Saturday, October 24, 2009

Pasta Attempt

This pasta was more learning experience than anything.
Round 1 shall we say?~

Right after college, Mom gifted me with her old- and my first- bread machine. It sat in a place of honor on the counter of the apartment I shared with a friend. The kitchen was your standard mish-mash of the selected tools two 22-year-olds would have. The bread machine was an odd ball, the item people pointed at and asked "what is that?" when they walked in.

The first attempt at pizza was a wretched disaster. I had no concept of what dough should look or feel like, or that a slight imbalance of ingredients could throw the whole thing off. That first batch was wet, almost liquid, and I had no idea how to fix it. It went in the trash and we ordered pizza delivery that night.


While my first attempt at homemade pasta couldn't be called a success, it wasn't the miserable failure the pizza was. I summoned the nerve to go for it Friday night- retrieved the pasta machine from the garage, researched techniques and consulted recipes here, here, and here- so after changing into comfy clothes and opening a bottle of wine, I got to work on the dough.
I used two eggs and 1 cup of flour.

No bread machine here, just the ingredients and my two hands- eep! I can't deny that the machine makes things so simple for me. I have a pretty good idea of what dough should look and feel like but I haven't logged the hours working with it in my hands. Cracking the eggs into the well of flour was definitely scary. I read that I could use a bowl but I threw caution to the wind and just used my hands. Bonus: no utensils to clean!
I tried to approach it with confidence, the idea being that you show your fear and the dough will see it. :-) After a bunch of kneading I came up with this, which looked pretty good to me.
I let it rest for 20 minutes under a towel while I fussed over the pasta machine and Ray readied himself with his wine and my camera.

This is where things got dicey. I suppose I should have watched some tutorials online for technique, I couldn't get the hang of putting the dough through the machine. It would puddle at the bottom and get all clumped together, so I tried to catch it as it came through but then I'd lose the top.

I think my other problem was not enough flour. I should have floured the dough and my counter more- it was sticking to every surface too much, and pilling and breaking in places. It came to the point where I needed to stop and decide to work with what I had or scrap everything.

Unlike the pizza, I did not scrap: my pasta was in various states of mutilation: I had a few chunky pieces that I put through the fettucine mold with terrible results, and some large sheets which I jaggedly cut to smaller sizes. Think of lasagna noodles, that's kind of what I had created. I threw all of this into my boiling water for about 2 minutes, then used a spider to retrieve them into two plates, trying to give Ray and I equal amounts of good looking and crummy noodles. I sprinkled them with some fresh parsley and lots of parmesan and romano cheese.

So this is what we ate. It was actually quite good, although the really thick pieces I left behind- they weren't so great. The flavor of the egg pasta was wonderful, and the texture had real homemadeness. Basically, I could really see its potential as an outstanding meal- and not terribly difficult once I get it down.
So we'll be trying this again soon . . . . once I get the nerve again!



David said...

Hey, sounds like you had the same issues we've been having :) My biggest problem with my pasta machine is that the handle keeps falling out of the machine, and invariably ends up on my toes. Over time, I think we've found the best results are when we've used plenty of flour like you suggested, and made sure we got the measurements of ingredients quite precise.

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