Saturday, June 25, 2011

Apricot-Lavender Cream Cocktail

Apricots are one of my favorite summer fruits, so I started to look for ways to incorporate apricots into cocktails. I made one delicious one with muddled apricot, lemon verbena, and gin (now I'm wishing I had taken a picture--I promise I will next time I make that). I've had apricot drinks at bars using apricot liqueur, and, while those are good, I miss the textural richness of the apricot when it's just a clear liqueur or apricot brandy.

About a week ago I got home from work feeling like I needed a drink, which had nothing to do with having had a bad day (I love working at Infuz, so that's not a problem). I think the problem was that I had had too much caffeine late in the day and I got anxious from that. Anyway, the point is that I wanted a drink, and we had some perfectly ripe apricots in the fruit bowl. I decided to make a blended drink since I wanted to keep all the richness of the apricot. Inspired by Taste's delicious use of mascarpone in drinks, and in order to emphasize the creamy texture of apricot, I added a few spoonfuls of mascarpone to the mix, along with lemon juice, orgeat, lavender, triple sec, and rum. Blended over ice, this mixture emerged as a deliciously smooth, cold, and nicely flavored cocktail. It's more filling than a typical cocktail because of its thickness--part smoothie, part milkshake, and part cocktail. But don't be fooled, it still has plenty of alcohol to classify it as a cocktail.

Apricot-Lavender Cream Cocktail
makes 2 drinks

1 apricot
a pinch of dried or fresh lavender, of a few spoonfuls of lavender syrup
1 splash of orgeat syrup (add more to taste)
2 tablespoons mascarpone
juice of one lemon
4 ounces of rum
1 ounce triple sec

Blend everything together for 30 seconds, then pour into serving glasses.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Seared Scallops over Summer Vegetable Crudo

According to my parents, I loved scallops before the age of five. I don't remember that. What I do remember is hating scallops up until my early teens, when I finally started to warm to them again. Now I think they are delicious, so long as they are the big kind, not overcooked, and not steamed or something.

I had a delicious scallop dish at Niche, and so I had scallops on my mind when my mostly-vegetarian friend Amanda Perry came to town. Straub's had some lovely looking big scallops, so I picked them up and thought through how to pair them with some of the fresh veggies I got from the market the weekend before. I settled on a sort of raw vegetable salad, centered around summer squash and ripe red tomato. I love the colors, and so I added some crisp green beans as well. To bring all the flavors together, emphasize the sweetness of the veggies, and also bring a little acid into the dish, I added a balsamic reduction. Then I seared the scallops, sliced them horizontally (as Niche did), and placed them on top of the "crudo."

This dish is light and summery--perfect for an appetizer or as a light lunch if served with a soup or some bread. It doesn't take long to prepare and yet looks beautiful when served.

Seared Scallops over Summer Vegetable Crudo
Serves 2

1 ripe tomato
4 large scallops
small handful thin green beans
1 summer squash
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper

Make the balsamic reduction by boiling the balsamic vinegar for about 10 minutes or until it is as reduced as you want it to be. Let it cool.

Using a mandoline or other slicer, very thinly slice the summer squash lengthwise. Place the squash in a strainer with a few big sprinkles of salt. Let it sit for about 15 minutes and then press out some of the water.

Slice the tomato into very thin wedges. Cut the green beans into half inch pieces. Arrange the squash and tomato on two plates, alternating and overlapping them in a line in the middle of each plate. Sprinkle the green beans on the sides of the plate.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over high heat until the oil is very hot. Lower the scallops into the pan with tongs (the oil might splatter). Sear on one side for a few minutes, or until it is browned. Turn over and brown the other side. Remove the scallops from the pan and slice them lengthwise. Arrange them on top of the squash and tomatoes, and drizzle the balsamic reduction on the side before serving.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Sorrel Fettuccine with English Peas, Hazelnuts, and Brown Butter

I love green pastas, so I decided to experiment with using sorrel instead of the more traditional spinach. It gives the pasta a subtle lemony flavor that I enhanced with a little more lemon zest.

This dish is a variation on a pretty traditional pasta dish with brown butter, peas, sage, and prosciutto. I used hazelnuts because they emphasize the nutty flavor of the brown butter, and added chives because of how well they complement sorrel.

Try adding morels to the mix. I didn't have any, but I wish I had--I think they would have rounded out the flavors and textures nicely.

Sorrel Fettuccine with English Peas, Hazelnuts, and Brown Butter

1 bunch sorrel
9 ounces flour (about 2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 eggs
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 tablespoons water

2 cups English peas
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 stick butter
1/3 cup hazelnuts, crushed in a mortar and pestle
2 tablespoons sage, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons chives, coarsely chopped
freshly ground pepper

For the pasta: In a food processor, blend the sorrel, salt, lemon zest, and the flour until the sorrel is finely ground and the flour is green. Add the eggs and olive oil, then process for about 10 seconds or until it begins to look like coarse cornmeal (except green, of course). Add the water, and continue to process until the dough bounces into a ball. Add a little more water if the dough is too dry. Take the dough out and put it on a layer of plastic wrap. Wrap it up and let it rest for 15 minutes. Divide the dough into thirds, and roll it out in a pasta maker to the second- or third-thinnest level. Before the last round through the pasta maker, dust each sheet with rice flour and cut it in half if it is too long. Cut each sheet into fettuccine, then hang them to dry out a little.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. While it's heating, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Keep cooking the butter until the foam subsides and it reaches a golden-brown hue. Remove the pan from the heat and add the more finely ground hazelnuts and the sage. It will sizzle a bit and then calm down. Set this aside.

Place the peas in a strainer. When the pot of water is boiling, dip the strainer into the water so that the peas cook for about 2 minutes, or until tender. Lift the peas out and drain.

Carefully drop the pasta into the water. Cook for about 3 minutes, depending on the thickness of the pasta, and then drain in a colander. Leaving some moisture on the pasta, transfer it to the pot of butter. Add the lemon juice and gently toss everything together to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve, topping each dish of pasta with plenty and peas, some of the remaining hazelnuts, and a sprinkling of chives.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Grenadine Poached Rhubarb and Rose Geranium Cream "Tart"

I love the idea of tarts, but I often don't like the tart shells. I'm one of those odd people who like pie filling better than pie crust (except if the pie crust is still dough, in which case I think it's delicious). So I'm always looking for less traditional types of pastries to use as tart shells. I have some favorites--for instance, an almond pastry shell from The Herbfarm Cookbook (if you don't own it, buy it--it's probably my favorite cookbook of all time). Brandy snaps are a new favorite for me. It holds desserts well, adds some buttery sweetness and some crunch, and looks beautiful while doing it.

Other than the brandy snap variation on a normal tart shell, this is a pretty typical tart. It layers cooked fruit on top of pastry cream. But the flavors really take it to the next level in my opinion. Rose geranium is an herb with a lovely rose scent, and I recommend planting it if you can. But assuming you don't already have all the obscure herbs I like to cook with, you can substitute rose water, which is available at specialty food stores and Middle Eastern grocers.

Grenadine Poached Rhubarb and Rose Geranium Cream "Tart"
makes 6 

For the pastry cream:
1 1/2 cups whole milk
10 rose geranium leaves or 2 tablespoons rose water
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoon cornstarch

2 large or extra-large egg yolks
1/2 cup heavy cream, optional

Heat the milk and half the sugar to almost boiling in a small saucepan. Add the rose geranium leaves, remove the pot from the heat, stir to submerge the leaves, cover the pot, and let it sit for 30 minutes to infuse the milk. Remove the leaves, squeezing them to extract as much milk as possible.

Slowly heat the milk back up. Meanwhile, whisk the yolks with the remaining sugar  until the yolks turn pale yellow. Add the flour and cornstarch and continue beating. While constantly whisking, add half the hot milk to this mixture. Then pour that back into the pan with the rest of the milk and whisk everything together. Cook over medium heat until the custard begins to boil, all the while whisking vigorously. Let it boil for 30 seconds, then use a rubber spatula to transfer the cream to a bowl. Place plastic wrap on the surface of the cream and refrigerate it until cool.

Right before serving, whip the heavy whipping cream. Fold this into the pastry cream mixture to make a lighter custard.

For the rhubarb:
1 pound rhubarb
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup grenadine

Cut the rhubarb into 1/4 inch slices. In a large bowl, toss it with the sugar and grenadine. Let it macerate for 20 minutes. Heat some water in the bottom of a double boiler. Place the rhubarb in the top of the double boiler (or just put a stainless steel bowl on top of a small saucepan). Let the rhubarb cook slowly for about 15 minutes, or until it is soft. Let it cool slightly before serving.

To assemble:
6 brandy snap baskets (see  previous post)
pastry cream
mint, for garnish

Place a brandy snap basket on each plate. Divide the cream between the baskets. Top the cream with the poached rhubarb, and garnish with mint.

Brandy Snaps

I recently was remembering my time working in the kitchen at The Herbfarm Restaurant. I assembled salads, blanched green beans, made chocolate truffles, peeled fava beans, made mussel skewers, and helped out with a lot of other random tasks. But one routine job of mine was making ice cream cones. The cones were made from brandy snaps, which had to be rolled around cones while they were still hot out of the oven to shape them. They were then placed in a paper cone wrapper to keep the ice cream from leaking out the holes in the lacy cookie.

I decided to try making brandy snaps* again, even though I had forgotten the recipe. They traditionally use golden syrup, a sugar syrup produced in the process of refining sugar, kind of like a pale version of molasses. Honey could be substituted, though the cookies might be a little different.

Since I do not happen to have little metal cones sitting around my house, I decided to make these cookies into baskets, which are a good size for holding ice cream or another dessert (see upcoming rhubarb "tart" or previous lemony-herb ice cream). While ramekins work fine for shaping these baskets, I actually prefer the big end of a beer bottle, because they are a bit smaller.

One thing to watch out for is humidity. These cookies will only stay crisp for a few hours in humid climates unless they are kept in an airtight box. If your home is very humid, it is really best to make them soon before serving.

Depending on what you are serving these with, or on what you are in the mood for, play with the spices or substitute a different liquor for the brandy--who says brandy snaps have to contain brandy anyway?

If you aren't making these as part of a bigger dessert, trying rolling them into cigars or just keeping them flat. They make a great snacking cookies.

*See Lemony-Herb Ice Cream for a picture of a brandy snap. I forgot to take pictures of them alone--sorry!

Brandy Snaps

1/4 cup unsalted butter
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons golden syrup (or honey)
1/4 cup flour
a pinch of salt
flavorings: 1/4 teaspoon ginger, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest, 1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon brandy

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Get a few empty beer bottles, small ramekins, or little cups out for molds, placing them upside down on a flat surface.

In a small saucepan, heat the butter, sugar, and golden syrup. Let them simmer together for a couple minutes, then remove from the heat and quickly stir in the rest of the ingredients with a wooden spoon. When the batter is smooth, let it cool for 15 minutes.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Place spoonfuls of the batter on the baking sheets, making sure they are very spread apart. There should be about 4 per sheet, though it can vary some. Bake one sheet at a time for 10 minutes, or until the cookies are spread out and golden brown. Let them cool on a rack for one minute.

Using your hands or a thin spatula, lift the hot cookies off the paper and place them on the upside down beer bottles. If you want, push the cookie farther toward the bottle to make a more upright cup. Let them cool there for 5 to 10 minutes, or until they hold their shape on their own. Repeat the baking and molding with the other sheet of cookies.

When they are cool, place them in an airtight container lined with parchment paper until you are ready to serve.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


I'm a food opportunist. I'm always looking for ways to eat well. Usually that means looking for good deals at grocery stores, delicious recipes that use cheaper ingredients, or hole-in-the-wall restaurants with great food. But the other important category of food opportunism is finding the best possible restaurant that might be outside my budget and making reservations there for the weekend my dad is in town. (Don't worry--this is no secret. My father enjoys the meals as well, and I enjoy the time I spend with him even more than the meals.)

My dad visited me in St. Louis for the first time this past weekend, and I selected Niche as the above-my-budget-and-very-delicious-looking restaurant at which to make a reservation for us. For those of you unfamiliar with St. Louis' dining scene, Gerard Craft, named a Best New Chef by Food and Wine Magazine in 2008, is the executive chef at Niche. I know his work from his other two ventures, both of which are in my neighborhood--Brasserie and Taste (look forward to reviews of Taste sometime soon--I'm a huge fan of the cocktail list). So I had high expectations for Niche, and I was not let down. Niche impressed us all with excellent and innovative food, superb service, and a nice atmosphere. 

Once inside, Niche is reminiscent of a New York City restaurant both because of its gracefully decorated interior and its small size. We sat down at our table, which featured a view of the kitchen. I loved being able to see the hustle and bustle in the kitchen throughout the evening.

Before we ordered food, my dad got a glass of white wine and Mitch and I each had a cocktail. Niche makes one of my favorite drinks, the "Last Word," as well as another good one with grapefruit juice, lemon, and elderflower liqueur. The drinks were good, though nothing to rival Taste. Niche is more of a wine place, so once we finished our first drinks, my dad selected a 2006 Falcon Napa Valley Sangiovese. It was delicious, but for me no wine can outshine outstanding food, and that is what we had coming.

I looked at the list of six appetizers and decided I wanted them all. But my dad and Mitch (my boyfriend) did not think I could actually have all six, so I decided on the Day Boat Scallops. The scallops were seared and then sliced and placed on a bed of morels and poached snap peas. Two tabs of rhubarb puree surrounded the scallops, and the dish was topped with micro greens and brown-buttered ground hazelnuts. Every element of the dish was perfectly constructed, from the perfectly poached snap peas and the delightfully tart rhubarb puree, to the just-browned tender scallops and the buttery morels. Textural contrast really makes this dish, which combines crunchy, powdery, soft, and crisp. The flavors were also beautifully balanced--it was an unexpected combination that worked wonderfully. I'll be trying an at-home variation on this dish sometime soon I'm sure.

Mitch ordered the Tuna Crudo, which came with yuzu (a Japanese citrus fruit similar to a lime), black rice, baby artichokes, and basil. To my taste, the tuna was a little too thinly sliced, since I like to get more of tuna texture, but that would be my only complaint. The flavors worked quite well and everything tasted wonderfully fresh.

My dad got the English Pea Soup. The waiter poured the sage-scented creamy hot pea soup over lavender, chive blossoms, and goat cheese. I only got one bite, but that one bite was delicious. The cream didn't overwhelm the light springiness of the soup. The texture was perfectly smooth. The predominant flavor was the peas, which is as it should be. Though not the most exciting dish of the night, it was nonetheless delicious.

Then it was time for the main course. I ordered the lasagna--an exquisite combination of fresh pasta, ramp bechamel, spring onions, wild mushrooms, and a farm-fresh egg. Instead of one slice from a full-size rectangular lasagna, this version was round and individual-sized. The wonderful thing about this is it allows for a combination of typical lasagna-noodle texture and the texture of the crisp pasta edges after they bake in the oven. The fontina and ramp bechamel were layered between thin sheets of pasta, and all was topped with a perfectly cooked, flavorful, sunny-side up egg. The yolk was runny but not liquidy, and there was none of that slimy raw egg white I so hate. Surrounding the lasagna were wild mushrooms--buttery with perhaps a hint of lemon. For those of you who don't know me, I adore mushrooms. To me, butter and mushrooms are impossible to do wrong. But Niche did it even more right than usual. And then, to top everything off, there was an vibrant combination of fresh spring herbs, most notably fennel and shiso. Although everything we ate was delicious, this lasagna took the prize for me.
My dad did what my mom usually does and ordered two appetizers as his entree. The first was paparadelle with smoked pork shank, mascarpone, apples, and olive oil. This was the only dish I didn't care for. To me, the combination of smoked meat with the sweetness of the apples tasted like barbeque sauce, and barbeque sauce on pasta didn't do it for me. That said, my dad enjoyed it so it can't have been too bad.

His next entree-appetizer was lobster with brown butter hollandaise (they seem to really like brown butter at Niche, and who can blame them?), apple, togarashi (Japanese 7-spice) candy, tarragon, and celery. Since I only had a bite I can't tell you too much more about it than that it was very very good. It played up the subtle flavor of lobster and did a good job providing complementary flavors and textures.

Mitch ordered the chicken, and that is the dish I remember the least about (only because I had very little of it). The chicken itself was deliciously browned, flavorful, and juicy--what chicken should be but so rarely is. I never order chicken at restaurants because it tends to be boring, but from what I recall of this dish it was far from dull. It was served with a balsamic reduction and a combination of quinoa and polenta.

And then, as if we had not already had enough outstanding food, we ordered dessert. My dad and Mitch got the cheese plate, which featured Prairie Breeze aged cheddar, Humbolt Fog, and a Petit Basque. All were very good, though I have had better cheeses of the Humbolt Fog type, for instance the Baetje Farms "Bloomsdale," available at farmers' markets in St. Louis. With the cheeses were spiced nuts, thinly sliced toasted baguette, and some fig preserves.

I followed our waitress's suggestion and tried the lemongrass semifreddo. In reality it is about 4 desserts rolled into one. The semifreddo is topped with hibiscus sorbet. Around it is rhubarb sauce with tapioca pearls. Next comes balls of (I think I am remembering this right) lemongrass cheescake. On the side is mint syrup. The tapioca pearls were a perfect vehicle for the tart rhubarb, and the lemongrass semifreddo was exquisite in texture. Every element was delicious, but I think I could have used a little more simplicity in this dish.

Overall I was very impressed by Niche. In this economy, a restaurant this fancy and also pricey needs to work hard to deserve its place, and Niche certainly does. The menu was innovative, and the food was both beautiful and delicious.  Niche is not just good for being in St. Louis or something--I believe it is a great restaurant in the context of the whole country. I'm looking forward to seeing what Gerard Craft does next, since he mentioned an Italian place with a focus on pasta. Given my love of pasta and the time I have spent in Italy, I am truly looking forward to it.

*As a tip for anyone trying to dine at Niche, make sure to book well ahead. They are (justly) very popular and fill up quickly.
Niche on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Coconut Red Curry Lamb Satay with Hoisin Peanut Sauce

This is an adaptation of typical Thai satay, using lamb instead of beef and a Vietnamese-style peanut sauce. This type of food is excellent on a hot summers day or as part of a grilling party. It would also be good with beef, but lamb has such a great flavor and goes so well with red curry that I prefer it.

I buy very thinly sliced lamb at Seafood City (Asian grocery on Olive, for those readers in St. Louis), but you can easily slice your own. The easiest way to slice meat very thinly is to partially freeze it first, so it is firm enough to slice.

Coconut Red Curry Lamb Satay: 
     makes enough for 4 to 6 people

1 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup to 1/3 cup red curry paste
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon crushed coriander seeds
1.5 pounds very thinly sliced lamb shoulder
long wooden skewers

In a medium sized mixing bowl, stir together the first five ingredients. Add the lamb and make sure all side of each piece are coated in the marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 2 to 24 hours (the longer you let it marinate, the more flavor it will have).

Soak the skewers in cold water for 30 minutes. While you heat the grill, thread the meat onto the skewers. The meat should be folded  tightly and threaded onto the skewers (see the picture above).

Heat a charcoal grill until it is very hot. Grill the skewers for a few minutes on each side, or until they are browned (a few burnt tips are good too) nicely and fully cooked. Serve hot with peanut sauce.

Hoisin Peanut Sauce:
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter (if you use chunky you may not need the additional peanuts)
1/4 cup water or coconut milk (depending on your taste and what is available)
1 tablespoon oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon tomato paste
4 tablespoons hoisin sauce, plus extra if you want
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
3 tablespoons peanuts, crushed with a mortar and pestle

Whisk together the peanut butter and water together in a small bowl.

In a small pan, heat the oil. Cook the garlic and red pepper flakes in the oil for 1 minute, then add the tomato paste and cook for another 30 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat and use a rubber spatula to transfer the garlic/pepper/tomato mixture to the bowl with the peanut butter. Add the hoisin sauce and fish sauce and stir everything together until smooth. Stir in the sesame seeds and peanuts. Thin with additional water or coconut milk if necessary. Adjust the seasonings based on your taste.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Pecorino and Pear Ravioli with Black Pepper and Basil

I just spent a fabulous weekend in Columbia with the lovely Amanda Perry. Between games of Cranium, we did some fabulous cooking (see her post on stuffed zucchini blossoms if you need proof). This recipe is a variant on one Amanda made on Saturday, which was inspired by a meal she had at Felidia in New York City.

The pasta dish with pecorino Romano which I am most familiar with, after many semi-successful and a few actually successful attempts, is spaghetti cacio e pepe, a Roman staple consisting of pasta with a very simple--yet incredibly delicious--combination of freshly ground black pepper, pecorino Romano, olive oil, and some of the pasta's cooking water. I thought that because I was using pecorino in the recipe already, I would try using this sauce on the ravioli. I decided to add basil because I was reminded of a delicious salad of pears, pecorino, and basil I made once last fall from Olives and Oranges, another favorite cookbook. Thinly sliced basil perfectly complements the sweetness of the pears and the saltiness of the cheese.

The filling is pretty simple--pecorino fresco, grated pears, and mascarpone (to hold everything together). If you can't find pecorino fresco, a combination of any soft sheep cheese and a typical aged pecorino will work just fine. Use the best quality ripe pears you can find. However, you don't want them to be too ripe or the filling will be too liquidy.

I'm not going to include a recipe for pasta dough here (unless anyone particularly wants it) because I'm guessing anyone who already has a pasta machine already has a favorite pasta dough recipe. But if you want my input, Jerry Traunfeld's recipe in The Herbfarm Cookbook is one of the best and most reliable.

Pecorino and Pear Ravioli with Black Pepper and Basil

2 ripe pears, cored and grated on a large grater
1 1/2 cups grated pecorino fresco
1/3 cup mascarpone
Pasta dough made from 3 cups of flour
flour for dusting
egg wash, made from 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water
salted water for cooking the pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup grated pecorino Romano
2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup thinly sliced basil leaves

For the filling: In a small mixing bowl, stir together the first three ingredients.

For the pasta: Divide the dough into 4 balls, covering the unused pieces with plastic wrap. Roll out the first ball to the second thinnest level on your pasta machine, thoroughly dusting both sides with flour. Try to keep the dough sheet as wide as will fit through the pasta maker. (If you don't fold the ravioli right away, keep the sheets well floured and lay a sheet of plastic wrap over each sheet, then roll it up so that each surface is covered in plastic.) Fill each sheet as soon as you roll it, then continue with the next sheets.

Stuffing the ravioli: Lay the sheet out flat on a work surface, and slice it in half lengthwise. Spoon heaping teaspoons of filling in balls on the bottom dough strip, leaving at least 1 inch between each dab of filling, and making sure to leave space at the top and bottom of the strip. Brush the egg wash along the outside edges of the strip and between each dab of filling (this helps the dough stick together). Take the top strip of dough and lay it on top of the strip with the filling. Trying to avoid air bubbles, press down firmly to seal the dough around the filling. When all edges are sealed, cut the ravioli apart in the middle, lightly flour them, and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat with all the pasta sheets.

Cooking the ravioli: Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Reduce the heat so that the water is only simmering, then slip in six or seven ravioli one by one. Adjust the heat so the water remains just below a boil. Cook the ravioli for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes--just until the dough is cooked and the filling is hot. Transfer them using a slotted spoon to a plate lines with paper towels. Repeat with the remaining ravioli.

Making the sauce: In a large skillet, gently heat the olive oil. Add the salt and pepper and whisk to combine. Add a ladleful of the pasta cooking water and continue to whisk until the cheese is melted and the sauce is creamy. Toss the ravioli in this sauce.

Serving: Serve the sauced ravioli immediately with a few pieces of basil!