Monday, December 8, 2008

Homemade Pasta At Last!!!

They say that third time's a charm. Well this is the third time that I tried making homemade pasta and I refused to fail. Thankfully, Jamie Oliver's recipe in Cook with Jamie is much more helpful than his recipe in his first ever cookbook where only egg yolks were required. Plus it also helped that I scored some "tipo 00" flour at an Italian deli on a recent trip to Halifax.

The simple recipe calls for 5 cups of tipo 00 or pasta flour with 6 large free-range eggs. The flour should be the finest and silkiest one you can find...apparently, silky flour = silky dough = silky pasta. As for the free-range eggs, I think that if you know that food is unethically raised or pumped full of chemicals then you should stay away. So free-range is common sense.

You must first make a well in the centre of the flour, break the eggs into the well and start working the whole thing together. If you're lucky, you should end up with a nice lump of dough that you could just knead for about 10 minutes making it all soft and smooth. This was the exciting part for me because I knew that I'd finally made pasta dough. When you've got so few ingredients, it's all about texture. So then I just had to wrap it up in plastic wrap and let it sit in the fridge for half an hour. Half an hour with a smile on my face.

One thing that I would consider as an absolute must is a pasta machine. It's either that or rolling the whole thing out by hand. Not something I'd enjoy doing. Even when the dough was so smooth and easily worked. So with my huge ball of dough, I divided it up, pressed it flat and then ran it through the largest setting of the pasta machine for a about 6 runs, folding it over every time to work the dough.

Trying to keep the sheet of pasta's edges square (fold the rough edges into the middle and pass it through the machine) all I had to do then was roll the pasta progressively thinner in the machine. Once I had that, I had a few options. The first I tried was cutting it with a sharp knife but this mostly just pressed the dough together thus making it a bitch to seperate every individual strand.

Fortunately, I have an attachement on my pasta machine to cut fettuccini or spaghetti. Fettuccini was on the menu the first day. On the second day of pasta gluttony, we went out and bought a mould to make ravioli. It was so simple. Just press one sheet into the dimples, drop a bit of ricotta or other filling, lay another sheet on top and press. They all come apart beautifully and make a really nice little meal.

I really love the fact that I can make my own pasta. Next time, I'm trying it with semolina since I find the smooth white flour lacked texture. But I really can't complain too much. Making things from scratch is a pleasure in itself. Eating it is only half the fun. Ok, maybe four sixth of the fun. Anywho...

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