As part of my new years resolution I wanted to learn more technical kitchen skills and hone my knowledge of the essentials that make a great chef. My first attempt is to practice making pasta. H got me a beautiful pasta maker for Christmas so seemed like the perfect place to start plus I love pasta! I did my first attempt New Years Eve with a classic tagliatelle carbonara and it went really well. It could definitely be improved though as it took me a while to get the right consistency and I think it was a little bit to thick but the flavour was perfect.
The ingredients are simple and I normally do measuring by eye but to serve 4 you need 2 cups of flour, 3 medium eggs or 2 large, tsp of olive oil. Mix ingredients in a bowl until combined but it will probably be crumbly at first. Turn out on to a floured surface and need for about 5 minutes. I think my initial problem was that I didn’t kneed it for long enough time. After kneeding, rest in the fridge while wrapped up for 30-45 minutes. I like to cut the dough in to pieces and work one piece at a time so as not to dry out and keep the rest wrapped up.
Roll the pasta through the press starting with the largest setting normally marked as 1, keep rolling the pasta through the maker tightening the gap until you reach the desired thickness. Do not try and force the pasta through by notching up the number but do it one at a time as you may break the pasta maker. If you are making something other then flat sheets like ravioli or lasagne you will need to pass the pasta through another attachment, I am lucky to have both tagliatelle and fettuccini (although it says fettuccini it’s more like spaghetti) I found oiling and occasionally flouring the machine made the pasta pass through much easier. You then need to dry the pasta out a little by hanging it on a flour dusted drying rack, which for most people will be an improvised piece of housewares. Mine consisted of balancing a floured rolling pin on some kitchen canisters.
As the pasta is fresh it will take not much time to cook, 6-8 minutes seems about right, just taste it after 6 minutes and see. It has a softer texture to al dente dried pasta but it still has bite. Pasta is such a versatile dish you can add any flavours to it. My second attempt I went for ravioli as I really wanted to try it out and I was pretty pleased with the taste, texture and shape. I had a few problems again but the dough was much easier to work with this time. For Ravioli you want to pass the dough through the machine to the desired thickness. You want to add a small spoonful of your filling in the centre of your sheets, depending on how long your sheet is spread them out. Place another sheet over the top and wetting the edges so they stick. You need to press the pasta down around the filling to make sure there are no pockets of air otherwise they will explode (some of mine did) You then want to cut out your pasta shapes either using a knife or a cutter. I used a round cookie cutter. Cook as the instructions above.