Here you have the long awaited second part of a long forgotten post, one which, at the time I’m sure, left you hanging onto the edge of your seats.
The problem I had finishing that post, had a lot to do with the fact that I made that dish for the first night of Rosh Hashana, and a little to do with the fact that I’ve been waaaay too lazy to make it again, just to be able to photograph the finished product. Luckily for you, my friend Dan and I just threw another amazing dinner (more on that later,) where the rockfish was the opening salvo in a successful effort to knock everyone’s socks off with amazing food. Unluckily for you, there were no leftovers, hence, most of you still have a firm hold onto your socks.
This last time around, we ended with the artichokes Barigoule, a stew made with artichoke hearts, white wine, olive oil, vegetable stock, and some more carrots, shallots, fennel, garlic and a boquet garni. The braising liquid was strained, and the artichokes cooled in there, while I prepared the pasta dough for the ravioli.
I had never made hand-made pasta, and I had heard that the dough tends to be tempermental. Needless to say, I was a little worried about how this ravioli would turn out, and I knew that I my fears wouldn’t be dispelled until all those little pockets of artichoky goodness were dropped into a big pot of boiling water, and didn’t burst. But that is much later on, so I had to soldier on, hoping that everything I was doing was correct, and I didn’t just end up wasting a load of time messing with all those ‘chokes.
I started by clearing off my kitchen cart, and washing it thoroughly with soap and water. Next, I made a mound of AP flour, with a well in the center, and sides roughly one inch wide. In the middle went a mixture of egg yolks, whole egg, rice milk and olive oil.
That’s me running my fingers round and around inside the egg mixture. The goal is to incorporate the flour into the liquid as gently as possible, to ensure that no lumps are left in the dough. Little by little, everything comes together, until there is a slurry sticky enough to pull the flour towards it as it is spun around. Finally, you’re left with a shaggy mound of dough, that then must be kneaded for as long as it takes to become fairly elastic.
Keller recommends kneading the dough by hand for fifteen minutes, and then, “when you think you’re done, knead it for another fifteen. This dough cannot be over-kneaded.”
I’m so glad that this dough is so resilient against kneading, but my arms? Not so much. Pasta dough is plenty tough, and after fifteen minutes, I was seriously feeling the burn. When I felt that there was no fight left in me, I gave up, wrapped the dough in some plastic, and let it, and my arms, rest for half an hour.
Next comes the fun part, or the tricky part, depending on your outlook on life. I borrowed Dan’s pasta roller, attached it to the cart, and got to work on 3 ounces of dough at a time.
A pasta roller works by having different thickness settings, which control the amount of space between the two rollers. The dough is started off at the widest setting, and then processed once through each progressively narrower setting. Eventually, 3 ounces of dough should produce two sheets for ravioli.
I do have a feeling that my rolling could use some more practice, as these sheets were pretty tapered at the ends, and likely should have been more even.
Next, marking off the sections, and filling with artichoke.
Finally, the second sheet is pressed onto the first, and cut out the finished ravioli, dusted them with corn meal, and froze them in a single layer, until right before service.
While I was making the pasta, I was also preparing the vinaigrette. I reduced three cups of white wine with some shallots and garlic until it was nearly evaporated and syrupy.
Then I strained in the reserved Barigoule liquid, and reduced some more, until I was left with roughly a quarter of a cup of this mixture. All of this concentrated flavor-bomb was then strained into my blender–
and processed with a touch of white wine vinegar (I didn’t have champagne,) and about half a cup of EVOO. The result?
Let’s just take a minute to think about what exactly is filling up half of that small container:
3 cups of olive oil, and vegetable stock that the artichokes were braised in.
Said braising liquid that was additionally flavored by carrots, fennel, shallots, garlic, leeks, thyme, bay leaf and black pepper, and the cooked artichoke hearts.
3 cups of white wine, reduced to a syrup with more garlic and shallot.
And finally, all these things combined, with more olive oil. All in all, a tremendous intensity of flavor.
And so, with most of the components done, (including the basil oil and pearl onions, which I unfortunately neglected to photograph,) I cooked some beautifully fresh Rockfish which I picked up at H Mart. I sauteed it for 3 minutes, skin side down, one minute on the flesh side, and “kissed” the sides to the pan for a couple of seconds. Then, I removed the pan from the heat, added a little more olive oil, and covered it to allow the fish to steam gently for another three minutes.
First went a ring of basil oil, with a spoonful of Barigoule vinaigrette in the middle. This gets topped by the ravioli, then the Rockfish, and some additional artichoke and tomato as a garnish, as well as the pearl onions on the side.
This was a dish that actually made me feel a little nostalgic. I have many memories of Shabbat dinner at our house, where my father would prepare a giant pot of artichokes, usually just cooked together with some lemon and garlic, and would eat two or three of them at the end of the meal. There would be this giant mess of leaves on and around his plate, and when he would get to the heart, he would always share a bit with each of us. Somehow, my father manages to make everything he eats look appetizing, even to small, finicky children. And that list has included some pretty weird stuff over the years.
This is a dish of delicate beauty, in my opinion. Rockfish, when cooked correctly, is fairly mild, and did not overpower, at all, the taste of the artichoke, and the fresh pasta. But it was the vinaigrette, with all it’s concentrated flavor, that really just shot this thing over the moon. Really, you’ve got to try it to believe it. And this recipe makes enough extra vinaigrette for you to enjoy it with plenty of other salads.
Although this is a pretty complicated dish, I can testify to the fact that it was much, much easier the second time around. I’ve found that cooking really is only intimidating when you don’t know what to expect next. All the more reason to keep not give up, and keep practicing, right?
Here are some more random pictures from the rest of our dinner. The last one is a blood orange sorbet, with candied and deep fried orange peel. Yum!