SoupAddict took a little staycation last week, and spent most of it in the kitchen, cooking, cooking, cooking. Which was kind of stupid, now that she’s thinking about it, because the weather was really gorgeous, and therefore she should’ve been outside soaking up the late summer sun and cooler temps.
SoupAddict did spend some time outside, but most of it involved raiding her gardens, looking for every last ripe tomato and pepper to be found. And eyeballing the sweet potato bed, wondering when the heck you’re supposed to harvest those things. (For now, procrastinator SoupAddict will just pretend the answer is “October” and keep moving.)
One of the things that SoupAddict made a lot of last week was fresh pasta. If you’ve never had fresh pasta before, hoo boy, are you in for some goodness. Like homemade bread out of your own oven, it’s just better. SoupAddict makes some fresh, and lets some dry for future use. It’s all good, and totally worth the effort.
Now, SoupAddict is a gadget geek, and has pasta tools that are used with her KitchenAid stand mixer to produce pasta in all kinds of shapes and sizes. But you don’t need those things. Generations of Italian women have been making pasta with just a rolling pin and a knife.
So let’s get started. There are many recipes out there for fresh pasta (including simply flour and water), but this one is one of SoupAddict’s faves:
Fresh Egg Pasta
||extra virgin olive oil
||water, as needed (have a cup of room-temp water standing by)
And now the play-by-play:
SoupAddict uses only King Arthur flours. Her local grocery carries the Big Two (unbleached all-purpose and bread), but she must order other flours, like their entirely lovely semolina, online. SoupAddict sometimes sees Bob’s Red Mill semolina in a few stores here and there, so that brand might an option for you if you just. can’t. wait. (It happens.)
You can do this part in a bowl, but SoupAddict likes to use her silicone rolling mat (also from KAF).
Salt is your friend. That’s SoupAddict’s philosophy.
Action photo goodness! Mix all the dry ingredients together.
And form a well. It will need to be larger than this one, for reasons we’ll see in a second.
Break the eggs into the well.
And use a fork to begin incorporating them into the flour a little at time. D’oh! Overflow! No worries. It will all come together in the end.
Add the olive oil. When the mixture becomes too difficult to manage with a fork, switch to your hands.
If the mixture is all lumpy, dry and scraggly, you’re doin’ it right. Keep going.
Now we start the kneeding process. Look at the clock: this will take 10 minutes.
Can you do this in your stand mixer? Absolutely.
Kneeding is a very simple process: gather the mass into a ball and smooooooosh with the palm(s) of your hand(s), pushing away from you. Pick up the mass, give it a quarter turn in one direction. Fold it in half. Smooooooosh.
And if you’re going to photograph this process, SoupAddict recommends that you exfoliate and moisturize your elbows first.
This is after 5 minutes. The pasta dough is looking much, much better, but it’s not ready yet. You might have noticed the silver handle of the measuring cup in the picture. This cup contains warm water, which SoupAddict dips her fingers into whenever the dough starts feeling too dry and ready to crack. Adding water this way (rather than dumping, say, an entire teaspoon) lets you control the moisture of the dough much more precisely.
Also note, you can’t overwork pasta dough: it doesn’t need to rise, like bread dough or cake batter, so no need to be all delicate and tip-toey. You can, however, underwork it, so stick to the 10 minutes (of hand kneeding; 7 minutes in the mixer).
Almost there … making one of the final quarter turns and folding it in half for smoooooshing.
And … there! The dough is smooth, pliable, not at all sticky, and stretches when pulled.
SoupAddict will be using her KitchenAid Pasta Extruder
to form macaroni shapes, so she divides the dough into 3 pieces and wraps them in plastic for their 1/2 hour nap. SoupAddict understands the chemistry that makes the dough nap necessary, but is nonetheless bitter that after all that work, she
doesn’t get a nap.
On impulse, SoupAddict has decided to show you what’s behind the magic black backdrop.
This is what happens when you let SoupAddict loose in the kitchen for an entire week.
When preparing this photograph for the blog, SoupAddict noticed that she has not one, not two, not three, but six different kinds of salt. Not merely six containers of salt, but six distinctively different kinds of salt. And that’s what’s on the counter, which doesn’t include the kosher salt, the gray salt, the truffle salt, the seasoned salt, or the Baleine Fleur de Sel (fine and coarse).
SoupAddict has issues. And apparently loves salt.
Okay, back to regular programming. SoupAddict’s pasta extruder comes with attachments to make different pasta shapes. Which is seriously cool. This one makes small macaronis.
At this point in the process, flour is your friend: the challenge is to keep the formed pasta from sticking together. Lightly flour the piece of dough that goes into the extruder, and generously flour the work surface below. Also keep a small cup of flour handy.
Action photo goodness! As the pasta exits the extruder, you work a thin wire on a lever to slice off the tubes at the desired length, catching them with your free hand.
Lay the macaronis on the floured work surface, doing your best to keep them from melding together. Clinging together is okay. If they get too clumpy, just wad them up and add them to other dough that is waiting to be processed.
And viola! At this point, you can either cook immediately, or leave to dry. If drying, gently separate as many of the macaronis as you can. If cooking fresh, they will separate on their own in the water.
One of my favorites tips from a Food Network chef comes from Anne Burrell: pasta water should be well salted. “Salty as the ocean!”
Fresh pasta does not need to cook as long as dried: 5-6 minutes should do it. They float to the surface, all eager like.
Perfect, al dente pasta.
Which SoupAddict used in a delicious cucumber pasta salad
, with homegrown cukes, tomatoes, peppers and dill. Aaaah, living la Vida local sure does taste great!