Pasta making, it’s been a while! Time to dust off the pasta machine then, clamp it on, crank up the handle and get to grips with threads and shreds of long, very long, fresh egg tagliatelle. Here’s the after photo…
now for the ‘before’…
I’ve not tried my hand at homemade fresh pasta for a long while, mainly because it takes three hands and two to make. One person to feed the pasta in and turn the handle, the other to use both hands to guide it out, flat, uncrumpled and perfect. My machine tended to slew around on the kitchen surface til I rigged up another plank on my table and it gripped fast. Jamie Oliver’s Naked Chef book hints it’s easy, oh so easy, to knock up a batch of fresh, homemade pasta; quicker even than popping out to the corner shop for a packet of dried. Possible for one pro chef perhaps but what of the novice?
Cooler months make the process a whole lot easier as the hot temperatures of a Maltese summer are merciless when it comes to trial and error in man-handling dough of any kind. I’ve set myself the challenge in the next spring months of all shapes of fresh pasta: tagliatelle, linguini and lasagna (all of which require just one technique and getting used to the various, ever thinner and finer settings of the pasta-making machine) and tortellini and ravioli (a bit more time-consuming forming those packets and pockets).
This first session saw quite some progress, albeit with two of us. Anne, a friend and fellow photographer, came to my aid. I’d made up enough to feed five so the day after – pasta dough keeps fine in the fridge for 24 hours – I achieved a batch going solo. Quite some progress. I mastered the art of shifting those hands double quick from one side of the machine to the other.
Was it edible? The verdict, much later on in the afternoon once we’d strung all the chair backs with it, was that it was worth it. Believe me! Real fresh egg pasta is far lighter to eat than dried, strange though it might seem, and far tastier. It’s also possible to air-dry fresh-made pasta and bag up for later use. I found that out by chance as I snapped it off the chairs, and had to scrub them down! And, yes Jamie’s right, it isn’t such a hassle once you’ve done it a few times. Now for those ravioli, since I’m on a roll with fresh pasta.
All images © Liz Ayling 2013
Fresh Tagliatelle with Bacon & Mushrooms
I used Jamie Oliver’s rule-of-thumb amounts of flour and eggs (see either The Naked Chef or The Return of the Naked Chef) which says 100gm flour and 1 large egg or two eggs yolks per portion/person. I made up 500gm.
You can either make a well in the mound of flour and add the eggs breaking them up and mixing in first with a fork, then by hand. Or, place the ingredients in a food processor (a lot less messy) and whizz til they come together. Tip out on a floured surface and knead gently til the dough is smooth and elastic. Wrap in cling film and chill for half an hour in the fridge.
Cut the dough into tennis ball size pieces (if making 3 portions or over), and flatten each ball with a palm before rolling out a bit to a width that can be fed into the widest setting on the lasagna sheet roller of your pasta machine. You can make the whole lot by hand, rolling out ever thinner, and folding over and re-rolling, but the machine makes life easier. Tip: I find semolina far better than flour to roll out the pasta on and dust it liberally with while handling.
Follow the instructions of your pasta machine: mostly, this means rolling it through the settings from widest to narrowest on the lasagna sheet roller, doubling it over and re-feeding through. When the strip gets too long, cut in half and work that one through alone. For tagliatelle, I didn’t put it through the very narrowest setting. I then used the tagliatelle cutting roller. It’s a bit tricky to extricate the shreds of tagliatelle, so use a flat hand to guide it out, bit by bit. Hang somewhere like a towel rail or chair back, while you work the other balls through the machine.
Cook in boiling water for a bare three minutes, til just al dente. Undercook if possible, as you’ll be tossing it into the sauce of choice over a gentle heat anyway.
For my sauce, I simply fried up some bacon, anchovies, garlic and mushrooms in that order (no oil added) and tossed the fresh pasta in once cooked adding a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a good handful of chopped, flat-leafed parsley and some grated Parmesan to serve. Delicious and simple.
Amazing! Photos abs fab!!! Hope it tasted good too!
Red Bistro says
Thanks for your help Anne; shame you didn’t manage to stay to eat it! It was surprisingly good – lighter than dried. It was so strange snapping it off those chair backs to pop in the pot.
Life Images by Jill says
I only tried making pasta once – what a process rolling out the pasta dough! next time, if there ever is a next time, I need to get a pasta machine!
Liz, your food photography is fantastic! when is the “Red Bistro” cook book coming out?
Red Bistro says
It’s far easier with the pasta machine, though it has taken me til now to get the ideal place to clamp it, so I can just about manage the process single handed. What was so incredible is that fresh was actually far less heavy to eat. I really thought it would be gluggy compared to dried. Cookbook, now that’s one to set my sights on..thanks for the encouragement!
I’ve had a pasta machine for years, ever since getting a handmade pasta obsession when working as an au pair in Puglia. Pasta making is a great rainy day activity for the kids, but last time we just stuck to rolling pins and found it was surprisingly easy!
A request: when I was in Sicily at Easter, I had a wonderful wild fennel creamy tagliatelle dish cooked by the agriturismo owner, with fennel fronds from the garden. I’ve tried to replicate but with little success. My garden has plenty of fennel at the moment – any ideas?
Red Bistro says
Errm, yes, must think on that one. I can see the obvious like just whiz up fennel fronds and dump in cream isn’t the answer. I’ll ask some Sicilian foodie friends I know to see if there’s a secret recipe. I love fennel and use the fronds a lot (to garnish though and in fish) as well as copious amounts of seed and bulb. Will be in touch as soon as I have sussed your recipe out, and tested and posted it here. Thanks for the idea.