Sunday, December 30, 2012

FOOD: pasta

It has come to my attention that my investment style, while not that interesting, exciting, or risky is so far beyond the general investment knowledge of the greater population (and even most debt/PF bloggers) that they think I'm either some sort of financial wizard, or I'm just one huge risky financial disaster waiting to happen.

So this leaves me with fewer and fewer ways of trying to convince my readers to actually invest for your future yourself since your small account will NOT grow in the hands of a professional.  (Many blog posts ranting about that... not going to drone on)

So, to get myself back to a new and exciting (and perhaps regular) posting interval, I'm going to start talking about one of my passions: FOOOOOD!

Since you're reading this and probably hankering for that 5-star meal you can't afford, I'm going to share some of my hard learned cooking tips.  My results are by no means 5-star, but if I can do it and actually produce edible results that haven't killed anybody or made them sick, and they keep coming back for more, then I'm sure you will too.

So, today I'll talk about making fresh pasta.

And to be honest, aside from the bit of manual labour mixing up your dough, the hardest part about this recipie is actually sourcing a proper flour.

I like this one (Pictured left).  Unlike the supermarket choices here in Canada, it has a surprisingly short list of ingredients.  (Just wheat)  If you look at your bag of AP flour, note how many ingredients it lists...  probably about 5-7.  Yeah... that just ain't right!

What makes this one special aside from being just made from wheat?  It's finely ground, finely sieved flour.  And that's about it.

Now, what will you need to make pasta?  If you're like me, you need this "00" flour and some eggs.

How many eggs?  Good question!  It all depends.  If you've never worked with flour before and are the scientific type that requires precise measurements, then I can't help you.  I do NOT know the RH of your kitchen, I do NOT know mow much moisture your flour has absorbed from it's environment, nor do I know how big your eggs are.

Suffice it to say that it's about 1 whole (large) egg per cup of flour.  Or ditch the white and just use 2-3 yolks per cup.

It will be hard to mix.  Just use your hands and fingers and smash away.

The truly authentic types will say you should do this on a board, form a well in the centre of your pile of flour and put the eggs into that well, encorporating slowly working in flour gradually.

I've tried both and honestly I can tell the difference in taste or texture from my "smash away" method.

You will of course need some sort of pasta machine to roll out your finished product.  Finishing by hand is hard, but not impossible.  A pasta machine or pasta extruder makes it way easier to get consistently shaped noodles.

let it rest!!!!
However, before you decide what sort of noodle to make, you need to wrap up your dough in plastic wrap (cling-film) and let it rest for at least 30 minutes.  Some say a few hours is best.  As for a couple hours I don't know...  But the 30 minutes does help...  The end result should feel smooth and leathery.  If it's at all sticky you need to add more flour.  You will know if it's too sticky when you go to roll/extrude your pasta.  If it comes out of your machine and sticks together, you need to work the dough some more and add some more flour.  Once you get it right, place it on a drying rack or a cookie sheet or something so it can dry a little (if you don't want to cook it instantly that is)  If you like spaghetti or spaghettini (angel hair) you might have to toss some more flour on the individual noodles after cutting otherwise it may stick together.

I've found that it's very hard to over-work pasta dough.  I tried making it a few times in my 1.3hp Kitchen-Aid stand mixer and a 4-cup batch (enough to feed 3-4 hungry hungry people) and that much pasta dough was enough to nearly stop it, even on low.

Once your dough is mixed, rested, rolled and cut (or extruded) then all that's left is to cook it and eat it.

Salted water on a ROLLING boil in the biggest pot you have.  Cook for 3-7 minutes depending on the thickness of your finished noodle.  Finish the pasta IN your sauce with a bit of the pasta water for a minute or 3.