Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Pasta Tuesday

Aaron's working again tonight and I'll admit it, the nights he works end up being a quickie dinner a lot of the time, or something easy I know I won't have to fight with Connor to eat.  It just makes my life easier and my nights saner:)  Even though tonight's dinner isn't a quick 5 minute put together it's one I really enjoy making...remember how I'm a bit of a carb freak...pasta is my carb of choice and lucky for me, it's super easy to make my own and I just love the taste and texture of fresh pasta compared to dried. 

Tonight's Dinner

Back in the day, when I was playing basketball on a regular basis, I would have pasta the night before every game.  I'm sure my mom was sick of it, unfortunately for her, I was home before she was and usually had dinner started.  One of my all time favorite pasta dishes is Fettucine Alfredo, the richer the better.  When we go out for dinner to The Barrel in Simcoe, which in my opinion is a great little Italian place to eat, I always get the Alfredo and Calamari, I don't even have to look at the menu.  Connor shares my love for the "white sauce", he doesn't just eat it, he inhales it, which makes is a perfect dinner for tonight.

The actual making of pasta is easy, and if you're lucky like me and have a Kitchen Aid stand mixer with the pasta rolling and cutting attachments, it's a breeze.  If you don't and have to roll by hand, which I've done, you can skip the arm workouts for the next week because you're gonna get one hell of a workout.  After hand rolling pasta the first time I understood why Italians have such a respect for their mother, its because she'd have no problem knocking their heads off with the strength she must have in those pipes to roll out so much pasta. 

I spent a looooooong time trying to find different pasta recipes, there are so many and even Italy has it's own regional variations.  I finally just decided to wing it with the basics...one egg for every 100 grams of flour and go from there.  What I've found, and this is completely a personal preference, is that a mix of Durum Semolina Flour and White Bread Flour gives a great texture, it holds up well to both creamy and tomato sauces and it has a great flavour.  I didn't realize it until I read the 10 Rules of Pasta but we do it all wrong here...the pasta is the dish, the sauces are just a complement which is why some pasta dishes are so good and some are so blah...if the pasta is blah, that's never a good thing.

Homemade Pasta
(This makes about 10 ounces of pasta, enough for Connor, January & I)

My Flour Mix:)
100 grams Durum Semolina Flour
100 grams White Bread Flour
2 Large Eggs, slightly beaten
Pinch of Salt

To begin, mix the flours and salt together and then make a well in the centre.  Add the eggs to the well and start drawing flour in.  I've watched videos of Italian grandma's being able to do this on just a cutting board and never having the egg slip out...I can't so I do it in a bowl.  You'll end up with a chunky, shaggy dough. 

From here, I dump it all out on my counter and start kneading everything together.  Pasta dough has a lot more ooomph then bread dough, it's tougher, so you really have to put some muscle in it to knead it.  It takes me about 10 minutes or so of good, solid kneading for it to be ready.  The easiest way to describe it is, it looks and feels like good leather, smooth and satiny. 

Just dumped out on the counter

About 3 minutes into kneading

Finished Kneading

Now, cover it with a tea towel and let it rest for about 20 minutes.  Allowing it to rest gives the dough a chance to relax, you'll notice it's a lot softer and easier to work with.  If you make the dough in the morning and want to wait till the evening to roll it out and cut it, you can wrap it with plastic wrap and throw it in the fridge.  Pull it out about a 30-45 minutes before you're ready to roll to give it a chance to warm back up.  

Once the dough is rested, I cut it into four pieces and pull out my handy stand mixer and attach the pasta rolling attachement.  I put it through the first setting a few times, first after flattening it into a bit of a disk, then folding it in thirds a time or two, then in half and then move to the next setting and putting it through that once or twice and going to the next setting until I'm at the thickness I want.  
Ready to go through the cutter

After all the pasta has been rolled to the desired thickness I put on the pasta cutter attachment and send it through.  From start to finish, including the 20 minute rest it takes about 35-40 minutes.  In my opinion it's time well spent:) 

Once I've cut it, I sprinkle flour on a baking sheet and make little "nests" and then sprinkle them with flour as well and leave it to dry for about a half hour.  Because there is raw egg you don't want to leave it out too long...something about getting sick just doesn't sit well with me. Then, unless I'm using it right away I put it in the fridge/freezer until I'm ready to use it.

So tonight's dinner consisted off the above pasta with an awesome, super creamy alfredo sauce, garlic bread and ceasar salad with homemade browned butter and garlic sourdough croutons...super yummy.  I make my own French Bread and the spread that goes on the garlic bread and it's so tasty...way better then the store bought wrapped in foil garlic bread.  I have a few loaves in the freezer but am going to have to make more soon so, keep watching for that post:)

Tonight's Ceasar Salad...
my camera was a little off...sorry:(

Garlic Bread

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