Monday, July 11, 2011

a belated birthday dinner, part two

Once I decide I want to try and cook something, that's pretty much the end of the story.  Nevermind that it involves some exotic (read: expensive) ingredient, an un-Godly amount of time, and/or a skill I don't actually currently posses. 

Fresh pasta is on that list. Before my birthday, pretty much all of the prohibitive factors were in place.  But, my lovely sister got me a pasta attachment for my KitchenAid (seriously, he (or she) needs a name!), and I was suddenly impervious to all of the other factors.  

So I decided I was making fresh pasta with basil, sauce TBD for dinner.  Allie is the queen of fresh pasta, and handed over her well-used recipes.  I had found several recipes online (and in the booklet that came with the pasta attachment), and out of sheer ignorance, decided to do a mash up the many recipes. 

First I "borrowed" a crop of basil from Allie's plant.  I am also growing basil, but my apartment lacks a) a balcony and b) any direct sunlight after about 10am. Therefore my basil plant only aspires to grow like Allie's.      

I beat the eggs, olive oil, salt, and pureed basil together, and poured that mixture slowly into the bowl of the KitchenAid, which was full of "00" flour.  This was where the recipes really all got mixed together (pun sort of intended?).  I was following Allie's recipe for quantities, an online recipe for the basil add-in, and my KitchenAid booklet for the "how to use the mixer" aspect.  

Then I reverted to Allie's recipe for the whole "knead for 10 to 20 minutes" part of the adventure.  The recipe specifically instructs you to put your whole body weight in to the dough.  I'm not sure how successful I was at that part of the process, but I will say my upper body was maybe just a wee bit sore.  Maybe it still is. 

The dough then sits for an hour at room temperature, which is particularly obnoxious if you really want to hurry up and try out your new kitchen gadget.  And if you have to get ready to go to a fundraiser by a certain time.  Details.

So the dough sits there and rests, and changes not at all in appearance (which I find annoying...if I have to bring my culinary adventure to a halt, I want dramatic results for my troubles).  And suddenly it's time to feed it through the "hopper" of the pasta attachment.  And then pasta is EVERYWHERE.

There's pasta in a giant dough ball.  There's smaller balls of dough waiting to be fed into the machine.  There's pasta coming out of the machine.  There's pasta rapidly filling up a clean towel on a cookie sheet. There's pasta on another cookie sheet in the freezer.  And it just. keeps. coming. 

It took me a while to figure out any semblance of a rythm, so for a while, things were pretty frantic in a very amusing way.  Allie compared it to the episode of "I Love Lucy" which involves a chocolate factory. 

I was really curious to see how it tasted, so I saved a little bit for a pre-fundraiser dinner.  I think I overcooked it a bit, but it tasted a little too...thick.  I ate it all anyways (never one to turn down pasta, even if it's questionable pasta), and hoped it'd taste better the next day. 

I'm not sure it was out of this world by any stretch, but, boiling it for a little less time (and smothering it in cream sauce) sure helped.  I really need to work on the method/recipe, but I'm encouraged that my first stab at fresh pasta wasn't a wholesale disaster.  I'm also pleased with my increasing ability to deviate from recipes and just fly by the seat of my pants.  I'm not saying it doesn't still give me a touch of anxiety, but, I'm getting much better and shushing the worries and just going for it.

And finally, up next: bread and pasta sauce. 

1 comment:


    This is pretty much what I pictured as you described the pasta cutting black and white and everything.