just a smidgen

Aglio Et Olio ‘n Homemade Pasta

Pasta 9Some of you might recognize the name on this shop in Florence. One of our most prominent food blogging friends is Chicago John and his website { filled with Italian cooking } “From the Bartolini Kitchens”. I was delighted to see this little shop with his name on it!

I’ve been promising John I would attempt homemade pasta for about a year and after traveling through Italy, the timing was perfect. I reread John’s Pasta Dough Recipe about ten times and thought.. how hard can this be.. only two ingredients.. and I still managed to mess up my first batch. So be sure to follow his very clear instructions and add water to your eggs to fill one cup. Without that water, you dough will get a little hard to handle:)

Doubting myself, I found a great video with step by step instructions for making pasta and found Giuliano Hazan had a hands on, second method for making pasta dough. So check out John’s website for a great pasta recipe and Giuliano’s for a series of very informative video instructions.  I found it helped me to see the dough making, texture and kneading in action.

Starting over, I made a second batch of dough with John’s recipe, this time it was remarkably quick to come together in a food processor. I decided to begin with only 2 1/2 cups of flour { after my tough dough debacle, I wanted to introduce the flour with a little more care }.

In the end, I probably used most of the 3 cups of flour he’d written. It’s been pouring rain here, so with our humidity, the size of my eggs, and the type of flour I used (good old Robin Hood) it seemed just right. This isn’t always the case, so remember to add flour until the dough loses it’s sticky feel and becomes smoothly textured when kneading.  If the dough is too moist, it comes through the pasta machine quite “dimply” and  textured, instead of the smooth quality it should have. John’s recipe and instructions are available here.

Giuliano’s recipe was fun, he used a ratio of 3/4 cup flour (approximately) to each egg. This would make it easy to mix up pasta dough without always having a recipe card. I measured out the flour and made a well in the center.

Then eggs were cracked into the center, whisked and a little flour gradually incorporated. Towards the end, some of the flour (about 1/2 cup) is pushed aside and only incorporated as required. Then the remaining flour well is lifted into the egg filled center and the kneading begins.

Once you have your dough ball rested, it’s cut into as many equal sections as eggs you’ve used. This is a 3 egg pasta dough ball and here it is cut.

I thought one benefit of this approach is that the food processor wouldn’t have to be cleaned. However, with John’s method, the processor brings the dough together in seconds. So it’s up to you which you choose!

A few hours later, I had dirty bowls, eggs shells, forks, bench scrapers, crusty wooden cutting boards all piled in the sink and there was a light flour dusting on every possible surface of the kitchen… including me ! There was no way around it, I had to recruit my daughter. Of course I seriously annoyed her by dragging her into the kitchen after a long day at work, but I thought it was so much fun she just couldn’t miss out on extruding the dough.

Besides, now she can make homemade pasta for her friends one day, bonus!

Finally, mistake number two:  I didn’t let the dough sheets air dry until they felt a little leathery. Once I’d cut my pretty little strands of fettuccine, I twisted them in haystacks.. and they happily stuck together and started to form new little balls of dough.

Well, we managed to salvage them by dusting them with a little flour and pulled them apart when cooking fairly successfully. However, if I make fettuccine again, I may spread them out and give a light dusting of flour so they don’t stick together. Alternatively, they can be dried over the back of a spoon or on a pasta drying rack and stored for a few days. I haven’t looked into freezing pasta yet. If any of you have experience and suggestions at this point.. I’d love to hear it! My KitchenAid attachment was remarkably easy to use, you just push it on and tighten the screw, but any pasta device will work.

 

So what to make after a three batches of fresh pasta.. something easy of course. I have no real recipe for our Aglio Et Olio dish because amounts vary based on the quantity of pasta used. I simply heat up a large glug of Extra Virgin Olive Oil in a large wok/frying pan, throw in about 3-4 minced garlic cloves, generous shakes of red chili pepper flakes, and a small handful of chopped parsley. Once the garlic had lightly browned, we tossed into the cooked, drained and rinsed pasta. All seasoning and quantities were adjusted for personal taste. Top with a little grated parmesan and you’re good to go!

Aglio Et Olio ‘n Homemade Pasta
 
Ingredients
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (3/4 cup flour for each egg)
  • 3 eggs, must be at room temperature (the eggs may be warmed quickly by covering them with warm water in a bowl for a few minutes)
Instructions
  1. Measure out the flour onto a warm surface, such as a wooden cutting board. Pasta dough forms well when not exposed to cold surfaces such as granite or metal counter tops.
  2. Using your fingers, make a nice large well in the center of the flour. Crack each egg into the well, then using a fork, whisk the egg yolks and whites to blend them together. Slowly scrape flour from the inside edges of the well and begin incorporating the flour and egg together still using a whisking motion.
  3. At this point, move some of the outside edges of the flour off to the side, about 1/2 cup. Then continue whisking and incorporating the eggs. Once the eggs become sticky, scrape off the fork. Then use your fingers to fluff the remaining well (not the set aside flour) on top of the egg mixture. Begin to knead, as you do so, you may begin to sprinkle and add that extra flour you had pushed to the side. Only add enough flour to keep the dough from feeling sticky. You can use a bench scraper to bring in dough stuck to the board.
  4. Once you have a good dough formed, clean your hands and then knead the pasta dough for anywhere from 3 - 5 minutes and form into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and set aside for 20-30 minutes on the counter.
  5. Unwrap the rested dough and then knead to incorporate any moisture that may have formed on the surface. Cut the dough into equal sections as per the number of eggs you've used (i.e. 3 eggs = 3 sections). Using your hands, pull and flatten each piece so that it will fit in your pasta machine. Set your pasta machine to the widest number ( Kitchenaid = 1). Feed your first piece of pasta through once. Fold it in thirds and then feed it through again, with the folded side vertical as you feed it into the machine. Then fold in half and feed through one last time, again with the folded side vertical. Set aside on a clean tea towel. Repeat with the remaining two pieces.
  6. Switch your machine to the next number (Kitchenaid = 2) and feed each piece through only once, setting them back on the tea towel after each one is done. Turn up to 3 and keep feeding each piece through only once until you have reached your second highest number. (Kitchenaid = 6 or 7). Do not skip numbers of steps, the pasta needs to be thinned gradually.
  7. Allow the pasta sheets to lay separately and dry to a leathery consistency, about 10 minutes or so. It is important to allow the sheets to dry, so that the pasta strands don't stick to each other.
  8. Replace the pasta attachment with the fettuccine attachment. Cut each piece in half width wise then feed through, catching the pasta strands when they come through. Lay out straight and separately on the tea towels. Folding them in little stacks can be difficult to work with as the pasta may soften and the strands will stick together. Some recipes recommend dusting the pasta with a little flour. If you wish to dry the pasta, hang it to dry completely (probably overnight) before storing.
Notes

Giuliano has a series of videos that I highly recommend.

By Giuliano Hazan

 

 

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