Monday, October 10, 2011

Making Pasta!

Continuing on with the pasta and dumplings chapter for this month's

My three year old and I decided to tackle plain old "egg" pasta and try out both my new King Arthur Perfect Pasta Blend and my "new-to-me" pasta maker (this one: Imperia Pasta Machine Deluxe Set ) It was a lot of fun! We used the recipe on the back of the pasta flour bag, which is very close to the one in The Professional Chef. In addition to the basic recipe below, I added about 1/2 tsp of freshly ground "Italian Herb Seasoning" from McCormick's grinder.

Here's the recipe:

King Arthur Flour's Perfect Pasta

3 cups Perfect Pasta Flour Blend
4 large eggs
2 to 4 tablespoons water
1/2 cup flour (use this to flour your work surface and dough)

Place the Perfect Pasta Blend into a food processor, bread machine or bowl. Mix in the 4 large eggs all at once. Once mixed, knead adding only enough water to form a smooth dough. Form the dough into a rectangle, about 1" thick, wrap well and set aside for 30 minutes or so,  allowing it to rest. Once it has rested, flour both sides of the dough rectangle and run it  through your pasta machine on the thickest setting. Repeat the process, flouring as necessary and gradually reducing the thickness setting until the desired thickness is reached. To do this by hand simply use a rolling pin and roll out to the desired thickness, being sure to keep both sides of the dough well floured. Cut into shapes by hand or by machine and toss with flour to prevent sticking. Hang in individual strands or arrange into small nests and allow to dry.

To cook: Boil 4 quarts of water with 1 tablespoon salt. Drop the pasta in to cook. Cook for 2 to 4 minutes, until the pasta has cooked but is still slightly firm. Fresh pasta cooks very quickly, so keep an eye on it. Remove from the water and toss with a bit of oil or sauce.

Yield: 1.5 lbs dough (approx. 4 servings).

Just 4 ingredients: Perfect Pasta flour, eggs, water and Italian Seasoning

Pour the beaten eggs into a well in the middle of the flour
Enlist the help of a 3 year old! Since they don't make small enough food gloves, we put plastic bags over her hands...
A little dancing always makes cooking more fun!

Use a fork to incorporate the eggs into the flour
When it gets thick enough, use your hands to get all that flour into the dough
Make sure to let your helper in on the action
Pat it out to about an inch thick
Ready to rest
Feed it through the machine on the thickest setting
Continue feeding through, reducing width on machine to desired thickness. I went to the 3rd stop for the fettuccine and the 2nd stop for the spaghetti
Fettuccine drying on the rack

Spaghetti "nests"
So, what did I learn while making pasta this round? First, cut the pasta sheets to a manageable size when feeding through the machine! It's hard to try and keep it all separated and neat when the sheets are too long.  Second, if you're going to make "spaghetti" which is thin, cook it fresh. Dried, it crumbled too much and ended up in small "chicken noodle soup" noodles. Next time I'll make and cook it the same day. Third, don't use too heavy a sauce with spaghetti as it is delicate. I haven't cooked the fettuccine yet, but will use a heavier sauce with it since it's hardier.  All in all this was a good test and tasted fabulous! I'd forgotten how easy it is to make fresh pasta and now that I remember may do it more often!