Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Oh look~ She cooks too!

Ok folks~ once again, to cut through the butter and sugar, we have today- Pasta. MMmmmm... Pasta... Who doesn't like pasta right? Well... My grandparents for one, but like most Asian elders, cheese and tomato sauce ain't quite their thing. But as for everyone else... mmmMmmm Pasta.

Once again the Italian Kitchen had a workshop and yours truly attended, after all, having spent so much on school fees, we all should make full use of everything the school has to offer!! Am I right?? I know I am. Moving on..

I have always watched stout, well-built Italian nonnas make fresh pasta on tv, as well as Jamie Oliver's method of pasta making, which is a little more whacked together a version that I never know if I should trust... My point is, I've always been one to watch but never one to try. Why? For the same reasons that would pop into your head if someone were to ask you the same thing. Time, effort, unfamiliarity, plus its so convenient to buy the dried stuff from the supermarket and its been said to be good or even better than the fresh stuff.

The well method- but in a bowl
However, after the workshop, I have to say, its really not that hard! Just an egg and 3 yolks, olive oil, a tiny pinch of salt and as much flour as needed basically~~~ The olive oil is in there to give the pasta its velvety texture, and the flour used (semolina or all-purpose) determines the elasticity and bite of the pasta. Whole egg as apposed to yolks also have an effect on the pasta, with yolks providing a more rich and soft pasta. It really all boils down to preference and we all know that that varies from individual to individual. Thus the art form that is pasta making. So simple. Yet so vastly different it can be!

Pasta dough needs to rest for at least 30 mins before being shaped
There are also tons of pasta shapes out there and we tried quite a variety, filled and unfilled pasta. The kind of dough and flour used for noodles for instance would not be the same as those for filled pasta, there is a lot that goes into the planning, making and final shaping of pasta.

We made things that I don't know how to say let alone spell so I'm going to do my best to make up my own names for them... What? They all just go into your tummies anyway... who cares what they're called as long as they taste good!

 Ricotta cheese filling seasoned with salt and pepper, chives, marjoram, tarragon, lemon zest and nutmeg

Seal, lift upright, pinch between the fillings and cut with a pizza cutter
 to produce the following tasty morsels

 Little pillows of filled pasta

 My little gondola~

 Venus' Belly Button- Tortellini

 Contraption seen above is a wooden gnocchi board

 Roll the square of pasta as seen above, pressing down to create the striations

 Remember to seal up the ends by rolling over them so the pasta doesn't unravel

 Voila! Garganelli

 Made for a very tasty dinner... boiled up and tossed in some home made tomato sauce... Whole canned tomatoes stewed gently with garlic slices, fresh herbs and spices... so delicious. I could definitely taste the Italian.

Tip of the Day!
When making a filling for pasta, ensure that it is as dry as it can be to avoid soggy pasta. With the ricotta filling, the cheese was first hung and pressed overnight to remove its liquid before it was seasoned and flavoured. This applies to any other kind of filling you may want to use for example, butternut or roasted squash and spinach to name a few. 

So if you were once like me, afraid of pasta, don't be. If I can do it, so can you. Try it today!


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