Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Making Pasta

Another cooking class S and I took taught us how to make pasta. S really got into that, too, and has made pasta at the house several times since then. Actually, there have been a couple of times I've set out to make pasta and he comes in and takes over the project. He really likes doing it. So, after already making the pizza dough for the party you read about yesterday, he decided to make some pasta while the counter was all floured and the mixer was out.

To start making pasta, you create a well of flour and put three eggs in the center. Then, with a fork, while carefully trying to not break the side of the flour well, you start incorporating the egg with the flour. I have no photos of this part of the process. You see, I'm new at this blogging thing and didn't think to get my camera out before he had the two ingredients fully incorporated. Then, the battery was dead and I had to switch it out. Then, there was no CF card in the camera. And, S, wasn't stopping for anyone, so I caught up with him at the stage where he was preparing the dough to go through the pasta attachment.

At this stage, you separate the dough into four equal sections. That's what S is doing in the background of the photo. The attachment to the mixer is up front.

Then, you begin to run the dough through the machine. Look at S concentrating!

The little dial on the end makes the opening the dough goes through larger and smaller. You start with a large opening and keep dialing it down to a smaller opening, depending on the kind of pasta you're making. S was making linguine, so he was dialing it down to a pretty thin sheet.

All of this pasta making makes S a little maniacal. He goes from a nice, sweet domesticated husband to DR. PASTASTEIN, ruler over all pasta activities. Taking normal kitchen ingredients and combining them into something you can EAT that is tasty with TOMATO SAUCE.

Anyway, back to the pasta - so, it gets thinner and longer until it's the right consistency to go through the cutting attachment.

We have two cutting attachments for the mixer - one is linguine and one is angel hair pasta. We also have ravioli trays to cut sheets of pasta into cute little ravioli squares. But, they don't attach to the mixer. I made this yummy chicken ravioli once and put it in a tomato cream sauce with some roasted walnuts on top. Woo-ee. It was good. But, I digress.

I didn't get any photos of the pasta cutting attachment. I don't know why. There was a lapse in time where S kept working and I went off into LA LA land and did something else for a few minutes. I digressed, but in real life, I guess.

Anyway, what happened next was that thin pasta sheet went through an attachment that looks a lot like the one in the above photo, but it cuts the dough into linguine.

Then, you take the wet linguine-shaped dough to a location where it can hang to dry.

Our location is an old broom handle that has been carefully washed and placed between the shutters on our kitchen window. You can purchase very expensive pasta drying racks. We didn't go that route, as you can see.

S kept up the cutting and the hanging to dry until all the dough was used.

You can see also in these photos the state of the edges of our kitchen - yes, we have new cabinets and countertops, but the walls and trim have yet to be finished. It's functional but not pretty.

Once the dough is dry in an hour or so, you can take it down and bag it until you use it. Since we used regular flour, you have to use it pretty quickly - it has a very short shelf life. If you use semolina flour, it lasts much longer. When you make this pasta and put it in the water to boil, it boils up in about 4 minutes. No kidding. And, it tastes amazingly better than that stuff you can buy at the store. So, I'm glad S likes to make pasta. My tummy's glad too.

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