Recipe Review: Virgin Cooks

14 May

Mushroom Ravioli with a white wine, spinach and tarragon cream sauce

As a newbie to the world of cooking – I needed all the help I could get when venturing into the world of ‘ravioli,’-  It turned out to be a sympathetic recipe for the new cook

Number one spot in the search results was the BBC 3’s ‘Virgin Cooks’ recipe for mushroom ravioli.  It seemed a goer; the premise of the the programme was to ‘challenge non-cooking households to have a go.’ The step by step guide accompanied by a video to ease the novice cook into Italian cooking made it all feel comfortable – it sounded like the right level for me.

The 3 minute video was literally a whistle stop tour of something which in total took me 3 hours to complete. However having a visual reference did help me through the process – even though the audio was enough to change my mind;  the Chef’s voice was totally uninspirational and if it hadn’t had been for the ingredients all lay out on the kitchen worktop I probably would have changed my mind.

The pasta itself was fairly easy to make, although the three egg yolks suggested wasn’t enough liquid to bind the flour. Not sure if my eggs were not as big as his, but I ended up using half a dozen on the 250g flour mix recommended.

The filling required making a really simple chicken mouse – which was a life saver for my attempt at this recipe as I ended up with sticky pasta!

During my 3 hour experience I found 5 key learnings that weren’t referenced in the recipe, sticky pasta was one of them:

Learning number 4 –  ‘flour every surface the pasta comes into contact with – otherwise you end up with holey pasta!’  

The video mentioned that there couldn’t be any air bubble or breaks in the pasta otherwise the ravioli filling would ooze out during cooking.  Even though I ended up with holes in my pasta parcels,  the mouse like consistency of the filling held which was very pleasing – I would have been mightily miffed if after over 2 hours of prep,  I faulted at the last hurdle!  But it turned out to be a winner in the end 🙂

The sauce was really simple to make and although I’m not a great fan of tarragon the whole thing worked – not sure it is Master Chef standards but a definite step in the right direction.

Another learning which I think is worth stressing is the volume of dough 250g of flour makes.  The recipe suggested it served 4.  The amount of filling I had made 8 large ravioli parcels, which was a little excessive for two – three parcels each would have been a better balance.

The left over dough was a chance to use the other setting of the pasta machine.  I had high hopes for spaghetti, which resulted in another key learning: 

Learning number 5 –  Fresh pasta needs a place to hang – you need to think about how you are going to dry the pasta; coat hangers / clothes horse are a good option.  It takes take three days  to dry out too!

Making fresh pasta is definitely worth a go and this recipe works for a new cook like me.  Felt I learnt some new techniques, ones I will come back to in the future – but not necessarily in a hurry.


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