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PARTY LINE : Toast of the Town

September 16, 1993|KATHIE JENKINS

In St. Louis, where the toasted ravioli was invented, the crunchy appetizers are served at counter joints, in old family restaurants and at trendy cafes. Last month, they were served at a Beverly Hills party by La Veranda chef/owner David Slay, who held a benefit at his restaurant to raise money for flood victims in the Midwest.

"Originally, I'd planned to cook a special prix fixe menu to raise a few dollars for the Red Cross," says Slay, who left St. Louis three years ago to open the restaurant. He'd watched helplessly on television as the Mississippi River ravaged his hometown. Even his brother-in-law's month-old golf course was completely submerged.

But things didn't go exactly as planned. The moment Slay placed notices on the tables announcing the benefit party, it was an instant sellout, raising $20,000.

After the toasted ravioli opener, things moved into high Beverly Hills gear as the 150 guests--including comedian Norm Crosby and actor Esai Morales--launched into smoked salmon quesadillas, pastina with peas, corn and Parmesan cheese, grilled veal chops with roasted garlic sauce and mashed potatoes.

But when it came to dessert, it was back to St. Louis--pints of the amazing Ted Drewes frozen custard were flown in. Says Slay: "It's still the best ice cream there is."

*

This is Slay's recipe for toasted ravioli, which actually originated in the Italian "hill" area of St. Louis. Slay recommends serving the ravioli with a simple marinara sauce on the side. As for St. Louis' Ted Drewes frozen custard, it's available to anyone who can afford the overnight shipping charge. Call (314) 481-2652.

TOASTED RAVIOLI 6 cups flour 6 eggs 2 cups seasoned bread crumbs Filling Egg Wash

Put 5 cups flour in food processor and add 6 eggs. Process until ball forms that holds together. Continue processing additional 15 to 20 seconds until dough ball has silky texture. Divide in 4 pieces. Let stand 1/2 hour under damp towel.

Using pasta machine, roll dough out into thin sheets. Place approximately 1 teaspoon of Filling on pasta sheets about 2 inches apart. Moisten pasta around filling and cover with second sheet of pasta. Press firmly around filling to force out air bubbles. Cut into individual ravioli. Freeze ravioli 1 day.

To cook, dust ravioli with remaining 1 cup flour, then dredge in Egg Wash and finally in seasoned bread crumbs. Deep-fry until golden. Pat dry and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve with tomato-basil marinara sauce. Makes approximately 4 dozen.

Each ravioli contains about:

107 calories; 58 mg sodium; 40 mg cholesterol; 3 grams fat; 15 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams protein; 0.15 gram fiber. * Filling * 1 clove garlic 1/4 cup parsley 1 small onion 1 medium carrot 1/4 cup oil 1/2 pound diced chicken breast 1/2 pound ground beef 1 bay leaf 10 ounces spinach, cooked and drained Salt, pepper

Put garlic, parsley, onion and carrot in food processor and chop finely. Heat oil and saute chopped mixture over medium heat about 6 minutes. Add chicken, ground beef and bay leaf. Saute 15 minutes. Drain liquid and remove bay leaf. Put cooked mixture in food processor with spinach and puree to make smooth paste. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Chill overnight. * Egg Wash * 2 eggs 3 tablespoons water Combine eggs and water and whisk until well blended.

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