Valentine’s day menu to make his/her/your eyebrows raise!
I was about to write the post with the list of ingredients you’ll need to recreate this easy Valentine’s day menu when…I remembered I forgot my little recipes’ book at home, 200 km away from here (I’m out of town). DO NOT PANIC, Roby.
I immediately called my mom asking her if my sis could make some pics and send them on WhatsApp. Problem solved, thank you technology!
Oh, by the way, technology… that’s how I meet my Valentine.
And better occasion than Valentine’s day to write about my long-distance relationship?
Wait, I’m not here to bore you with mushy stories, instead I want to tell you what I have learned over these years. Hoping this will give you food for thought.
Five years and a half ago…
Making long story short: me and my boyfriend first started writing each other after I randomly left him a comment on Twitter. It was the end of June of 2012, I was 19 and he was 22. We started Skyping, more and more. There was just a little not insignificant problem: I lived in Northern Italy, he lived in the South. 1400 km between us. We were young, with no money, but luckily with a family supporting us.
He started looking for a job just to earn the money to book a plane ticket and come to Milan, where I was studying.
And so it started….
We basically grew (read ‘matured’) together.
Three things I’ve learned from my relationship
I told you, I’m not here to bore you. Instead, I’ll open wide and tell you 3 little things I’ve learned over these five years and a half.
Perseverance and determination always lead you to the ‘best’
If when I got to know there were 1400 km between, I told him ‘Ok, let’s just give up. We’re not in the right place, in the right moment. We have no money, we cannot do anything’…well I would have missed five beautiful years.
I know I’m a damn pig-headed, but not in a negative way. I’m determined.
So I told him ‘It’s 2012, we’ve got trains, planes… what’s our excuse?’ I clearly remember that text message! We gritted our teeth and started looking for a solution.
And the solution leaded us to THE BEST we could ever desire.
Moral: never cease to try.
There will always be ups and downs, just TALK
I know it could seem a cliché, but communication is the key. Whenever there is a problem, just talk about it and find a solution. Yes, it could be the one that you like less, but there is always an answer. Also, it could give rise to arguments…then discuss (but still respect each other).
Trust is crucial
Another cliché? Nope.
If you decide to spend your life with someone else, you need to trust him/her and the other way around of course.
In our case, we couldn’t see each other for weeks, for months. Also, it was impossible and not healthy at all to control what he (or me) was doing round the clock.
Now, let me be honest: it took me a lot. In the first place I was jealous, I trusted him but not the other girls. As time went on, I started understanding that…it was me. I was creating the problem. If I trusted him and he loved me, then who cares about others?
And…that’s all. I feel like I have learned a lot, I grew wiser, but I also feel like there is SO MUCH MORE I have to experience. I know it…
Now just a little reminder for the singles out there: I’ve waited for 19 years before finding my love, but I knew he was there. It was just some thousands of km from me… but he was there.
So PLEASE, trust. And never stop trusting. Someone is out there.
In the meantime, don’t become disheartened, stay positive and work on YOURSELF, because at the end of the day YOU are your lifelong Valentine… and you don’t NEED nobody else.
Ravioli with ricotta filling and blood oranges sauce
Ingredients: (serves two)
For the pasta dough
- Durum wheat semolina, 120 gr
- Water, 65 gr*
- Salt, a pinch
- Oil, a drizzle (about half a tablespoon)
*quantity may vary depending on your flour humidity
For the filling
- Ricotta (or almond ricotta – check at the end of this post for the recipe if you want a vegan dish), about 125 gr
- Walnuts, 40 gr
- Salt and black pepper, a pinch
- Blood orange’s fresh juice, 25 gr + some zest
- Water, 25 gr
- Cornstarch, half a teaspoon
- Honey (or maple syrup), a drizzle
- Salt, a pinch
On a clean work surface place the durum wheat semolina flour then create a well in the center and add oil, a pinch of salt then gradually the water. Use a fork to incorporate and start kneading the dough using your hands. When the pasta dough comes together in a mass keep kneading for a few minutes more, then wrap it in plastic wrap and allow it to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.
Meanwhile prepare the filling: roughly grind walnuts, add them to the ricotta cheese (or almond ricotta) and season with black pepper, nutmeg and salt, then combine.
To roll the dough you can use either a pasta roller or a rolling pin. In both cases the key is to obtain a nice and thin pasta sheet.
I’ve used a pasta roller:
- firstly, I divided the dough into two pieces, set the settings to “2” (larger) and passed the dough through the rollers
- then I reduced the settings to “4” (a little tighter) and passed again
- lastly, I divided the pasta sheet in two and passed each with setting “6” (tightest).
In so doing you can obtain thin fresh pasta, still with perfect texture.
IMPORTANT: place the pasta sheets in a floured surface to prevent sticking.
Drop one teaspoonful of filling some centimeters apart all along the dough and, when fully dotted with ricotta mixture, wet the edges. Cover with another sheet, gently press the pasta dough to seal and lastly cut ravioli with a pasta cutter, a glass or a cookie cutter to make cute shaped ravioli.
For the sauce: squeeze an orange, add some of the juice to a pan together with water, a pinch of salt, and a drizzle of honey* (or maple syrup), bring to a boil. Add a teaspoon of the juice to cornstarch, mix to get a cream, then add it to the pan and mix well to prevent clumps. Turn off the heat, add some orange zest and let develop flavor.
IMPORTANT: the tastiness of the sauce is given by high quality blood oranges.
Bring some water to a boil, salt and cook ravioli for 5/6 minutes (taste them), then top with some sauce.
Melting chocolate ball with almond nicecream and raspberry coulis (fancy but easy!)
Ingredients: (for one ball – you can share it or double the recipe to make two balls)
For the chocolate ball
- Dark chocolate, 25 gr (or a few grams more)
For the raspberry coulis
- Frozen raspberries, 250 gr
- Maple syrup (or agave, or honey), one tablespoon
- Water, six tablespoons or more (if you want it more liquid, to pour it)
For the nicecream*
- Frozen banana, one
- Almonds, 15 gr
- Soy milk (or almond’s), a splash
- Vanilla extract, optional
*you can buy ice cream instead. I used nicecream to make a lighter version.
To make the chocolate ball you’ll need a mold (like this) or a small balloon (yep!). I tried both, but with the mold I couldn’t take the ball out without breaking it (tried 3/4 times).
If using the small balloon:
Melt the chocolate* on a water bath, then let it cool down. Inflate the balloon, evenly coat ¾ of it with chocolate then place it on a glass/jar so it doesn’t move and let it get firm. Pierce the balloon with a pin and remove it.
*for a better result, temper the chocolate.
To make the almond nicecream: blend the frozen banana, almonds, a splash of soy or almond milk and a drizzle of vanilla extract (optional) until you get a nice and fluffy consistency (not liquid). Pour it into a bowl and put it into the freezer until it gets firmer. Scoop two balls and freeze them so they’re ready to be served.
To make the raspberry coulis: defrost raspberries straight into a pan with some maple syrup. Keep stirring and bring to a boil, then turn off the heat. Add some water and puree the raspberries using a hand blender. Strain the coulis using a small colander, to remove all the seeds.
Assemble the dessert just before serving: place one nicecream ball on a plate, top it with slices almonds and put the chocolate sphere on top. When you’re ready to serve, pour over the hot coulis and the ball will start melting. Voilà!
Ingredients: (two small ricotta cheese)
- Almonds, 140 gr
- Water, 425 gr
- Fresh lemon juice, two tablespoons
- Salt, one teaspoon
You’ll need: two ricotta baskets, a blender and a cheese cloth.
Blend for a few minutes the almonds with water and salt until you get a “milk”. Drain it with a cheese cloth and pour it into a pot, then cook until it gets creamier.
Turn off the heat, add the lemon juice and stir a couple of times. Let it rest 45 minutes to 2 hours until it curdles. Transfer it into the cheese cloth and let it strain for one hour or until thick and creamy. Add the ricotta to the baskets and put in the fridge.