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Monday, January 11, 2010

Pasta - The Next Frontier

I got spoiled at Christmas. I admit it. I had been drooling, dignity gleefully set aside, over the KitchenAid attachment pack with the meat grinder, slicer/shredder and the pasta maker. I spent hours on the internet researching the best price, why people liked it, how you could use them. For all of November and December I would bring these findings to my husband and he would say, "That seems like a great deal hon, but maybe we'll just wait until Boxing Day." Fair enough.

Boxing Day came and went. Throughout November and December he kept talking about how much I was going to like my gift, it was so great, yadda, yadda, yadda. Yes, of course NOW it seems obvious, but my baby brain was in full effect and I made no connection.

On the 27th, I finally managed to get his gift wrapped and under the tree. He immediately says, "Oooh! Let's open gifts now then!" Such rare enthusiasm had my curiosity piqued. I begin opening this heavy beautifully wrapped box and the whole time he's saying things like, "I can't believe you haven't guessed! Do you know what it is? I just can't believe you haven't guessed!" Staring back at me is my brand new attachment pack. I won't lie. I shed tears.

You will shed tears of joy as well when making your own pasta. I know it's a truism now that everything tastes better fresh, but pasta. Delicious, silky pasta really does taste better fresh.

I don't remember where I found this recipe, but this is what I used:

1 c. semolina flour
1 c. all-purpose flour (I used both white and whole wheat in different recipes and got great results with both.)
1 tbsp olive oil
pinch of salt
3 eggs

You know what I love about my stand mixer? That you can just dump everything in and mix. So that's what you do. Use the dough hook.

Once it makes a smooth dough, I turn it on a higher speed (4-6) for a minute or so to really knead it. Then wrap it in clingwrap and let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. My first batch I wasn't ready to make the pasta that early so I just put it in the fridge and then brought it back to room temperature for a half hour. Worked perfectly.

You'll want to have your salted/oiled water boiling if you want the best results.

Attach your pasta maker and bring your mixer to speed 10. Start feeding little lumps of dough, waiting until the grinder is clear to add another. Process about 2-3 little lumps, then smash it back into lumps and reprocess, the first few are a bit funny. Once your pasta starts coming out just wait until it's reached the length you want, cut it off with a sharp knife and throw it in the water. When it's freshly out of the processor, you don't need to separate it, the boiling water does that for you.

I tried both lasagne noodles (Fail) and spaghetti noodles (A+).

These are supposed to be lasagne noodles. Yeah, I don't see it either. They tasted great, but weren't exactly what I thought they'd be. Booo for that. Also, such a pain in the ass to try to separate once they've dried even a bit. Much easier all around to just have the water ready.

These only need to cook for a few minutes, so I tested them after about 3-4 minutes and they were nice and chewy, just slightly undercooked.

This recipe makes about 4 servings of pasta. My husband and I each had a plateful of spaghetti and then enough for two lunches. I'd double it if I had a bigger family.

That's my kid rummaging in the pots and pans. Cooking safely with a kid winding in and out of your legs, that's talent!

I forgot to take a photo of our dinner, but suffice it to say, it was definitely worth the effort. I've been trying to use up the rest of the pasta and used some in tomato soup today, I think it gets better with age. Kiddo sucked it back like it was going out of style.

Pasta - Final verdict - Worth it, just have your water boiling!

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