I have just got back from eating my way through Rome – where I absolutely fell in love with pasta. Seriously. The pasta actually tasted of something itself – rather than just being a carrier of the flavour. And I realised exactly what al dente means and that I really, really, preferred it that way. Yeap, I fell in pasta love and immediately put learning how to make my own pasta on the top of my long food to do list.
So imagine my excitement when a week later I get an invite to spend an evening of cookery at the Underground Cookery School in London. And the first recipe was homemade pumpkin ravioli. Need I say more?
I invited one of my best mates CJ – a budding foodie to come along with me. He also doubled up as my photographer so I could concentrate on cooking (a luxury for food blogging). So we turned up to the funky basement venue near Old Street with empty stomachs and a whole load of willing. A whole group of us spent the evening there learning some skills, and most importantly having fun.
I rather like the ‘everything is salvageable’ premise of the Underground Cookery School set up by Chef Matt Kemp – with a few tricks up your sleeve any mistakes in cooking can be saved and hence salvageable. Not that we made any mistakes in our cooking session with him.
He trained under 3 star chef Michael Guérard, before working in some of London’s top restaurants such as The River Café, The Ivy and Pont De La Tour. And all that experience made for a fun, relaxed and pretty yummy cookery session.
After being served delicious canapés and bubbly, we set about to make some pumpkin ravioli, a pheasant casserole and a heavenly pear soufflé. I may be pasta biased but I will say that my (and CJ’s) favourite thing was the ravioli whose recipe I will share here. It was soooooo easy to make – essentially you just need the right pasta flour, an egg and some seasoning. We also learned how to de- bone a pheasant, a job which I always tend to shy away and leave entirely to my OH. It was super easy and only took about 3 mins and I was rather chuffed as I went on to make my casserole. Then on to making a soufflé for dessert – which came out as exactly as it should. We were all so proud when our creations came out of the oven.
Even more enjoyable was that after cooking the entire group sat down together in a lovely communal table and got to know each other properly as we ate our very own creations.
How do I sum up the evening? I guess words like fun, relaxed and interesting spring to mind. Not only did I learn things (I have just made the mistake of telling my OH that I can deal with pheasants – a serious issue with pheasants about to be on the table every weekend for the next 3 months) but we were taught in a way that was genuinely enjoyable. They offer fab informal cookery events for small groups like birthday parties or hen does but also team building events etc. And all their classes are suitable for beginners as well as more adventurous cooks. It is definitely worth booking a session with them if you can.
Now let’s get on to how to make pasta (aka pumpkin ravioli).
Here are some other pumpkin recipes you might like.
Pumpkin pie spice.
Curried pumpkin soup.
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Pumpkin Ravioli Recipe
- 1 large pumpkin
- Olive oil
- Ground black pepper
- 100 g (3.5oz) ‘00’ pasta flour
- 1 medium egg
- Preheat the oven to fan assisted 130C / 150C / 300F / Gas 2.
- Peel, deseed and cube the pumpkin into bite sized pieces.
- Mix pumpkin with some olive oil, salt and ground black pepper and then roast in the oven for about 1 hour or until cooked all the way through and let cool. Then mash pumpkin and set aside.
- Whilst the pumpkin is roasting make the pasta.
- Place the “flour into a small bowl and season with some salt. Make a well into the middle of the flour and crack the egg into the well. Stir the egg with a fork gradually bring in the flour until the dough starts coming together.
- Then use your hands to mix the dough and transfer onto a clean floured surface. Knead the dough for a couple of minutes until it is smooth and firm. You should add a little water if too dry, or extra flour if it is too wet.
- Set the thickness of the pasta machine to the highest (normally no.10 on most large machines). Roll your dough through this setting and then fold the dough in half. Pass it through again and then fold it in half again and follow this procedure a few times until you have a very smooth dough.
- Now roll the dough once through each setting (ie changing the setting down after each roll through from no 10, no 9, no 8...) until you get down to No 2. Your pasta sheet should be very thin now.
- Cut the pasta sheet into discs using a pastry ring (or an upside down glass).
- Add about a tsp of the pumpkin filling in the middle of each ring and brush a little water around the edge of the pasta disc with your fingers. Careful here as you don't want the pasta wet but rather just damp.
- Fold the pasta disc in half over itself (into a half moon type shape) and press down around the seal to push out any air bubbles.
- Blanch the ravioli in boiling water for a few minutes, drain and serve garnished with Parmesan and Roquette and a drizzle of olive oil.