Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Ravioli alla genovese

Well the kids are back from their grandparents. This means my house is once again noisy, messy and generally out of control. In an attempt to keep these monsters entertained I am including them in our culinary adventures. Naively I’m also hoping the kids might be encouraged to try new foods if they help prepare the meal. Yesterday my nine-year-old daughter chose the night’s recipe - Ravioli alla genovese.

This recipe calls for calf’s sweetmeats. I’d never heard of sweetmeats and thus turned to that veritable source of information known as the world wide web. And just what are sweetmeats? They are a calf’s thymus and/or pancreas.

Much to my dismay (not) we couldn’t find these particular organs at our local market. I wasn’t too disappointed. You see in “real life” I’m a veterinarian and thus am intimately acquainted with the likes of livers, kidneys, pancreases. To me any filtering, excretory or hormone producing organ is not a foodstuff. Don’t get me wrong - I’ll give it a good ‘ol college try when the time comes but yesterday was not the day. Instead we substituted additional sausage and veal for the sweetmeats.

We also used chicken stock instead of veal stock. The market did carry veal stock but it was ten dollars a quart. We opted to use homemade chicken stock and spent the savings on a bottle of wine (which was needed by the time the night was over).

I’ve made homemade pasta before but never by hand. It seems I am a weakling (made weaker by children laughing at my ineptitude). I started kneading the dough and found I didn’t have enough strength to meld it together. Eventually I had to stand on a chair and put my weight into it and even then it didn’t knead as well as I’d like. The dough turned out decent but I next time I’ll definitely use the stand mixer. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with them there technological kitchen gadgets when they get the job done!

I smartly elected not to roll the dough out by hand and used my pasta maker instead. The kids would have loved this part but by that time they’d wandered outside to make “chicken salad”. I’d love to have a Kitchen Aid Pasta Attachment but really the hand crank worked just fine. Initially I rolled the dough out to the finest setting (6) but it was too thin to hold the ravioli filling without falling apart so the next batch was rolled to the next to last setting. This worked much better.

We topped the ravioli with melted butter and parmesean cheese. The kids were initially hesitant to try our creation because it contained green stuff (swiss chard, basil and parsley). However they managed to get over their fear and tasted it. They didn’t exactly gobble the ravioli down but each child did eat a small amount. Baby steps mama, baby steps.

Though the kids didn't eat much I'm going keep on cooking and keep on offering a variety of foods. Perhaps someday they'll eat an entire exotic meal. How do you get your kids to try new things?


  1. sweetmeats sound awful. im glad you found none.

    my son is almost 11 and he'll try just about anything, which i love. i think as long as you keep offering the food, eventually they see what they're missing by not eating the good, yummy stuff.

    my daughter is 4 and just wants to eat garbage. i try to make her at least taste everything, but sometimes it just not worth the arguing and the ruining of everyone elses meal.

  2. Ahhh...the battles over food. I am so envious of my sister. Her child (3 years old) will eat ANYTHING. Tofu, advacado, sushi, brussel sprouts...

    Meanwhile, I have nightly debates with my son, covincing him to just try one big bite of the chicken. He has gotten better, but still is a picky eater.

    Our biggest sucess? Inventing the "you'd better not eat that" game. We demand that he not eat the asparagus on his plate...or else. Sometimes he may turn into the Incredible Hulk, other times he may cause one of us to fall asleep at the table or do something else that will make a 4 year old laugh.

    It takes a lot of energy, but as long as the kids eats, I'm willing to give it a shot!