Sunday, November 9, 2008

Homemade Pasta - A Pathetic Attempt at Parpadelle

For about 10 years I was a vegetarian. However, since I have never liked mushrooms, eggplant, or avocado (aka the holy trinity of vegetarianism) I often referred to myself as a carbohydratarian (which naturally preceeded the creation of this blog--carb loading without remorse). Although I now eat meat again (in limited quantity), I have also expanded my cooking/baking of carbs - hence the bread blog. Most of my time spent with dough is of the yeasted kind. For the amount of pasta we consume, before this week I'd never actually made my own. So I thought I would give it a shot. Let's just say that we need some more work.

I made a basic dough; flour, semolina, salt, olive oil, and eggs, and I cranked it through my atlas pasta machine that has been languishing in the bottom of the cupboard (even through two moves). I blame the machine for most of my frustrations. Because our counter has a deep bull nose lip and a wood molding, the machine wouldn't latch onto the edge of the counter. I was forced to clamp it to a wooden cutting board that was cantilevered off the counter at a precarious angle and was prone to sliding all over the place. This of course made it more difficult to handle the dough as it was rolled through progressively smaller passes. I also blame myself for thinking I need to work hard at keeping really long strips of dough intact. Add to that the fact that I probably should have stopped at one notch before the smallest setting, and I ended up with 10 foot long strips of translucent dough that was difficult and delicate to handle for a novice. I also didn't flour it well enough or let it dry long enough before cutting, so all of my thin layers of pasta fused together and were difficult to separate when dumping into the boiling water.

Lessons learned (assisted by a random catching of Molto Mario - on a channel that Dish is giving us free this month - where Mario Batali made homemade pasta. He used more flour, rolled not as thin, and when the sheets of pasta got too long, he just cut them into more manageable pieces, because seriously, does anyone want a 12 foot long piece of spaghetti?) I certainly plan to give this another go when I have enough time to wrangle the pasta-machine-on-cutting-board setup.

In an attempt to highlight the pasta itself, I made a simple sauce: saute thinly cut onion (or shallot) and garlic in butter and olive oil, add frozen or fresh peas, cook through, add a handful of fresh basil, toss gently with pasta and cover with parmesan/pecorino. If it's too dry you can add a bit of reserved pasta water.


Danielle said...

Homemade pasta IS the best. I have random, vague memories of making it at the Spear's when we were little. Do you?

Ethan said...

I mostly remember rolling slices of bread through the machine until it was very thin and then putting it through the fettucini cutter so you had these thin, dense, strips of bread.