Sunday, November 30, 2008

Homemade Manicotti

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Growing up Nanny made homemade, manicotti, ravioli, cavatelli and tagliolini. She made them all by rolling out the dough by hand. I remember when she made the manicotti and ravioli it seemed like it would take forever before we would start cutting (my favorite part because I could help). Nanny always said it had to be thin enough for you to see through it. In the past few years I have gained more knowlege about cooking and realized that what Nanny made were not really manicotti but cannelloni. Manicotti are crepes made from a very thin batter and cooked in a pan on the stove. Since I'm baking challenged and am not very good with a rolling pin this seemed like something I could do. I never thought I would be able to say I made homemade Manicotti but I did it for Thanksgiving! It was surprisingly easy once you get the hang of it. Once you start making a few, you will get the hang of how much batter to use. It all depends on your ladle. You want the crepes to be very thin and delicate. Once you get that part down you're golden!

I used a recipe for the crepes from a cookbook I bought years ago when I worked at Barnes and Noble. It's called Rao's Cookbook: Over 100 Years of Italian Home Cooking by Frank Pellegrino. This recipe can be found on page 55. I only used the recipe for the crepe part. For the filling, I just went with what I know.

I made some small changes to the recipe. I used an 8 inch nonstick omelette pan and used much less batter than stated in the recipe. Instead of oil I used cooking spray and cooked them slighly longer than 30 seconds (at least it felt like longer). I got over 20 crepes which was probably because my pan was smaller than a crepe pan but the size was perfect in my opinion.

Crepes

Serves 6

Ingredients:

2 large eggs
2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Approx. 2 tbsp vegetable oil (I used cooking spray)

Directions:

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk. When well combined, whisk in flour until smooth. Set aside to rest for about 1 hour.

2. Heat a nonstick crepe pan over medium-high heat. Lightly brush it with vegetable oil and return to heat. Pour a little less than 1/2 cup of batter into the pan, swirling to cover the bottom evenly. Cook for about 30 seconds or until it is just set and the bottom is lightly browned. Turn the crepe over carefully with a spatula or a fork. Cook for an additional 15 seconds or until set. Remove from pan and place on a piece of waxed paper. Continue cooking and stacking crepes until you have at least 14. The extra 2 will allow for breakage.

Filling:

I don't measure the cheese for the filling. I just taste it before I add the egg and add more cheese as needed.

2 lb container of part skim Ricotta
1 lb part skim Mozzarella block (of course fresh mozzarella can be used)
Locatelli Romano cheese approx 1 cup
parsley fakes
1 large egg
salt and pepper to taste
Marinara sauce, prepared (I used 2-28 oz cans crushed tomatoes and had enough for two batches of crepes)

1. Mix ricotta, romano cheese, parsley, salt and pepper. Taste. Adjust seasoning according to taste and then stir in one egg.

2. Slice mozzarella into matchstick size pieces.

3. Lay crepe on flat surface. Place about 1 tablespoon of ricotta (more if larger crepe) into the center of crepe and spread out to edges. Add mozzarella to center. (If you cut them into long sticks which I did with second batch you only need one stick). Fold one edge halfway over and then fold the other side to form a packet. Don't roll them or they will be too thick. They should be sort of flat.

4. Spread a layer of sauce onto a baking pan. Lay manicotti side by side and arrange manicotti until the pan is filled. Add another layer of sauce on top and sprinkle with romano cheese.

5. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes and sauce is bubbling and cheese is melted.

Manicotti can be frozen two way. Arrange rolled crepes on a wax paper lined pan and freeze for about 1 hour. Take out of freezer and put the frozen manicotti in a freezer bag between layers of wax paper. Store in freezer until ready to use. You could also prepare with sauce and place the whole pan in the freezer if you have the space. Let defrost and then bake when ready.

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15 comments:

Dawn said...

you were so incredibly lucky to have such a great teacher.
this is by far, the best dish you've made. my hubby would do anything for me if I made this, more so from scratch. I have yet to be brave enough to do this from scratch.
splendido lavoro qui!

Bob said...

Those look mad good. I've always thought manicotti were straight up pasta. My dad used to make french style crepes all the time when I was a kid, I wonder if these taste the same. I guess I'll have to do a taste test. :)

Lucy said...

Ooooh Michele, those look just wonderful, I love the lightness of them and it's the crepes that make it!! And..... made the same way here... YUM!!!

xxx's

Culinary Alchemist said...

Is there any possible way you can ship any of those to the west coast on Dry Ice? YUM!

Corinne said...

Oh my goodness, those look REALLY yummy! You should TOTALLY participate in PPN, she posts just before the weekend so you can work the dishes into your planning... your (and your grandmother's) dishes would be treasured in terms of good (authentic) homemade food to anyone who checks out the roundups every Friday.
Hope to see you there!

Aggie said...

Oh that looks heavenly...I love coming to your blog and looking at all this delicious Italian food that I grew up with. I remember my aunt (Zia) made the best manicotti...I don't know if it was homemade pasta or not but I really wish I could ask her to show me how to make it! (She's back in Sicily.) Thanks for the step by step!

Proud Italian Cook said...

How proud would your Nanny be if she saw these! Fantastic job! They look terrific!

cookitalian said...

They look great but I never could switch to crepes as opposed to pasta. I guess I personally like a great "Sunday Gravy", make them with a fresh pasta and ricotta with fresh basil, Italian parsley, pepper and egg. Topped with Scarmorza. Perhaps the crepe influence is northern as well as the basamella?

Michele said...

Cook Italian - I'm not sure where it comes from. In my research I learned that filled pasta dough like you are describing is called canneloni. That's what I grew up on. My grandmother was from Salerno. She made it that way but still called it Manicotti. Also never had bechemel sauce on my lasagna or anything like that. I only learned about that as I got older and started reading cookbooks and watching cooking shows.

I've heard of Scamorza but never had it. Is it similar to mozzarella?

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Hi Michelle!

Of course I had to come over and look on your blog to see if you made manicotti too, and you do, and very much like I do! :-) I think making crepes is the easiest and most delicious way, don't you?
I had to learn how to make them out of that Polly-) cook book as my in-laws were very secretive about their ways of making things and would not show me how to make them...lol...I think they liked the praise all of themselves. When I found out how to make them they were surprised! Of course I was just married and only 21 back then so they didn't expect much from me.

I am always looking for the type of zeppole they made -- it was savory and made with semolina and potato in the dough and an anchovy was placed in the middle before frying. You don't have a recipe for that do you? I'd be forever in your debt if you do! :-)

Hugs, Pat

Michele said...

Pat - I'm sorry I don't have that recipe! My grandmother made hers with flour and water I think. I'm not really sure. We wouldn't have touched them if they had anchovies, we were picky children.

I'm glad you were able to prove yourself to your in-laws! That was so mean of them...but I do know some people like that!

Angelnina said...

This is making me hungry. I think I need to make manicotti right away... Looks fabulous!

Ellen Zagrebelny said...

I think Im gonna try these soon!!! They look soooooo good and from what I tasted at my friends house they were AMAZING!!! I cnat wait to make these from your recipe!!

goonba said...

I tried and failed! They come out so thick, I kept adding milk. I think my non-stick pan must be losing the non-stickiness. Well, thats part of cooking; trying and trying again. It's a shame because it looks so good. Thanks anyway for the recipe. I will use the ricotta and cheese for lasagna tomorrow.

MsVegas said...

This recipe should come with a warning that these are more pancake-like than pasta. No matter what I did, they resembled pancakes! I thinned it out as much as I could, cooked on lower heat and they still either cooked too fast so they browned right away, or didn't cook soon enough for me to be able to successfully flip em! 1 came out looking like the pictures and the texture-spongey mush! Would not try this again (and yes, I did it on xmas eve, and just doubled my work for dinner so now I'm cranky!)