Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Daring Cooks June 2012: Cannelloni!

Manu from Manu's Menu was our Daring Cooks lovely June hostess and has challenged us to make traditional Italian cannelloni from scratch! We were taught how to make the pasta, filling, and sauces shared with us from her own and her family's treasured recipes!

You'll have to excuse the paper plate. I already packed the dishes.
My husband and I are now home owners!! We are so excited and slightly nervous about the reality of not having a landlord anymore. At the moment you are reading this, I am probably knee deep in boxes, trying to figure out where everything goes in our new house. I actually waited until sort of the last minute to make this month's challenge (that has been happening a lot lately...) because I was hoping to have this be the inaugural meal made in my new kitchen. Unfortunately that didn't happen. Instead, I held off packing anything in the kitchen until the day before the move so I could do this challenge as the last glorious send off of the old kitchen.

When I read about this month's challenge I texted my husband immediately and told him about it. He is (as I have mentioned before) Italian and his family has their own tried and true recipes for delicious sauce and Italian dishes. I was excited to try making pasta from scratch, even though I knew that without a pasta maker I was in for a lot of rolling pin work.

Fast forward to this past Sunday. The school year finished on Friday, we had just found out that we would in fact be closing on the house on the 12th, and oh yeah, we are leaving for our honeymoon trip to Napa, Sonoma, and San Francisco on the 17th. I had just finished packing up about 50% of what needs to be packed, moved lots of heavy boxes and now I'm rolling out egg noodles. Stress levels in our house were high, but the smell of sautéing onions, and homemade tomato sauce helps with that. So does wine :)

I'll just say one more thing: homemade pasta is worth it. Yes it is slightly time consuming, but not too bad. My mom always told me that a pasta maker is just an appliance that takes up room in your cabinet, but I am beginning to think that I need one. Until then, I'll continue rolling it out by hand.

Fresh Egg Pasta
What you need to know about egg pasta is that it is simple. All you need: a proportional amount of egg to flour, one egg to every 100 grams of flour.

Ingredients (to make 4 servings of cannelloni)
100 grams (⅔ cup plus 2 teaspoons) all purpose flour
1 large egg

Directions (for rolling by hand)
1. Put the flour and egg into a food processor and mix. When the dough looks like crumbs, pour it onto a countertop sprinkled with flour. Knead well by hand until you obtain a smooth dough. Make it into a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap and let it rest for 10-15 minutes.

2. Cut out a piece of egg pasta dough and flatten it into a rectangular shape with your hands. Roll dough flat and thin, about 1mm thick. Cut into rectangular sheets for cannelloni (4"x6").

Béchamel Sauce
Ingredients (enough for the 4 serving Cannelloni dish)
2 cups milk, hot
3½ tablespoons butter
⅓ cup all-purpose flour
1 pinch salt
1 pinch nutmeg

1. Put the butter in a non-stick pot and let it melt. Add the flour and whisk constantly until well incorporated: this is the "roux". Let it cook for a minute or two.

2. Now start adding hot milk little by little, while mixing continuously until the milk is well incorporated. Do not add more milk unless it is well incorporated. Keep doing so until all the milk is incorporated.

3. Add salt and nutmeg and cook on a low flame for 10 minutes or until it thickens.

4. When ready, cover it to prevent a film to appear on the surface.

Cannelloni di carne

Meat filling ingredients
1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground pork
1 onion, chopped
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 bay leaf
5 tablespoons white wine
1½ cups Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated
¾ cups of the béchamel sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Tomato sauce
1 small onion, chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2¾ cups tomato purée
a few basil leaves
salt and pepper to taste

To assemble
The remaining béchamel sauce
½ cup Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated

1. Start by cooking the meat for the filling. Put the 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a pan with the chopped onion and sauté until soft and translucent. Now add the meat and bay leaf and stir well with a wooden spoon making sure you remove all the lumps. Brown the meat well. Add the white wine and raise the fire to burn off the alcohol. Cook for 10 minutes on medium heat and then keep it aside to cool down. (At this point, I actually drained the meat even though it wasn't in the recipe.)

2. Now prepare the tomato sauce. Place the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pot with the chopped onion and sauté until soft and translucent. Now add the tomato purée, salt, pepper and basil. Cover and cook on low for 20 minutes. Then keep it aside to cool down.

3. To make the filling, mix the cooked meat with ¾ cup of béchamel sauce and 1½ cups of Parmigiano Reggiano. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

4. Put a large pot with salty water on the stove and bring to a boil. I used a large shallow pan to make the noodles more manageable. Cook the pasta sheets in the water for 1 minute. Do in batches and place on a clean tea towel to cool.

5. Now take one sheet of cooked pasta and put 1/8 of the filling along the long side of the rectangle. Roll it over to make a cannellone. Do so for the remaining rectangles of pasta.

6. Take a big enough dish to fit all our cannelloni tightly. Spray it with some cooking oil (or melted butter) and pour some tomato sauce on the bottom. Spread it well, especially in the corners. Put the cannelloni in the oven dish on 1 layer.

7. Cover the cannelloni with the remaining tomato sauce and 1¼ cup béchamel sauce and sprinkle with the remaining ½ cup Parmigiano Reggiano.

8. Bake in a pre-heated 350℉ oven for 20 minutes. Then broil them at 400℉ for another 5 minutes. Serve immediately.


  1. Moving is alwauys stressful, especially when you are ending the school year and getting ready for a big trip at the same time! Glad you had a glass of wine, a tried and true recipe, and lovely smells wafting through your house to help! I am so excited for you guys to have a house!! SO SO SO excited! And I hope we can come visit soon!

  2. The cannelloni looks really yummy. My family would love this one. Congratulations on becoming a home owner!

  3. I didn't get around to making this month's challenge, which is a pity because it looked so tasty! Fresh pasta really IS that much better, isn't it.

    Congratulations on your new house :) I bought one about two years ago and I love that I have it, but it scares me a little because I need to think a bit more carefully about things like work and travel. Boo. Still, I'm sure I'll pay it off, sooner or later!