Monday, 3 September 2012

Home Made Pasta (Making it from Scratch)

My cupboards are full of dried pasta in varying forms.  Love it.  So versatile, quick and filling.  However, inspired by the wealth of cookery programmes on TV right now, namely 'Simply Italian' on Channel 4 featuring The Chiappa Sisters, I decided to go to the next level and make my own pasta from scratch as demonstrated on the show.

My friend Lucy, who is also a fellow foodie and Chiappa Sisters fan, had made her batch of pasta the week before and encouraged me to make my own.  I was a little fearful as I've not always had success with dough-type mixtures before, so it was great to share best practise with her before I got rolling (literally)!

The ingredients are simple to source and the quantities can be multiplied easily according to number of portions required. 

Each person/portion requires:
~ 100g Flour '00' type
~ 1 Egg
~ Pinch of Salt
~ Semolina grains (for the rolling process)

The full recipe, with tips and hints can be found via this link which is the recipe produced for the TV series.
My husband John came on board to help and here's a snapshot of how we produced our lunch using the above recipe:

Step one, for a 2 person portion, we placed 200g of type '00' flour onto a board, made a well in the middle and then cracked 2 eggs into the well.  Gently with a fork, we mixed the flour and eggs together until it eventually became a dough ball.

Step two, when the dough comes together as a ball, knead it for a good 5 minutes until its texture is like 'play-dough' (see the recipe link for tips and hints for this stage).  Then wrap it in cling-film and let it rest for 30 minutes.

Step three, if you plan to use a pasta machine, see the recipe for instructions.  But we used a rolling pin (and heaps of 'elbow grease'!) to our make the pasta strips.  We coated the board with dried semolina and a little '00' flour on the rolling pin then pulled off a small bit from the dough ball and then rolled it out into a long section (turning it, rolling it, turning it, rolling it etc) until it was as thin as a playing card.

Then using a pasta cutter if you have one, or a pizza slicer as we did (but a knife is fine too), cut it into long strips, imitating pappardelle shaped pasta (or a thinner version if you prefer).

Repeat the above steps until all the dough has been used up.  But be careful not to use too much flour during the rolling process, using semolina is advisable as it won't make the pasta heavy like excess flour would.

Lucy's pasta drying next to her home-grown garlic!

A close-up of our semolina sprinkled pasta strips hanging to dry
Step four, once the strips have been cut, they need to be dried for a short while, ideally for an hour.  We used a coat hanger to hang them on suspended from a cupboard edge (see our photos above).

Step five, after an hour, they're ready to cook in salted water but they will only need 5 minutes, so keep checking during the cooking process to ensure that the pasta doesn't become soggy.  When ready, drain and prepare to serve with sauce or vegetables or indeed whatever you like!

We used the pasta to make 2 portions, one for me (using Linda McCartney Fish Free Prawns) and one for my husband (using a seafood medley pack) based on the recipe in my recent blog post - 'A Star is Prawn'. I photographed our two portions  (see below)- difficult to tell the difference which proves you can have the same meal experience with only one small switch.
But using home-made pasta added a dimension of not only enhanced taste but also beaming pride of a new skill accomplished.  Thoughts now turn to making dried pasta shapes, gnocchi and there is even talk of purchasing a pasta rolling machine - but one step at a time I think ......

For now, I'm pleased as punch with our pasta making experience and ready to make some more in the weeks to come but it is definitely a weekend culinary task when you have more time to play with. 

But I think as a girl that likes to cover all bases, I'll still keep a bag of dried spirelli in the cupboard for those times when I want my pasta faster :)

Non-Identical Twins: Fish Free Prawn Version on the left and Seafood Medley Version on the right

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