Saturday, June 1, 2013

Cooking at Home: Fresh Homemade Pasta

A friend came over to our place recently, saw our new KitchenAid food processor sitting on the counter and commented, "oh, so you got a new egg beater". Of course that's one way of seeing it, but what we found out, especially once we put this toy into practical use, was that this is a versatile piece of tool that open up a range of options with such convenience. We actually regretted not getting this sooner.

One thing I tried my hands on recently was making pasta. One thing I don't particular enjoying doing in the kitchen (other than washing up) is to leave my hands with gluey dough - that's why I am never fond of making bread or pasta. But with the KitchenAid mixer (and the pasta attachment) - I saved the trouble of dealing with messy dough and it turned out to be much easier than I thought.

There are many recipes available out there, even to the point of choosing the right type of flour - some said you must the Italian "00" flour, some said you need to add semolina etc etc. What I used for the first time was the most basic one - using just general purpose flour, and I wasn't even that particular when it came to proportion, so I just used cup measurement. (if you would like to be exact, you probably need to use measurement by weight - you can try Michael Ruhlman's recipe using 3 parts flour, 2 parts eggs) I did buy a pack of semolina and "00" flour and I will try them later to see if there's any improvement in texture and flavor.

Many times when you saw people making pasta on TV, they put flour on the kitchen tower, form a well, crack an egg into it and start mixing by hands. With the KitchenAid mixer, you can do that in a bowl and hands off. Not the coolest way but certainly got the job done (almost as good). What I did is simple - put 2 cups of general purpose flour, 3 eggs and a dash of salt into the mixing bowl, attach the mixing paddle and let the machine run at medium speed. Once the dough starts to hold together as one piece, change into the dough hook and continue to mix and knead for like 5 minutes. Then use your hands to knead a few more times, pounding and folding the dough as you wish - by then the dough has become drier, stiffed up and turned elastic so it won't stick to my hands.

After I was done, I left the dough in a bowl, covered in plastic wrap and let it rest for at least 15 minutes. Then pull out the dough in approximately size of a fist, knead it again, then roll (with a pin) or pull/knead (by hand) to form a thick sheet. Since at the end I need to put it through a machine to flatten I don't need to press it particularly thin - just so it's easier to handle and put that through. Once ready, put the pasta sheet roller into the KitchenAid machine, set to "1" (the roller has a knob with numbers from 1 to 8 - 1 represent the thickest and 8 the thinnest), turn the machine on at medium speed and let the dough went through the roller.

Once the dough was flattened, fold it in half, knead it slightly and repeat the steps. In the process I gradually moved the pasta sheet roller setting from 1 to 3 then to 5 - that's the ultimate thickness I wanted to achieve for my fettuccine. If you realized the dough became too long to handle, cut it short and roll the dough in the machine again. I lost track of times I rolled the dough through the machine - I must have gotten too excited and did that at least 10 times.

After I was comfortable with the thickness and texture, I changed the pasta roller to a cutter (the attachment set came with 2 cutter units - one for fettuccine and one for spaghetti). Once again I put the dough into the machine, and voila, now the dough was cut into noodles! It's that simple.

The noodles could be used immediately. But since I intended to cook them for lunch in the next day and two, I hung the noodles to dry, then dusted slightly with flour (to prevent the noodles from sticking) before putting them in a ziploc bag and store in the refrigerator. The next day I just used it for a quick pasta with mushrooms (Japanese maitake) and cream. Worked like a charm.

I probably need to practice a few more times and try experiment with slightly different proportion, before going into something more fancy such as colored pasta (with squid ink or spinach) or ravioli. Now we got one more item available in our home kitchen!

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

Highly energetic article, I loved that a lot.
Will there be a part 2?

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