Saturday, 19 January 2013

Birthday Month is here again...home-made pasta for Carlo!!



I'm back...

Throughout the whirlwind that was my December I can remember telling myself, "OK, just get through this event/dinner/party/function and you can rest a little"...

Then we went away to Jamaica in honour of Sara's upcoming Sweet Sixteen (next week) and time stopped...literally, it stopped.  There was no clock in our room, no watch on my wrist, and the only reason any of us had to consult our phones was to see if it was time for the next meal.  

How luxurious - not to cook, clean or keep a schedule for 7 days....and the food was FANTASTIC!  Mom used to call a vacation our "healing time", and she was right.  

On the plane ride home I reflected on how calm and content I felt, and I told Carlo that I was going to slow down.  It's time to stop over-planning my days and running around like a chicken without a head.

This winter marks some big milestone birthdays: Mom turned 70 last week, Sara turns 16 later this month, my father-in-law turns 85 in February followed by my father's 80th exactly 1 week later.  Wow...in the normal course I would be planning party after party, but not this time.  It is time to stop trying to be superwoman - and start living in the moment, savouring the small stuff.  

Hold on!  That doesn't mean that the cooking, photo cataloging, reminiscing and blogging stops!  No way Jose! (another Carol catch phrase).  It means exactly the opposite. I am going to try and "Julie & Julia" my life, but without a stringent time frame or deadline.  

First on my list for Birthday Month traditional dinners was Carlo's birthday, which was the Friday before last.  With Becca dancing, we extended his birthday to span the entire weekend, and last Sunday we celebrated with his meal choice - fresh, home-made pasta along with a salad and crusty bread.  His cake? Leftover (store-bought) birthday cake from the night before at his parents' (which we hadn't make a dent in yet!)!    

For a while I was buying fresh pasta from the stores, but it just didn't taste like his mom's home-made macaroni, and I kept saying that I need to buy a machine and start making my own.  Then, for the holidays I received the ultimate gift - a pasta maker!  I have wanted the traditional, simple, elbow-grease appliance forever, and now it was finally mine!  I know, people think it is odd that I would covet an appliance as a gift, but it is the kind of gift that keeps on giving.

So, with some direction from my mother-in-law on ways to modify the dough recipe for "macaroni" (the Calabrese term for tagliatelle), Carlo and I embarked on our first culinary adventure of 2013 -- home-made pasta. What a blast we had!! We played around with the ingredients and measurements, and came up with a pretty great recipe.  Then we kneaded it, adding flour to reach the perfect consistency, and tested various thickness settings until it resembled my mother-in-law's macaroni.

We thought that a single recipe was too little for our pasta-loving family, and decided to triple it!  That  ended up being  far too much pasta, and we froze half of our yield, cooking the other half for dinner.  The pot boiled over as the pasta doubled from its original size, but it sure was delicious, and we happily devoured the fruits of our labours.
Our  pasta factory
We discovered that this is the consistency you want
to avoid - too soft and sticky...add more flour!

Aaaah...this is better.  We're ready to roll!
My attempt to label the pasta-maker

Start with thickness #1


Keep running the dough through the rollers,
decreasing the thickness (which is achieved
by increasing the numbers on the dial)

Keep on increasing the numbers
on the dial until you reach #7

This is thickness #3

Look how long the dough stretches when you reach #7!
Run the dough through the cutter - it took help from Sara
 to do the first batch, and we still need to get a wicker basket
 (like my mother-in-law uses) to catch the cut dough

Carlo is separating the strands
(they've been through the cutter too!)

Happy Birthday Carlo!

Lay your pasta on a clean, dry towel and leave to dry
From our family to yours, I hope you enjoy our pasta recipe as much as we did.  B'Tayavon & Buon Appetito!

Naomi's Homemade Pasta Dough

Ingredients:

  • 2½C flour (I used regular enriched white flour)
  • 2 eggs
  • ½C water
  • ½ tsp salt
  • additional flour for kneading


Method:
Combine flour and salt.  Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, pouring in your eggs and water.  Blend dry ingredients by working them into the centre until the mixture is worked into a dough.  I use the mix-master with a dough hook to blend the ingredients.  

Knead the dough by hand on a floured surface, adding flour until you reach a satisfactory consistency - not too soft that the dough clings to your hands (see photos above).  Break dough into smaller balls (the size of your fist), flatten slightly and work through your machine.  

Start rolling at #1 thickness, gradually reducing the roller thickness to #7.  Then run through the cutter, separate the pieces and lay out on a clean towel to dry. 

If you want to save any of the pasta for a later date, you can lay it out on a cookie sheet , layered with wax paper, and freeze it for a few hours, then store in a Ziploc bag for future use.  

Heat a pot of water to a rolling boil and cook your fresh pasta for 5 minutes (test before dumping the water!) and approximately 12 minutes if cooking from frozen!

Combine with your favourite sauce and enjoy!