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


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Aaahhhhhh!!!!

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

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?

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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.

Jason Truesdell

Blog: Pursuing My Passions

Take me to your ryokan, please

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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:

Do you suffer from Acute Culinary Syndrome? Maybe it's time to get help...

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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:

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!

Danielle Altshuler Wiley

a.k.a. Foodmomiac

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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:

gallery_6134_119_31238.jpg

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:

gallery_6134_119_28488.jpg

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....

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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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:

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!

Run, Danielle, Run!

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

:biggrin:

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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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 (log)
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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:

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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:

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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.

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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:

Edsel beat me to it, but I'm going to repeat it anyway. In my one or two attempts to make pasta I've learned that, instructions or no, it's easier and less messy to mix the stuff in a bowl. I'm looking forward to this cookoff - been gone but now back, so I can get to it - and my motto is "purists may look the other way". :raz: I will be using my bread bowl.

Do try again, Kris! Seriously, your first attempt looked terrific even if it wasn't what you wanted to do!

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

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"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)
"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Oh Kristin...(rubs back, dries tears) I'm so sorry you had such a fiasco! How utterly frustrating!! I am hoping to make Sam's Ricotta Gnocci sometime this week, it just sounds too good to not! I don't have a pasta maker, and although I'm sure pasta can be made without it, I'm not even going to try it this time around!

Let us know if you decide to get back on that horse and try to ride again. The second effort in NO WAY could be as bad as the first!

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So I thought I'd post tonight's black pepper fettucini preparations. Here's the KitchenAid pasta maker attachment, well worth the cash, I'm finding:

gallery_19804_437_1327.jpg

The prep table, including the resting pre-made and -kneaded pasta dough (2 cups AP flour, 3 large eggs, salt, bit of water), lots of dusting flour, the pepper, and the very important Campari and soda for cook sustenance:

gallery_19804_437_77.jpg

Finally, borrowed from the laundry room, the imported Italian pasta rack. I got it at Williams-Sonoma for $1,200, but sometimes we use it to dry underwear:

gallery_19804_437_39577.jpg

I won't bore you with umpteen shots of the dough getting folded and rolled and folded and rolled; suffice it to say that you can't do that too much. (I will also say that dusting the dough with flour also probably can't be done too much.) So, instead, here's the hairy-armed cook cutting some fettucini:

gallery_19804_437_26097.jpg

The finished product, ready for an enormous amount of extremely salty boiling water:

gallery_19804_437_44986.jpg

Finally, after being tossed in some garlic- and red-pepper-kissed EVOO, the aglio e olio fettucini on the table:

gallery_19804_437_40737.jpg

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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let's talk about the dough....and the flour....

There is no all-purpose flour in Japan, it is either "strong" (bread flour with a protein content of 11% or higher) or "weak" (basically cake flour, they use it for tempura, that is a protein content of 8% or lower). The only flour I had in the house was a bread flour with 13.8% protein and a "weak" flour with 8%, I went with the weak stuff. COuld this have been part of my mistake?

Also I know there are some foods you just can't mess with on humid days, is this one of them? It was an extremely humid day on Sunday as a typhoon was approaching.

The same typhoon that is currently re-arranging my backyard.... :hmmm:

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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Chris, thanks for the abbreviated tutorial.  How much pepper?

Probably about two tablespoons of pretty finely ground pepper. If you keep it too coarse, it gets stuck in the wheels and tears the dough.

Kristin, I'm not particularly capable of answering the flour question (I used all-purpose King Arthur, whose protein content I can't find on line, oddly), so I'll take a crack at the other question:

Also I know there are some foods you just can't mess with on humid days, is this one of them? It was an extremely humid day on Sunday as a typhoon was approaching.

The same typhoon that is currently re-arranging my backyard.... :hmmm:

I really think that this might be one of the problems. I find that you have to flour pretty liberally to keep the dough moving through the rollers without sticking. That shot above of your torn dough looks the way that sticky dough looks when I don't flour enough. I don't think that a humid day makes it impossible; rather, I think that you just have to be sure to dust regularly.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I was really scared to use flour. :blink:

According to Mario's book:

As you work, dust the pasta sheet with a tiny pinch of flour only if it seems to be sticking- too much flour will dry out the dough.

My dough was really sticking to everything! it would get stuck to other pieces ofdough and there was no way to pull them apart. After getting a little more liberal with the flour it still was sticking...

I like the idea of blaming it on the weather :raz:

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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I agree with Kris. We need to talk about flour. Everything I see is cake, AP or bread, and there is very rarely a mention of how much protein is in each flour.

For the "ideal" flour, any ideas on how to combine any of those to come up with the "ideal?"

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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There is no all-purpose flour in Japan, it is either "strong" (bread flour with a protein content of 11% or higher) or "weak" (basically cake flour, they use it for tempura, that is a protein content of 8% or lower). The only flour I had in the house was a bread flour with 13.8% protein and a "weak" flour with 8%, I went with the weak stuff. COuld this have been part of my mistake?

I use Italian OO flour for fresh pasta, and I've read somewhere (although I don't remember where) that this has 7% protein, so I think you were right in choosing the 8% weak flour.

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Well, lessee.... Adam wrote this in his eGCI course:

One final note on flours and pasta-making. In Italy flour is classified as “Semolina” (Durum wheat flour) or “Farina” (soft wheat flour or a blend of the two). Italian flours are further classified numerically on the basis of refinement. “00” being the most refined, “2” being the least. The level of refinement also indicates the protein levels and, for most practical purposes, these indicate the level of gluten in the pasta dough (Durum wheat flours have a protein level of approximately 15%, by way of comparison.) “00” has a minimum of 7% protein, while “2” flour contains a minimum of 10% protein. It would therefore be logical to conclude that “2” flour would be more commonly used to make pasta because it would be able to form more gluten. Wrong. In the North of Italy were most pasta is made from soft wheat flour they mostly recommend “00” flour (as do most English language recipe books). The most common reason given for this choice of flour is that it produces a “more tender a pasta with a delicate flavour” and who am I to argue with that!

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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And I love the way you serve your grated cheese..  :biggrin:

Yeah, our seventeen-person service staff was taking the week off for Labor Day, so our Swarovski crystal cheese bowl and serving shovel hadn't been cleaned and buffed. Thus: wax paper!

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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And I love the way you serve your grated cheese..  :biggrin:

Yeah, our seventeen-person service staff was taking the week off for Labor Day, so our Swarovski crystal cheese bowl and serving shovel hadn't been cleaned and buffed. Thus: wax paper!

hey, after making pasta, you already have enough washing up to do so I understand!

btw.. my husband is having dinner with his colleagues tonight and while reading this thread, I feel a real "I need to make stuffed pasta" urge coming on. So I might just have a raviolosolo party tonight. :smile: Let's see what I have in the fridge to make a nice stuffing..

edited to add: ok, it is 'tonight' and I did have my pastasession. I needed an excuse to try out my cute little new round pastacutter :raz: . Seriously, this pastamaking is addictive! And I'm getting better at it each time I do it. I also make less and less mess every time. Although today, it did not help that I dropped a whole bottle of olive oil onto my stone kitchen floor in the midst of the pastamaking process :shock:

Anyway, today's pasta: stuffed with chestnut-mushrooms, ham, parsley and ricotta, drizzled with basil tomato oil (that I made, fortunately, before I dropped the bottle).

gallery_21505_358_46908.jpg

The pasta was delicious. I wanted a change from the sagebutter, hence the basil oil. However I think the flavor of the basil sort of overwhelmed the delicate flavor of the stuffing.. This one might be better with just a little ricotta, butter and parmesan.

Because I had a lot of pasta left over, I decided to try something I once saw in a magazine: press leaves of basil between two pastasheets.

gallery_21505_358_45727.jpg

I think the leaves I used were much too big, also you have to be very careful not to roll them out too quickly or they will tear (as you can see mine did). I think this might work best for some kind of open ravioli or lasagne, where you can get a good view of the pattern on the pastasheets.

Has anyone ever tried this?

Edited by Chufi (log)
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Chufi, your latest pasta looks really great, as did your previous one!

On the topic of flour: The last time I made fresh pasta, I had managed to find some De Cecco "00" flour. Before that I've been using a strong bread flour (12% protein content) with good results. Sometimes I've cut it with some durum wheat flour (12% protein). This, in combination with extensive kneading and folding has given me a very elastic dough. Tastewise, the pasta made on the"00" flour may have been somewhat better though.

Christofer Kanljung

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