The First Time: Making Fresh Pasta

Food is a passion. When I travel I need to visit local markets, eat in a variety of local restaurants and take home whatever Canada Customs will let me back in with. Thanks to a gift certificate my students gave me for Christmas, I was able to purchase a pasta roller/cutter set for my KitchenAid Artisan mixer. Last night V. and I made our first pasta. We based it on Mario Batali’s ragu recipe and did a tagliatelli/linguine cut along with a few sheets of lasagna.

I had intended on taking a shot of the flour well with the eggs nestled in it, but like a volcano, the eggs spilled outside the well and half of one fell to the floor. Not pretty, but I recovered quickly enough to produce a pasta dough of acceptable beauty. All I needed was 6 eggs, 3 1/2 Cups of Flour, and 10 minutes of intense kneading. The dough then rested inside some Saran Wrap for 30 minutes.

The process of rolling the dough through the KitchenAid rollers was quite fun. V. and I took turns catching, folding and feeding the dough until it became beautifully elastic and clean. Our first cuts were for a linguine pasta that was a little thick. I must admit that the sense of accomplishment was overwhelmingly satisfying; who knew fresh pasta could be done so easily?

The next cuts were for some lasagna sheets. I wanted to make some sheets so that I could try freezing them to use later in the week. The sheets were pliable and perfect. I ran them through the rollers to some lower settings to make sure they were thinner than the linguine.

The roller set seems very well built. I must admit that I was swayed to buy them because they were not made in China. It seems like everything these days is made in China, but given that these were made in Italy did give them a sense of authenticity that I liked. Heavy steel and nice engraving mean that these should last me a lifetime. It will also mean that my mixer will see a lot more use; any way to make one item do multiple jobs is a step forward in our crazy world of stuff collection.

The final product of our experiment was a brilliant ragu made using ribeye steak, fresh parmesan, and the linguine. The flavours were spot on, simple and deep. I plated it on pottery from Dunes Studio in Prince Edward Island. These plates are for special occasions and rustic dishes. I began collecting pieces from the studio in university and every year they bring out one or two items that appeal to me aesthetically.

We ended our meal with a Lemon Icebox Pie that V. made from a recipe she found in the book Dam Good Sweet by Guas and Pelzel. This is one of those great desserts that you come across every blue moon. The best part is that it stays fresh in the freezer for a week. The tart lemon balances well with the graham cracker crust and the condensed milk filling base.

In the end I cannot insist enough that making your own pasta is a life-changing experience in terms of culinary authenticity and personal satisfaction. As a food photographer it will also open up some interesting possibilities for future photography. Having real pasta in my shots can only make my work more appealing to clients. Molto bene!

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