Making home made pasta: 101

I’ve been an avid MasterChef fan of late; which seems rather ironic to my family since I am not the best in the art of cuisine.

I enjoy food however lead a fairly chaotic life that I rarely have time to plan a meal any more complex then meat and three veg.  However, I was inspired! After watching a relatively delicious cooking episode that involved home made egg pasta….I wanted to give it a go.  It looked pretty fail safe.  A bit of flour, some eggs, a bit of kneading…voilà….pasta.  Yeah…not so much.

It was a tough day, full of excitement, uphill battles, disappointments and then excitement again.  It also taught me a lot.  In light of my new love for cooking, I thought I’d share what I have learned during my first attempt at making pasta.

  1. Do not undertake an ‘arms’ session at the gym a day prior to making pasta.  KNEADING was the word of the day.  I kneaded that dough like my life depended on it.  Thank goodness my little arms were not sore from the gym or over-exhausted because there was no way I would have survived the 1 hour session of kneading.
  2. Be well rested and prepared. You will need to be well rested and relatively functioning to undertake the making of the home made pasta.  In my personal opinion, this would not be a dish you would try and make after a big night out.  Kneading and pasta making is not for the hungover.
  3. Choose the right pasta recipe for you.  I noticed there were several home made pasta recipe variations. Some with whole eggs, some with egg yolk only, some with 5 eggs and some with 10.  Know what ingredients you need and most importantly know what pasta you need to make.  This brings me to point 4.
  4. Plan.  Have an idea of what pasta you want to make.  As in…spaghetti, pap deli, ravioli, rigatoni, lasagne, fettuccine, pene and the list goes on.  It’s best to know I found, because this could also determine the best pasta recipe for you. And knowing what pasta you want to make can also influence your other ingredients.
  5. Be patient.  Pasta is definitely not a quick-fix meal.  After your kneading of the pasta dough comes the waiting and sitting of the pasta dough.  Some recipes call for 2-3 hours in the fridge for optimum pasta goodness.  I was relatively prepared for waiting however could only stretch it out to 1.5 hours; anything less and your pasts efforts would be thwarted. So be prepared to wait.
  6. Know your equipment. I knew the use of the trusty pasta maker machine would be a challenge for me, and I wasn’t wrong.  However, after attentive coaching from my sister, I was well under way to rolling and stretching the best pasta out there. Again, this required the utmost time and patient and….point number 7.
  7. Be persistent.  You will fail! Rolling out pasta is not easy.  So I learned.  It takes a couple (20+) goes of rolling out the perfect sheet of pasta and I want to emphasis point 1, 2, and 5 again.  Because cranking that little rolling arm on the pasta maker is not as easy as it looks.  You will get tired.  You will want to give up…but don’t…your perfect pasta awaits you.
  8. Innovate.  As a first time pasta maker, I wasn’t as entirely prepared as I thought I was.  You will need to hang your freshly pressed, stretched and cut pasta to dry.  We did not have the suitable equipment to do this…until we became inventive and used our old clothes horse as a pasta hanger.  I had a slight panic attack around the germ factor (germaphobe here) however I just figured all the germs would be killed in the cooking process.  All was well!
  9. Share.  After all that hard work I can understand how you may want to devour all your pasta to yourself after all the blood, sweat and tears you’ve just put into it (:/) however…don’t be g reedy and share your efforts.  Let others know how awesome you are at making home made pasta and allow them to try your wonderful creation.  Sharing is caring.

And that wraps up my top tips for making a good pasta dough.  I’d love to hear if anyone else struggled as much as me or am I just special like that 🙂

 

 

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Try everything…twice!

We always here the age old advice of, “Try everything once!” While I have always agreed with this, I’ve learned that sometimes, you need to try everything twice…at a minimum. 

Of late, I have become an avid boater and fisherman.  Who would have thought right? If you would have asked me my thoughts on the matter 1 year ago or even 5 years ago, I would have said something like this, “Who would want to go fishing…sitting and waiting for hours, getting attacked by mosquitoes and after 4 hours, coming up empty handed.”

However, this was my opinion after my first experience fishing.  It went something like this….I was taken to a local creek, during peak summer season. It was stinking hot. I had limited supplies (fishing and snack wise).  I had no insect repellent and was left to my own devices.  Of course I didn’t enjoy it.  But recently, I was taken on a mini boat trip around our local waterways and was shown the ropes of how to fish.  My fellow fisherman, took the time to teach me how to correctly hook bait, cast out and lure in a fish.  A lo and behold…I caught my first fish.  And it was a beauty. And I was addicted!  Now, I try to go fishing every weekend I can.  Not too mention, I am out in the beautiful sun and surf, enjoying what my home town has to offer.

And it got me thinking…if I hadn’t tried this activity twice, I would never have discovered just how much fun fishing and boating could actually be.  The circumstances were completely different to the first.  My fisherman buddy helped me out; and the location was the big open sea (well not too big as I also get sea sick).  And this was also another reason that held me back for so long.

I had one bad experience where I went on a whale watching tour and wasn’t prepared for the big open waves. On that day, I spent most of the 4 hour tour holed up in the toilet or on the stern (back) of the boat throwing up.  Another example where my first experience potentially tainted my future experiences.  From then on, I was convinced that if I step foot on water (in the boating sense) I would surely end up violently sea sick and nauseous.  Not the case.  Well…yes, if I go to open water again.  However, not if I stay on the shallow shores of the broadwater 🙂

So my point is, try everything at least twice.  If the first time didn’t work, try it at a different angle.  Look at what it was that didn’t work for you and change it up.

I can’t believe I have missed out all these years on something so exciting and enjoyable!! Open your mind and options…because you’ll never know what you could be missing out on 🙂

Ahoy….