Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Pasta


As I mentioned, S made pasta last weekend. And he and I made some ravioli out of his pasta. And, I'm going to show you a bit of that here today. I'm not calling this post a "cooking basic" because the way we do it, you need special equipment you might not just have lying around your house. Of course, the way your grandma did it - you could do that...to make pasta that way, you need eggs, flour, a rolling pin and a knife. That's it. Pretty basic. And, a whole lot more work. Even the ravioli - the "old fashioned" way, you would just need some filling and your fingers to pinch together the edges...maybe a stamp, but that's it.



The modern way, we use flour, egg, and a KitchenAid pasta attachment for our mixer. And for the ravioli, we use ravioli trays that make several at a time. They are not very high tech, but faster.

I will cover pizza dough another time - I didn't get enough photos of that to properly describe it.




OK, so to start the pasta, you make a well in about 2.5 cups of flour - with 1/2 cup standing by - and you add three eggs. Then you slowly turn the flour into the eggs until the dough is formed. This is done the "old fashioned" way on the counter top in the flour well, and the real skill is to totally incorporate the egg before one of the sides of the flour well breaks and the egg escapes. This caused a great deal of anxiety for S - would the well break - could he get it incorporated fast enough - will it be consistent? So, he's devised a way to put the whole well into a bowl and incorporate from there. Anxiety gone, incorporation still in tact.







Once it's incorporated, you would then put it out on the counter top and work the dough - sort of knead it - until it's smooth. I didn't get any photos of this.


It will look like this when it's worked enough. Smooth, as opposed to rough.


Then you cut it into four pieces.


Flatten out those pieces.



And start them through the pasta maker. This is automated. The dial on the right turns up by number, which in turn makes the opening smaller, thus changing the glob of dough into thin (or think, if you prefer) sheets of pasta.



Then, if you want spaghetti or fettuccine, you switch out the attachment to the cutting attachment and run it through one more time for the cut. Didn't get a photo of that either. Ahem.



Then you put the pasta on a broom handle over your indoors shutters and let it dry. Or on something so it can hang and dry. There all sorts of "pasta dryers" out there - some which cost lots of money - a broom handle will work. Oh, and pay no attention to the dirty window behind the wet pasta. No attention at all. Thank you.


Once it's dry...



...you can take it down and stack it up or eat it or save it for a few days. If you've made this pasta with all purpose flour, it'll stay good for 4-5 days. If you want it to stay good for longer than that, the pasta must be made with semolina flour. That is what all the dried pasta in boxes at the store are made from.



To cook this pasta - fresh pasta - it only takes about 4 minutes max in boiling water...almost like blanching...but it'll be done. Serve with your favorite tomato sauce and some Parmesan cheese. And maybe a meatball or two or some Italian sausage. And a salad to make you feel better about eating that plate of carbs.

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To make ravioli, you need a filler. Here's another reason this isn't a "cooking basics" post. I don't have a recipe that I use for my ravioli filler. I just make it up. Every time. And it's always a little bit different. Most recipes I've read use egg. I don't use egg - I do use egg if I'm putting the filling in something that will bake. Otherwise, I think the ricotta can stand on its own merits. I'll try to pay attention to amounts and write it down sometime.



This filler - Italian parsley, ricotta and rotisserie chicken. Salt and pepper to taste. Amounts of each ingredient - enough so it "looked right". I've also put a tiny bit of nutmeg in chicken ravioli - just a smidge - and that's tasty. (Spell checker says the proper term is "smidgen" - one letter more doesn't make it a smidge!) In that photo up there - the Italian parsley is hiding on the bottom. I chopped it up into tiny bits before I put in the chicken and cheese.

That reminds me of the time I ordered the "chicken special" at a five star restaurant in Montreal. Talk about the corn-fed Hoosier showing her true blue. But, that's for another day.




That's right, I "cheat" and use rotisserie chicken. You can boil, bake, broil some chicken yourself. But, I like the rotisserie flavor and it always gets raves, so I always cheat in this way. Incidentally, I also do this in my chicken enchiladas. I also made up that recipe, but I did try to write that one down once. Maybe I'll try to find that and share it with you. People see to like that one too. Anway, back to the filling - I really break up the chicken into small pieces.


To blend it, I used the food processor. Just for grins.

To make sure it got blended. I was too tired to stir. And it breaks up the chicken even more.



To make ravioli dough, put the pasta dough through the pasta machine but you don't make it quite as thin as you would for spaghetti - maybe a "3" or "4".


Then, you flour your tray and lay down the pasta.


Then smoosh them through with the handy smoosher.
That's a technical term. Smoosher.



Then you dollop the filling in. These dollops were a bit on the large side.
Dollop - another technical term. Stay with me. Focus.


After that run more pasta through for the "top".


Put the pasta sheet over the filling.



Use the cute little rolling pin that came with the ravioli tray - first pass - just get the filling down in the pasta.


Second pass - push down hard to cut the pasta into sweet little raviolis.


Turn the tray over, tap. Tap. Tap.



Viola! If you used flour, they come right out. The first tray we did - we forgot the flour. They were pretty tightly wedded to that tray. Ahem. Flour the tray. Important step. Scroll back up - that turned over try is NOT floured...



Then, lay the ravioli out individually until they dry a bit before you bunch them up like they are in this photo - also a mistake last weekend - we "bunched" too soon. I had ravioli dumplings...and don't worry about the flour on the pasta - it will come off in the hot, boiling water.

I like to serve this ravioli with a pink sauce - take your favorite tomato sauce and add heavy cream. Pink sauce. And, I garnish with more Italian parsley and toasted walnuts. No "finished product" photo here, because I've not made it yet - the stuck together ravioli dumplings are sitting in the fridge for tonight's meal. Yum!

So, there you go. A little look into S and my pasta factory. Now go make your own factory. You can do it. See you tomorrow.

6 comments:

  1. I'm now going to get the pasta attachment for my mixer - I always wondered if it was worth it, but your photos are leaving me hungry for homemade pasta so I'm buying the attachment!
    -Jackie

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  2. This looks INCREDIBLE!! I'm SO impressed....did S get crazy bread to go with it? ;-)

    Shelby

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  3. Hungry again - I really must stop reading your cooking posts or I'm going to weigh 500 pounds! I don't think you get to say that you "cheated" by using rotisserie chicken. You're making pasta from scratch!!! When do I get to come over for dinner?!?!?!?!? You guys are some serious gourmet cooks! I thought Kev & I were good cooks, but I'm starting to feel really inadequate!!! :-)

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  4. Mom Agnes ( Anne DePiro's mom) use to make her pasta...No job was too hard for this little Italian powerhouse! She has small hands but when they were at work they looked HUGE to me! What memories!

    Cheryl

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  5. Sounds great--I hope it was for all the trouble you go through to make it. I think a box of pasta works just fine!

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  6. Yum! That looks delicious. I have a pasta maker that my dad and I used to make pasta with (imagine that...making pasta with a pasta maker). I remember having tons of fun. Maybe I should bust that thing out again. I'm sure my girls would enjoy making a giant mess with me.

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