I moved back to Paris in April. It has been the best time. The summer was incredible, the food here is insane, I was only gone for six months and yet I missed so much.
New cafés opened here and there, new brunch paces came to life, new restaurants. It never gets boring on the food front in this city.
But the best part of coming back was that I started doing something new and rather different myself. I have been hosting dinner parties at my apartment since the end of June. Through a website called "EatWith
" people from all over the world have sat at my dining table, have shared their stories with us and we with them. All while we share a meal prepared by yours truly.
This is a rather novel concept, at least for me, of dining. It’s a different experience. It’s not like going to a restaurant, not at all. We open the doors of our home, and twice a week we get to meet a new group of people. Sometimes they know each other, sometimes they don’t. But by the end of the evening we are no longer strangers and we share a common experience. It’s a very fulfilling experience.
After 3 months of hosting these dinners, I got better at being a host and a cook at the same time. But I still get very nervous, some would say I stress a little. I’ve come a long way since the first time though. The reason why I get nervous, anxious and a little stressed is because I want my guests to like the food I made, and sometimes I find myself trying to pretend I am not staring at them while they taste what I have prepared for the evening, waiting for their facial expressions to give away their thoughts and feelings!
I put a lot of thought into my menu planning. I change my menu quite a bit because I like a challenge. I get bored doing the same thing over and over. It keeps my creativity going. And also I try to cook using the ingredients available at the market. Getting fresh and quality produce makes food taste even better! And going to the market in this city is an adventure on it’s own. (we need a whole other post to cover that topic!).
My menu is not gastronomic, is mainly composed of things I enjoy to eat, it’s homemade cooking. It’s simple food made to the best of my abilities. I keep flavors simple, tasty. Less is more they say. I agree.
Plus I have to consider the space I work at, and what exactly I can produce in it.
If you have read my blog before you must already know I love pasta. If you haven’t then now you know: I absolutely love pasta. It was only obvious that pasta would be a part of my menu.
I wanted to share the entrée I served for a while over the summer: peas, mint and ricotta tortellini. Oh-my-god! They were very very good. It’s fresh, it’s summery and it’s pasta. The good news is that because you can use frozen peas to make them you can do them all year round!!!!
For the Pasta Dough
From The Harry’s Bar Cookbook
, by Arrigo Cipriani
White flour 105 g (3/4 cup)
Durum wheat flour or Semolina 105 g (3/4 cup)
For the Filling
Peas 180 g (you can use frozen peas!)
Ricotta 50 g
Mint 6 leaves
Salt and pepper
For the Sauce
Butter 150 g
Salt and pepper
For the Finishing Touches
Grilled pine nuts 20g
On your kitchen counter make a fountain with both flours and make a whole in the middle. Add the eggs and mix until the flour has absorbed the eggs.
Knead until you obtain homogenous and smooth dough. Wrap in plastic and chill in the fridge for two hours.
Cook the peas in boiling salted water for about 7 minutes. Strain. Transfer to a bowl.
Add the ricotta, mint leaves, salt and pepper. Mix using a hand mixer (or a food processor if you have one!! I don’t ;)
Transfer onto a hermetic container and chill in the fridge.
For the Assembly of the Tortellini
Cut the pasta into 6 smaller pieces.
Using a rolling pin or a pasta machine if you are lucky enough to have one, roll out each piece of the pasta dough to 2mm (number 7 if you have a machine). Keep each piece in between parchment paper and covered with a humid kitchen towel! We don’t want the dough to dry out!!
Transfer the filling onto a piping bag. If you don’t have one you will be using to small spoons to help fill the tortellini.
Line a tray with parchment paper and dust it with flour.
Get the first piece of rolled out pasta dough and cut rounds using a cutter (6 cm in diameter). Pipe a small amount of the filling at the center (or place using a spoon) of every round. Fold the pasta round over the filling and press the dough very firmly around the edges. You are going to have a half moon shape now. Press both ends of the half moon together, and there’s your tortellini.
Repeat the operation with the 6 pieces of rolled out pasta dough.
Make sure there’s enough flour on your tray so that the tortellini won’t stick. Also the pieces shouldn’t touch one another. Keep covered at all times with a humid kitchen towel.
If you are going to cook them right away (this is the best option!) keep the tortellini on the kitchen counter properly covered. If you plan on cooking them later that evening, cover with plastic wrap (it shouldn’t touch the pasta) and refrigerate. I opted for this option because I served them at my dinner parties. Because I needed to have everything ready before guests arrived this was the way to go. To be honest, I encountered some problems because I realized they got stuck to the parchment paper even with the flour and this caused some of them to explode and loose their shape during cooking time. One way to avoid this result is by simply submerging the tortellini with the parchment paper into the boiling water and let them slide away without forcing. You will then off course remove the parchment paper.
Or you can freeze them immediately on the tray. Once frozen, transfer to freezer bags. You can keep them in the freezer for up to a month.
For the Finishing Touches
In a pot bring water (salted with coarse salt) to a boil. While the water is getting to the boiling point, in a separate pot, over medium heat, melt the butter and cook until "brown" or "noissette". When do you know you have reached this point? Once melted the butter will begin to make a bubbly noise. Once the noise has stopped, and the butter has changed its color then you know it's done. It's important not to brown it too much, because then you've burnt it!! Season the butter with salt and pepper.
When the water has come to a boil, cook the tortellini for about 2 to 3 minutes. Strain and transfer them onto the brown butter. Toss around.
Once you have plated every portion, garnish with lemon zests, toasted pine nuts and a mint leaf.