Happy Easter everyone! I can’t believe the Easter Long Weekend is nearly over and I accomplished none of the tasks on my (mostly wedding related) to-do list. I’ve made a dent but somehow my expected productivity vs. my actual productivity didn’t quite match!
Oh well, at least next weekend is a 3 day weekend as well… (yes, I am a procrastinator, but yes I am optimistic which is probably a bad combination!)
The one thing I am going to cross off my to do list today is making pasta (from scratch, not a box!)
This is something I’ve attempted before, with very mixed results- but as practice makes perfect, I figure it could be time to try again!
Plus, now that I’m 34 I want to challenge myself in new ways in the kitchen (and out of it) and get out of my comfort zone a little bit. I also want to revisit some of things I’ve learned in the past- like Spanish, photography, and Italian. Of course this applies to cooking classes I’ve done in the past too- pizza, tortillas, duck, tamales, sushi, pasta, etc. Pasta seems like a good place to start- four years ago I took an Italian pasta making class at Cucina Italiana in Sydney and it was really fun. It seemed easy, the pasta was lovely and it seemed like something I could do—no something I would definitely do all the time. Hmmm. In the last 4 years, I think I’ve made fresh pasta twice. The Runner gave me a lovely book, “The Art of Pasta” for Christmas a couple of years ago and the same year another friend gave me a pasta maker. I also have attachments for Barbie (my Kitchen Aid mixer) to help with the pasta process. And yes, I’ve made it twice. Both times ended in tears- and I don’t remember the pasta itself. Only the tears. So you could say I was slightly scarred by the process.
But, I’m ready to give it another go. Today is the day.
I have two cookbooks open and ready to guide me- the virtual encyclopedia of Italian Cooking, The Silver Spoon, and of course, “The Art of Pasta.” I’m making the recipe, “Rag Pasta with tomato, herbs, and goats cheese” aka Stracci al caprino e pomodoro. The recipe itself of course is simple, literally you cut the tomatoes and herbs, put them in a bowl and add the goats cheese. The complicated bit is making the pasta.
Deep Breath. You can do this. You will do this. Dinner and your reputation are on the line. Stop eyeing up that box of Barilla in the cabinet and focus.
I start by moving aside the boxes of penne and spaghetti- their blue boxes tempting me a final time with the ease and convenience of just boiling water and popping pasta in. I close the window (apparently pasta doesn’t like windy rooms (or maybe it’s the flour, not really sure but I’m following the recipe). I measure out 400g of 00 flour and sift it onto my trusty silicon prep mat.
I consult both books before making a well in the middle of the pasta and cracking 4 eggs (1 egg per 100g of flour) in the middle. OK, this is not supposed to be happening. My well as it turns out was more like a pothole and there is now egg seeping over the edges and overflowing my well like lava coming out of a volcano. There is literally egg dripping everyone. I sigh audibly and quickly regroup, grabbing a fork, spoon and spatula to try to stem the flow and combine the flour and the egg. Things are getting better as I slowly incorporate the egg and the flour. Phew!
With that crisis averted, I read on and realize I’m nearly at the kneading stage. One recipe described the kneading process as taking 8 minutes and causing burning in the shoulders… I decided that now would be a good time to take a shortcut and turn to Barbie and her magic Dough Hook. Barbie knocked out the kneading in no time (and with no shoulder burn). I didn’t get a work out but the dough got the kneading it needed. (pardon the pun!)
Then it was time to wrap it in cling film and rest it!
While it rested, I mentally prepared myself for where I’ve always come unstuck before- the rolling out process. However, tonight it all went to plan. I read the instructions in all three cookbooks and the pasta machine and when the timer went off and the hour was over, I started!
Let me tell you- I was a pasta rolling machine. It all came together miraculously and it was actually a lot easier than I remembered. No dramas at all. A few holes in the pasta which were easily solved by re-rolling but the pasta machine was a dream!
The best thing was that the recipe itself was for rag pasta which doesn’t need a specific shape to be cut- just rag shaped strips. It made it really easy to cut how I wanted and it meant I didn’t have to fiddle with the pasta dough too much once it was rolled. A great way to ease into the homemade pasta game.
It tasted delicious! The recipe itself was super simple- I didn’t peel the tomatoes but I don’t think it made a difference! My fear of pasta making is over! It’s definitely not something I would do every day- I can’t imagine coming home on a Tuesday and whipping up a bowl of fresh pasta but for a weekend meal, it’s perfect! Challenge conquered!