Pasta

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I used to think making your own pasta was only for accomplished Chefs or real foodies. I am neither. I am someone who just likes to eat (admittedly a lot less these days thanks to Weightwatchers) but I still enjoy my food. Good food.

I watched a cooking programme with Angela Hartnett. Another of the Gordon Ramsey proteges who has gone on to find her own success at The Connaught and now The York & Albany pub in Camden. She’s a tough woman, born in Kent but raised in Upminster in Essex with her Mother and Italian Grandparents. What she doesn’t know about Italian cooking I’m not sure is worth knowing.

What i like about her is her no-nonsense approach and it was she who inspired me to try my hand at making my own pasta. Before I could begin i realised I would need my own pasta cutting machine.

Not sure if this would be another of my short-lived adventures I turned to Ebay and scoured the listings they had. I found a Jamie Oliver Pasta machine which was classified as brand new never used in its original box. I won the item with the final bid price coming in at £22 including delivery (which actually was 1/3 of the cost because it was so heavy).

It arrived and i felt obliged to use it. I spent a few days eyeing it up suspiciously. Checking the dials and levers. It all looked so complicated and beyond my kitchen capabilities but I was determined to not be cowed so forged ahead.

Her pasta recipe on the programme was simple: 1 egg to 100g of plain (’00’ pasta) flour. This would be enough for one portion. So for two people 2 eggs and 200g of plain (’00’ pasta) flour and add some salt for seasoning. Even i can manage that math.

Her instructions were to put the flour on a clean dry chopping board dust with some flour and make a well in the middle. Working from the outside in slowly mix the egg(s) in with the pasta. Until all the egg and pasta is spent. Keep kneading it. Turning it over and over until the pasta is soft and doughy-like. I estimate a good 15-20 minutes of kneading before it’s ready.

Her test to see if the pasta is ready is to roll it then cut down the middle with a knife. The consistency & look should be the same all the way through. She then wraps it in cling film and puts in the fridge for 30 minutes. About the same time it takes to get all the congealed egg and flour off your hands and between your fingers. Don’t wear rings or other jewellery when you do this. You’ll regret it.

After the time is up or you are ready to use it (it can last up to 24 hours so i believe) take it from the fridge and before it fully gets back to room temperature start to flatten and roll out. I usually make 2 portions worth when doing this and cut it into 4 blocks. I then roll each of the 4 blocks out in square like shape ready to be fed through the pasta machine.

The instructions on my pasta machine are to thread it through starting at the biggest setting (7) and working your way through until the lowest (1) so that it thins it out gradually and smoothly without breaking it up. Only then is it ready to be cut. Angela advocates you dust it with semolina to stop it being sticky and clumpy when cooking but i like to keep it in its most natural form and like the rustic look when cooked. I recommend only cutting it when you are ready to cook & eat it, otherwise it dries out.

When cooking it needs literally a minute or two dipped in boiling salted water to be ready to eat. I usually pair it with a very simple sautéed garlic, basil & passata sauce or a little creme fraiche or good olive oil with the odd king prawn thrown in for good measure. The star of the show is most definitely the pasta which tastes distinctly different from the shop bought variety. It is so light yet the egg gives it a bite that once you’ve made your own you will never stop wanting to make homemade pasta.

Ci Si Va !

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