Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Home made pasta FTW!

Today I decided I had earned a bit of a reward for all the stress in the last few weeks, and awarded myself a pasta maker. Well, a few other things, too, but none of those produce edibles, so we'll keep quiet about them.

Argos, £16.99 got me the desired machine, and of course I immediately set about to make some pasta. Tortellini was what I wanted, as I have not dared buy any filled pasta since my dairy intolerance was detected. I had unpleasant experiences even with stuff that assured me on the label no dairy whatsoever was involved.

First step - find a pasta dough recipe. Easy enough, although all I found were for like 5 pounds of pasta, and that's a bit much for tiny me. So I made a smaller batch of dough.
I used plain white flour, as the biggest supermarket close to me didn't have the desired 00 grade flour.

2 cups of flour, 2 eggs, half a tspoon of seasalt, a few drops of water gave me something that looked promising.

This went into the fridge for about an hour, and in the meantime I ravaged my fridge for things to make a filling with.
I found:
pancetta cubes
some brown mushrooms
a piece of parmesan
an egg
some old bread I shredded into breadcrumbs (about 1 tablespoon)
a few sprigs of fresh thyme
half an onion
a clove of garlic
some dried porcini

I started by soaking the dried porcini in some water, then fried the pancetta in a bit of olive oil, added the onion, cooked that over medium heat till it started to brown a bit, added the mushrooms. When the liquid from the mushrooms had been absorbed, I threw the whole lot into a food processor, added the re-hydrated porcini, the bread crumbs, the coarsely grated parmesan, most of the lightly beaten egg (I kept some to seal the tortellinis), and whizzed it into a moist, but not liquid mousse.

Then I spent the better part of the next hour making about 12 tortellini ...
It's rather time consuming, if not complicated, this pasta making.
Take the dough out of the fridge, and cut off an about golf-ball sized lump.
Run that through the pasta maker on it's widest setting. Fold in half, sprinkle with flour, repeat. And repeat. And repeat - until the dough is elastic, but no longer sticky. At this point it dawned on me that my dough had a bit too much liquid, as I had to repeat these steps ca. 12 times until it was "right".
Once it has the desired consistency, set the machine one step smaller, and run it through. Repeat that until you're at the thinnest possible setting.

You can either make all the plates, and keep them separated by floured baking paper under a teatowel, or you can go batch by batch - I did the latter.

Once you have a plate of pasta dough, put it on a floured work top or wooden cutting board, and cut ca. 2 inch rounds (I used a cookie cutter).
Set about half a teaspoon of filling in the middle (or as much as you can get away while leaving enough space to close them), then smear some egg around the outer edge, fold in half and pinch together. Start in the middle and work your way to the sides, while trying to get any air out without the filling spilling.
Set on a lightly floured plate or tray.
The cut-offs can be kneaded into your next lump.

Once all of your dough and filling are used up (well, I ended up with quite a bit leftover dough when the filling was out, so I made a batch of tagliatelle out of it), you can either cook them right away, or freeze them. To do the latter, put them well apart on a tray and stick that in the freezer till they're frozen solid. Then you can re-pack them in a bit more space-preserving manner.

Cook in salted water for 2 - 5 minutes - they're done when they swim on top.
I just sprinkled mine with some molten soy margarine (butter would have been heavenly, sage butter even better ...) and that was it. They were delicious!

Well worth the hassle, but I'd strongly suggest to make them in batches to freeze. Seriously.