I can explain


Several weeks ago, the mister and I invested in a pasta machine—a stainless steel, hand-crank thingie that rolls pasta dough out to the desired thickness and then cuts it into spaghetti or linguini strands. My first foray into pasta making immediately after the purchase was a disaster. Maybe it was too humid. Maybe I used too much olive oil in the dough.

For whatever reason, the dough was a sticky mess that clung to my fingers and either broke off in chunks before it could be fed into the machine or melded itself into wavy, un-boilable clumps immediately upon exit. I ended up rolling the whole lot into a sticky ball and flinging it into a wooded area while cursing a blue streak.

Yesterday, I thought I’d give pasta making another try. Learning from my previous mistakes, I knew I needed to have a drying rack at the ready. We don’t have one, and we live kinda out in the boonies, so purchasing one would require a 40-mile trip and hellish holiday weekend mall experience.

I decided to make my own instead using two wire coat hangers with cross bars to hold the pasta-hanging surfaces apart. I even had a name for my invention:


The theory seemed sound. We hung the two coat hanger hooks on an upper cabinet knob, and with a good batch of dough, we were soon turning out delightful pasta strands.

Unfortunately, the weight of the pasta undermined the rack infrastructure, causing it to collapse into a one-dimensional apparatus. This gave us less drying surface to exploit, so we had to employ the dough bowl and wooden spoons as depicted in figure 1 above.

But you know what? The pasta actually turned out pretty well. I made a simple primavera sauce to go with it, and it was a hit all around.

Next time, I’ll make the dough less eggy and roll it out thinner. The noodles we produced were a bit hearty for our purposes. They reminded me of Kluski noodles, which are thick, eggy Polish-style noodles that are wonderful in soups and casseroles.

So, if anyone has a good homemade pasta recipe to share, please do.

Posted by Betty Cracker on 09/05/11 at 08:09 AM • Permalink

Categories: Food

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Collapsing infrastructure?  If I didn’t like you so much I’d call you the Tim Pawlenty of Pasta.

Next time consider using a ceiling fan.

For a moment I thought the FSM was blessing your kitchen.

And you should totally patent the Joan Crawford Memorial Pasta Drying Rack.

I ended up rolling the whole lot into a sticky ball and flinging it into a wooded area while cursing a blue streak.

And the boxers burst through the walls in pursuit.

HTP, I was just hoping she’d managed to plug a Cuban tree toad or two with that pasta ball.

Pasta la vista, baby!

I don’t have a pasta cutter, so I can’t recommend a recipe, but there is always the addition of oregano or other fine herbs or spices that can be added to the mix.

It sounds like you own the same pasta making monstrosity that I’ve got. I’m not allowed to use it if there are children , or those that find Tourette’s level profanity offensive in the house. It works pretty well rolling out the pasta dough into sheets , it’s once you start trying to use the cutting function that you start wondering,“what in the fuck EVER made me think this was a good idea”.
  I’ve found it’s great for making homemade ravioli, , and cannelloni or cannoli shells , but as for making linguine or fettucini noodles , I’d rather foll out the dough , and use a pizza cutter to cut them by hand.
  As far as recipes go , the basics of them are pretty much the same , just make sure you’re using at least equal parts semolina flour to all purpose flour. The semolina makes it not quite as tacky , so it’s easier to work with.

Here’s my favorite pasta recipe:

1 3/4 C unbleached all purpose flour
1 3/4 C semolina flour
5 large eggs
1 tsp salt
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

Beat the eggs with a fork and slowly combine the flour. Add water if the dough gets too dry (a spray bottle is great for this). Knead the dough until it is elastic, then divide it into four parts. Allow it to rest 30 minutes, covered, before rolling.

This is just a modified version of the Joy of Cooking’s pasta recipe, which does not include semolina flour. The semolina makes the dough easier to handle.

Also, once you’ve rolled and cut your pasta, a light dusting of cornstarch will keep the noodles from sticking to each other if you aren’t going to cook them right away.

How you mix the dough is more important than what you put in it, in my experience, as far as avoiding an annoying mess. 

Semolina and eggs is all you really need—make a pile of the flour shaped like a volcano, put the (whole) eggs in the caldera, and fold gently with a fork from the sides of the pile to the eggs in the center.  Add water as needed if it comes out too dry.  Only hand-knead a little bit, then if you have time let the dough sit for a half hour or so in the fridge before feeding to the pasta machine.  The ‘volcano’ mixing technique makes a HUGE difference.  I do not know why. 

Also, most eggs are nearly useless for cooking these days.  One good non-factory-farmed egg will give you a lot more sticking-togetherness than a cheap egg.  However, once you have the mixing technique down it’s really not too hard to do it with just flour and water.

Ha, another Pastafarian is a-borned. You’re following Cole by just a month or two, Betty. He seems pretty much converted after putting the first failure or two behind him.

Never adjusted to needing that third hand on the hand-cranked gizmo, but the one that attaches to the Kitchenaid mixer takes care of that bit. Y’all can get a motor for most of the hand-crank ones, also, too.

Enjoy your further experiments.

“Joan Crawford Memorial Pasta Drying Rack” is why I love this place.

As for the pasta-making I get my pasta out of a box.  Been known to use the microwave to cook it, too.

Sorry, I can’t help with a recipe suggestion. I am blessed with a preference for dried pasta over fresh and so have never been tempted to trod the perilous path of personal pasta production.

Nice Rack!!

Thanks for the tips and recipes, comrades. Yesterday, I used all semolina. Next time I’ll use a mixture of that and A/P flour.

My daughters just learned how to make pasta at cooking school and now they are really into it. I think its the sushi of italian cooking—something that seems incredibly complicated and impossible to reproduce at home but which turns out, after a few tries, to be just a delightful craft which anyone can master. I hear that wooden chair backs make a nice pasta drying place. Also, i think you can just lightly nest them and leave them on a baking rack to dry a bit.

Congrats on the Joan Crawford thing but I do think “Ceiling fan” is the best suggestion on the board.

aimai-who-is-making-a bistro-salad-because its too-damned-hot-here.

The Romagnoli’s Table cookbook has a great pasta recipe that I made for years (until I was feeding a houseful of kids and had no time for the luxuries of homemade pasta).  Unfortunately we’re in the mountains and I don’t have the cookbook at hand but I’ll look it up when I get back and shoot it off to you. It’s got great step-by-step instructions too which are very similar to the volcano method above.

Damn, this is just plain cruel.  No pasta allowed in my belly - pre-diabetic with bad genes.  Still, I appreciate the hurling cooking mistakes approach since I do it into the official, state-sanctioned Open Space behind us, but usually under the cover of darkness.

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