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Columns February 14, 2017  RSS feed

Cooking Country

Sherry Matney

Granddaughter Jenna Meads catching the pasta as it passed through the pasta maker. Granddaughter Jenna Meads catching the pasta as it passed through the pasta maker. Here we are, Valentine’s Day and my first cooking column of the year!! Last week my granddaughter, Jenna, visited and brought with her an attachment for a Kitchen Aide mixer that makes pasta. I was somewhat skeptical about why anyone would actually go to the trouble of making spaghetti or fettuccine or any other pasta dish from scratch, but I was excited to spend some time with my granddaughter. Got to say, it was wonderful, both the quality time and the finished product!! I have been mistaken about the food value of pasta all these years. I thought it was just flour and water. But this pasta is full of eggs, which means lots of protein. And I suppose the eggs gives the pasta the texture and flavor that makes it delicious, even without sauce.

The attachment doesn’t actually make pasta, you do that, but the attachment presses it and cuts it into the various sizes. We made the dough on my kitchen countertop and it worked well with easy cleanup. I suspect you could mix it in the mixer with a dough hook, but this is what she had been taught so that is what we did. We also used a fork to work in the flour but some folks like to use their hands. I just don’t like the feel of raw eggs so I prefer the fork.

We used all-purpose flour but real die hard Italian cooks use nothing but Italian flour, which may be ordered over the Internet, but it is very expensive. Another thing real Italian chefs do is dry their pasta but we placed ours on a cookie sheet as it came off the pasta machine. We froze the pasta we did not cook right away. Make little mounds as you twirl it onto the cookie sheet, freeze it, then take it off, and place in a zip lock bag or plastic container. It worked great and only took one minute to cook, even frozen, and each little twirl is about one serving. So here we go.

Homemade Pasta Dough

2 cups all-purpose flour
(more or less)
2 whole eggs + two egg
1 tbsp. olive oil
Pinch of salt

Place the four onto a clean work surface and use your fist to make a well in the center. Break the eggs into the well, all oil and salt. If you are coloring the dough add the ingredient now. (I’ll tell you how later.)

Gradually mix the egg mixture into the flour using fingers or a fork, bringing the ingredients together into firm dough. If the dough feels too dry, add a few drops of water; if the dough feels too wet, add a little four.

Knead the dough until it’s smooth, a couple minutes. At this point you can let the dough rest for about 30 minutes, but we did not. Just went straight into the pasta maker.

Your blob of dough may be too large to pass through a pasta machine, if so split it in half. Feed the dough through the machine set on the widest setting. As the sheet of dough comes out of the machine, fold it into thirds and then feed it through the rollers again, still on the widest setting. Pass the pasta through this same setting a total of 4 times.

The pasta machine has graduated setting so pass the sheet of dough through the machine again, repeatedly, gradually reducing the settings, one pass at a time, until the pasta achieves the desired thickness. (I had no idea what the desired thickness was but we ran it through at least three thicknesses.) This dough gets very long and thin. You can cut it in half to make it more manageable.

The next attachment cuts the pasta into the desired thickness. We made angel-hair and fettuccine. As it passed through the cutters we caught it, twirled it and placed it on a cookie sheet. Then, what we did not cook we froze.

To cook the pasta, place into boiling water for about one minute. Don’t over cook.

To color the pasta, do the following: (I haven’t tried any of these.)

Spinach: After making the flour well on a clean work surface add ¾ cup cooked spinach that has been pureed in a food processor and continue per the recipe.

Tomato: Add 2 tbsp. tomato paste to the flour well.

Herb: Add at least 3 tbsp. finely chopped fresh green herbs to the well.

Next week we make the sauces. Very simple and won’t take nearly as long.

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