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FortKnox's Journal: Mmmm... Homemade Pasta 18

Journal by FortKnox
I made a wonderful batch of homemade pasta today (with some imported tomato pesto sauce, which is wonderful), and I thought I'd share the Marotti family recipe for making pasta.

First, let me tell you that making pasta at first will take you a few hours, and will cost more than buying good imported pasta. Making fresh pasta will only make a great tasting pasta (plus the feeling of making something from scratch). Its something I do for leisure on the weekend.

With that said, allow me to get to the recipe (btw - this serves 2 people. The general rule is N eggs + N cups of flour + N tblsp of water where N=number of people, but I've only made enough for two):
  • What you'll need:
  • A clean and dry countertop
  • A sharp knife
  • Rolling Pin
  • Mixing Bowl
  • A fork
  • Your largest cutting board (if you don't cut on the countertop)
  • A way to measure 1 cup (measuring cup)
  • About 2 hours of free time (for your first time)
  • Ingredients:

  • 2+ cups of "run-of-the-mill" flour (optional: 1+ cup of regular flour and 1 cup of "pasta" flour (flour with durham wheat))
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp water
  • A Glass of Wine (optional)

First things first, pour yourself a glass of wine (you are making an Italian dish from scratch). I haven't seen any difference whether I have red or white, so take your favorite. Now wash your hands! You are going to be dealing with the dough with your hands, so make sure they are clean.

OK, put your 2 measured cups of flour into the mixing bowl (1 cup pasta flour, 1 cup regular flour, if you go for the pasta flour, which really does add to the flavor. But after this step, only use regular flour). Add the tsp of salt (no need to measure, just add a little bit to it. A little more than a pinch, a little less than a tblsp). If you used the pasta flour, mix it up so the flours are combined.
Now form a "crater" (or "volcano") with the flour in the middle of the bowl. Crack and add two eggs into the crater. Now, hopefully you cracked one egg well, because you can add a half-eggshell worth of water into the crater (I have been told its a tblsp, but I've always used a half eggshell. Most of my 'family' recipies don't have "exact" measurements, most of them are done to taste. But don't taste the dough or pasta until its done! There's raw eggs in there!).
Using the fork, draw the flour into the eggs, and begin to mix the batter. Once it becomes less "sticky" wipe off the fork and begin working with it with your hands. Getting all the flour into the dough is a long process, and requires a lot of work. Don't get frustrated!
Once you get all the flour in the dough, begin kneading the dough until its a slick dough (there isn't "pieces of flour" thats visible).
Ok, now 'flour' your countertop and your rolling pin.
Break off a small piece of the dough (you'll be breaking the dough into about 4-6 pieces. Its best to go with smaller pieces your first few times).
Place the piece of dough on your countertop, knead it flat with your hands a bit. Now LIGHTLY flour the top of your piece (you'll be constantly flouring the dough. Eventually, you want it floured enough not to stick, but overflouring causes the pasta to be too thick) and begin rolling it with the rolling pin. After a few (like 5-8) rolls on one side, flip it, lightly flour the new side, then roll that side. After a few rolls, flip it, and only lightly flour the new side if it begins to stick to your rolling pin (you don't want the dough stick at all in the end, so once it gets really flat, begin lightly flouring it again), roll, etc...
The pasta thickens when you cook it, so you want to roll the dough as flat as humanly possible. I try to make my dough almost transparently thin. If it isn't flat enough and you can't get it any flatter, you've overfloured the dough (it happens). Just don't use that much flour next time, but don't throw out the pasta. It'll be thick, but still edible.
Once you flatten it as much as possible, flour the top side (not lightly, you aren't "pushing" more flour into the dough this time), and roll the dough up like a jelly roll.
Cut off the ends (and throw the ends away) of your dough-jelly-roll, and begin cutting off pieces to about the thickness of linguine (or just a little smaller). After you've finished cutting your jelly-roll, unwrap all the pieces and put them in a dry spot. If your pasta is sticking and you can't unwrap it, there isn't enough flour in your dough, or you didn't flour it enough when you rolled it. Now, it should resemble pasta that's got flour on it.
Now you go back and rip another piece off your main dough. If you took a while to make your first piece of pasta, your main dough will be a bit dry. Simple knead it for a minute or so, and it should return to its original consistancy.
Repeat the rolling process with this piece, until you created pasta out of the entire main dough.

Option 1: You can let your pasta dry for a day or so, and have it another day (I haven't left pasta to dry over 3 days, so I can't tell you how long it can sit). Cooking dry pasta is the same as cooking boxed pasta. Takes about 8-12 minutes.
Option 2:You can cook your pasta as soon as you finish. Because it isn't dried, it only takes about 3-5 minutes for the pasta to cook (unless its really thick, then it takes longer).
Tips:Al dente (literally, "to the teeth") means your pasta should still be slightly firm in the center, yet cooked throughout. Al dente is a lot harder to determine on fresh, undried pasta. Remember, you have raw eggs in the pasta, so make sure you cook it well. Pasta flour really adds to the flavor if you can find it, but only use it in one of your first two cups. Pasta flour is a lot drier (well, less absorbent) than regular flour, and shouldn't be used when you "flour" the dough/countertop/rolling pin after the dough has been kneaded.

I can make pictures for those of you that need extra help (and I'll even try to answer questions if you have them). If you do try and make pasta, tell me about the experience (good or bad). It took me 3 times before I made a really good pasta, so don't give up too quickly!

Maybe if everyone (tries and) enjoys this recipe, I'll give out the infamous Marotti spaghetti sauce recipe...

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Mmmm... Homemade Pasta

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  • You are making me hungry, I don't get time to eat for another 1/2 hour: 2:00pm.
    Man do not take classes for 4:30 straight, it is hard on you.
  • We have one of those hand crank pasta makers in my house. It's great because me and my dad can make the pasta together. We use a variation of the recipe that came with the device. Instead of all purpose we use semolina.

    I don't see how this is more expensive than buying it off the shelf. You can get the flour really cheep at the bulk food store.
    • Yeah, the hand crankers really lighten up the time and make the job easier, but my grandmother insisted I learned it the long way before using one. That way, I knew what the dough consistency should be like before cranking it and stuff.
  • I agree with red5: if you like this, buy a pasta roller. Makes quick work of the pasta dough.

    Let me touch on the eggs:

    Better to use measurments of eggs (well, in other dishes. Not so important in this recipe). IOW, 1/4 cup egg whites, 1/3 cup of yolk, 1/2 cup of whole eggs, etc. Some people buy Medium, Large, X-Lg, Jumbo, etc, so in some recipes (I doubt this is one) it makes a difference.

    What matters to all: crack eggs into a dish, don't crack into your dry ingredients. Sometimes, very, very rarely, you will get a bad egg. In this case, you'll just throw out flour (but if it's the last of your flour...) but sometimes (making a cake) you'll be throwing out all sorts of stuff. I have some small bowls we got for wedding. Dessert bowls or finger bowls or something. About half the size of a cereal bowl. Works great for this (and baby food). In the grand scheme of things, it's not much more work to clean that one tiny bowl, and it could save ruining quite a bit of other stuff.

    Also, if you can afford it, a marble slab is really nice when you have things requiring a rolling pin. Doesn't collect funk like a countertop, lasts longer than a plastic or wood cutting board. I myself don't have one, but my mother does.

    Oops. Elmo video is ending in the background. Time to switch DVD's.
    • Better to use measurments of eggs (well, in other dishes. Not so important in this recipe). IOW, 1/4 cup egg whites, 1/3 cup of yolk, 1/2 cup of whole eggs, etc. Some people buy Medium, Large, X-Lg, Jumbo, etc, so in some recipes (I doubt this is one) it makes a difference.

      Usually I add the water last. so whatever extra moisture from a little to much eggs gets accounted for with less water and vice versa.

      Also, if you can afford it, a marble slab is really nice when you have things requiring a rolling pin.

      Cool, I know what to get my dad for Christmas now. I got him a stand mixer one year and he loved it. He likes to Bake/Cook etc.

      Thanks.
      • Good hint with the water.

        One of the best uses of the marble is when making pastries and other things with high butter content. You chill the marble. That way, you can work it much longer. (For those who don't know: when making pastry, you like the butter to not melt. Soft is barely okay, but melting is bad. So, you traditionally work dough, chill, work dough, chill, etc. With a marble, you can work the dough twice as long, as there is now insulation from the warm countertop and the cool temp. pulls heat out that your hands put in.)

        You can also get a marble rolling pin. My mother does have one of these, but I've never used it.

        • You chill the marble

          With pasta, as I was told by my grandmother, is that you want the marble hot.
          • I don't have one, so can't comment. I've only ever used my mom's while making pastry, so...

            Wonder what heated marble does. Any ideas?

  • I wonder why? Do we get used to it in college, or is it something deeper? I have always liked to cook, but it became even more of a hobby when I moved out.
    • In the college dorms, it was like prison: we couldn't have a hot plate so to make grilled cheese sandwitches, we wrapped the cheese sandwitches in foil and ironed 'em on high for about five minutes a side.

      Oh and then we made mac and cheese by using oil instead of milk (oil takes a lot longer to go rancid).

      Ahh, the exuberance of youth...

      • I never lived in the dorms. My father started a college fund for me when I was born. He wanted me to be able to go to college as he did, and not have horrendous student loans to deal with when I graduated. I didn't have to use it. I graduated at 4th in my class in high school, blew the ACT and SAT out of the water and got a full tuition scholarship (minus housing, food, and books) to a college that was smaller than my first choice, but they gave me more money and actually have a better Chemistry program. (My degree is in Chemistry, although I'm a Network Administrator/Web Programmer. Long story.) So, since I wasn't using the money that was for my college, Dad decided to give me a large chunk of it. (He took the rest and bought a bass boat and some other "toys.") I used the chunk he gave me to make a downpayment on a fixer-uper house 2 blocks from the campus (holes in the wall, needed LOTS of paint, and landscaping, but I have it looking good now, which raised the value on it quite a bit.) I had enough left to pay for my books and make house payments for a while. It was a big house, so I cut down the payment a lot by renting rooms out, but I still had to work full time during the summer every year. I had a great summer job that paid really well, (That's how I got into the Network stuff) but I still worked part time during the last 2 years of college. So I never had to suffer through dorm life too much, although I did spend a few nights there with a friend. (It took me a while to find a house I liked/could afford.)
        • My degree is in Chemistry, although I'm a Network Administrator/Web Programmer. Long story.)
          As I understand it, only about 2% of people with a BA/BS end up going into same the field they obtained their degree in. That number rises dramatically when you get a PhD (Permanent Head Damage is usually attributed to such things).
  • What do you think about that pasta machine sold from an infomercial? I can't remember where we got our machine, but I think that someone bought it from Ron Popiel's infomercials, and gave it to my parents as a gift. I honestly thought that it was fun to make our own pasta, and was truly disappointed when we didn't save any money. I realize that it probably won't produce pasta as nice as hand made pasta, but if you could let us know what you think of it and how much you'd recommend it to the casual cook, then I'd appreciate it.

    Unfortunately, we couldn't make any good pasta and got tired of it. Based on what you said above, we must have added too much flour, because I noticed that after cooking, it took on a rough texture. I seem to recall that usually with premade, and dried pasta, you can cook it, and suck it up, because of how smooth and slimy it is. I don't usually slurp up my pasta, so I wouldn't know for sure. With ours, it was more like eating non-rice based chinese noodles.

    Any comments would be appreciated.

    I would be interested in your sauce recipes, because I just love spaghetti and spaghettini. I usually love it when there are mushrooms, lots of sauce, and tofu. Tofu seems to blend better than meat.
    • I've never used that pasta maker, but I think I know which one you are referring to.
      And the rough texture leads me to believe that the dough wasn't kneaded enough. You have to knead the dough until it has a slick surface.

      And I'll writeup the spaghetti sauce recipe in a few days (its a lot longer, and more in depth recipe).
  • My husband's big into homemade pasta, and discovered that it makes the best lasagna ever. Just use whole sheets of pasta instead of lasagna noodles (we use strips the size of whatever comes out of the pasta machine). Don't cook them before putting them in the lasagna, and they'll absorb any extra juices, making a nice, firm, yummy lasagna.
  • This means 'firm to the tooth' and when using this term to describe pasta, it is best to remember the difference between dried and fresh noodles.

    When striving for al dente pasta, the cooking directions are exact opposites. Dried pasta is going from hard to soft and fresh pasta is going from very soft to soft. That means if you are used to cooking dried pasta, the firmness level for properly cooked pasta will not be the same for fresh pasta. Practice some before cooking it for others.

    Cook either variety with a rolling boil; that helps to keep the pasata from sticking even without oil added to the water. If you add oil, the sauce will not stick to the pasta or be absorbed by it very easily.

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