Monday, January 10, 2011

Holiday food- Part 3: Crab and goat cheese tortellini

A new tradition for me the last couple years, since I met my wife has been a potluck with her father’s family. I love good pot luck, and when it’s a family who all cook so well it is an honour to be a part of it. This year I wanted to do something different, I got a pasta maker and I hadn’t used it in a while now I needed something that stood out. I thought about how often do you see tortellini for Christmas? Not to mention crab and goat cheese filled?

Ok so will warn all my readers here…This is a bit time consuming and a bit of hard work but so very worth it all.

First you will need to start out by making fresh sheets of pasta. To do this you can use regular Canadian flour or the best one to use is fine semolina flour. Sorry American followers but your wheat flour is not as strong and you will probably need to use bread flour (which has higher gluten) or semolina. Semolina is the best because it has more gluten and provides a stronger final product.

Take 2 cups of flour and mound it on your work surface creating a well large enough for wet ingredients. Break 3 eggs into well and add 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) and pinch of salt. Slowly start to incorporate the liquid into the flour until a dough holds together. You will have left over flour so stop when you can form a ball.

Knead dough for 10 to 15 minutes to work the glutens and creates a smooth, and slightly stretchy dough. Divide in 2 and form disks. Wrap with cling wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of an hour to relax the glutens. When ready to work with the dough, roll out one disk at a time. I suggest using a pasta machine if you have one, but you can roll the pasta by hand as well. Start off by rolling the dough thin enough to fit into the machine on the thickest setting. Roll through once take dough fold both ends into the middle, then fold over like a book (four fold method). Roll a bit to fit in machine and repeat this another couple times. This step builds strength in the dough.

Now the dough is ready to thin out. Keep running the sheet through each time changing the setting one thinner until you are at the thinnest. Once the sheet is thin enough, sprinkle with flour and then take either a circle cookie-cutter or a glass with a small opening (about a 2 inch diameter) and try to get as many circles as you can of the dough (as you can’t use the scraps). Cover what you are not working on with a moist towel so that the pasta doesn’t dry. Brush the ones that you are working with water to help seal.

Take ¼ tsp of the filling of your choice and place in the center of each round. Fold over, seal all around the stuffing. Take the 2 corners along the folded (straight) edge, and pinch together to form tortellini shape. If it doesn’t stick, moisten the area lightly and try again. If you are not eating within a couple days, the tortellini can be frozen until needed.

Crab and goat cheese filling:
1 shallot minced
1 clove garlic
2 leaves of tarragon chopped fine
½ a medium red pepper finely diced
2 cans of crabmeat
2 tbsp olive oil.
1 cup quality soft goat cheese
S&P to taste (goat cheese varies in saltiness so wait to add salt)

Soften shallots and peppers in frying pan with oil. Add the garlic, tarragon and crab meat. Allow to warm up. Stir in goat cheese then remove from heat. Season with S & P, and cool before using.

These make awesome tortellini but the possibilities are endless. I hope you enjoy these as much as I did.

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