Saturday, March 12, 2011

Homemade pasta, you have been conquered by a 7-year old!

When hubby and I were married, we received a fondue set and a pasta machine, among other useless things. Fifteen years of ownership and we still haven't used the fondue set. The funny thing is, we've had fondue on several occasions— just not using the set. I packed it away, up in some dark recess of the attic, where it will probably stay until we either move or our son takes over our estate. The pasta machine was used maybe 3 times, and each time was a miserable failure. Mind you, this was in the Stone Age, before online video tutorials and access to instant information. I pretty much swore off pasta making, and after having the useless thing take up precious cabinet space for 10 odd years, I managed to sell it at a garage sale for a mere $10.

Of course, now I'm kicking myself for selling that blasted machine. Had I known that my then 2-year old would develop an interest in pasta making 5 years down the road, I would have kept the damn thing and saved myself $60. I realize there are plenty of Italian grandmothers that do it all by hand on a regular basis, but I'm pretty much a wimp. So I reluctantly forked over the money and I'm now the proud owner of a pasta machine...again. And since the whole thing began with Sonny wanting to make ravioli, I forked over the money for a ravioli press as well. (I hope someone reminds him Mother's Day is coming up soon!)

Let the pasta making begin!

You didn't believe me when I said my kid was into the pastamaking, did you? We've done it a few times now and we're both getting the hang of it. It took some getting used to, having both hands do something different at the same time. Even for an adult, it takes a little practice. One hand has to crank the machine, while the other feeds the pasta in and then gently guide it out. I'm amazed he has the coordination to do it with his little hands. If you're looking for a way to get your kids involved in the kitchen, pasta making is a great way to do it.

Pasta making is a great activity with kids because there's plenty of chances for experimentation. (They also get a chance to be messy without getting in trouble. ☺) The basic pasta dough we use can be found here. (It's not stated in the instructions, but once you roll and cut the dough, the pasta should be tossed in flour and hung to dry for at least 15 minutes, longer if possible.) Since it freezes so well and I have a KitchenAid to do all the kneading, we usually scale up and make a big batch. In one sitting, we made 2 batches of ravioli and tagliatelle. We've also replaced about 25% of the all-purpose flour with fine semolina. (The site also has a semolina dough, but I have't tried it yet.) The semolina gives a fantastic taste. Next time we'll do 50-50 APF to semolina. And once you get the hang of it, it doesn't take more than an hour to make the pasta and get it on the table. (It takes longer to knead and roll by hand. If I had to go that route, I'd probably never bother. Pasta dough is much stiffer than bread dough so it's a big pain in the ass to knead and almost impossible for me to roll it uniformly thin.)

If I'm going to take the time to make fresh pasta, I want it to be the star of the show. Smothering it with a heavy red or cream sauce would be a shame. The pasta pictured at the top was tossed with a sauce made with olive oil, a few minced anchovy filets, (rinsed) capers, garlic and fresh lemon juice. If you're not a fan of anchovies, tuna is a good alternative. Or just leave out the fish altogether. It will still taste great.

I'm hoping to post more of our pasta making adventures soon. Stay tuned!

No comments: