How to make Cappelletti

Once you have practiced a couple of times on making the phillo dough you can really begin to have fun. OHMYGOD this is so lame. Anyway, the first type of pasta shape I want to talk about is “cappelletti”, literally small hats, a type of stuffed pasta dumplings usually served in chicken broth during winter and a MUST of the Christmas meal. This type of pasta is a central Italian speciality , mainly from Emilia-Romagna and Le Marche, and it predates the most widely famously shaped tortellini. Grandma cooked it last sunday for the first time as, winter has arrived in Italy so we all needed a warm and cosy main course.Image

Let’s go back to the pasta dough sitting cling-filmed in a bowl. As we all know the pasta has to rest for at least an hour in the fridge, so what to do in the meanwhile? Have a bath? Have a chat with an old friend? Have a wank? Well if you want to make cappelletti just wait in the kitchen and prepare the filling for the cappelletti.                                                           Filling for 6 servings in a bowl mix:

  •  250gr beef mince                      100gr butter                         salt and pepper
  • 250gr pork mince                       100gr Parmesan                  1/2 spoon of cinnamon
  • 1 egg yolk                                  1/2 spoon of nutmeg            lemon peel

The filling is READY. Swear on your genitalia you won’t cook it separately from the pasta sheets as I have realised my people do. Brilliant, now let’s go back to the pasta. Divide the dough into pieces and start flattening one by one either using the rolling pin or the pasta machine, which should be set at the widest setting then feed the pasta through the rollers 3 or 4 times folding and turning the dough decreasing the setting one notch at the time. Now cut the sheets into 2 inch square and place a finger of the filling right into its centre as the images below show.

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Now fold the dough over the filling triangularly corner to corner, and seal (you may need to wet a finger in water and run it along the bottom edge of the dough to get it to stick together). Keeping the roounded edge facing down, take the two pointy corners, stretch them around the back until they meet and seal them one on the top of each other as shown below. Image

It is an almost mechanical movement which can’t be forgotten, therapeutically mindless and a very good way to spend a rainy afternoon. When last week I made cappelletti with my grandmother she assummed I could not remember how to make them, ohh how silly of you nonna, how have you even thought such a thing: all those sunday mornings of my young age spent over the pasta board practicing that simple movement and eating uncooked cappelletti. Opps I did it again! Sorry another romantic rant about my lost childhood. Now, if you like eating uncooked cappelletti like I do please carry on, I only want to warn you that raw meat can give stimulate the growth of tapeworm, like my grandmother used to tell me. Otherwise, if you feel more civilized bring the broth that you prepared beforehand, either made with chicken or vegetable as you prefer, to a low boil, avoid a rolling boil as this may cause the pasta to open up. It won’t take more than 4 minutes if the cappelletti are fresh, while a bit longer if they are frozen. Serve with a splash of lemon or topped with parmesan and your perfect winter main course is ready.

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Beat it bitch

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What else but fresh egg pasta could have inaugurated this section? At the end of the day I am a pasta-land citizen and even though PASTA IS NOT ALL WE EAT, differently from what many foreigners think, it is undoubtedly the most important player of the Italian culinary culture. I think I won’t make a huge mistake if I say that every Italian family eats dried pasta at least once a day; pasta dishes are mainly served for lunch as they are incredibly easy to make and can be prepared between 12.30, when mamas get out of their offices or  go to pick up their kids from school, and 13.00 when papas come back from work and the meal is served. On the contrary fresh egg pasta is something made only for specific family meals and occasions; in my personal family experience the making of fresh pasta is related to sunday meals. When I was younger I used to love sleeping at my grandma’s on a saturday night and what I remember most vividly of those sunday mornings is walking into the kitchen around 9.00 am for breakfast and seeing my grandma bent over the pastry board, already half covered with tortellini, kneading more dough. Oh the beautiful smell of fresh pasta mixed with my grandma’s cold coffee is something that cannot be descried with words. I apologise, concision has never been my forte; let’s go back to this precious recipe and discover how to make sheets of pasta -also called phyllo dough-  in my grandma’s words typed in italics

Ingredients:  

  • 1 egg per serving/person
  • 4 spoons of flours per each egg
  • salt
  • time
  • arms strength

Primarily, in order to make good pasta you need a wooden pastry board as only its roughness will give pasta a strong character; I don’t really understand what this means but if you don’t have one go and buy it before continue reading! Now, as showed in the pictures below, begin by making a fountain of flour with a deep wide crater where you will break and beat your eggs with a fork. Make sure to keep the flour piled as to contain eggs and  when the eggs have homogeneously mixed start bringing the flour little by little into the eggs. When the eggs have been completely absorbed by the flour it begins the most delicate phase of the pasta-making in which you have to literally beat the pasta with your hands as the pasta needs the heat of your palms. This is also the last moment in which the dough can be rectified by either adding water if the dough is too hard or flour if the dough is too soft. Immagine1-1

It took me a while to understand what beat the pasta meant. Essentially: place the palms of your hands on top of the dough, now pinch its edge with your fingertips and apply a perpendicular pressure with the bottom part of your hand, the one closest to the wrist, while you keep pinching the pasta. If that is too complicated or for some reasons you skipped geometry classes at school imagine to be fucking someone hard, and with your hands placed on its shoulders nerves you slide forward and backward as you are about to reach the orgasm.Immagine6-2Well if you manage to beat the pasta with the pre-orgasm intensity and pressure for about 20 minutes you are done; while if you get stucked or if you stop as you get tired it might take a bit longer but the pasta itself will tell you when it’s ready as the  dough will get hot in your hands and when cut in half it will show none or very little bubbles. Now place the pasta in a bowl, cling film it and leave it in the fridge for at least an hour before shaping it as you like.

Immagine3e-1What are you waiting for now?  BEAT IT BITCH.