Semolina Pasta, page 99, June 16, 2015

pasta-quotes-1I don’t know why, but I am more nervous for today’s recipe than I have been for any previous. I am not even preparing this for anyone other than myself, but the thought of making my own pasta has me in a dither.  I have never made fresh pasta, with a bread machine or not, so I may find it is not all that difficult.  (Eeep, did I just jinx myself?)

Anyhow, go big or go home, so I am making ravioli out of my pasta dough.  I put together a filling using leftovers from pizza night, goat cheese, eggs, a little ricotta, Parmesan, ground beef, salt, pepper, and fresh chives and oregano from my plants on the back porch.  I will toss it with some leftover pesto when it is done.

To get the mood right, I even have my “Italy” music on; Dean Martin and Puccini.  There is no wine in the recipe, but I am thinking I ought to drink a glass, just to calm my nerves.  What a goofball I am being.

Wait, it gets worse, I have no wine in the house, this will have to do: Image-1 Alright, my bread machine actually has a pasta dough setting, which is nice.  Into the machine go 7/8 cup warm water, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 cups bread flour, 1 cup semolina pasta flour and 1 teaspoon salt.  The instructions in the cookbook are to start the cycle, set a kitchen timer for 7 minutes, then check the dough.  If it is too dry, add more water, a few drops at a time, while it is kneading.  If it is too moist, sprinkle in some flour, a teaspoon at a time.  Then I will need to reset my kitchen timer for 3 more minutes.  When the time is up, stop the machine.

When I checked the dough at 7 minutes, there was quite a bit of flour mixture that hadn’t melded to the dough ball. I added water, just a few drops at a time, until there was one ball of dough.

IMG_4202 Next I removed the dough from the pan, formed it into a ball, wrapped in saran wrap and let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.  (At this point in the cookbook, Ms. Hensperger states that the dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, but will need to come to room temperature before progressing to the next step.)

Next, I separated the dough ball into 4 portions, leaving the sections I wasn’t using covered by the saran wrap as I worked.  I picked up a small hand-cranked pasta roller/cutter at the thrift shop and will certainly be putting it to use today.  There are thickness settings and I need to gradually bring my sheets of dough to the thinnest setting possible.  The instructions I found online are to use the widest setting three times before decreasing the width.  I found I needed to dust the sheet with flour regularly and work diligently to keep it from sticking to itself. I have a small ravioli mold that I laid a sheet of pasta across.  Then there is another piece to the mold that creates the “pockets” for a small amount of filling.  I spoonedIMG_4203 a small (maybe half tablespoon) amount of filling into each pocket. I then topped the mold with another sheet of pasta, and ran my rolling pin across the top to seal them together.  Then I used a knife to separate the raviolis. The raviolis need to be set on a heavily floured cookie sheet to dry for one hour.  Then, they need to be flipped over and dried for another hour. At this point, I am going to cook them, although they could be frozen for future use, if desired.

Wow, this would have made a LOT of raviolis, I decided to do some ravioli and cut the rest into fettuccine to dry and use another time.  So, I used 2 of the dough portions to make fettuccine.  First, I used the rollers to get thIMG_4206e dough sheet thin enough, then used the fettuccine setting to cut my pasta.  I laid my noodles across the dowels on my drying rack. I haven’t even gotten close to ready to cook these things yet and I think my nerves were misplaced.  So far, the process hasn’t been too difficult.  I have enjoyed it.  What I SHOULD have been nervous about was the mess.  There is flour on my table, flour on my floor,clothes, face, I saw some in my hair and know wherever the cat ended up, she must have some too because I see floury paw prints here in the office.  This is going to be a cleaning nightmare.  But if the pasta tastes good, I will have learned to do something I have always wanted to be able to do.  That will make it worth it.

One thing, my readers and friends, if you happen to have an old Italian grandmother who has been making fresh pasta for her family all her life, please don’t show her this.  I know it would break her heart, and her reaction might break mine.  I was in a play, several years ago and had to speak with a Cockney accent.  One of the other actresses had invited her British granny to the show and afterward she let me know, in no uncertain terms, that mine was the WORST Cockney accent she had ever heard.  Ouch.  I already know this attempt at pasta making would fall short of your Great Aunt Sofia’s method.  Save us both the grief by not sharing this with her.

After the raviolis had dried for two hours, I started water boiling in a large pot, I added some salt and olive oil.  The instructions say to boil the ravioli for 8 minutes, but that the time should be adjusted based on the thickness of your pasta.  I decided to go with the suggested time.  Once the water was gently boiling, I added the pasta and returned it to a boil, starting my time then.  I kept a close eye on the pot, because I was worried that too hard a boil mIMG_4209ight cause them to break open.  After the 8 minutes were up, I drained the raviolis and returned them to the pot to toss with my pesto while it warmed back up.

They look a little like wontons to me.  They just don’t look as “puffed up” and uniform as the ravioli I have had in the past.  They taste incredible, though.  The pasta is tender, but not mushy and the pesto topping pairs wIMG_4215ell with the milder filling.  While I like the taste enough to wish I had company here to share it with, the garlic breath I have going on right now is enough to remind me that I am glad to be home alone this evening.

When the fettuccine is completely dry, I will put it in an airtight bag and store it in the refrigerator to cook later this week.  I will come on and amend this post after I have tried that.

June 17 – I didn’t wait too long before trying the fettuccine; the roast I had planned for dinner tonight wasn’t fully thawed yet, so I cooked up some of the fettuccine I made yesterday.  I added the noodles to boiling, salted water with a little olive oil.  After gently boiling for 4 minutes, the noodles were al dente and I drained them before tossing with a mixture of tomatoes, caramelized garlic, kalamata olives and olive oil that I made a while back.  The dish was really yummy; and filling.  The noodles held uIMG_4218p well to the “sauce” and were perfect, a slight bite, and not mushy.  I am no where near a pasta making pro, but at least I can say I have conquered my fear, and learned something new.