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Thursday, August 20, 2009

flour + eggs = pasta

i first decided to try homemade pasta a couple of weeks ago, and it was a JOKE. my first batch of dough was so hard that i was sore for 2 days from trying to knead it. i trashed that batch and started over, getting a much more reasonable density, but had only a glass from the cabinet to use to roll it out. i don't even own a rolling pin. by the time i was done, i had dough that was about 1/8" thick, and any attempt i made to roll it out further was met with the dough springing back onto itself. i made ravioli, and while they tasted okay, they were thick and clumsy and hard. as i said, a JOKE.

so, i bought a pasta machine. the dough is fed through the rollers, and comes out in perfect, paper-thin sheets. but again, trials and errors. after my first try using the machine, i thought, man, have we been fooled! this is almost faster than cooking dried pasta! the next 4 times, however, were disasters. either too crumbly, too dry, or entirely too sticky-- all ended up in the garbage.

i decided to try again, but take it slower this time. i would not be outsmarted by a couple of eggs and handfuls of flour. it happened that i caught an episode of everyday italian on the food network, a show i never watch but perhaps should, just in time to see giada de laurentiis making pasta dough with her aunt. i took careful notes and tried again.

giada's dough recipe made more than i was willing to commit to, so i found a classic pasta recipe on the williams sonoma website. fresh pasta recipe here. it worked! they use the well method, which works fine, but i took a tip from giada and got the dough started in the food processor. just pulse the flour and eggs together until the dough begins to stick to itself. it won't form a ball. turn the dough out on your board, and knead until it's smooth and elastic.

the batch i'd made a couple of weeks ago was filled with ricotta, parmesan and mozzarella, and the sauce was roasted sungold tomatoes with fresh basil. seems williams sonoma had the same idea, and had it published on their site. i followed theirs this time, which added lemon zest to the filling (great touch!) and more olive oil to the sauce. it was delicious! cheese ravioli with cherry tomato sauce.

making fresh pasta may not replace buying fresh or dried. i'm on the fence so far. but, it's a great alternative, and it's right up my alley to know that if i have flour and eggs, i have pasta.

a pound of pasta dough goes a long way, so i had plenty left over. i decided to try two ways of preserving it-- i used the machine to cut it into fettucine, then tossed the noodles in flour so they won't stick to each other and formed them into nests.

one group dried for an hour and went in the freezer, another group dried for 24 hours and went in the pantry. i really have no idea what the results will be, but it seems i'll have the chance to find out.

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