We love pasta.
We love family.
We love family who know how to make homemade pasta!
One of the drawbacks to living in another country so far from where I grew up is the fact that we live so far from our extended family. I have extended family here in the Philippines, and so does Nino, but my Italian side of the family are still in the Tri-state area.
Like my cousin, John Ressa.
John and I haven’t seen each other in years. I think the last time we all got together with the Ressa side of the family was probably for one of my boy’s baptisms. Yes…that long ago…Consider the fact that I left New York almost 10 years ago to make a life, here in Manila, well, the math is easy to figure out as to how long it has been since we were all together.
I was so excited to reach out to my cousin, when my parents sent me a FB message saying that he was going to be in town for a wedding. He was coming with his wife Andrea, and a couple of friends to celebrate the love of another couple who found each other. One of them happens to be a Filipina who grew up here and made her life (guess where?) in the Tri-State area as well. Isn’t it funny how that happens?
Luckily, John and his wife Andrea were able to take another day or two to spend with us here at home. We didn’t do too much that was exciting, save for the time we spent in the kitchen together….
Actually, I begged them to stay on a bit more, so we could possibly make time to visit the most beautiful beaches in the world, and so that we could reminisce all the more about our childhood memories.
Our visit together, was sprinkled with lots of laughs, some a-ha moments (that’s why I’m like that?!) and even some moments of honoring those who have left this earth to go on to a more beautiful place.
We miss you Auntie Anne and Nana!
So, when John and I were talking, we got it in our heads to make some homemade pasta together…old school…just like they used to do when the family all lived within a close proximity to one another (some even in the same brownstone in the Bronx or on Fuller Street.) for Sunday dinner.
Ok…I’m not a chef. (We all know this.) John has been in the kitchen for more than 20 years cooking up good stuff for people (and football teams) all over the country. He has catered for the SUPER BOWL. He has cooked for groups large and small, and you can see with the amount of speed and purpose he moves with while he’s in the kitchen, that he is seasoned well beyond what any paper or certificate would provide.
Wanna know what I love about John? He not only draws on his experience in the kitchen by himself and his wife Andrea, he draws on our childhood. He draws on the experiences we had growing up with our Italian American aunts, uncles and of course our Nana.
Many years ago, our family would make their own pasta and have Sunday Gravy simmering on the stovetop. Many years ago, Sunday dinner meant gathering around the table around 3pm. We gathered around the table so early because the meal would take that long…
Long slow meals with family, wine, bread, and cousins running around who were most likely raised like siblings because everyone was so close.
So, while my cousin was here, we reminisced. We drank wine. We ate Sunday dinner together as a family…and we let the kids run around while the adults sat at the table catching up on years passed…
I was sharing with John, how much the kids end up fighting over ravioli, when John suggested we make some together. (Or maybe I begged him to make it for us?) At any rate, my cousin rocked it out in the kitchen, rolled with the punches (and the humidity here in Manila) and after a few adjustments we had delicious homemade ravioli with a simple marinara sauce.
Dinner was lovely. The company was even better. And I’m already looking forward to spending time with John and Andrea again soon.
I can’t really post a detailed recipe to include with these photos. So much of how John and I move in the kitchen is similar…down to the cook how you feel kinda feeling. Part of that comes from tasting and tasting again and again, and part of the reason why I can’t post a recipe is because as John said, “Sometimes, you have to throw the recipe out the window.”
In this case, John had to do exactly that.
Usually, the recipe for homemade pasta would be one cup of super fine flour to one egg plus a little bit of olive oil. We mixed this in my handy dandy Kitchenaid. You can also mix and knead this dough by hand. Ok…I said usually…I’m not exactly sure how much flour John added to the original mixture. I do know that he had to keep adding to adjust for the humidty.
Because of the humidity and the coarseness of the semolina flour I purchased from Carla’s Bake Shop, we had to switch to all purpose flour and then add even a bit more flour to the sticky dough before letting it rest.
Once we got the hang of it, John and I were able to roll out a ton of ravioli, and even more fettucine. We had so much fettucine, I even threw some in the freezer for us to enjoy at a later date. (I just remembered this, and will probably make this tonight.) This is not something that you would want to keep in the fridge more than a week. In fact, it’s even better if you eat it the day after you make it.
There is something about getting in the kitchen with people you love. There is a goodness that comes out of the energy and the love that you can’t compare to pretty much anything.
Especially when you are cooking for kiddos you love too…
The kids attacked two big dishes of ravioli and didn’t leave much behind. I guess you could say they loved Uncle John’s cooking?
John’s Tips for making your own pasta:
- ratio of cups of flour to XL eggs 1:1
- throw in a little bit of olive oil and of course salt and pepper
- Use a standing mixer. A hand mixer won’t work with this dough. It’s heavy. If you don’t have a standing mixer, you can always go old school and do it by hand.
- Keep extra flour near by when you knead the dough, you might even have to add a bit more to the mixer.
- Let the dough rest. (John said that he doesn’t do this normally. But because of the humidity, he had to leave the dough and come back to it. We let it rest enough to drink one glass of wine.) hehehehehe
- Keep the dough centered in the pasta roller. The slower you roll it, the more it will spread out. When making ravioli you want the whole strip to be the same width so you can just cut it in half and turn it on top of one another after your filling is prepped.
- In my case, my (made in china) pasta roller did better for the fettucine when the dough was a bit thicker. I purchased my pasta roller at my local bakery supply shop, Carla’s.
- Chill the dough for a bit. Especially, if you rolled it thin like we did for the ravioli. It gives the dough a little bit more of a chance to stand up to the boiling water. In fact, if you can make it the day BEFORE you wanna eat it, even better.
- Make sure your water is at a hard boil before throwing your pasta in. It cooks FAST. A few minutes is all it took to cook our tender cheese filled pasta pockets. Use your large slotted spoon to pull the ravioli out of the water. Be gentle.
- Keep it simple. When making homemade pasta no need for fancy flavors…a simple marinara for the ravioli was perfect.
- Have fun. The beauty in making your own pasta is that if you make a mistake, you can start over and not feel bad about wasting the ingredients.
I love this! Especially because we get a glimpse of your childhood and how it was like growing up with the Ressa’s of NYC! I miss you! Every time you post something like this, I get inspired to go out and get myself whatever kitchen appliance or tool you used. Good thing I have a stand mixer and a pasta roller. Hahaha!
Aw. Thanks for stopping by Kaye 🙂 I had a wonderful childhood. I think we both inspire each other ;-*
Peter A. Ressa says
Made me hungry!
I love reading about your life in NYC, the food and family. I get to learn so much about you!
This post reminds me of a funny childhood memory of mine. One of my aunts was married to an Italian-Canadian man. He once cooked pasta for the family (store bought noodles, though, hehe.) You know how Pinoy spaghetti is sweet, right? Well, he made a really fresh, tangy marinara sauce that day. My brother and cousin, who were both 4yo then, were so excited. They both got huge plates. But everything changed at first bite because they weren’t expecting it to taste the way it did. I was just happy that I only got a little.
Looking back, I’m sure that sauce must have been awesome. Too bad my 5-year old, sweet spaghetti-loving self didn’t feel the same way. ?
AW!! Thanks for stopping by Patty. Your reaction to the tangy marinara was probably my reaction the first time I tasted sweet spaghetti. Good thing, we have both learned to like the differences in tomato sauce worldwide! I love your story too! And I love how we are enriching our friendship through food, yet again!!! hahahahaha.
Hi!! This is an interesting and great experience, I personally love pasta!! Congrats and thanks for sharing, 2016 right?
Thanks Diane for stopping by. It was a wonderful time spent with my cousin in the kitchen.