In March of last year I visited my Mum and Dad in Florida. Whilst there, we tend to do quite a bit of shopping and one of our favourite haunts is Bed, Bath & Beyond – since both Mum and I are kitchen freaks and love looking at all the cookery gadgets that we absolutely don’t need and which are overpriced anyway. However, on this occasion I managed to find an absolute BARGAIN in this pasta machine – which I think cost me around $20, reduced from $35.
Since it’s not the least bulky item known to man, I had a few problems getting it to fit into my suitcase, but in the end we got it in and it made the long journey back to London with me, where I found it a lovely place at the back of one of our kitchen cupboards. Five months later we moved house and, on clearing out the kitchen, I found my beloved and totally unused pasta machine – and promised myself that I would use it once we were settled in. Five months later and I find myself in January 2010 having not even got it out of its box… So, since we’re now in a brand new year, I thought I’d try it out – and the results were surprisingly delicious!
Before I started out, I did a bit of research into various pasta recipes online, and this Jamie Oliver recipe was by far the best one that I came across. I have therefore used it as the basis for my recipe, which I have adapted slightly to make even tastier pasta! So, if you have a pasta machine gathering dust at the back of a cupboard, or if you spot one in the January sales, why not get it and give it a whirl? I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Ingredients (per person, for a small serving)
1. 100g plain flour (preferably “tipo 00″, which means extra fine, but normal plain flour works great)
2. 1 large free-range egg (some recipes say you can substitute this for two egg yolks, but I tried this and wasn’t able to get the same result)
3. A pinch of salt
4. 1/2 teaspoon of mixed dried herbs (optional but I highly recommend it!)
1. First sieve your flour into a bowl (some recipes say that you can do this on a work-top, but I did this my first time and had a slight disaster when I added the eggs…), and add a pinch of salt. If you are using herbs, this is the time to add them – I advise scattering equally over the flour/salt mountain. Make a well in the centre of the flour, big enough to hold the total number of eggs that you are adding.
2. Add the eggs to the well in the flour and beat them using a fork. Once they are beaten, start to mix the flour in a little at a time by moving your fork in slightly larger circles with each “mix”. Do this until your mixture begins to come together, or until it becomes difficult to mix.
TIP: If at any point your mixture is too dry, add a few drops of water or olive oil. Similarly, if it is too wet don’t be afraid to sieve a little more flour into the mixture.
3. Now comes the fun part – make sure your hands are clean and then get in there and mix, squidge and generally pound the mixture into a dough. At this point, you may find it easier to work with the dough on a cutting board. Once you have a dough, continue to knead, bash and squish it until it becomes soft, fairly smooth and pliable.
4. Now, take your ball of pasta dough and wrap tightly in cling film – making sure no air can get in, or else you’ll have crusty bits in your pasta! Then pop it into the fridge for at least 30 mins before you start working with the pasta machine.
5. Clean down a long work surface – I used our big kitchen table for this, which was perfect. Then clamp your pasta machine into place at one end and make sure it’s very secure. Then retrieve your pasta dough from the fridge and again knead for 2 or 3 mins, to ensure that it is workable.
TIP: At this point I would advise dividing up into manageable portions – I work with one person’s portion at a time and leave the remaining dough back in the cling film, in the fridge until I’m ready to work on it.
6. Set your pasta machine to the widest setting. Squash your pasta dough into a fairly flat lump on your cutting board / work surface, and then pass it through the machine. Move your pasta machine down one setting and pass the pasta dough back through the rollers. Once through, fold the sheet in half twice and turn it 90 degrees. Then move the pasta machine back up to the widest setting, and repeat this step 4 or 5 times.
7. Once you are happy with your dough (which should now have formed a fairly uniform rectangle) pass it through the pasta machine on the widest setting, followed by the next widest setting, and continue right the way down through the settings to the thinnest one.
TIP: If your pasta starts to crack at the edges, or breaks up in the rollers, give it a knead and repeat step 6 a few more times before you continue. It may also be worth adding a few drops of water to the dough to make it a bit “stickier”.
8. Now, fold the sheet of pasta back up into a fairly small rectangle and repeat step 7, rolling through the pasta machine settings for the final time.
TIP: You may need help with rolling it down through the settings, as the sheet will become really long and will need someone to catch it and lay it out, whilst someone else feeds it through the machine. Once you’ve had a bit of practise, you should be able to do this on your own though, so don’t worry!
9. You should now have a very long piece of pasta, which you can cut to the desired length (I cut mine in half). You will then need to switch to the cutting attachment of your pasta machine – which in my case is on the other side of the rollers. Decide which type of pasta you want to make, and then feed each sheet through the cutters – remembering to catch the end result as it passes through the cutters!
10. Et voila! Your very own, homemade, fresh pasta! You can now either cook this in boiling water and a touch of olive oil (fresh pasta will take literally a couple of minutes to cook, depending on the type of pasta that you have made), or you can freeze it to use at a later date.
TIP: Fresh pasta will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months! Remember to label your bag / container with the type of pasta, “made on” date and a “use by” date.
Happy pasta making!