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Fresh/Stuffed Pasta & Gnocchi--Cook-Off 13

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#31 torakris

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Posted 30 August 2005 - 03:05 PM

Kristin, what pasta recipe does Batali use? I'm starting to think about hunting down some "00" flour here in Providence somewhere, to use instead of the all-purpose King Arthur that I currently use. My ratios have been the basic 3 eggs to 2 cups flour, with dribbles of water and dusts of flour as needed.

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This particular recipe calls for his basic pasta dough which is 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour and 5 large eggs.

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#32 Toliver

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Posted 30 August 2005 - 03:25 PM

This might be an incredibly stupid question, but do you freeze Gnocchi before or after cooking it in the boiling water? I'm assuming after, but I just wanted to make sure.

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On Lidia Bastianich's PBS show on potato gnocchi, she said you can freeze them before cooking.
When you're ready for them, dump them into boiling salted water. They will take a little longer to cook than fresh gnocchi but they should float when cooked just like the fresh ones do.

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#33 JosephB

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Posted 30 August 2005 - 04:57 PM

For ethereal potato gnocchi, I just don't understand the need for anything but potatoes (yukon work best) and flour -- stop.

#34 slkinsey

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Posted 30 August 2005 - 05:00 PM

Start with good ricotta (not the watery Polly-O crap), a few egg yolks, flour and, if you're me, plenty of nutmeg.  Mix into a light dough, adding just enough flour to bind it together.

Get a guy with thick fingers and hairy forearms to flick each piece over the tines of a dinner fork, and then you're done.  Toss them into boiling water and they're done when they float to the top.

Sam - how much flour, and how many yolks would you estimate for a pound of ricotta?

Like many cooking tasks, after you've done it a while it becomes a "by feel" sort of thing. So I can't really say how much flour and egg yolks for a pound of ricotta. This is all the more true because regular supermarket ricotta has substantially more water content than the almost-as-thick-as-cream-cheese ricotta I'm using. If I had to guess, I'd say something like 1 pound of thick ricotta (drain the supermarket stuff overnight), plus two egg yolks, plus 2/3 cup flour. The idea is to add maybe half of the flour and stir the mixture a few times, and then add in just enough flour to make it come together as a light dough.

For ethereal potato gnocchi, I just don't understand the need for anything but potatoes (yukon work best) and flour -- stop.

I agree with Joe, although I prefer to add just the tiniest grating of fresh nutmeg. The less flour you use, the lighter the gnocchi will be. There are some practical limitations, however. I have made potato gnocchi that, while perhaps a technical feat, were really too light and delicate to be satisfying. Choice of potato variety is also of primary importance if you want to make gnocchi with no other binders. Best is something in between a floury variety and a waxy variety. Yukon Gold are good in this respect, and I've had even better results with Yukon Gold creamers ("creamers" are potatoes harvested in the earliest stages of growth, before they are mature). I've never tried gnocchi with any "heirloom potatoes" one finds in the greenmarkets, but it might be an interesting experiment.

There is also the method of cooking to be considered. Standard practice is to boil the potatoes, but some people swear by baking, which reduces the moisture content and supposedly requires less flour as a result.

Anyone have thoughts on stuffed potato gnocchi? Some of the best I've ever had were stuffed with meat and peas. Another interesting potato gnocchi variant is chestnut gnocchi, made with potato and a mixture of wheat flour and chestnut flour (although I suppose it might be interesting to try making them with a puree of cooked chestnut meat and flour). Excellent with a duck and porcini ragù.
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#35 daniellewiley

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Posted 30 August 2005 - 05:47 PM

Start with good ricotta (not the watery Polly-O crap), a few egg yolks, flour and, if you're me, plenty of nutmeg.  Mix into a light dough, adding just enough flour to bind it together.

Get a guy with thick fingers and hairy forearms to flick each piece over the tines of a dinner fork, and then you're done.  Toss them into boiling water and they're done when they float to the top.

Sam - how much flour, and how many yolks would you estimate for a pound of ricotta?

Like many cooking tasks, after you've done it a while it becomes a "by feel" sort of thing. So I can't really say how much flour and egg yolks for a pound of ricotta. This is all the more true because regular supermarket ricotta has substantially more water content than the almost-as-thick-as-cream-cheese ricotta I'm using. If I had to guess, I'd say something like 1 pound of thick ricotta (drain the supermarket stuff overnight), plus two egg yolks, plus 2/3 cup flour. The idea is to add maybe half of the flour and stir the mixture a few times, and then add in just enough flour to make it come together as a light dough.


Thanks - this is helpful! I plan to get the ricotta from a local Italian market that makes it fresh, daily. It's very thick and delicious.
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#36 ruthcooks

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Posted 30 August 2005 - 09:45 PM

Keller has a recipe for gnocchi that uses pate choux instead of potato

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I made these years ago for a French cooking class. It was called Gnocchi Parisienne, and the little dumplings plumped up like soft cream puffs when baked in a rich cream sauce. Oh so wonderful.

A much easier gnocchi is a type of Russian cheese dumpling. Throw everything in the food processor, chill, then poach gently in the shape of eggs. Serve with fresh dill and butter or Parmesan and butter.

Everything BUT Italian here.
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#37 Chufi

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Posted 31 August 2005 - 11:39 AM

I made stuffed pasta yesterday. I belive Moby calls this shape tortelli in his class? The names of the different shapes confuse me sometimes.
Anyway, for the stuffing I braised some veal with shallots, garlic, some chunks of carrot, white wine and some light chicken stock. The next day, I took out the meat and the vegetables. I sauteed a couple of leeks (white only) in butter, transferred them to the casserole and cooked them in the veal-braising liquid until very tender. Moby had suggested this method instead of braising the leeks with the meat, and this was a very good idea.
Meat and leeks were pureed in foodprocessor with braising liquid, eggyolk and parmesan. I kept tasting the stuffing and even after adding lots of salt, pepper and cheese, I still thought it was lacking something. Then I added some grated lemonzest and that really seemed to pull it together, and gave it a sort of zingy lift.

Here you see my far from efficient production line. I had intended to do another pastashape, but because I had so many other things going on for this dinnerparty I chickened out and just did the shape I have made before and that I knew I could pull of.
I still find it very hard to get my sheets evenly sized (or my pasta).
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And here it is on the plate. I served them with chanterelles that were panfried in butter. Sauced with melted butter that was mixed with some lemon juice, and chives. Lots of parmesan ofcourse. Yum!!

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#38 Eden

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Posted 31 August 2005 - 12:02 PM

In honor of this cook-off I've invited friends to come over on Saturday to make Ashak (leek filled Afghani raviolis)

I've made ashak with basic pasta dough, and even with wonton wrappers in the past, but if anyone here has a recipe for a particularly good (or more traditional) ashak dough I'd be happy to try it.

Mmm Afghan food!

I'll save the gnocchi for later in the month :smile:
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#39 little ms foodie

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Posted 31 August 2005 - 12:05 PM

Keller has a recipe for gnocchi that uses pate choux instead of potato

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I made these years ago for a French cooking class. It was called Gnocchi Parisienne, and the little dumplings plumped up like soft cream puffs when baked in a rich cream sauce. Oh so wonderful.

A much easier gnocchi is a type of Russian cheese dumpling. Throw everything in the food processor, chill, then poach gently in the shape of eggs. Serve with fresh dill and butter or Parmesan and butter.

Everything BUT Italian here.

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An Italian chef tought me to make those with ricotta and herbs, he called them nudi I think.

#40 Jason Perlow

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Posted 31 August 2005 - 12:19 PM

Remember that in Czarist Russia, all of the Imperial chefs were Italian, so there is a quite a bit of crossover in pasta making tradition.
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#41 Eden

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Posted 31 August 2005 - 12:29 PM

An Italian chef tought me to make those with ricotta and herbs, he called them nudi I think.

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Interesting, the gnudi/nudi I'm familiar with (tuscan) are made with ricotta & spinach, but not pate choux. So named (nudes) because they're basically naked ravioli :laugh:

Where was your chef from? My italian aquaintances from other regions all look at me funny when I refer to them by that title, so I've been assuming it was a Tuscan thing.

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#42 MobyP

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Posted 31 August 2005 - 02:39 PM

Chufi - those look absolute perfection. I bet they were delicious. I think they would be classed either as agnolotti or ravioli though - depending on the region - tortelli usually have only vegetable fillings.

The recipes I've seen from Batali, Chiarello, and Ducasse all have 150g flour (a little more than a cup) for every 500g potato (a little more than a pound), plus differing amounts of parmagiano. If you add ricotta, and it does improve things, you can cut back on the potato, but less so the flour. By the way, you can also do stufffed gnocchi by rolling out the dough (like Sam does) into a snake, then flattening it to a couple of inches wide, and running a thin line of meat sauce or cooked sausage meat or cooked chicken livers etc down the center, then folding it over and joining it (if you think of it as a kind of potato hose, enclosing the filling). When you proceed to cut the gnocchi, each cut seals off the filling from spilling out. Serve as you would normally.

As to pillowy lightness/texture, and apologies for my slight dip into the technical, you have to start considering starch content, the style of potato, and the gelatinizing of the starch prior to cooking. For this last bit, see Jack Lang's mind bogglingly good egci potato course. Many American chefs prefer older idaho potatoes. Some - like Collichio - prefer the higher starch of Yukon Gold (if you're in the US). The real nut cases in Europe insist on using a type of potato grown in the mountains at high altitude. You're more likely to get a soft non-glue texture using an Idaho if you're a first timer and can't be arsed with the more technical aspects of potato cookery. The Yukon needs slightly more experience to avoid gumminess.

Obviously you must never put the cooked potato into a food processor. Also, you can par-boil them until almost done, cool, oil slightly, and place for several hours in the fridge if you want. Makes the whole thing much simpler. Just warm them through before serving, and make sure they're not stuck together.

Best of luck to all.
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#43 Smithy

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Posted 31 August 2005 - 03:19 PM

Wow. I can't make the attempt for at least 2 weeks. Now I'm sorry we'll be away over Labor Day! Chufi, those are gorgeous!

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#44 slkinsey

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Posted 31 August 2005 - 03:55 PM

Moby, any thoughts as to whether it's worth doing Jack's starch retrogradation technique when cooking potatoes for gnocchi? Presumably this would eliminate the possibility of a gluey texture.
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#45 little ms foodie

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Posted 31 August 2005 - 04:01 PM

An Italian chef tought me to make those with ricotta and herbs, he called them nudi I think.

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Interesting, the gnudi/nudi I'm familiar with (tuscan) are made with ricotta & spinach, but not pate choux. So named (nudes) because they're basically naked ravioli :laugh:

Where was your chef from? My italian aquaintances from other regions all look at me funny when I refer to them by that title, so I've been assuming it was a Tuscan thing.

Eden

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Eden, sorry I wasn't clear. 2 different things- pate choux gnocci and gnudi made of riccotta and herbs......Umbria.

#46 heather s

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Posted 31 August 2005 - 07:14 PM

Back in May I had this at Spiaggia in Chicago -

GNOCCHI DI PATATE IN SALSA DI RICOTTA E TARTUFO NERO

Hand rolled potato gnocchi with ricotta sauce and Umbrian black truffle sauce


I CANNOT STOP THINKING ABOUT IT. I would be so so happy if I could recreate anything even somewhat like it - the gnocchi were so delicate, the sauce so creamy... insert homer simpson-like noise here...

If anyone has a recipe.... :raz:

#47 MobyP

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Posted 31 August 2005 - 11:22 PM

Moby, any thoughts as to whether it's worth doing Jack's starch retrogradation technique when cooking potatoes for gnocchi?  Presumably this would eliminate the possibility of a gluey texture.

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Sam, I think it certainly helps, or at least couldn't hurt, especially if someone doesn't have a lot of experience (as much as your fine pasta-making self, for instance!).

The quick version breaks down to five steps, and you'll need a thermometer. 1. Peel and slice the potatoes into evenly sized pieces of approx. 3/4 inch thickness. Place in hot water between 158-160 F for 30 minutes. This gelatinizes the walls off the starch cells. 2. Drain, and either shock in ice water, or place under running cold water until cold. This fixes the starch into gelatin. 3. Return to water almost boiling, and cook until tender (but not over-cooked or mushy, just until a knife encounters almost no resistence when you push it in). 4. Drain, and then I return the tats to the pot over a small flame, just until they dry out. Maybe a minute and a half at the outside. 5. Run through a potato ricer while still hot. Add 150g of flour and an egg and half a handful of parmagiano per 500g of potato. Mix quickly, but don't over-kneed.

As you mentioned, alternatives to this include boiling the potatoes with the skins still on to prevent ingress of moisture, and then peeling the potatoes while still hot, or placing the whole potatoes in a 375F oven for an hour and 15 or so, and then peeling them. Unfortunately, this is just averaging out the mistakes and successes until you have lowest common denominator of texture, and so depends entirely on experience to make it better or worse (i.e. knowing that your potatoes are slightly smaller than usual, or larger, and so should probably only cook for an hour and five minutes, or an hour and forty etc etc.)

By the way, some of the gummiest gnocchi I ever had were in the middle of Naples. To a certain degree, it's a cultural preference. An entirely non-gummy gnoccchi may not be possible or preferable with the flour potato approach. It is partly the gumminess that holds the thing together - which is useful, especially if you want to fry them as well - which is why the ricotta works so well, allowing a lightness.

Edited by MobyP, 01 September 2005 - 01:50 AM.

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#48 albiston

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Posted 01 September 2005 - 12:39 AM

By the way, some of the gummiest gnocchi I ever had were in the middle of Naples.

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Moby,

are you sure those were potato gnocchi?

I ask because, as someone with a Northern Italian background who moved to Naples as a child, I was used to eating little soft potato pillows and was quite disappointed by the local gnocchi the first times I tried them. I did eventually develop a taste for Neapolitan gnocchi and some time later found out why they are so gummy. Quite simply, there's no potatoes at all in there, rather they're made with flour and boiling water. To get potato gnocchi in Naples you have to be sure the menu says "gnocchi di patate", otherwise it's the flour only kind.
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#49 MobyP

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Posted 01 September 2005 - 01:48 AM

Well that would explain it! Thanks Alberto!
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#50 torakris

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Posted 04 September 2005 - 01:44 AM

Aaahhhhhh!!!!

I hate every single one of you for making this sound easy!! :angry:

I don't know if dinner will ever get made and it will take days to clean my house.....

back to my struggle with the pasta machine :angry:

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#51 Chufi

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Posted 04 September 2005 - 10:21 AM

Aaahhhhhh!!!!

I hate every single one of you for making this sound easy!! :angry:

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well, the cook-off is not going so well over here in Amsterdam, either.

Gnocchi :wub: ?? hell no! Gnocchi!! :angry:

OK so I was all set for gnocchi today. I had bought potatoes, asking the potatoguy at the market for "not too floury not too waxy" ones. Then I saw the Kabocha squash I had bought a couple of days ago. I decided to make pumpkin/potato gnocchi.
Potatoes were boiled in their skins, pumpkin roasted in the oven. Both were nice and dry when I mashed them. I decided to be brave and not add an egg.. only flour. I added enough flour to make a dough that was soft but not very sticky. Shaped the gnocchi.. I thought they looked very nice.
Ofcourse the cooking was the hard part. I fished them out as soon as they floated to the surface, but by then they were almost dissolved. In the serving dish they collapsed together into an orange mealy mush. Sauced with enough sage butter to make an old shoe edible, we ate them anyway.

But not a succes. What went wrong?

#52 JasonTrue

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Posted 04 September 2005 - 11:41 AM

Kabocha adds a lot of water content to the gnocchi, even when roasted. I've made good kabocha gnocchi before, but I've also made very bad ones. I usually oven-steam the kabocha ("roast" halves face-down in shallow water bath).

I found that temperature control is very important... if the temperature varies much from what I think is a 155-160F sweet spot, bad things can happen.

But based on your description, I'd say the most likely thing is that you didn't have quite enough flour in your gnocchi. The impulse to avoid tough, chewy gnocchi often leads us to be overly cautious in the use of flour, and so we get ones that don't quite hold together.

When I've made regular potato gnocchi with egg, it usually works out, but I think that it adds too much moisture content in kabocha gnocchi and I now generally skip that.

I would love to do a kabocha gnocchi, but in the Seattle area kabocha and other winter squash won't taste very good for another month or so. The ones from out of area don't generally have good color in September.
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#53 Eden

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Posted 04 September 2005 - 04:33 PM

well, the cook-off is not going so well over here in Amsterdam, either.

Maybe it's the phase of the moon? I was making ashak for dinner yesterday & using my regular pasta recipe, which has behaved beautifully in the past, but for some reason was really sticky yesterday, I kept adding flour & adding flour & finally tried rolling but it just ended up looking kind of cheesy textured, and sad, not beautiful & smooth like pasta should, so we finally gave up, and just made the ashak with wonton wrappers because otherwise we weren't going to have dinner...

I'll try again later in the week, when I hope the astrological portents will be more favorable :raz:
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#54 daniellewiley

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Posted 04 September 2005 - 05:19 PM

Aaahhhhhh!!!!

I hate every single one of you for making this sound easy!! :angry:

I don't know if dinner will ever get made and it will take days to clean my house.....

back to my struggle with the pasta machine :angry:

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Oh no! I just won one on eBay, and now I'm scared. :unsure:
my kitchen was a disaster today after making muffins - I'm sure pasta will be an adventure for sure!
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#55 torakris

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Posted 04 September 2005 - 06:26 PM

Things honestly clould not have been worse in my kitchen yesterday.
It started off with two, not one, but two trips to the grocery store to buy eggs and flour. I actually wrote a note with just eggs and flour on it and took it with me. Then I came home with eggs and a of other things. So back to the store for flour.
I then started off by sauteeing the zucchini mixture, which went well. Then on to the cheese. I was making a very simple ricotta (from scratch) but I could not get the curds and whey to separate, I tried adding double the amount of citric acid, then I said what the heck and decided to squeeze lemon juice into it. The lemon half popped out of my hand and landed in the pot of very hot milk splashing all over me, and it still didn't curdle! Then I pulled out my rice vinegar and added a splash of that and I still never got what I was hoping for but I did get a cheese like product that was not bad but quite acidic. :hmmm:
Time to turn to the pasta, I have never made pasta by hand before.
I created a large pile of flour made a well and added the eggs, it was beautiful at this point. I took a fork and gently stirred the eggs and started to slowly incorporate the flour. All good so far, then the dam broke! the eggs escaped out a hole they dug in the back of the pile and took off. If it wasn't for the warped cutting board I was using I would have lost them all over the counter. (I warped my nice wooden cutting board a couple months ago when I decided to use it as a lid on a pan I was simmering. :unsure: )
I finally got the dough together and kneaded it for the full 10 minutes, I then set it aside (wrapped) to rest. In the meantime I pulled out the pasta machine to read the directions since I have never used it before. It is a handcranked Imperia brand that I bought through Amazon last year. To start with there were no directions on how to set it up, go ahead and laugh but it actually took 30 minutes to figure out how to do it... It can't clamp on to either my kitchen counter nor my dining room table because of their sizes. So I tried clamping it on to my sons chair but that was an awkward position to work in and the pasta had no where to go but the floor. I did finally manage to get it clamped onto my table but not really securely...
When I unwrapped the dough, it was quite sticky. Mario says to go very easy on the flour so that is what I did, but it stuck to everything, the cutting board, the table, the machine, my hands, itself, etc. I tried using more flour but it still stuck and then the book said that when the dough comes out (on the largest settings) to fold it in half and feed it through again but for some reason the piece would end up being wider than the machine.
Suddenly I noticed little silver specks inside my dough, upon closing inspection it turns out my machine is peeling! :shock: and it was flaking into my dough!! I trudge on and it seems to be be coming together for two feeds or so then it gets messed up. Now I am noticing little red smears on my dough, it took a couple minutes of inspecting the table and everything in the vicinity before I realize at some point I sliced my thumb and was actually bleeding quite a bit.... oh, well it will just be colorful pasta.
I get two semi decent sheets out of the fist batch and the door bell rings. It is some woman selling wind chimes!! :blink: She goes on into a 10 minute speech about the significance of each of the animals on them and the special materials they are made of, then the next 5 minutes in commenting on how cute the kids are and asking various questions about life in Japan. I finally said no thank you and she left..
back to the pasta my two strips are slightly dried out now but I decided to run them through one last time.Tthen I cried for the first time:

Posted Image

I went back to the books and started reading to see what was going on. It was then that I noticed in the recipe he has for the pansotti is a little different then the general fresh pasta rolling and cutting explanation he has. It says to just put it through the second to last setting once and then cut it into 3 inch circles. Well this sounds much easier! It is much harder to crank now and the hand crank piece is now falling out of the machine every three cranks instead of every five... :hmmm: but I get a nice long piece that I probably floured more than I should have and set about cutting circles. I think the pasta was too thin though because as I would pick up the shape it would stretch into a long oval and if any part touched another part they would be instantly stuck together. After 5 tries I said screw it and decided to just turn it into tagliatelle with the attachment. It would take another 10 paragraphs to describe that disaster so I am going to stop now.

Thank god for instant pasta!! :biggrin:
Posted Image
I took the zucchini filling and the oil and walnut sauce and combined it all togther.

the whole process took over three hours and it left a good sized chip in my dining room table....

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#56 torakris

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Posted 04 September 2005 - 06:27 PM

Aaahhhhhh!!!!

I hate every single one of you for making this sound easy!! :angry:

I don't know if dinner will ever get made and it will take days to clean my house.....

back to my struggle with the pasta machine :angry:

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Oh no! I just won one on eBay, and now I'm scared. :unsure:
my kitchen was a disaster today after making muffins - I'm sure pasta will be an adventure for sure!

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Run, Danielle, Run!
Run very quickly now while you still have a chance!!

:biggrin:

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#57 Dianne

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Posted 05 September 2005 - 08:27 AM

In Julia Child & Company, Julia has a recipe for "noodles" which I have made on several occasions. It uses a food processor and a hand cranked pasta machine. I have never had it fail and I am NO expert on fresh pasta. A thought for anyone who has this old book.

Dianne Ross.

Edited by Dianne, 05 September 2005 - 08:27 AM.


#58 edsel

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Posted 05 September 2005 - 11:54 AM

Kris,
A bit late for you now, but I think part of the instructions for the pasta machine should be running some sacrificial dough through the rollers to clean them out. They put mineral oil on the metal parts to prevent rusting, so you should discard the first batch of dough. Hopefully the metal "flakes" you saw were just streaks of oily stuff. Also, the blood sacrifice is really not necessary.

I'm wondering if the texture problems you had are due to the type of flour. Pasta recipes are always kind of vague about the flour-to-liquid ratio. Part of it is the relative humidity, size of the eggs, etc., but I think that the protein content of the flour makes a difference as well.

Your leaky "volcano" sounds familiar. If I'm mixing by hand I use a big bowl with a flat bottom - can't count on my cutting board being warped enough. :wink:

You get bonus points for making your own cheese. :cool:

#59 Chufi

Chufi
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Posted 05 September 2005 - 12:15 PM

Kristin,

it's probably no consolation, but the finished pasta dish looks lovely. Although I expect it's not the kind of dish that you want to spend so many hours on, including blood and tears. :laugh:
Don't give up, try again! My first attempts were years ago, I always made a big mess and decided it just wasn't worth it, now I've made it a couple of times the past months and I finally feel I've got it. It really does take practice.

I have the same machine you do, and in my previous house where the counter was too thick for the machine, I used to clamp it unto a very large cutting board that protruded slightly from the counter.
Also, if you do clamp it on a table, put a dishcloth between the machine and the table to prevent damaging the table. Yes, I know that advice comes too late :huh:

#60 sadistick

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Posted 05 September 2005 - 04:45 PM

Just made some gnocchi tonight for the first time ever - used the simple method - yukon gold potatoes, salt, and flour...kept blending till i felt they wouldnt fall apart as per previous disaster posts...i also rolled them a bit on a fork so they had little grooves for sauce...tossed in a fresh cherry tomatoe sauce, was really amazing, only thing is gotta cook the potatoes a bit longer so theres no lumps, even though i did use a ricer...maybe rice it twice...hmmm

pictures to follow later.
"He who does not mind his belly, will hardly mind anything else."
- Samuel Johnson





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