Thursday, August 21, 2008
Pasta Time - What Is It Wednesday Revealed
Yesterday's What Is It Wednesday? was a bit difficult for people to guess. The metal appliance is actually a pasta machine, and I used it Sunday to make fresh pasta for dinner. My mother was one of 11 children of Italian immigrants, so I watched her, my grandmother, my aunts and even an uncle make pasta from the time I was very young. There is nothing like fresh, homemade pasta.
I'm guessing most people don't make pasta these days, so I'll give you a bit of a pasta-making lesson.
You basically need flour and eggs (and a *tiny* bit of water) to make pasta. I don't measure, but I remember my mother once saying that you basically need one egg for each cup of flour. I guess that I had about two cups of flour (above) and two eggs. Some people add salt. I do not.
Mix the flour and eggs together. Once they start to stick together, I wet my hands a little and mix them together a little more.
Once the dough forms, knead it together for a few minutes.
Roll the dough into a ball and let it rest for about 5-10 minutes. We always put it under a bowl so the outside doesn't dry out.
Slice the dough to prepare it for the pasta machine.
Flour the outside of each roll and roll it through on the machine's widest setting. (Above) Lightly flour both sides of the dough out and lay it out. Repeat with all slices. (Below)
Roll the dough through the machine again, using a setting that is less wide. Repeat until you get the dough as thin as you want it. I start at #8 width (First photo above) and end usually make about 4 passes through the roller, ending at either #2 or #3 width. You can tell by the two photos that the thinner the width, the longer the dough gets.
Roll each long slice through either the pasta or fettucine cutter. I usually make spaghetti (above).
Lay the spaghetti on clean towels and sprinkle with a little flour so that the strands don't stick together (above). Depending on how much you make, you can let it dry and store for later use, or you can cook immediately.
Bring water to a boil, add pasta, and watch carefully. Fresh pasta doesn't take more than 3-5 minutes to cook (depending on its thickness). (Note: I do not add salt to the water, either.)
Drain and serve with your favorite sauce and cheese (Top photo). I usually make my sauce from either diced or crushed tomatoes and top with Asiago or Romano (or Parmesan) cheese. I also add mushrooms and spinach to my own plate, which you can see in the photo.
I don't usually add meat to my sauce. My mom and most of her family made meatballs (mixing pork and veal or beef) or used sausage or another pork.