Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Laurel's Kitchen :: Canneloni

Perhaps the most ambitious LK "project" I have taken on to date was the homemade canneloni.  It's funny...when we redid the kitchen, we got this amazing oven with the 6-burner stove.  The price was inflated by an additional 30% when we had to purchase the industrial-strength hood with the enlarged outtake tube...and when I questioned the need for this (speaking with my checkbook, of course), I was told that it was a safety "thing", because if I had all six burners going at the same time, a regular hood and fan would not be able to pull the heat off fast enough to be safe.  I thanked the sales rep for the information, and when Erik and I got back in the car, I laughed and said, "Yeah right!  When would that ever happen?  It's not like we're a restaurant!"  Well, I will say for the record, I was very close to using all six burners at once with this meal preparation.  It was steamy, my friends.

Part of it was that there was so much going on!  I need to steam the fresh spinach, make the tomato sauce, boil the water, make the cream sauce, and make the ricotta filling.

Just for Brit, I even used my pestle and mortar to prep the thyme and oregano.  Because she loves that.  :P
Frankly, it was all an awful lot of work.  But, I can say, that both the cream sauce and the tomato sauce could be made any time (and in bulk, because both are used in many of the recipes, with small additions for adjustments) and I will also announce, prematurely, that it was fantastic and well worth every moment, pot, and spoon that it took to make it.  Seriously yummy.  Anyway, I've kept a container of each at the ready in the refer over the last couple of weeks, and it works well.
 One little snag?  My whole wheat dough was an epic fail.  It's that brick-like mound in the background.  It was...not good.  I blame the whole wheat flour I had on hand...after this, I replaced it (I think it was too old?) and I haven't had this problem since.
I'm nothing if not flexible, though, so I quickly scratched the offending dough and made a batch of (even more offensive?) white flour dough.  I quickly rolled it out (my little table has a handy drawer that holds several of my kitchen secrets for success...the thrifted wooden rolling pin...a brush for egg white application...and, barely visible, a tube of lipstick.  So I look good, baking.) and it was very satisfying to use the pizza dough cutter to zip-zip-zip it into perfect little rectangles!
When I was young (college, I guess) and first started making my own pasta doughs, I would always get frustrated that it would stick together in the boiling water.  My great aunt Angie did some troubleshooting and let me know that "our people" add a bit of olive oil to the boiling water to remedy that problem.  Laurel's Kitchen mentions the same tip, so in case you don't have a Venetian auntie to set you straight, there is still hope.
Okay.  Homestretch!  All ten little canneloni 'burritos' fit snugly into a 9x13 casserole dish.  (Those are Laurel's whole wheat breadsticks in the far background, and that's an awesome reusable produce bag in the near background.)  And, honesty here:  It's not too early to pop open a bottle of wine and take a little breather.  You've been on your feet for a while at this point!
Now.  Now you can officially sit down and enjoy an amazing dinner with your family.  Everyone loved it!  This version of the cream sauce has a pinch of nutmeg, and it's brilliant. 
I've featured the canneloni incidentally, when I wrote about picnics at the baseball field.  I think it was even better as leftovers...or, at least, as good as leftovers!


  1. always have a glass of wine while cooking.
    looks wonderful.
    (i NEED that book)

  2. I haven't seen a mortar and pestle in years! So fun to see one in action. :)

  3. @Michelle ~ this cookbook easily slipped into my #1 spot as soon as I opened it. :)

    @Carmen ~ you just reminded me that I actually *found* an old mortar on the farm when we first moved to Pleasanton. It was made of a black rock material. At the time I thought Native Americans had left it there. So funny, in all these years, I've never considered another possibility!

    @Linda ~ I only wish you lived close enough!!!

  4. Oohh! This looks wonderful. I've made my own pasta but never tried cannelloni! You make me want to try it! Even though I don't have a six burner stove! Do you share your recipe?

  5. Hi Gina! I'll send it to you in an email this's from a cookbook, so I'm not sure what their policy is on recipe sharing online. (I know you remember that feeling from the bread book! :)