Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Homemade Pasta—YUM!

Unbelievably, we have another snow/ice day today in the Dallas area! With my sons home from school, we decided to make homemade pasta together. Everybody likes homemade pasta! It's a favorite food for my family. It’s also well-received at dinner parties.
I have a hand crank Italian-made Imperia pasta machine, which I bought from (You can read more details about this pasta maker, in the ad on this page.) I’ll take you through the steps to make homemade pasta, just in case you’d like to make some pasta for yourself.
First, make the dough. Pasta dough only takes a few very simple ingredients. Today, we made a basic pasta dough with unbleached white flour. You can also make colored pastas using ingredients like beet juice, boiled spinach, butternut squash puree, and tomato puree. Or, you can make some wonderful whole wheat pastas using stone-ground wheat. I will feature some of these other pasta varieties in future blogs. In the meantime, here’s the recipe we made today:


2 ¼ cups unbleached white flour
2 jumbo eggs
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. salt
¼ cup lukewarm water, plus extra water if the dough is dry

Place flour on a large bowl and make a well in the center. In a smaller bowl, beat the eggs, olive oil, salt and ¼ cup water together. Pour egg mixture into flour well and stir mixture together until it becomes smooth and homogenous. If the dough is dry or crumbly, add extra water, sprinkling on a teaspoon at a time, until the mixture stays together in a ball. Dust your kitchen worktop with flour and knead dough about 10 times—until it is smooth and elastic. Cover dough ball in plastic wrap and let it rest for about a half hour, to relax it.

Once the dough is done resting, you are ready to put it through the pasta maker. First, roll the dough out into a large square. Then cut into rectangles about 4 inches wide. Turn the pasta maker to the widest setting (#1). Pass each dough rectangle through the rollers. When you are done, cut the rectangles in half and run them each through the rollers again, this time on a more narrow setting (#2 or #3). Then cut the rectangles one more time, and put them through an even more narrow setting (#5). I stopped at this point, because we were making fettuccine, and that pasta doesn’t need to be too thin. But if you were making a thinner pasta, such as angel hair pasta, you would keep passing your dough rectangles through. There are 10 settings on this machine, the narrowest of which is #10. The photo below shows the dough rectangles passing through the pasta maker.

Let the dough sheets rest for about 10 minutes, put on the cutting attachment, and then pass the dough rectangles through for cutting. Here in this photo, you can see the fettuccine being cut.

Next, place the cut pasta on a rack for drying. I have a wooden Pinzon pasta drying rack that works very well. Let the pasta dry for an hour before cooking. See the picture below:

Cook the pasta in boiling water (that’s been salted, for flavor). Since the pasta is fresh, it will cook in only about 5 minutes.

If you plan to cook the pasta at a later time, place the dried pasta in a plastic storage bag and put it in the refrigerator or freezer. Homemade pasta can stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to three days. Frozen pasta should be used within 2-3 months.
We cut the pasta on a fettuccine setting. You can also make spaghetti with this pasta maker. Or, if you prefer, you can take the sheets of pasta and cut out your own ravioli- or lasagna-shaped noodles. You could even get creative and make shapes like manicotti.
Once the pasta is made, your next decision is the sauce. With the fettuccine we made today, those will be covered in Alfredo sauce. Yum!
My favorite Alfredo sauce actually came from my 17-year-old son, Danny. He developed this recipe by himself:


½ cup butter
3 T. cream cheese, softened
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup half and half
1 tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
2/3 cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
Cooked fettuccine

In a medium saucepan, melt butter. Add cream cheese and stir until blended with butter. Stir in heavy cream and half and half. Season with garlic powder, salt and pepper. Simmer for about 15 minutes over low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan cheese. Serve over fettuccine.

Well, that’s my cooking project for today. Who knows…with the weather the way it is, we may all be home for another family cooking project tomorrow!

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