September 30, 2008

Is It Autumn Yet?

Okay so I'm still not used to living in Southern California. It's only been three years now, one would think I'd be used to 97 degree weather through September. Really when does it cool down again? I seem to forget every year in the midst of my yearning to bundle up and layer. My memory is clouded with dreams of sipping steaming mugs of hot cocoa by the fire (we don't have a fireplace) and visions of warming the house with the scent of baking apples and spices.

Forgoing the hot cocoa by the fire. I have managed to sweat us out of our house these last few days. I've overheated our home with double batches of chicken stock, black bean soup, chicken pot pie, oatmeal date cookies & roasted butternut squash ravioli.

I've dressed in long sleeve blouses and pants simply to walk outside and quickly realize a tank top and skirt would have been a better choice.

I'm trying my darnedest to conjure up those romantic Autumn days. I've always loved Fall; the change from sunshine soaked siestas to crisp cooling afternoons. Midday runs, when rays from the sun are a warm welcome. Blustery windstorms that call for blankets and snuggling. The fiery orange glow of leaves falling and the crinkly sound of raking them into a pile.

This recipe is my tribute to the days of Autumn, when leaves are turning, wind is blowing and we get the craving to fill our bellies with something warm.

Roasted Butternut Squash Ravioli
Makes about 3 dozen

2 heaping Cups, AP flour
3 Large eggs

2 C roasted butternut squash puree
1/4 C goat cheese
1/4 C grated pecorino romano
1 small yellow onion, caramelized

Browned Sage Butter Sauce:
1/2 stick unsalted butter
7 large sage leaves

Place the flour in a large bowl, make a well in the middle and fill with the eggs. Using your fingers, move your hand in a small circular motion and mix the eggs into the flour. Pull it all together until it forms a ball, then knead for a few minutes. Form into a ball, wrap in plastic and pop in the fridge for an hour.

To roast the butternut squash, cut in half, scoop out seeds, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and place on a baking sheet cut side down, bake at 400 degrees F until fork tender about 45 minutes- an hour.
Once cool enough to handle, peel away and discard the skin. Mash the flesh with a fork or potato masher.

For the caramelized onions, grate a small yellow onion and saute over medium heat with about 3 T of unsalted butter and 5 sprigs of thyme. Once the onion starts to brown, pour in 1/4 C of white wine and scrape up all the browned bits in the pan, let the alcohol burn off for about a minute. Turn off heat and add another Tablespoon of butter and 1 T of sage honey.

Mix together the butternut squash puree, caramelized onions, goat cheese & pecorino and set aside.

To roll out the ravioli, use a pasta machine. I use an old hand-crank machine, but many electric mixers have the pasta accessories. If using an old fashioned hand-crank machine then start on the largest setting and run 1/2 of the dough through twice, then fold in half and run through again. Click to the next setting down and run the dough through twice. Continue this down to the second to last setting.

Once your pasta is rolled out, then place a walnut size nub of filling down the center, leaving about 2 inches of space on both sides of the nub. Take a pastry brush and dab the pasta with a bit of water. Fold the top portion over the bottom and seal, take your fingers and seal around each bit of filling. Cut into individual ravioli, using a knife or a fluted pasta roller (sort of like a miniature pizza cutter).

Cook the ravioli in boiling salted water. You'll know that they are ready when they look as though they are trying to jump out of the pot.

Browned Sage Butter Sauce:
In a saute pan, warm 1/2 stick of unsalted butter with 7 sage leaves over medium-high heat. The sauce is ready for the pasta once it begins to brown and gives off a nutty scent. Toss in the cooked ravioli and 1/4 C of the boiling pasta water and cook for 30 seconds before plating. Serve with grated pecornio.

Buon Appetito!

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