two nights ago i made a variation of philip johnson's open ravioi dish from his wonderful book, 'eating in' (thanks to the david jones' post-christmas book sale..) the dish features on the cover of the book. (yes, it looks easy and lures you in,,,) philip is a queenslander whose 'ecco' restaurant is apparaently a must... i just love his cookbooks, which apart from having stunning food, with a good mix of ease and challenge, also have a brilliant back section on essential techniques.
this dish is relatively simple, and has loads of possibilities. and it looks great on the plate, even for someone like me for whom 'plating' is either making a big pile, or putting various continents of food around the dish.
thanks to Google's book search (click on the link above) I dont need to repeat the recipe here (although I DO highly recommend the book).
- i had 1 kg of fresh tomatoes and added 2 x 400g tins of diced italian tomatoes. this made double the quantity that we needed, which was nice for the next day. next time I'd save $$ and just use 1 kg tinned.
- recipe mentions fennel but doesnt say how much, so I toasted a big pinch of fennel seeds along with the cumin seeds
- I added a splash of sherry vinegar to the sauce as well. philip's sauces are sensational, proven here again.
- my artichokes werent as fancy as his (local supermarket bottle) but after draining them, browned up OK
- we had several cheeses in the fridge (a new deli in town) so I put gruyere and real parmesan on the bottom layer, neufchatel on top, and some fried haloumi on the side. (the rest of the family don't like goat's cheese. sigh.) next time the lower budget version will probably have mozarella and cheap parmesan...
- i also added on top some bits of fried ham, proscuitto and another pancetta type thing that the deli sold me.
- i used packet lasagne sheets which took FOREVER to cook and I kept trying to stop them sticking together. next time I'll make my own sheets which will cook quicker and taste much better (3 eggs, 2 cups flour, 1/2 tbsp olive oil. Roll it out thin if you dont have a pasta machine).
everyone loved it. this dish has great possibilities. it could have been smoked salmon with fennel and capers, or sliced chicken breast and roasted capsicum bits, or spinach leaves and crusty potato or sweet potato chips on top.