Monthly Archives: January 2016

The Ravioli Recipe 2 comments

January 26, 2016, posted by Gina – Attached is my family’s secret ravioli recipe as given to me by my grandmother, Eanes LoBianco (we always called her by her first name) and great aunt, Rose Novarese. You may wonder how much of a “secret” it is if I’m sharing with you. I can tell you that the real recipe, or the recipe as either my grandmother or great aunt would have made it, actually remains a secret. Both of them always purposely omitted forgot to include an ingredient or two and so this is the closest version of the original. For all we know they were bound by some Italian pasta omerta and if so, rest assured they never cracked. I can’t remember the year they decided to trap me in Aunt Rose’s dining room and confuse entrust me with this recipe me but it seems like yesterday. I wrote down every word they said as best I could as they loudly argued over the details excitedly shared the recipe while both talking at the same time.

Below is the recipe they originally dictated to me on which a few additional ingredients or directions were written in later.

Wriiten dough and filling recipes

I will admit that the dough was hard to get just right and I eventually acquiesced to an “actual” dough recipe (with measurements and all…imagine that) from my trusty Good Housekeeping Cookbook. I really think the most important thing is how you “work” the dough, as Aunt Rose told me. The filling recipe has always been as I remembered Eanes making it. I think I had the advantage of staying out of her way helping her in her kitchen as she made this. I have always enjoyed making these mostly because it reminds me of the old Italian ladies in our family. The arguments about whether the dough was thin enough still fill my mind as I roll my dough out and the taste reminds me of Eanes.

Word to the wise…this recipe was made by an army of Italian women who would spend the day preparing a million dozen ravioli. If you attempt this, and I think you should one day, make a whole lot less of everything. You will need a pasta maker in order to get the dough thin enough. As Aunt Rose would say, “you want it paper thin”. You’ll also need a ravioli cutter and a melon baller.

All ingredients

If you intend to make 10 dozen or more of these, this is a four day process (this recipe makes about 10 dozen):

Day 1. make the gravy (That’s what we call meat sauce. if you care to wade into the Sauce vs. Gravy debate click HERE)
Day 2. cook the meat
Day 3. cook the vegetables,  prepare the meat and the filling
Day 4. putting ravioli together

The Dough Recipe

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup water
3 eggs
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
Cornmeal (used later for the drying process)

Combine all ingredients and knead the dough until it is smooth.  Break a small piece off at a time and roll out smoothly with a rolling pin.  Now you may proceed to the pasta machine. I keep the unused dough covered with a damp kitchen towel.

The Filling Recipe

Vegetables for the filling

4 – 16 oz. packages frozen spinach – let thaw on counter
½ cup chopped parsley
½ cup chopped basil
½ cup chopped oregano
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 small onions, chopped

Sauté spinach, one bag at a time in olive oil until tender. Sauté herbs, garlic and onions in a tablespoon olive oil. Set all aside.

herbs and cooking veggies

Meat for the filling

1 – 4 – 5 pound roast
2 – pork tenderloins or 1 pork loin
1 whole chicken

Additional ingredients:

Lemon pepper seasoning
1 lemon
8 eggs
1- 16 oz container of grated parmesan
Place all three meats in one roaster and season with salt and pepper.  I use a bit of lemon pepper seasoning on the chicken and place a lemon inside the cavity. Roast on 325 for 2 ½ hours.  Let cool.

Once meat is cool grind it in a food processor and place it in a big bowl.  Combine with the sautéed vegetables.  Add 8 eggs and one 16 oz. container parmesan cheese.  Mix until thoroughly combined.

meats for filling


First, cover a table with a lint free cloth and sprinkle with cornmeal.

For the dough – Begin on the largest notch to roll out a strip of dough. Put same dough back through machine on a middle notch and then put it through for a third time on the smallest notch.  The dough will be very thin and I am told that is exactly as it is supposed to be.

pasta maker and drying raviolis

You will end up with a long piece of dough.  Place several scoops of filling about every two inches -use the small side of a melon baller to scoop the filling to ensure ravioli are the same size (this was decided after much yelling and screaming discussion about me making them too big or too small or whatever!) Fold dough over and cut with a ravioli cutter.  Press dough around filling making sure no air or bubbles are visible.  Place ravioli on the table and sprinkle a bit of corn meal on top of each ravioli.

Let the ravioli dry; this takes a few hours.  They will no longer be sticky to the touch. If you want to store them and cook them later, put them in freezer bags and separate them with wax paper. To cook (either from fresh or frozen), bring a large pot of water to a boil. Turn heat down a little and very slowly boil ravioli for about 20 minutes or until dough is tender.

I like to prepare these in a large casserole dish the day before I will be serving them. Layer a bit of bolognese sauce in the bottom of the dish, then layer ravioli and Parmesan.  Repeat until dish is full.  Let cool and place in the refrigerator until the next day.  Bake, covered on 350° for 45 minutes.  Serve with more parmesan cheese on top.
The sauce recipe is for another time! Until then there are plenty of  bolognese recipes out there for you to track down and try!

Mac & Cheese

January 13, 2016, posted by Gina – Mac & Cheese has to be one of the most popular comfort food dishes. It makes children and adult alike sigh with joy at the sight of it on the dinner table. The recipe you see HERE is from Barefoot Contessa and I prepared it exactly as it’s written.

Mac and Cheese

Those beautiful tomatoes on top were from the very last batch of the summer and I made this dish back in November. This mac & cheese is so delicious and I truly recommend you try it.

Cajun Salad, BBQ Shrimp and Chicken & Sausage Gumbo

January 8, 2016, posted by Gina – Earlier this week I had the pleasure of attending the Farmer’s Table Cooking School in Livingston, Miss. Our menu for the day was entitled “Traveling Through the Bayou” and it was all about Cajun cooking. What better way to get ready for Mardi Gras season? Chef Matt has a great way of teaching serious cooking techniques while at the same time making it fun. He has a great personality and was able to keep up with the 12 women in our group.


We began our class with a fresh, crisp Cajun Salad made with romaine and an outstanding dressing that was the perfect combination of sweet, tangy and hot. I can’t recommend this dressing enough. Here is the recipe:

Cajun Dressing
1/8 cup red wine vinegar
1 tbs mustard
2 tsp brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp Cajun seasoning
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
Tabasco to taste
½ cup olive oil
¼ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp black pepper

Whisk everything together. We served this over romaine lettuce, heirloom tomatoes and sliced cucumber. Very yummy!

Then we moved on to Mr. B’s BBQ Shrimp…

The first time I had the pleasure of eating BBQ shrimp in New Orleans, I was quite surprised by its presentation and taste. The waiter first brought me out a bib. I felt ridiculous but when the delicious bowl of fantastically flavored shrimp swimming in a broth that I could only describe as heaven was placed in front of me, I no longer cared. Traditionally, this dish is served with head on, shell on shrimp. The version we prepared no longer had the heads intact and I was thankful.

BBQ Shrimp

Mr. B’s BBQ Shrimp
16 large shrimp with shells on
½ cup Worcestershire sauce
2 tbs lemon juice
2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp coarse black pepper
2 tsp creole seasoning
1 tsp garlic
3 sticks butter
French bread sliced

In a large skillet combine shrimp, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, black peppers, Creole seasoning, and garlic. Cook over moderately high heat until shrimp turn pink, about 1 minute on each side. Turn heat off and stir in butter, a few cubes at a time, stirring constantly and adding more only when butter is melted. Place shrimp in a bowl and pour sauce over top. Serve with French bread for dipping.

The next recipe we made was a Chicken and Sausage Gumbo. This is an ideal dish for a cold winter day. The roux was perfect and the flavors were fabulous.


Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
1½ lbs boneless chicken meat cut into cubes
1½ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp cayenne pepper
3 tbs flour
½ cup canola oil (cleaner than vegetable oil and higher smoke point than olive)
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 medium size yellow onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
½ pound andouille sausage
2 cups chopped okra
6 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1 sprig thyme
Hot sauce to taste

Combine 3 tablespoons of flour with the kosher salt, black pepper, paprika and cayenne pepper. Sprinkle flour mixture over chicken cubes, making sure to cover all sides. In a cast iron skillet, heat 2 tablespoons canola oil and cook chicken until brown on all sides. Remove chicken and place on a plate lined with paper towels. In the same skillet, add another tablespoon canola oil and fry the okra for about 4 or 5 minutes. Remove okra and place on a plate lined with paper towels.

Add the remaining ½ cup canola oil and sprinkle ½ cup flour into skillet on medium low heat. Whisk constantly until the flour becomes brown and has a nutty smell, about 15 minutes. Add the onions, celery and bell pepper and cook for 3 – 4 minutes. Add garlic, chicken, sausage and chicken broth whisking until roux is combined with chicken broth, about 4 – 5 minutes. Add okra, bay leaf, thyme and cook for an hour to an hour and a half. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve over steamed rice.

I highly recommend each of these recipes. Bon Appétit!

Before and After: The Chest

January 8, 2016, posted by Gina – Many years ago we inherited this little chest straight from the 60’s from my mother-in-law. I wondered what I would do with it and ended up painting it bright red at the suggestion of a couple of ladies who were helping me redecorate my home. We stored a set of crystal in it and loved it both for its beauty and usefulness.

Red Chest - Violet

Over the years I grew tired of the red and now the colors in our new home are more neutral. So, for the past year whenever I would pass the chest, I told myself I was going to paint it.  Finally, I decided to take the plunge.

I went to a really cute store that sells Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.  I settled on a color and learned about the process.  As I began working on the chest I saw that everything the salesperson shared with me was accurate.  The paint was thick, did not need a primer and dried in about 25 minutes.  It’s like a miracle.  So in one afternoon (and a little into the night), I transformed this little chest.  Here is the after:

Transformed chest - Violet

What do you think? Do you prefer the red or the new neutral color? Have you given a piece of furniture a facelift with paint? Let us hear from you! To leave a comment, click on the title of this post and the comment form will appear at the bottom of the page.