Thursday, January 15, 2009

Channelling my Inner Italian - Home Made Fresh Pasta

I made my own pasta for this dish last night. The recipe, a Jamie Oliver "Jamie at Home" inspiration, suggested using ready made lasagna dishes and cutting them up to make pappardelle, however I like to be as authentic as I can and also, my pasta maker had been sending me sad, neglected vibes from inside it's dusty box in the forgotten corner of the kitchen for some time now.

It's been about a year since I attempted pasta. My last few attempts involved temper tantrums and much throwing of dough across the room...and at anyone who happened to comment or make the mistake of offering advice or help of any kind. Last night I was determined. I was alone in the house so no-one could witness my failure if it did occur and I wouldn't feel any pressure from the resident peanut gallery.

I figure my previous pasta snafoos were the result of the use of all purpose flour in the dough. Sometime over the last year I learned of semolina flour and with this knowledge in hand I bravely pulled the pasta maker out of it's dusty grave. Of course, one of the drawbacks of living up in the relative boonies is that I can't always find the ingredients I want. I had to go to two grocery stores to find the flour! My fiance laughs, but whenever we go to the city I head right for the grocery store to stock up on all the stuff I can't find here. I get as excited about a trip to the Superstore as I used to get going to Holt Renfrew! be honest I still get that excited at Holt's...ahhh, the joy of being in the presence of pretty things!

Back to the pasta, the semolina made all the difference in the world! The dough came together so smoothly I was moving around it on tiptoe, waiting for the inevitable failure. But no, within a 1/2 hour I had the dough mixed and kneaded (by hand), run through the machine and cut into pappardelle to dry a bit. I could even have done without the machine, rolled the dough out by hand, but of course the machine does minimize the maunual labour involved.

I'm riding high on a wave of culinary triumphs lately, my pizza is just about perfection (dough and all) my bread has come to a level of consistency that pleases me, for Christmas I made food baskets of jams, butters, sauces and more, all of which turned out on the first try and that I was pleased with. It feels good! Even if I'm met with blank stares by most people when I get excited about my successes. An ex-boyfriend of mine, still stewing in his jealousy over my new relationship (the one that has led to my life with my fiance) once suggested that I was being domesticized, fettered by my new boyfriend, that I was getting old and boring. It just reaffirmed that he didn't get me at all. It was just the opposite of being tied down to a domestic life, I was being freed by finding a joy in food.

Pasta dough recipe:
1 1/2 cups semolina
2 eggs

That's what I started with and of course covered the board with semolina for kneading and rolling. A lot of it is by feel.


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