The day had come. I sprang from bed excitedly anticipating my certain triumph of creating sfogliatelles (pronounced sfo-ya-delles) for the first time. These pastries – little flakey ricotta cream filled seashells – happen to be my father’s all time favorite. And I never once considered actually attempting them until a recent challenge from a friend. Here’s what they’re supposed to look like:
I did my research last night, browsing through several different recipes and reviews online. I decided to follow one of the simpler sounding ones, one that did not require a pasta maker, since I don’t own one. I did my food shopping this morning and headed home to begin.
The first step, making the ricotta filling was easy, and I think it came out on point:
The filling went into the fridge, and I began work on the actual pastry shell… This is where things fell apart. The recipe called for semolina flour, bread flour (I couldn’t find that, so substituted all-purpose), sugar, water, salt, and butter. A lot of butter. So I stirred and I kneaded, and I kneaded and I stirred… The dough was like a sticky, glue-ish wet cement. I couldn’t get it off my hands. Or the counter. To be fair, it tasted ok. But I’m pretty sure anything with that much butter would taste ok.
I put it in the fridge hoping that would firm it up a little, but was already feeling the creeping up of demise. While the dough was in the fridge, I decided to look at one of the other recipes to cross-check the recipe I was following. Apparently my dough should have, at this point, been extremely dry and firm. The other recipes did not call for any butter at all.
So I decided to try again. I did a butter-less version of the dough which did seem to be a lot more like what the recipes described: dry and firm.
I put that in the fridge for a bit and took it out for the next step. I divided the dough into four equal parts and used a rolling pin to spread them into sheets. This is the part where most recipes call for a pasta maker, as the sheets are supposed to be paper thin. Things started to go wrong again. I rolled them out but now the dough was too dry, causing holes all over that I couldn’t patch. I didn’t know how big to make the sheets, so I made them about what would fit into a medium sized cookie tray. And I couldn’t get them anywhere near as thin as I knew they were supposed to be.
I stacked the four deformed sheets on top of each other, brushing melted butter in between each. Then rolled the pile into a log and put that in the fridge again. Finally, I took the log out and sliced it into little rolls that were supposed to look like ribbons, but instead…
Things were starting to look really bad. I took each roll and attempted to shape them into cones and fill them with the ricotta filling. I was using a gallon sized ziplock with a corner snipped off to pipe the filling in. Using one hand to maneuver the bag while the other hand held the cone was virtually impossible. I had ricotta filling everywhere.
So after spending the whole day on that tragic failure, I clearly needed a pick-me-up. My manfriend stopped and got us pasta from what is quickly becoming my new favorite local place, Alor Pasta on Hylan Boulevard. Their pasta-based menu focuses on countries to inspire their dishes. For example they have a Chinese pasta, which is essentially a lo mein with a sweet hoisin flavored sauce and tender shredded duck throughout. I had that dish the last time we ate there and fell in love. Their kale salad is also a favorite of mine, with a super strong anchovy based dressing.
I’m tired of calling my manfriend “my manfriend,” so from here on out his “name” is going to be Justin (he picked it). So I let Justin choose our dishes for our take out order; he went with the Bucatini (Lousiana) and a special with orzo and short ribs.
Both were, just like all of the other dishes I’ve gotten from Alor before, absolutely phenomenal. The bucatini came with shrimp and andouille sausage, awesome and awesome. The orzo had a creamy, buttery tasting sauce that wasn’t too heavy and the short ribs were perfect. The bones in the ribs were kind of annoying to eat around, but the meat slid right off and I guess they did up the presentation a bit.
And to wash it all down, one of my favorite beers, The Crisp from Sixpoint Crisp Lagers. The beer’s name describes it perfectly: crisp and refreshing.
So, while the sfogliatelles may have won the battle today, I think it’s fair to say that I have won the war. I need an episode of House of Cards.