Friday, April 16, 2010

Making Pasta

This week I decided to try my hand at making homemade pasta.  I've always wanted to try this, and  I finally gave it a whirl.  The whole experience reminded me of a quote one of my college professors would say often, "Make your mistakes with enthusiasm!" 

The end result was just shy of inedible, but I learned a lot along the way.  And I think there will be a "next time."  Just a time in the unforseen future. 

The pasta making event started off great.  I brought the happiest little sous chef into the kitchen with me.  Looking at that face even now makes me break out into a huge smile. 

Next, I gathered my ingredients:  flour, eggs, salt.  Simple.  Mix the flour and salt together, then make a volcano shaped well on your kitchen counter (or as I will do next time, in a large mixing bowl).

Next, drop your eggs into the hole in the center of your flour volcano.  At this point, I realized that I really should have used a mixing bowl because the eggs broke through the wall of flour and started spilling out onto the counter.  I quickly used my hands to herd the rogue eggs back into the flour, then started mixing like a mad woman.  Soon, I had a round ball of dough.

Then I started the kneading process.  I looked at several different recipes before I started and the kneading time varied quite a bit.  Most recipes suggested 5 to 10 minutes of kneading, but a few said 15 minutes and one even said 20.  I ended up kneading for 5 minutes when I decided that the dough was elastic enough.  This is where I think I went wrong.  Overkneading pasta dough can make it quite rubbery.  Next time I will pay closer attention to this stage of the game.  After kneading for awhile, I let the dough rest for an hour.

And while it rested, I did this......
Tangent:  The laundry never stops around here.  If it does, it is like a train derailment and we end up digging jeans or socks out of the dirty clothes hamper.  And keep in mind I wear a pair of jeans about five times before tossing it into the hamper. 

After an hour, I started to roll out the dough.  I noticed right away that it was super elastic and quite hard to roll out.  I am not a patient dough-roller-outer, so I gave up as soon as I had a fairly thin circle.  It probably could have been thinner and definitely more even.
Then the cutting began.  I had already decided that I didn't care how "pretty" my pasta looked.  I just wanted long strips that sort of resembled spaghetti or linguini or something like that.  I do not have a steady hand, so my strips were pretty uneven.  At this point, I just wanted to be finished, so I didn't care.  I am learning that I need more patience when making something from scratch!
Once all the strips were cut, I laid them out to dry on my make-shift pasta drier:  two wooden spoons balanced between two chairs.  My sweet Hannah decided to stand like Vanna White next to our drying pasta. 
Finally after two more hours, I decided to start cooking.  I made a new recipe from my most recent Real Simple magazine:  Spaghetti with Turkey Meatballs.  Here is my lump of pasta waiting to go in some boiling, salted water.  My turkey meatballs were underway as well. 
As a backup plan, I also boiled some store bought linguine.  As you will see later, it's a good thing I did.
During the cooking process, I noticed that the pasta was puffing up way too thick.  But I was still holding out hope that taste would win out over presentation.  After I drained off the water, I took a bite.  And I have to say that it was not good.  The taste wasn't so bad, but the texture was horrible.  I think if you put a blindfold over my eyes, I wouldn't be able to tell the difference between a rubber band and a piece of my pasta.  Mike agreed.  Oh well.  Thankfully I had made the extra linguine, and the meal actually turned out pretty tasty!

But the pan of homemade pasta I had worked so hard ended up here:
Better luck next time!


Joe and Talsie said...

Remind me later and I will give you a simpler recipe. I got a pasta maker for my mixer a couple of years ago and even if I roll the dough out by hand it turns out to be fantastic. No kneading, or wells. Just use the dough hook on your mixer (if you have a dough hook it works best). The pasta only needs to dry for an hour (even less if the air is dry). The real trick is rolling it out thinly. Good luck next time!!

Angie said...

I completely relate to the laundry. I've had to do therapy sessions on myself where I repeat the phrase "The laundry will never be done. It is a never-ending process and you must keep doing it!"

affectioknit said...

What a fun experiment - sometimes they just don't work out...

Emily said...

Thanks, Talsie! I don't have a stand mixer, but I can borrow my mom's. I may have to buy one for myself if the pasta turns out!

Angie, I love your mantra. I will have to chant this to myself when I am doing laundry yet again tomorrow.

Tracy said...

This is Tracy, I say this as I am not sure if I am signed in as Juan or I since we share a computer. Anyways, WOW! This brings back memories. I used to make home made pasta (with a pasta machine you crank a handle) with my step mom. Hanging it to dry is so fun. I am sorry it didn't turn out but it was an adventure. I LOVED YOUR PHOTO PROCESS!!! Exp. when it ends up in the trash - ha ha! I have that happen on a regular basis. Usually after I make everyone take one bite and then they all revolt. Those are the nights we break out cereal. Oh thanks for posting a photo of Mike's cake as as I didn't have one.