Friday, February 25, 2011

crafting food: pasta from scratch

pasta in the making

i spent part of an afternoon last week making pasta. i wish i used my hand-crank machine more often because it can be both delicious and economical but it can also require a bit of time and muscle....two things which i've never had much of. on the other hand, i love how the hand-crank puts you directly in touch with the most authentic pasta there is and it's such a satisfying thing to see the way in which the most humble of tools, our hands, can produce food for the table.

the recipe is simple and while there are variations, the main ingredients have remained the same for centuries:

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
2 TBLS water
1 tsp salt
(i always end up needing to add more water than that to get my dough to stick together but this is a good place to start.)
more flour for dusting as you work the dough through the machine

mix the ingredients together thoroughly and add more water as needed until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. use your hands to finish forming it into a ball and divide this into several smaller ones the size of large golf ball. follow the directions that accompany your particular machine for thinning and cutting the dough.

hand-cranked pasta
yummy fresh goodness

once you've got that part done, you can either dry it and it will last for eons or you can freeze it and it will last a half eon (just my rough estimate, ahem):

drying: you can dry your pasta by placing it on linen towels along the counter (if you use towels or your pasta is just thick, you do need to move the it around every so often so that the air is getting circulated), over the back of a chair, or even spread out along the length of a broom stick setting between two chairs. you can use a fancy pasta drying rack or a clothes drying rack. whatever you do, just make sure the surface that the pasta is touching is clean and that your canine or feline friends are kept away from the area as it can take a while to dry completely, depending on the humidity of the room/time of year.

freezing: if the whole drying process sounds a bit elaborate, the good news is that you can freeze or refrigerate fresh pasta (refrigerate only up to a week) so that all your hard work is easily stored for later use. plus, fresh pasta boils in just a minute or two so it's ready to eat in a jiffy. yep, i just said jiffy.

i'm looking forward to eating ours with chicken parmajohn. yes, parmajohn. it's one of my husband's go-to meals for when i just need a night off from cooking and i must say he does a great job. especially considering that when i met him, he was living off of pan-friend steak, subway, chinese take-out, and tortellini salad...o dearie my, sometimes learning about food and putting more muscle into it is totally worth it  :)


DK said...

Oh I bet that tastes just awesome. Hmm I don't have a machine but maybe I could make tortellini or something...

thestoryofkat said...

yeah you can definitely do folded or cut pasta shapes like tortellini or ravioli without a machine. i was just reading about how to do it but haven't tried it yet.

this looks helpful:

maureencracknell said...

Lucky you -- I have made handmade pastas, but never with that great machine. I really should get one! We always just use a pizza cutter to make the strips.

Have a great weekend!

considerthelillies said...

my sister in law had her Nanna's hand cranked pasta maker and everything she made was so delicious! There is a big difference between fresh and boxed. Your husband must be thanking his lucky stars for a wonderful wife like you!!

thestoryofkat said...

maureen—yeah i got the pasta machine as a gift from my mom a while back...would probably have never bought one for myself but i do love it. great idea on the pizza cutter!

considerthelillies—you are so right, there really is a difference. i am always telling my husband that he is a very lucky man when i make a big meal with a wink and nudge until he agrees, LOL. gotta get some credit for the few things i am any good at ;)

Meeling said...

Looks yummy yummy! Love your photos...I have made pasta from scratch with my stand up mixer...wish I had the nice crank model like you...not sure I'd have the muscle though!!

Know you've got me thinking about pasta for dinner tonight...hmmmmmm...

Have a lovely weekend!

Emily Elizabeth said...

Mmmm.... I have never made my own pasta before. I'll have to have you over sometime and you can make some for me!

yellowfish said...

Oh my gosh, my Mom used to make pasta with a machine like that, and I've been wanting one.. now I REALLY want one :).