A couple of weeks ago, my girlfriend bought a pasta machine. It was really inexpensive – around £20 – and of surprisingly good quality. So, since the machine itself was rather economical and pasta making is something I’ve wanted to do for quite a while, I decided to write an entry on the process. Firstly, it must be said that although the process can get a little fiddly, it is relatively easy. Strangely, it feels more like an activity than any other type of cooking in which I’ve ever partaken. As such, though it takes a little time and ample dedication, it never really feels like a chore. In fact, you almost forget that any end product will come of your efforts.
The first thing I noticed about pasta dough is how different it is from bread dough or pastry dough. It is so much tougher; one can see why a pasta machine is a necessity for all but the most butch and hairy of Italian housewives. However, it is also far more forgiving in that you can manhandle it almost as much as you like – it contains no butter. As such, making simple pastas, such as tagliatelle, shouldn’t intimidate you one little bit. Though, I’ve been warned that making ravioli is a lot more time-consuming and frustrating. There will be more on that a little later on this week.
I’m sorry if this post is a little short and lacking in the humour department – I haven’t the time to properly dedicate myself to food bloggery at this particularly instance in time. A few chauvinistic quips came to mind when writing this post, but such things are inadvisable in a world populated entirely by the opposite sex. It appears as though I’m finally learning a little self-control, though how long this development will last I cannot say. Perhaps I shall revert to my former self upon re-entering Aberystwyth next week – it’s the sea air that does it. People blame the sea air for everything in Aberystwyth.
• 200g “00” grade flour
• 2 medium eggs
• A little splash of water if necessary
1. Tip the flour onto a spacious work surface, make a well in the centre and crack in the eggs. Split the yolks a little with a fork and begin to work the flour into the eggs, working from the outside in. Bring the dough together with your hands and knead for a few minutes. The dough should be pretty tight, but not particularly dry – one may need to add a tiny splash of water. Place the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes.
2. Once the dough is chilled stretch it and fold it in on itself several times. Cut it in half and feed through the thickest setting on the pasta machine 7-8 times, folding it in half each time, it should start to feel silky smooth. Now begin to reduce the thickness of the press, do it once on each setting until the dough is roughly 1-1.5mm thick. Repeat the process for the other half.
3. Cut the sheets of pasta into strips roughly 1cm thick using either the supplied attachment or a knife. You may want to cut each sheet in half before doing this, but it’s up to you. The tagliatelle should be cooked for no more than 2 minutes in boiling water.
Lemon and Thyme Dressing:
• The juice of 1 lemon
• A pinch of salt
• A pinch of black pepper
• 3 tbsp olive oil
• A sprig of thyme
1. Bash the thyme in a pestle and mortar. Add the rest of the ingredients, mix and drizzle over the pasta.
Cost: The entire dish, dressing and all, should set one back no more than £1.20. Not bad! It would be much cheaper if one was to make one’s pasta with water instead of egg, but the flavour and consistency probably wouldn’t be at the same level.