Monday, September 6, 2010

Trials of Homemade Pasta

Italian food has always been one of my very favorite things in the world. As I’ve gotten older my tastes have matured and I try not to look down on certain chain restaurants, but to me they are never as great as the stand alone ventures. I have been making my own sauces and such from scratch since I moved out on my own about eight years ago, never looking back at anything canned or jarred again, but I have never been brave enough to try to make my own pasta.

My former in-laws back then were from an Italian family, and so I enjoyed watching them cook. Ravioli was my favorite thing to see done, because there was this cool little press that took all of the work out of it. When I came across that same press at Williams Sonoma a few weeks ago, I begged Brent to get it for me for my birthday – so he did. :-) The box said I needed seminola flour so off to Central Market I went (and also picked up some carob chips and powder, but that’s for another post).

My first attempt at the pasta dough was yesterday. I used the exact recipe on the back of the ravioli press box and it was a disaster. So horribly dry that I couldn’t even roll it out, my arms and shoulders ached with the strain. Once I finally got it as thin as it would go it was so dense it could barely get it filled in the press, it wouldn’t dry, and then it was way too chewy when cooked. Brent and LB both thoroughly enjoyed it, but I think the fillings and sauce just masked the dough.

So this morning I decided to do pasta dough, take two, and get rid of all of the excess filling I’d made. After scouring several different sites I just decided to wing it, and hope for the best. My biggest issue yesterday was that the dough was too tough, my guess being because the seminola flour was not very fine, but since I wanted to try and stay as authentic as possible I decided to do a combination of flours. The recipes below are what I came up with, and worked so far today. The dough was much more pliable and I was able to knead it using my stand mixer instead of my hands.

Fresh Pasta Dough
Yield: about 8 tennis-ball sized dough balls

1 cup seminola flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp. salt
6 whole eggs
4 tbsp. good quality olive oil
4 tbsp. warm water

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine all of your ingredients. Start on low speed, allowing all of your wet ingredients to become incorporated, and then turn to speed 4 and let it go for about 10 minutes, or until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl while turning. It needs to be sticky but only to itself. It it’s too sticky, sprinkle some more flour into the bowl. If it’s too dry, add a more drops of warm water. Something as simple as the weather can greatly affect the outcome of your dough, so I’ve learned.

Once your dough has become a ball, place it on a well-floured cutting board and shape into a log. Cut the log into roughly 8 pieces and wrap each tightly with plastic wrap. Rest the covered dough for a half hour on the counter (do not refrigerate).

After 30 minutes, roll out each dough ball individually until thin and translucent. You will want to keep a well-floured surface so that your pasta does not stick to the counter, and flour often. Once your pasta is rolled out, you can do with it as you chose. I made some skinny noodles, some thicker noodles, and some sheets for lasagna. And then I made ravioli (five dozen to be exact).

Your pasta needs to dry before you cook or freeze it. I simply put a yardstick sprinkled with flour between two of my dining room chairs and it worked great. Once the pasta has dried for about 2 hours you can put it in baggies to freeze or cook right away. Depending on the thickness you will only need to cook it for 1-5 minutes, making sure you drop it into salted boiling water. Salt water flavors your pasta!

So that’s it. Today was much more successful than yesterday. The process can be very time consuming but is entirely worth it, and now I really want a pasta roller to save my arms. Maybe Christmas. :-)

Love, KC

PS Here's a cute shot of Oliver when I accidentally bumped the chair and knocked some pieces down. She was in Heaven. :-)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...