Thursday, 16 June 2011

If at first you don’t succeed…

What do you get from these ingredients (besides the name of where we usually shop)? Theoretically, it should be pasta.

Do you have a cookbook – or two – that you never use from but don’t want to get rid of because the recipes sound so fabulous? I have this kind of relationship with Mario Batali’s Simple Italian Food. Well, the other day I finally cracked it open with the intention of making one of the staples of most Italian food – pasta. I feel I owe it to my own Italian heritage – and my great-grandmother Assunta’s cooking skills – to master basics like this.

Scarily, you don’t have to use a bowl, because you keep the eggs and olive oil in the center of a mound of flour while you start to blend everything together. Something like this…

I had high hopes after seeing that this stuff stayed together long enough for me to take a picture. But then, I started to mix it. See, the problem with adding in flour with the beaten eggs and oil is that it takes away from the “well” walls. I was soon in a messy battle between falling flour and runny dough, but then gave up and just smooshed everything together so the dough would become firmer more quickly.

Once I actually had the dough, I thought that was the hard part done.  I rolled it out with my trusty wooden pin to the absolute thinnest I could go, cut it into uneven tagliatelle strips and put it in the fridge until dinner – a big mistake.

While in the fridge, the pasta meshed into a firm, cold mound that did not easily separate when dropped into a big pot of boiling water. The pasta was also very thick as I didn’t roll it out as thinly as I thought, so I added a little extra cooking time to compensate. Even so, the pile of tire-quality, congealed rubber was hardly the rustic homemade pasta I’d envisioned.

So, this is one to try again when I have done these two things: 
  1. bought a pasta rolling machine
  2. read about the proper techniques that are supposed to be followed when mixing and then storing pasta
There’s another portion left in the fridge for tonight’s dinner…can’t wait…

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