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Making pasta


Mottmott
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During the recent pasta discussion/slam, Jonathan Day said, " With pasta, at it's simplest, it is flour and eggs, boiling water and salt. Period. The culinary challenge here (apart from saucing) is far tougher, technique at its very essence. Contrary to what's been posted elsewhere, not [just] anyone can make superb pasta, and most cooks don't. Including in Italy."

How many among us make pasta? I've recently gotten the KA rollers and made a couple batches for the first time. I was pleased and surprised at how well they turned out (used the processor to make the dough, an egg pasta). :biggrin:

For those who still like pasta, and make it from scratch, what are some of the finer points of technique and calibrating ingredients to kinds of pasta?

"Half of cooking is thinking about cooking." ---Michael Roberts

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When I make it, I use half semolina flour and half AP (plain) flour. I find this gives a good consistency to work with, not too dry, not too flabby. And I use the European version of the recipe in the KA booklet -- slightly different proportions than the American version. I make it in the mixer bowl, and use the dough hook for the early kneading (finish by hand). To me, it tastes so good I can eat it with just a little butter.

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suzanne, i think you're right on!

i also like the technique of mixing flours and working the dough by hand.

when making noodle dough (as opposed to a softer ravioli dough) i like to use less yolks and more whites in the recipe. this allows the rolled noodle to air dry before cooking and the end result is an al dente noodle.

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I use whatever flour I have around, hopefully usually high-gluten bread flour. I'm new around here, so I missed the pasta slam, but IMHO, adding water to pasta dough is just not done. 1 large egg to every 1/2-3/4 cups flour, that's it.

I also stretch it by hand rather than use a pasta maker. It's really not that hard to do, and I like the results much better. I taught myself years ago using the instructions from The Classic Italian Cookbook. It's a very satisfying skill to have;, it impresses your pals, and the pasta is chewier, heartier, and more rustic than what you get from a machine, which I consider to be a tad egg-noodley. Give it a try. It helps to have an Italian-style rolling pin, which resembles a dowel. Salud!

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I'm in the make-it-by-hand camp. It's been rightly pointed out that pasta rolled by hand is stretched, thus creating a surface texture better suited to retaining sauce, as opposed to machine-made pasta, which is extruded, giving a flat, relatively undifferentiated surface.

Who said "There are no three star restaurants, only three star meals"?

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I make mine by hand; using just plain flour; I was lucky enough to get to a class run by Steve Manfredi, who is one of sydney's best italian chefs ( He used to own Bel mondo), and since then I've never had any problems. I use an atlas pasta machine. when I'm keeping it I just let it air dry over a towel rack, and I've kept it for up to 2 months without any probs.

'You can't be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline - it helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer.'

- Frank Zappa

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