Friday, August 26, 2011

~Handmade Pasta~

picture from

Martha Stewart Living Television, November 2000

  • Yield Makes 1 1/2 pounds

  • Ingredients
    • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 5 large eggs
    • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt


    1. Mound flour in the center of a work surface, forming a well in the center. Crack the eggs into the well. Add oil and salt.
    2. Beat eggs with a fork until smooth. Gradually work flour into the eggs.
    3. Use a bench scraper to work in the rest of the flour, a bit at a time.
    4. Once all the flour has been incorporated, start working the dough with your hands to form a rounded mass for kneading. Be sure the work surface is clean of all loose bits of dough; lightly dust with flour. Knead the dough until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.
    5. Cover the dough with an inverted bowl or plastic wrap; allow to rest 1 1/2 hours, or chill overnight.
    6. Divide dough into large walnut-size pieces. Quickly knead and flatten each portion of dough into a disc; very lightly dust with flour. Feed through a pasta machine set at the machine's widest setting. (If pasta pulls or tears when passing through machine, simply sprinkle a little more flour over the dough, just before it's fed, to keep it from sticking. When finished, remove excess flour with a dry brush.) As the pasta sheet emerges, gently support it with your palm and guide it onto work surface. Fold the sheet lengthwise into thirds. Repeat sequence twice on the same setting to smooth dough and increase its elasticity. Thin the dough by passing it through even finer settings, one pass on each setting from widest to narrowest (machine settings differ -- some have as many as 10, others only six). Repeat with remaining dough.
    7. Pass each portion of dough through cutting blade for desire thickness. To cut by hand; lightly fold sheets one at a time into thirds. Cut with a sharp knife into desired thickness.

    I'll fess up. I typically don't go into the dramatic details of my life on my blog for several reasons (just turn on your TV.  There, you can watch all the drama you want).  However, I will say that cooking relieves just about every stress factor that may be present in my life.  The more I saute, julienne, bake or pre-heat,my problems get more and more meaningless.  Or, often a method of action comes to me when I least expect it, often at the cutting board.  There is direct relationship between the stress in my life and how  my kitchen starts sizzling, cranking out the most wonderful foods.  You can catch me pre-heating like mad when I need to unwind. 

    I look at it this way; whatever I creatively do in the kitchen not only helps me to feel better (it's a creative outlet) but it blesses those around me with good food.  What better way to deal with life than to create something spectacular?  To me, life is comprised of flavors and really you could describe everyday experiences and situations in terms of food and flavors.  Did someone piss you off?  Then they were a nasty Limburger that was left in the heat of summer and has since become way to over-ripe for ones liking.  Or maybe they'd be considered and immature pinot grigio that still has some much needed maturation.  George Bernard Shaw said, "There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  George, you are exactly right.

    Divine.  Truly divine.  There is just nothing that compares to the wondrous texture and the nutty flavor of freshly made pasta.  There is no comparison.  If you haven't made pasta by hand already definitely put it on your list of things to make.

    After ooohing and aweing through ever single bite of our dinner, I picked up the phone to call my partner in cooking crime, my father.  He was thrilled to hear that I had made pasta and he told me that James Beard ranted and raved about handmade pasta, but that hardly anyone listened.  He was making a ratatouille so I couldn't chat too long with him, but I think I will have him over soon for some fresh pasta.  You don't have to be a great cook to make this, just the average Joe.  All it takes is a little time, egg yolks, semolina flour and there you have it-fresh, tasty, delicious pasta.

    If I had to approximate the amount of time that it takes to make pasta by hand, I would say that it took me approximately 30 minutes of active time at most-maybe 45?  I would compare the pasta making craft with something like baking a simple cake, in terms of the time. 

    Photo Gallery

    The 00 semolina flour straight from Italy.  So it begins.  Simple ingredients often yield spectacular results.
    Ooooops!  There goes a few eggs.  Chester??  Here boy!
    Here we are working hard in the kitchen to crack 16 eggs for their yolks.  I can see why people limit their pasta consumption.  I had no idea-16 yolks!  Oh well, it was so worth it.
    Gabriel was very sneaky.  He kept sticking his little finger into the mix to sneak in a taste.  
    Gabriel the dough boy.
    Do not attempt to put the whole batch into your pasta machine like I did.  Since this was my first time doing this, I had no idea what to do.  I learned that you need to pull off a small piece at a time to run through the machine.  It all gets shredded into pasta in the end so you can work in small batches.
    Wow! The pasta dough was getting really tough!

    Once I figured out that the key was to work with small batches of dough, it came out looking good.
    The pasta needs to sit for 20 minutes.  I went outside to gather up some ingredients for a salad and to find something pretty for the table.
    The tomatoes are starting to ripen up!
    I went ahead and bought a jar of sauce for the pasta.  This was a great sauce.  A little watery, but the flavor was there.  Plenty of spices and flavor-especially with the chanterelles.
    When I cook pasta, I always throw some salt and sugar into the boiling water before I add the pasta.  I also add olive oil too.  I just picked this up at the farmers' market this week.  It's a meyer lemon infused olive oil.  Really good!
    The pasta has now set for 20 minutes.  We are ready to shred.  I switched the attachment on the mixer to the spaghetti slicer.  We were in business.
    This was a hard picture to take with one hand.  I had to operate in milliseconds as the spaghetti came out and I had to catch it with a plate while at the same time I took a picture.  
    All done.  Fresh handmade pasta. 
    I was proud of these noodles like a mama that has just heard their child speak their first word.  I'm really not joking ;)
    Now it's time to boil.  The noodles are so firm that the boiling does not make them lose their shape (for those that don't know).  At first I thought I was missing a step or something.  But you really do just put them in the boiling water.
    While the noodles were boiling, I started on the salad.  This is a chioggia beet is from our garden.  It's an heirloom beet. 
    Back to the noodles.  They are done boiling.
    I sprinkled a little extra basil on the noodles for some more flavor.
    This is a simple meal that we really enjoyed. 
    Of course, for those of you that can have cheese, a little fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano is a must.

    ~Dinner Was Served~

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