Trying Something New: Homemade Pasta

I love pasta. We eat it more than once every week. Its great for picnic lunches quick dinners, filling snacks, hot or cold, meat or veggie…… The number of options is endless which is why when I see people making pasta on Masterchef or (my new guilty pleasure) My Kitchen Rules, I find it somewhat odd that so many of them choose to make a pasta dish. It’s great but it seem somewhat everyday and straighforward for a cooking competition…….

But……

the contestants always make their pasta from scratch. How much better does this make it? I tried making pasta once when I was a lot younger and living in Italy. The pronblem was I worked too slowly and the dough dried out before I could get it thin enough to be perfect. This early experience put me off until now.

What’s changed?

A very kind gesture from Mr. Elbi:

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The second he offered a pasta roller I marched him off the road to the kitchen shop where we looked at two models. The Imperia at £60 and another which was a third of the price. On returning home to investigate further, the conclusion we reached was that anything cheaper than the Imperia was not worth the money as customer reviews all said the cheaper models lasted a couple of uses before breaking. Regretting his offer to buy one slightly, Mr Elibi suggested ebay where we found one for £25 pounds apparently used once then left on the shelf. It’s here and I am desperate to try it so it will be my Trying Something New for this week.

Before using the roller, I need some dough. The previous owner of my pasta machine left their recipe in the box and I decided to use it:

INGREDIENTS

8oz ’00 pasta

a pinch of salt

1 tsp olive oil

2 eggs

additional flour for dusting

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Place the flour on a surface and then make a well in the centre. Some recipes call for the flour to be sifted first but if I am completely honest, I couldn’t be bothered with this. Place the remaining ingredients in the well and gradually incorporate the flour. This will be a STIFF dough. If you are used to bread, it will feel wrong but persist and it will come together. Once you have a ball of dough, wrap in clingfilm and leave it in the fridge to rest for at least an hour.

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The Imperia need to be clamped to a table. None of the work surfaces in our kitchen are suitable so I had to use the dining table with an old appliance manual to protect the wood. When I started to feed the dough through the pasta maker on the widest setting, I thought it had gone wrong. Instead of the smooth sheets I was expecting I got:

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Remembering an old episode of Masterchef Australia where a similar thing happened, I kept feeding the dough through the machine and it started to come together:

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Once I had nice smooth dough, I fed it through again and again, reducing the width setting by one after each 2 passes until I got these gorgeous thin sheets.

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As this is my first use of the pasta machine, I kinda wanted to carry on playing so I cut the pasta using the thinnest setting. Although it is technically fettucine, it can easily pass for spaghetti as long as you are not a purist.

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I didn’t dry this pasta but sprinkled it with flour to keep the strands separate and then cooked immediately. This pasta cooks really quickly. I put it into boiling water and when it returned to the boil it was ready. The texture was amazing and overall, the rolling process and cooking only took me a few minutes longer than cooking dried pasta from a packet. It is definately having a go at making your own pasta. It makes the pasta a feature rather than a filler. I am very very happy with my pasta pesto 🙂

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