Monday, June 1, 2009

Homemade Pasta, Messily

The inspiration here came from a post I found on Macheesmo when browsing his Learn to Cook section. Inspiration actually being an important word. He says (hope he won't mind me quoting): "This is one of those posts that I think really embodies what I’m trying to do with this site. I’ve never made fresh pasta before. The excuse I’ve always said is that I don’t have a pasta press. But a few weeks ago I got to thinking that you know what, pasta was made before pasta presses. Not having that one little piece of equipment shouldn’t stop me from giving it a shot."

Well, I don't have a pasta press either. And, unlike Macheesmo, I don't have any idea what I'm doing. But once he'd pointed out that you could make pasta with a rolling pin, it had to be tried. After all, that's the spirit of this blog, right? Cooking without a clue...

The Recipe: Homemade Pasta
From Mark Bittman, via Macheesmo. I used regular all-purpose flour, rather than semolina. Will try semolina next time, it's apparently a better taste.

It went awry pretty much instantly. You put the flour on your kneading surface, and make a well in it. Then you put your eggs in the well. But, without thinking, I'd beaten the eggs, then noticed that neither he nor Mr. B. had done that. Oh. It probably doesn't matter. Actually, it does. The eggs overflowed my well, and ran all over the board, the table, and a chair:

Frantically, I tried to pen them in with my hands and sop them up with flour - the board, table, and my fingers turned into a gloopy mess. Because I'd lost about a quarter of the eggs, the "dough" was just a bunch of dry crumbs. So I added some water. And it turned into a sticky blob. So added some flour. And it looked like this. Compare and contrast with Macheesmo's.

Mr. B. has some pretty helpful instructions on kneading: "Continue kneading until the dough is completely smooth, somewhat skinlike, with some elasticity (if you break off a piece, it should stretch a bit before breaking; if it breaks off immediately, keep kneading."

So I kneaded mine till it was like skin (rather a repulsive idea at the best of times). Unfortunately, it was like the skin of an elderly gentleman.

The rolling out part went OK. Mr. B. suggested dividing the dough into three, and I followed his advice because I only had a tiny surface area to work on. The disadvantage is that you have to do the rolling three times. Way to get in shape!

But should have checked out Macheesmo's pics before cutting - my strips were way too wide.

But looked quite pasta-like.

But took waaaay longer to cook (about 8-10 mins). Though I comforted myself with the fact that even Macheesmo said his were too fat. They puff up when you cook them too.

But they tasted perfectly fine. Did them with some sauteed shallot, creme fraiche, peas (rather a lot), and chopped Italian parsley.

The conclusion? Ridiculously fun. And I'd like a pasta press.

(More) Pix

Bad pic, sorry - looks a bit disgusting!


Nick said...

Actually, that isn't too far from what happened the first time I tried it ;) Add a little more water and a little more flour, etc.

I'm sure that there are Italian grandmothers that can get it right first try, but it stills turns out. I've made it three or four times now and it gets easier every time.

For your first try I think it looks great!


Yesica N. Cook said...

Thanks, Nick! It certainly was a laugh!

Chocolate Cardamom Cappuccino said...

Everyones pasta starts out like that because no one tells you that each batch of flour is different. Using semolina which is toughter than flour such make for a harder pasta. This site
has a list of recipes and also links to some ezine articles that nailos down how to mkae pasta, however the important thing is not to give up
Thanks for taking the tiem to post

Kate said...

Great stuff! Very impressive!

Yesica N. Cook said...

Thanks CCC! Great link! One day maybe I'll get it right! :)

Kate - well, you didn't have to eat it! xoxo