Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Pasta perfect!

I can't believe my sister who has not one, but two...count 'em: two...pasta makers, and has never told me how absolutely amazing - understatement of the year - homemade pasta is!  And, it was so easy to make too, much less fussy than cheese.  It took a long time the first time, but I was able to whip through it my second time, even listening to a fascinating audiobook while making it. 

As promised, here's a pictorial tutorial on how to make pasta using a pasta machine.  You could always just use a roller and a knife, but I like that the thickness is predictable with a machine.  We bought an Atlas from Lehman's (where I also got a couple of case of those fabulous Weck jars).

Shiny, Captain!
Attached to the island, with the room temperature eggs:
A close-up of the teeth end of the machine - to make fettuccine and a smaller something-lini size.  ;)
Ok, enough drooling over the sleek metallic lines of the pasta maker, let's get on with the recipe.

You start out with one pound of flour...the recipe that came with the pasta machine said "soft flour"...if you can find that, great. If not, use AP (all-purpose); that's what I did and it comes out just hunky-dory, thankyouverymuch.
Ta-da...1 pound by my very cute little Escali scale.
You crack 5 room-temperature eggs into the flour...
and work them in with a fork until fairly well incorporated:
Knead the flour with your hands until it all comes together.  The first time I made this, it came together pretty nicely.  The second time, not so much...it was a bit scaly looking on the outside, but don't worry!  (Or in the words of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Don't Panic!)  By the time you cut them into little chunks and run it through the rollers, everything will look great.

If, while you're kneading, the dough looks too wet, add a bit more flour.  If it looks too dry, add a touch of water (but don't over-do it).

After it's all kneaded, roll it into a small log and place on a lightly-floured surface.  Cut a chunk off the log...not too big, as you can see:
Cover the rest of the log with a towel.  If you're using a rolling pin, you can just roll it out like pie dough at this point, as thin as you want.  If you're using a pasta maker, follow its directions.  Mine says to set the setting at 1, and run your dough through it about 5 times.  After each time you run it through, flour the dough in the middle, and fold it over before running it through the machine again.

After you've run it through setting 1 about 5 times, increase the roller to the next setting, and run the dough through once on that setting.  You can do this all the way up to 9 (or whatever it is on your machine).  And dust with flour as needed.
When you've got the dough to the desired thickness, put that long stab on your floured surface and cut into 10" long segments.  Put each segment into one of the cutting rollers, depending on how wide you want your noodles.  I did fettuccine:


Here's another pic to show you just how long a slab of dough can get:
Anyway, if you're lucky enough to have a pasta rack, you can hang your noodles on that to dry. I don't have one, so I had to lay them out on a towel, and toss them every so often with some flour so they wouldn't stick to each other.
Continue the above steps with each subsequent chunks cut from the dough log until all gone.

Hubby cooked them up that evening with a simple garlic-butter sauce.  We had it with fresh cherry and grape tomatoes from garden.   
I don't think I need to tell you that it was incredible!  The texture and flavor of handmade noodles are so much more interesting than the dry stuff you buy at the store (which has its merits; I'm not knocking it).

It is so truly simple, I urge you to give it a try!

"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be." ~ Douglas Adams

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