Friday, April 17, 2009

Homemade pasta

Making homemade pasta is surprisingly easy. It only takes a few ingredients, and one piece of special equipment.

Here is a basic recipe:

1 cup semolina flour
1 cup all purpose flour
3 eggs
1 - 2 Tbs EVOO
1 - 2 tsp salt

(see below for additional instructions on making flavored pasta)

Sift the dry ingredients onto a work surface.
Make a mound, with a crater in the middle.
Crack the eggs into this, adding the oil.

Using a fork, mix the eggs and oil. Take care to keep everything inside the crater.
Then slowly start to incorporate the flour into the liquid center.

After all the flour has been incorporated, knead the mixture for a few minutes until the dough is smooth.

Let the dough rest on the counter for about 30 minutes. Use this time to work on the filling, sauce or other parts of the meal.

After the dough has had time to rest, cut into four equal pieces. Flatten slightly, then roll in a pasta machine on the largest setting (#1), dusting with flour to keep it from sticking.

After each pass, turn the dial up one number (as the numbers increase the gap gets narrower). Dust with flour and a bit of the semolina flour to keep from sticking.

Once the dough is nice and thin it is ready to cook.
The dough can be cut into strips for linguine or spaghetti or kept whole to use in lasagna or ravioli. The dough will keep for a couple of days in the refrigerator, make sure to toss with more semolina to keep from sticking.

Fresh paste will cook more quickly than dried, 2 - 3 minutes for linguine or spaghetti. If used in lasagna, it is not necessary to par cook it.

To make flavored pasta, add the flavoring to the eggs before mixing the dough. You may need to add a bit more flour as many fillings will add moisture to the dough.

Add pureed roasted red peppers
Add pureed sundried tomatoes
Add fresh herbs, such as basil, oregano or thyme
Add fresh ground pepper
Add squid ink
Add pureed, sauteed spinach

Last night I made ravioli, bari's favorite, the recipe follows.

Yukon Gold Truffle Ravioli:
pasta dough
2 - 3 small Yukon Gold potatoes
2 - 3 oz. shredded mozzarella
1 -2 oz. Parmigiano Reggiano
fresh mozzarella, cut into small cubes
salt and pepper
truffle oil

My brother and sister-in-law brought us back some wonderful truffle oil from Paris. Truffle oil can be very expensive, but it is surely worth it.

To make the potato filling, peel and dice the potatoes.
Boil them in salted water until soft and cooked through. (Make sure to generously salt the water, if you are unsure, double the amount of salt you think you should add.)

Using a potato ricer, mash the potatoes into a bowl. (A potato ricer is a great tool to have if you like light and fluffy mashed potatoes. Because the potatoes only get mashed once, unlike using a hand masher, the gluten in the potatoes doesn't develop, and make the potatoes starchy.)

Season with salt and pepper.
Add some of the truffle oil to taste.
Grate the mozzeralla and parm into the potatoes and adjust to taste.
Refrigerate until completely cool.

Ravioli can be made either using a ravioli mold like the one shown below, or more simply by just placing the filling on a sheet of dough and draping another sheet on top, and cutting free hand shapes.

Dust off some of the excess flour before begining. Lay the dough over the mold with half hanging over the edge to fold over; this piece will eventually become the top. Make sure that the dough will completely cover the molds that you will be filling. You can also use two separate pieces, one for the top and one for the bottom.

Spoon a small amount of the filling into the mold, top with a piece of cheese, and then cover with more filling.

Cover with the top piece of dough. You can brush the dough with a little water to help it stick together. Press the edges together and press in between the raviolis to seal the pockets closed.

If using a mold, flip the ravioli over. They may have not separated from each other completely. Use a pastry roller to divide the individual raviolis.

Once separated, they can be stored on a cookie sheet dusted with semolina. The raviolis can be frozen at this point. It's best to freeze them on the tray, then once frozen, transfer them to a plastic bag in the freezer. To cook, place directly into boiling water: do not defrost first.

Cook in salted water for about 10 minutes.

I made a simple sauce based on a recipe from Lupa in NYC, Bavette Cacio & Pepe. I to the recipe by sauteing a clove of garlic, and finished it with more truffle oil.

I had some extra cheese. I made a quick salad with the extra cheese, arugula, tomatoes and some garlic toasts.

We finished the meal with some fresh strawberries and whipped cream.

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