Sunday, August 19, 2007

A Glorious Food Day Despite the Weather - Pasta Making

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Yesterday started out badly. My Honey and I were supposed to go to Truro for the Wild Blueberry Festival with Sharron, Joanna, Ezra and the star.....


Unfortunately, it's been raining since Thursday and yesterday was no exception. All our plans were foiled, but the day ended up gloriously none the less.

This story actually begins back in June. Joanna decided that she wanted a pasta maker for her birthday and Ezra thought that sounded terrific. I did some research on different pasta makers and the winner was Marcato Atlas Pasta Maker. It has the most fantastic attachments. Ezra bought her the pasta maker and we bought her the ravioli and one other attachment (I don't remember which one, so we'll all be surprised when it gets here). The one store in Halifax that carries it, The Cookhouse, had to order it. Not a problem, since Joanna and family were off to camp for the summer. But this week she picked up the pasta maker (the attachments still haven't arrived) and on Tuesday we made a plan for going to the blueberry festival and then pasta and a movie back at their place.

Well the blueberry festival didn't happen (at least not for us - rain, rain go away...), and the day started later than we planned...everyone had errands to do. But we ended up almost ready to go at 4pm at their house. I say "almost ready" because Boaz was too cute to resist and in a very playful mood. Before we knew it, it was 6 pm and we hadn't started to do the pasta yet.

I know those of you who do make your own pasta will be rolling your eyes and making "tsk, tsk" noises, but remember - this was all a new adventure to us. In fact we even roasted a large salmon fillet just in case we totally messed up. So for all you pasta making newbies, who've gotten the bug from all the really good pasta makers at any of the terrific Presto Pasta Night Roundups, this post, through our blunders should help you out. And for all you pros out there, it will have you shaking your head and hopefully bring a chuckle or two - and some much needed advice.

Normally I'm a planner when it comes to making something I'm unfamiliar with. I even did some research last week, which was how I found the video clip of Peter Pasta on You Tube. So why didn't I look through my umpteen magazines and cookbooks for a basic "how to"? Why didn't Joanna and I discuss what kind of sauce we wanted before 6 p.m. yesterday?....All very good questions, my friends. I guess we were both too busy with getting back into our routines...she back to the office, me unpacking and babysitting. So sit back and enjoy the frenzy. By the way, it took five adults to manage the process. One to look after Bo and the rest of us to make the pasta.

Boaz & Poppa

6PM...take the pasta maker out of the box and look quickly at the instructions....

"What kind of sauce should we do?".....hmmm at least 5 minutes of "creamy?, frozen marinara I made over the summer?, pesto? ...and the winner...(so we could really taste the pasta) was a very simple toss with butter, extra virgin olive oil and finely chopped garlic with a little fresh parsley, coarsely chopped and a crank or two of freshly ground black pepper"

Time now is a blur, but...

The booklet with the pasta maker has a basic recipe which didn't seem to be detailed enough for us (I just read it online -and now it seems quite clear, but we were in "hurry up and be crazy" mode). So Joanna looked through another cookbook - I don't know which one and between the two of them, we muddled through.

The Marcato brochure said 500 g of flour but we were too busy to hunt for a scale so we used 5 cups of flour...(Oh by the way...Joanna called as we were driving over to say she had picked up whole wheat flour by mistake and could I get regular all-purpose flour. No problem...dashed through a crazy busy parking lot to the nearest Super Store - in the pouring rain with the umbrella that got turned inside out, but back to the story...) and added the five eggs called for.

hmmm...something doesn't look right - way too floury so add more eggs. I think we ended up using 9 or 10.

Finally it looks like dough, but not all the flour is incorporated (after 3 of us taking turns kneading for more than 5 minutes).

It's hard to see the flour flakes in the dough here. I remember Peter Pasta saying that some people say to let the pasta rest covered for a while (I didn't remember how long and we didn't read the instructions that did say 1 hour - OH, OH!) so we did let it rest for about 5 minutes or so...the time it took us to find the perfect spot on the counter to attach the machine. Sounds simple, but we seemed to be technically challenged at the time. I'll just blame it on too many cooks having too much play time with the baby.

Now for the fun part...really, all of it was fun....passing the dough through the pasta maker. At least 3 of us did that at any given time- not because it was hard, but because everyone wanted to get in the act.

Flatten, fold, crank it through the widest opening at least 5 times

Then once at every thinner turn of the dial until it finally it looks like this - and we are very, very proud of ourselves.

It's time to decide...fettuccine or spaghetti? Fettuccine won, but it did take us awhile to figure out the size of the ball of dough to begin the process and how long to cut each flat sheet before threading through the fettuccine slot.

The real to separate and dry out the noodles so they don't form back into one giant clump? I knew we should have bought that Pasta Drying Rack! Sooooo.... we tried a coat hanger suspended over the table from the dining room lighting - ridiculous - I know - and ended up just dusting the table with flour and laying the strands out carefully.

I still have no idea how long they should be left to air dry, I'm sure it's longer than we did it for -time is a blur here too. But after a while I made, what was supposed to be nests - they did start out that way, but I kept fluffing them up every once in a while to make sure they wouldn't stick together.

And now everyone is busy, madly scurrying about at their stations....feeding Bo (left to Poppa - that's my Honey), making the fettuccine, clearing space at the "drying" station.

Finally, it's time to boil the water, roast the salmon (me), whip up the salad (Jo) which didn't take long at all. Which is a good thing because it only takes 2-3 minutes for the pasta to be ready. Naturally we made enough for 12 and decided to freeze 6 of the "nests" separately in ziplock bags for another day. I'll let you know how that works out. One thing I love about experimenting in the kitchen, is all the surprises - and most of them good!

The fettuccine with Olive Oil, Butter, Garlic & Parsley with some freshly ground pepper was delicious, if I do say so myself . Oh ...and the movie..Deja Vu with Denzel Washington which was terrific. In fact, Joanna - notorious for falling asleep in the first 10 minutes of a movie, watched the entire thing. I will say this - without giving away the plot - that the ending had us talking all the way back home.

End of a great evening.....Midnight!!!


Deborah said...

What a fun adventure!!! I have never made homemade pasta before, but it looks like a lot of fun!

Valli said...

I don't have a pasta maker myself. I put it on my Christmas list every year...but I am still waiting people!!! When at the cooking school in Greece we used a pasta maker to make filo dough. In the restaurants there their filo is not the thin flaky sheets we are used to, but thicker.

katiez said...

Looks like you had a great time!
I never worried about drying the pasta. It hung until I was ready to cook it. If I wasn't cooking it fairly quickly, I looped it together and put it in the fridge in cling film. I never let it dry completely... no reason, just didn't.

Ferdzy said...

Lordy! What a riot.

I was happy to see you mention the brand of pasta maker as I just got that exact same one for my brother-in-laws birthday present. We got him a cheaper one (made in China) last year and the rollers warped (!) or something; he loved it but it just wasn't sturdy.

Sara said...

I have got to find my pasta maker! I'd forgotten how much fun that is.

Ruth Daniels said...

Deborah, my daughter was really surprised that I (who have every gadget you can think of) doesn't own one either. I'm not sure how long that will last.

Valli, what an interesting use for the pasta maker. We might have to try it...have you got a recipe?

Katiez, we certainly did. No one even realized that it took 2 hours to get food on the table. Thanks for the tip.

Ferdzy - it was! and hopefully the pasta maker will last as long as they say.

Sara, you really do have to dig it up.

Nora B. said...

What a wonderful adventure! Sounds like something out of my kitchen. I am planning to buy a pasta roller, so this post will come in handy. Such an enjoyable post, Ruth.
p/s: it's been raining here non-stop for the last 2 days.

Ulrike said...

Ruth, I did it. I ordered the pasta attachment for my Kitchen Aid! Can't wait for it.

Judith in Umbria said...

Look at the above... down a way I make pasta in 15 minutes from flour to my plate.

Don't listen to tales about how difficult it is or how perfect you must be. It's fun, it's easy and if you make a mistake, it's a cheap one! If the many pasta making posts don't suffice, I'll email you my phone number... good until 4PM your time. If you want pappardelle or other non-standard noodles, just flour well your sheets, roll them up and cut them with your knife. A floury kitchen towel is a good resting place.

Dry it or freeze it, doesn't matter. I found the ravioli maker was a lot harder than doing it by hand.

My pasta roller is about 30 now. As long as you NEVER wash it, yours will last forever, too.

Windy said...

Wow! Never thought of making pasta myself although I believe it must taste much better than the dry one. Looks like fun! BTW, thanks for leaving a comment on my blog and it's my pleasure to join your wonderful idea of PPN...

The Cooking Ninja said...

Ooh... delicious home made pasta :) And Boaz is so cute.

abby said...

looks good ruth! i use my clothes drying rack to hang my pasta noodles!

Ruth Daniels said...

nora, glad the post got you excited enough to buy a pasta maker. At least the rainy days are good for something.

Ulrike, I'm jealous! It is on my wish list though.

Judith, awesome post, thanks for sharing the tip and please submit it to Presto Pasta Nights - it's perfect.

Abby, thanks for the tip about clothes drying rack.

And yes, Boaz is cute!!!

Thanks all for the comments.

CarJa said...

That looks delicious...and what a funny story! Makes me want to cook home-made pasta myselft!