Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Lean mean pasta machine

The hangers in my bedroom closet had no idea that they would one day fulfill such an important and beautiful purpose. Last Sunday turned out to be their lucky day, and mine too, because I got to make my very own pasta, from scratch, for the first time ever (well, except for this time). After dreaming about it for many days and nights. Our very own pasta, I should say. It was a four person job. One person to turn the handle and three to watch the magic happen...

But first, it began with a pile (4 cups) of flour (+ 2 tsp salt) on the counter, into which we cracked 6 eggs.

The recipe instructed us to mix with a fork, but we all know from watching Iron Chef that the real way to do it is with your fingers, in beautiful, messy, circles.

After mixing and kneading for a while, we shaped it into a log and sliced it up. It then got wrapped in plastic wrap and tucked away in the fridge while we worked with one piece at a time.

And now the fun part! The instigator of the night's get together, the shiny new pasta machine given to us as a birthday gift by Granny Barb, was clamped to the counter and all ready to go. So we jumped right in. I was surprised and delighted by the finesse with which the machine grabbed our not-so-flat hunk of dough and smoothed it into submission.

We passed it through repeatedly, setting the gap in the rollers a bit narrower each time, until our lump of dough had fully transformed into a long thin sheet – until it looked like it was just dying to be sliced into perfect fettuccine noodles.


We made many batches, had many chances to improve our technique for getting the noodles onto the hanger...

... and separating them out to dry while they awaited their boiling fate.

We ended up with this:

Perfect, perfect pasta. There has never been a finer texture. It was soft and firm at the same time, fluffy light yet satisfyingly solid. We dressed it with a simple sauce of olive oil, lemon juice + zest, minced garlic, roughly chopped kalamata olives, fresh basil and fresh thyme (a long time favourite from Mom). Mmmm, mmmmm, mmmmm!

Our supply of wine (Grey Monk Pinot Auxerrois 2006 and Casal Garcia Vinho Verde – I had forgotten the names of the wines, and hadn't written them down, so praise my slowness in taking out the recycling!) ended at about the same time as the bowl of pasta. We then moved on to the sweet stuff - Amaretto. In rooster glasses no less.

So, the first encounter with the machine was a tasty, beautiful success. This weekend I'm going to bike over to Little Italy in search of Semolina flour for the next attempt. And we'll soon move on to fancy shapes and raviolini filled with who-knows-what wonderful things...


Laura said...

It's funny, because I think that the bagels we made and the pasta we made have a lot in common (besides Mark Bittman, of course!) - they are both made from a fairly simple dough, and are relatively easy to make, but are things that I (for one) had never particularly thought of trying to make for myself. I just bought them. But the advantages of making them for yourself sometimes are readily evident - the taste is just ten times better!

The pasta was fantastic - I'm definitely looking forward to making some ravioli with some good fall ingredients. Squash!

p.s. the 'Coming Soon' section is great!

moyrad said...

The life of a clothes hanger is exciting. Perhaps we could patent and market a specialized hanger for pasta drying. We could make millions. I am not normally a fan of pasta and never have been but this pasta was amazing, tender but firm and the sauce brought out the texture in our pasta. Mmmmmm I would eat this any day of the week. I can't wait to try the semolina version as well as new shapes! Yeah Pasta Maker. Yeah Granny Barb!