Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Cannelloni and Fresh Bread


I had recently watched an episode of Kelsey's Essentials on the Cooking Channel and decided to give it a try for dinner. I was also craving some fresh bread and so I tackled both.

I started by making a French Bread dough and letting it rise for an hour. I punched it down after an hour and shaped it into two loaves and put them on baking pans that had been buttered and sprinkled with corn meal. They were set aside for another hour to rise. The risen loaves got 4 cuts made in the top and into a hot oven for 25 minutes. They got brushed with an egg white beaten with water to give it a beautiful shiny glaze and baked for another 5 minutes. They got to cool off on a cooling rack until dinner time.

While the bread dough was rising, I made a simple tomato sauce by sauteeing chopped onions and garlic in a fair amount of olive oil. Once softened, I added two cans of diced tomatoes and some oregano, salt and pepper and allowed it to simmer for about 20 minutes. A quick smash of the tomatoes with a potato masher and the sauce was done.

While the sauce was simmering, I made fresh pasta with flour, eggs, salt and olive oil. It just amazes me that 4 simple ingredients turns into wonderful pasta. I made it by hand by putting my flour on my board and making a well in the middle. I added three eggs, a little salt and a little olive oil, and using a fork stirred the eggs to break them up and gradually pulled in some of the flour. I just kept stirring until the eggs had a fair amount of the flour incorporated and then switched to a bench scraper to incorporate all the flour. I kneaded the fresh dough for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. It got wrapped in plastic wrap and rested in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

I moved on to cooking some Italian sausage meat with some chopped onions and garlic until cooked through and set it aside to cool. In a bowl, I combined a container of ricotta cheese, a thawed package of drained chopped spinach, 1 1/2 cups of freshly grated Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and finally the cooled sausage mixture.

It was time to move back to the pasta which I rolled out using my pasta attachment for my stand mixer which makes it so easy to do. I cut my sheets of pasta into rectangles that were 6 x 7 inches. Each pasta rectangle got a dip in boiling, salted water for 30 to 60 seconds to partially cook and then went on a cooling rack and had a drizzle of olive oil. Each square got a portion of the filling and rolled up.

I spread some of the tomato sauce in a 9 x 13 pan and placed the cannelloni on top. The remainder of the sauce went over the top and the entire pan was sprinkled with another 1/2 cup of Parmesan. The casserole went into the oven for 20 minutes and allowed to cool for 10 before we dug in.

It was a wonderful dinner, but not one to pull off for a quick dinner. I can't wait to explore more of Kelsey's Essentials.

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