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Fresh Pasta: What Could Be Better?

I know I just wrote a post where a Zen monk seems to suggest we do one thing fully. However, I have been pleased by my own combining of favorite activities. This week, for instance, I made my own pasta (!) while listening to This American Life. Did anyone else catch the episode where Ira Glass and the team try to test out what they think is the original Coke formula? That’s not the episode I listened to while kneading my pasta dough, but it’s a good one. I hope TAL does more food-related stories.

I listened to this baby swap story. My eyes just welled up when the moms talk at the end! (One of mothers knew the babies were switched the day she brought a baby home from the hospital. The other didn’t find out until she was 69!)

I digress. What I’m trying to say is pasta making is enormously rewarding. If you love to eat fresh pasta, you should definitely try it. Definitely. It’s a teacher, this pasta.

Here are some photos: one of the final days of Ballymaloe where I was making my own tortellini (note the magical lighting…)

And voila: here is my pasta from yesterday’s lunch (just before dunking it into boiling salted water for a minute).

Gillian’s recipe (and by the way, looks like Gillian is teaching a pasta class this summer… wish I could go!) calls for a 1 oz. semolina flour to 10 oz. ‘00’ flour. I found both at a local Italian grocery store. It also includes a tiny bit (dessert spoon) of olive oil, a teaspoon of cold water, a pinch of salt, one egg and 3 egg yolks, (but you leave the extra egg whites in reserve to add if your dough can take more).

The basic gist of Gillian’s recipe is sieving your flour and salt in a bowl, then forming a well where you pour the lightly beaten eggs, oil, and water into. Then you mix it up into a firm dough and knead it. After it’s smooth, you let it sit (left mine for 30 minutes while I made sauce and got more involved with TAL), then you roll it out. I used a pasta machine, but obviously, the idea is with or without the pasta machine, to get it as thin as possible.

Another thing I love about pasta making is it is pretty forgiving. I mean, if you like eating pasta, your first attempts will be gobbled up just like the rest.

Also, here are my new friends — they are all British. I met them at the public library and they seemed to know a lot about food.

They’re Nigel Slater, Jane Grigson, and Elizabeth David. More on them later. I have to get to know them first, geez!

Elizabeth has a Tagliatelle al Mascarpone recipe I think I might try. For the sauce, you melt butter, add mascarpone and gently heat the mixture, making sure it doesn’t boil. Then you add the cooked tagliatelle and swirl it around in the sauce. You add a a few tablespoons of grated Parmesean and some roughly chopped walnuts. Sounds good, yes?

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