthy flavor that varies among styles. Gold Creek Farms in Kamas, Utah recently started making their Woodland Blue. It’s a special, unique cheese that definitely deserves a try.

Why honey and walnuts? the sweetness of the honey pairs nicely with the strong, earthy flavor of the blue cheese. And walnuts, especially when they are toasted, complement the blue’s rich flavor.

Beehive Cheese Promontory Cheddar

Beehive Cheese Promontory Cheddar

Cheddar +  Apple: 

Cheddars can vary considerably based on aging time and conditions. Generally, cheddar cheese sharpens and becomes increasingly crumbly and granular with age. Pairing an aged cheddar with a crisp, cool apple is refreshing and cozy. This pairing works cooked in recipes or with room-temperature cheese and a cool apple. Consider adding sliced apples and a wedge of cheddar cheese to your next appetizer tray. A couple Utah cheesemakers specialize in cheddar – Beehive Cheese & Heber Valley Artisan Cheese.

Rockhill Cheese Peppercorn Gouda

Rockhill Cheese Peppercorn Gouda

Gouda +  Tomatoes:

Gouda is known for its rich flavor. The coating found on many Gouda’s is added to prevent the cheese from drying out. It can be consumed young or aged and the consistency and characteristics change with age. Let this classic pairing take you in any direction – soup, grilled cheese sandwiches, macaroni and cheese…used smoked Gouda or one of Rockhill Cheese’s Goudas (Farmhouse or Peppercorn) and add smokiness by roasting or grilling the tomatoes.

Download our Utah Cheese Pairing Guide

More about each of Utah’s cheese makers:

-Kristi Spence

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Roasted Veggie Pizza

Roasted Vegetable Pizza

When I was a teenager, my mother insisted that I wake up early one summer morning to learn to make bread with our elderly neighbor. She was an early riser and liked to make her bread before the heat of the day. So instead of sleeping in and enjoy my lazy summer day, I was up and in my neighbor’s kitchen by 6 am. Roasted Vegetable Pizza

She shared her recipes for whole wheat and white bread and tips and tricks to get it perfect. Afterward, I was excited to try my hand and starting making bread for my family. Then I wanted to try other bread items and pizza crust was next on the list. I have been making this pizza crust (with variations of white and wheat flour amounts) since I was a teenager and my family (and now husband) love it.

Roasted Vegetable PizzaI like to make all sorts of pizza varieties, but one of my favorites is roasted veggie. You can use any vegetables from asparagus to zucchini. This time I used asparagus, onion, and bell pepper. It seems simple but with sharp parmesan cheese, garlic, and balsamic vinegar, you get a rich complex flavor so yummy you might eat half a pizza in one sitting (oops). Enjoy!

Roasted Vegetable Pizza

Roasted Vegetable Pizza

For the Crust:

  • 1 Tbsp yeast
  • ¾ cup warm water
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 -2 cup whole wheat flour

Roasted Vegetables

  • 3-5 cups of vegetables of choice
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • garlic powder

Toppings for Pizza

  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
  • balsamic vinegar

First chop the vegetables of choice and toss with enough olive oil to coat. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic and roast at 450 for about 15 minutes (more or less depending on vegetable choice). Remove from oven and set aside.

Place pizza stone in oven and allow to heat to 450. Add yeast and warm water into mixing bowl and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Mix in the rest of the ingredients, flour last. Start with 1 1/2 cup flour and add more as needed until a ball forms and the sides of the mixer are clean. Knead 5 minutes and allow to rest 10 minutes. Knead again and let rest another 10 minutes. Roll out, until round and thin ¼ inch. Bake the crust at 450 for 7 minutes. Remove from oven and rub with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and 1/2 cup parmesan cheese. Add roasted veggies and pine nuts. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and top with remaining 1/2 cup cheese.  Then put back in the oven and heat until cheese melts, about 3 minutes.

Roasted Vegetable Pizza

Printer Friendly Roasted Vegetable Pizza

Megan

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Cheese – A Chef’s Perspective

From our many blog posts on this topic, you may have noticed that we at the Dairy Council love cheese! We love the flavor, texture, nutrition, and well…. just everything. We felt we were not alone in our love of cheese and wanted to get a Chef’s perspective so we met up with Tyler Ehlert who is the head chef and culinary creative mind at McKay Dee Hospital in Ogden Utah. Tyler has transformed “hospital food” into tasty dishes that patients, staff, and vistors enjoy. From the bistro to the cafe, the food is delicious!

McKay Dee Hospital

McKay Dee Hospital – Ogden, UT

 

Tyler is a fellow cheese lover and likes to use Beehive Cheese which is one of our award winning cheese makers in the state and located just down the road from McKay Dee Hospital. He was kind enough to do a Q&A session with us and provide some amazing recipes highlighting cheese!

1. How long have you been a chef? I started down this path 24 years ago.

2. What made you decide this career path? My mother is a classically trained chef. I also grew up with an extended family of wonder home style cooks.

3. What do you like most about working at the hospital? I love the challenge of working with patients that can’t have all the fat and sodium that is normally associated with a good tasting meal.

4. Do you cook a lot at home? Yes…I love to cook, no matter where I am. Luckily, my wife is a wonderful cook as well.

5. What do you like about cheese? Good cheese (not cheese paste☺) has such wonderful versatility. It can add gorgeous texture to sauce or soup, or much needed flavor to your salad.

6. Do you prefer it melted or solid, why? This depends on the recipe…but if you really want to taste what great cheese has to offer…eat it solid. From there you can figure out what to do with it.

7. What is your favorite way to utilize cheese. I like to keep it simple. I love to pair great cheese with fresh grapes, flat bread and some nice dark chocolate. Our bistro customers seem to love it as well.

8. When you are trying to decide to use cheese in a recipe what do you consider? Texture and sharpness of flavor are very important. Some classic pairs are a good parmesan with prosciutto and strawberries or a ripe pear and Manchego melted over a grilled portabello.

9. If you had extra cheese how would you decide what to do with it? At home…this never happens. All extra cheese is eaten…quickly…usually with some fresh fruit. At work…we will take the end cuts of a locally sourced Promontory, shred it and add it to our gourmet grilled cheese sandwich served at our Bistro.

10. When do you think expensive, artisan cheeses are worth the money to use in recipes? I believe you get what you pay for. You can use less cheese if the flavor is better. 1 oz of wonderful artisan cheese can go as far flavor wise in your salad as 3 oz of milder, less pricey cheese.

11. How do you highlight the flavor of the cheese with other ingredients? This is where one of our local partners (Beehive Cheese) comes in. If you start with an outstanding cheese, it is easy to highlight. Take Aggiano for example…the recipe for this Utah State University cheese has been shared with Beehive. It has a wonderful citrus (almost pineapple) finish. Cheese that has this much depth of flavor is easy to pair with other ingredients.

12. Do you have a favorite cheese? I love Aggiano and Beehive’s Promontory Cheddar. Manchego is also one of my favorites. My tastes have changed over the years…like many of us, I grew up eating cheddar singles…I can’t even look at them anymore. I buy great cheese for home and work…and I will never go back!

13. What cheese do you use the most? At work: we use a lot of cheddar and mozzarella. At home: I’m all about Promontory, Feta, Parmesan and sharp cheddar.

14. What cheese is in your fridge at home? I have sharp cheddar and string cheese for the kids’ snacks, Aggiano and Promontory from Beehive, and some great parmesan and feta for cooking.

 Tyler’s Recipes

Potato and cheese gratin

Gratin Dauphinois

2 lbs red potatoes sliced thin
½ clove garlic
4 tbsp butter
1 tsp salt
1 pinch pepper
1 cup shredded promontory cheese
1 cup boiling milk

Preheat oven to 375°. Combine milk with garlic, butter, salt and pepper. Place potatoes in a baking dish. Pour milk mixture over potatoes. Cover with tin foil and allow to bake until potatoes are tender (approximately 45 min). Take off tin foil and evenly spread cheese. Place back in oven to finish. Cheese should melt and lightly brown.

Bistro Gourmet Italian Sandwich

gourmet italian sand.

2 oz. capicola ham, sliced thin
1 oz. hard salami, sliced thin
2 oz. fresh mozzarella sliced
3 slices fresh roma tomato
½ oz. fresh spinach
1 tsp olive oil
1 pinch cracked black pepper
6” soft baguette

Slice baguette in half and layer spinach on bottom half. Continue to layer with tomato, meats and cheese. Lightly drizzle oil and sprinkle with pepper. Serve ASAP.

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Banana Cream Pie Gone Awry

Banana Cream Pie

 

When I hear the word pie, I instantly think of my childhood favorite, Banana Cream Pie. My Grandma Udy, made the best banana cream and often my siblings and I would opt for her pie over a birthday cake. With it being Pi day, I decided I would indulge and make my grandma’s pie.

Banana Cream PieMy grandma past away about 15 years ago, and so I called my mom to get the recipe. She gave me the short list of ingredients and I thought, this can’t be it. Where is the secret ingredient? While the pie seemed simple, it surprised me.

Banana Cream PieI started making the filling and felt like it wasn’t enough to fill the pie. So instead of trusting my grandma’s tested recipe, I decided to double the recipe. I filled the pie, put it in the fridge and licked the spoon in excited anticipation of perfect pie.

Much to my dismay, when I cut myself a nice, big slice, it quickly spread across my plate. The pie didn’t set up! I called my mom again asking why?! I was convinced she had given me the recipe incorrectly. She said after giving me the recipe, she also had a craving and decided to make one as well and hers worked great. I told her what I did and she mentioned that with doubling the recipe I probably didn’t boil the filling long enough. Banana Cream Pie Trifle

So I dumped the pie into a cup and enjoyed an amazing banana cream trifle. So my lesson for the day is trust your grandmother when it comes to her classic recipes. :)

Banana Cream Pie

Banana Cream Pie

Ingredients:

  • 2 Bananas sliced
  • 1 pre-made pie crust (I did store bought, but you can bake or your own if you like)
  • 1 batch of filling:
    • ¼ c sugar
    • 1 T corn starch
    • ¼ tsp salt
    • 1 cup milk
    • 1 egg yolk, slightly beaten
    • 1 tsp butter
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla

In a small sauce pan, add sugar, corn starch, and milk. Heat on medium until boiling and allow to boil for 1-2 minutes. Make sure to stir to avoid burning on the bottom. Remove from heat and add slightly beaten 1 egg yolk. Stir until incorporated. Put back on the heat and boil again for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add butter and vanilla.

Line pie crust with bananas, pour filling over making sure to cover the bananas and cool overnight. Top with whip cream.

Enjoy!

Printer Friendly Banana Cream Pie

Megan

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A Pediatrician’s Advice About Breakfast

We caught up with Bonnie Feola, MD, a local pediatrician who shares her Top Tips on Breakfast Nutrition for Kids:

Hungry for Breakfast

Little Ones are Hungry for Breakfast

In the morning children’s tummies are empty and will need energy for the day. Breakfast provides the fuel they need to keep their mind and body sharp, focused and alert. A child’s brain “runs faster” than an adult’s brain because they are learning, moving and growing every day. Although breakfast is the most frequently skipped meal – it shouldn’t be! Breakfast is very important for growing children.

Studies suggest that breakfast eaters tend to have better concentration, more focused behavior, improved muscle coordination, increased school attendance and higher overall test scores. Yay!

And studies show children who eat breakfast are generally in better health overall.

My breakfast suggestions for your child’s start of the day:

  1. Offer fresh “real” foods and limit “processed” items. Here are some ideas:
    • Scrambled eggs with sliced banana, apple or pear on the side.
    • Whole grain toast (or tortilla) topped with slice of melted cheese, smear of nut butter or quick microwaved egg with salsa.
    • Plain oatmeal topped with dash of cinnamon, spoonful of honey or brown sugar and drizzled with milk or half&half.
    • Whole grain waffle with light spread of fruit jam, nut or apple butter. Or drizzled (not drowned) with real maple syrup or honey.
  2. Choose from the variety of foods in the five food groups now and throughout the day: vegetables, fruits, grains, low-fat dairy, and quality protein sources, including lean meats, fish, nuts, seeds and eggs.
  3. Focus on foods that are “nutrient-dense” and less on those with empty calories. Nutrient dense foods have more nutritional value and contain fiber.
  4. Present appropriate portion sizes.
  5. Give breakfast a fun twist:  Encourage a variety of new food “experiences” by getting creative with morning choices. (Try a banana and handful of nuts, or a rice cake topped with peanut butter or spreadable cheese). Chop Chop Magazine has some great ideas!
Great, healthy breakfast options

Great, healthy breakfast options. Banana Granola from Two Peas and Their Pod | Egg Pita from Cookin’ Canuck | Blueberry Delight from National Dairy Council – links below!

Some kids are just not hungry in the morning or it is hard to get sleepy heads up and out the door in a rush. When it is one of these tough mornings, make choices.

  • Take some to go: Consider offering a glass of milk, yogurt or another protein/calcium filled beverage now with a whole grain granola bar and piece of fruit while heading out the door.
  • Give them a choice: Let your child choose to have a favorite less nutritious breakfast choice – and restrict any choice for a “treat” or sweetened beverage later in the day.

I call it “tough love”.  Kids actually look to parents for guidance. They’ll complain but they are just letting their frustrations be heard. They learn quickly that good food is a good choice.

Don’t be surprised when they start asking, “so, what’s for dinner?” when they say goodbye to you in the morning. They are looking forward to eating something healthy and yummy with you later. Congratulations!

Starting the day as often as possible with healthy nutritious foods is a great way to get up and get going. I recommend that the healthiest diet for children is the one that is balanced, based on a variety of nutrient-rich foods in the right amounts – Good old-fashioned eating.

Resources & Posts you Might Like:

Dr. Bonnie is a board certified pediatrician with over 21 years of experience. She graduated from Brown University and attended Baylor College of Medicine. She has worked in pediatric clinics all over the country and is currently the Medical Director and CEO of Blazing Pediatric Consulting LLC. She is the mother of three and enjoys spending time cooking, gardening, tending her small backyard flock of hens and generally being outdoors. 

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