Thursday, February 6, 2014

Fresh Pasta

Pasta Pasta Pasta!!!  I love it.  Pasta is probably one of my most favorite things to eat, make, share, enjoy, devour, and well you get the picture; I'm kind of a fan.  So after many years of consuming pasta dish after pasta dish I finally got really tired of always buying a box of dried pasta all the time.  I mean, people were always raving about fresh pasta so there had to be something special about it.  And I'll admit, I was intimidated.  This was before I had gone to culinary school; this was before I had had much practice at all in the kitchen.  I was just starting to figure out that this was something that I loved to do and that I was going to go to school for.  So one day my boyfriend and I decided to make ravioli.  In hindsight, probably a little bit over ambitious for our first pasta attempt but hey I think that you might be sensing a trend that we kind of just dive in and try things out in a big way.  So anyway, after actually getting the pasta dough to come together (yes I did a pasta dough dance in my kitchen-my well did not break!!) we soon realized we didn't have anything to roll the dough out.  I mean nothing.  No rolling pin as some how it got lost in transition of moving my kitchen stuff, I didn't have a fancy dancy pasta roller, heck at the time I didn't even have my beloved Kitchenaid Mixer.  But no worries, we figured it out; where there's pasta there is we used a bottle of wine (or two) to roll out the pasta.
Long story short, the dough was definitely too thick, especially for ravioli.  Our filling kept coming out on our first attempts and neither one of us thought to make a sauce so it was just plain old ravioli.  However, this is where we both truly experienced fresh basil and fell in love with it.  This is the dish that inspired the garden because of the basil in the amazing filling.  It's where I figured out that though it wasn't the most successful of recipe attempts it was one of the most enjoyable attempts.  Though the dough wasn't just right it fired me up to try again and not give up.  It made me realize that cooking isn't perfect, it doesn't need to be stressful or something to get upset about.  It's always a learning experience in one way or another.  You have wins and you have major failures, in this case we made an amazing filling and a not so great pasta dough, but there's always another day to try.  And try I did.  It's amazing just how many different recipes, techniques and how-to directions there are out there.  And trying to figure out which one of them is right is hard and frustrating sometimes, at least to me it is.  For me, I do just a basic flour and egg recipe, that simple.  I don't mess with the water to olive or any of that other stuff but that's just what works for me.  I've found that different recipes have varying results for different people, so don't get discouraged.  Find what works for you or what you are most comfortable with and go for it, and don't give up!!  Enjoy :)
Side Note:  Literally the day after I posted this recipe my mom got me the pasta roller and cutter set to go with my Kitchenaid because like I said, I wine bottle roll or use my rolling pin when I can find it (I still don't get how it's always disappearing to random places in the kitchen).  So, since then I have updated the pictures, I will probably add pictures in the future of the well process when I have time so stay tuned for that!


Fresh Pasta
Makes 1 pound, 4 servings

3 cups all-purpose flour
5 large eggs

1.  Mound the flour in the center of a large wooden cutting board.  Make a well in the middle of the flour and add the eggs.  Using a fork; beat together the eggs and begin to incorporate the flour starting with the inner rim of the well.  As you are incorporating the eggs, keep pushing the flour up on the sides to retain the well shape.  The dough should start to come together what about half of the flour is incorporated.
2.  Start kneading the dough with both hands, using the palms of your hands.  Add more flour, in small increment, if the dough is too sticky.  Once the dough has come together, remove the dough from the board and scrape any left over dry flour bits.  Lightly reflour the board and continue kneading for 3-5 more minutes.
3.  The dough should elastic and a little sticky.  Continue to knead for another 3 minutes.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and set aside for 20 minutes at room temperature.  Roll and form as desired.

Now that you have your fresh pasta, you need some pasta sauce recipes!  Check them out!
Roasted Tomato Sauce
Wild Mushroom Ragu