Pumpkin Ravioli with Vanilla Butter

Before I start this post properly, let me just say something – I’m speechless.  Although shell-shocked would be more appropriate.  When I logged out of this site on Thursday evening, everything was  normal.   And when I logged in again on Friday morning I almost fell off my chair.  I’m sure most of you out there will already know what it’s like to be featured on Freshly Pressed – but I had never thought of the effect it could have before.  So I’d like to say a very big THANK YOU to everyone stopping by on account of that, as well as to the handful of people I know personally who have been following me right from the beginning.  I guess the pressure is now on to deliver good stuff…

Pumpkin Ravioli 01

So, about that good stuff:  there’s a couple of things I did on a whim last week.  I’ll get to that in a moment.  When I first took an interest in cooking while still living at home, I’d go into the kitchen, check what was available and just start cooking, making it up as I went.  Somewhere along the way that had stopped, and I don’t really know why.  It wasn’t that I couldn’t come up with ideas, it was probably more the fact that when I make something I want it to be perfect right away, and so it was easier to try out recipes I found in cookbooks or other people’s blogs, because they were already tried and tested.  I kept wishing I could just get over it and accept the trial and error way you need to go when coming up with more creative stuff of your own.

Which takes me back to those whims.  On a whim I bought some pasta dough, not knowing what I would use it for.  And before you go tsk… shop bought pasta dough…. I need to defend myself:  I was happy enough to feel experimental again, and as I didn’t want to have to experiment on both the ravioli and the filling, I decided shop bought dough would do, because if the filling experiment went wrong, I wouldn’t need to curse for having wasted time on making my own pasta dough and not being able to enjoy it.  Then I bought a small Hokkaido pumpkin on another whim.  Pumpkin, spices, cream, and crème légère would be the ingredients for the filling.

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I was wondering what kind of sauce to make to go with the ravioli, and then I happened to browse through a notebook I had started a while ago where I just scribble down stuff I see on TV, mostly little hints from TV cooks on how to improve a dish with little effort.  That’s how I stumbled upon vanilla butter to go with ravioli.

And if you’re now wondering, after all this rambling on, if I’ll ever get to the recipe – yes, here it is…

Pumpkin Ravioli
250 g pasta dough
1 egg white
½ small Hokkaido pumpkin
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp coarsely ground coriander seeds
½ tsp ground cumin
freshly ground nutmeg
freshly ground black pepper
a dash of cream
1 tbsp crème légère

Vanilla Butter
40 g butter
½ vanilla bean
4 slices of garlic
freshly ground pepper

[With the size of my cutter, I got 20 pieces of ravioli out of 250 g of dough, so this should feed 2 people.]

Pumpkin Ravioli 03

Cut pumpkin into wedges, de-seed, and put on baking tray.  Mix olive oil with coriander, cumin and nutmeg, and brush pumpkin wedges with the mixture.  Bake for 25 – 30 minutes at 200ºC (fan).

Remove from oven, cut off pumpkin skin, add a dash of salt and pepper, 1 tbsp crème légère, and a dash of cream. [I didn’t measure the cream, I’m guessing it wasn’t more than 2 tbsp at the very most.  You just have to add a little at a time and check if it gets you the consistency you need.] Purée with a blender and set aside.

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Cut out ravioli shapes from pasta dough, and brush each shape with egg white.  Drop a dollop of the pumpkin purée onto every 2nd shape. [A dollop here being as much – or as little – as your shape will hold without the purée spilling out when assembling them.  My first two were rubbish, as I put on too much even though it seemed very little.  In the end I used an amount that came to about 1/3 of a teaspoon.] Cover the filled side with the empty shapes, and slightly press together at the edges.  Cook in batches in boiling salted water for about 3 – 4 minutes.

Start on the vanilla butter just before you add your first batch of ravioli to the boiling water.  Melt the butter, cut the vanilla bean into half lengthways, add to the butter, then add the garlic slices just before you throw in the ravioli, also in batches.  Let them brown slightly, take out and serve immediately.

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This was the best idea I’ve had in a very long time.  The sweetness of the pumpkin, together with the spices, and the very slightly garlicky but vanilla-sweetened butter are a fantastic combination.  I have some of that pumpkin purée as well as some dough left, so no points for guessing what will be cooking on this stove here (again) very soon…