Monday, 8 October 2012

Simply Italian - Pasta Making

After discovering Michela Chiappa's Simply Italian programme at 3am on 4OD I became obsessed with the idea that I too could be an authentic italian chef. Michela makes everything look so neat and easy and trouble free that I couldn't not give something a go and Pasta was first on my list to try.
The basics of pasta making are really easy to remember and there are 3 golden rules.
1) 100g of '00' grade flour and 1 egg per person (you can use plain baking flour but 00 flour is much finer and therefore easier to work with)
2) If your mixture is too dry, add olive oil and knead - repeat until it combines. If your mixture is too wet add flour
3) Never use flour to stop the pasta sticking to your work surface, it will make the dough too dry and will also make the end result pasta taste odd.
So starting with your 100g of flour tip into a mountain shape onto a dry wooden board. (It's really handy to find a cup or mug that you know is 100g so you don't have to measure each time)
Make a well in your mountain (so it looks like a volcano!) and crack one egg into the hole.
Sprinkle salt over the egg and then using a fork mix the egg with the flour and once it's mostly combined get your hands dirty and start to combine and knead. This is the only difficult part, it's tricky to get the mixture not too wet and not too dry, I found the key here to be the egg - it needs to be a really fresh, and very large egg. If you only have small eggs do not make pasta!
The difference is quite drastic, my first attempt with a small egg is on the left, it was too dry so I added oil (you can see its much yellower as a result) and then the dough wouldn't combine and just crumbled, the second attempt on the right was with a large egg and it worked perfectly!
Once your dough is combined cover with clingfilm and rest for 30 minutes.
Once rested, squish the dough out so it's flat and then with your rolling pin work the dough so it's about the thickness of 1-2 playing cards. Remember, do not flour the board or the rolling pin!
Once the right thickness, use a knife or pastry cutter if you have one to cut small rectangles (this is for farfalle, if making another type of pasta, cut to the corresponding shape!)
Get your rectangle and pinch the top and bottom sides together to make a bow shape..
Put your bows to one side and leave to dry for 15 minutes. Michela recommends using semolina to stop them sticking, I didn't have any so just left them as they were and they were fine!
Once dried you can either cook immediately or store in an airtight container for upto 2 months.
I cooked mine straight away, 1 litre of salted boiling water for 5 minutes..
In summary; it was good fun and i'm pleased I did it, but I only would make pasta again for a special occasion. It was just too time-consuming! But thank you Michela for the inspiration and I will be making more of your recipes soon.

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