Manchester’s Artistic Son?
I don’t know where that came from, I really don’t. If you’ve ever sat staring at the registration page of WordPress or Blogspot, you’ll know the feeling. It’s a bit like getting a tattoo – what could I put up with, what represents me? So I turned ambitious. Manchester’s Artistic Son represents not where I am, perhaps, but where I will be. I hope to achieve big things, and even if I don’t I want the satisfaction on my deathbed of looking back and knowing that I tried. Getting a novel published these days is tough stuff, everyone will tell you. Making a living from writing almost impossible. Making a living from art, as a working class northerner appears to be even harder, despite a First Class with honours. So I’ve set myself a tough task and I’m thinking big. Manchester’s artistic son, that’s me – the next…..Mick Hucknall, or….Anthony Burgess, Stephen Patrick Morrissey…or even Bernard Manning.
So changing subject slightly – aswell as writing I’m going to have to start blogging about two other things. More of my art/photography – I’ve got a few projects in mind, and whilst I journal and collage often I never seem to scan it in and upload it. Secondly, I’ve signed up to the project day zero, (see the tab at the top of this page) So I will also be recording certain recordable challenges. Like – for instance – making pasta (tick it off the list):
Apart from a big surface, a pasta machine with tagliateli and spaghetti cutters, a rolling pin a sharp knife a mixing bowl a hand blender, tubs plates and lots of cutlery (and an hour of your life to waste) what do you need?
600g/ 1lb 6 oz Tipo 00 flour (fine, plain flour)
Fine Semolina for dusting
6 whole eggs or 12 yolks (the latter being a very rich and yellow alternative)
Into the flour break your eggs, then mix in a bowl until it’s lost its stickiness. Turn out onto a surface and knead like bread dough until it is homogenous, yellow and springy – 10-15 minutes. Cover in clingfilm and put in the fridge for half an hour. During which time you can plan your amazing pasta based meals. If you want ravioli or tortalini you can prep your filling, if bolognaise or lasagne cook your meat ragu.
Then put your rolling machine onto the widest setting, mine was 9. Take a quarter of the dough and roll it into a rough elongated piece about just less than 10mm thick. Then put it through your rollers. If you have a third hand, and have wondered all your life what use it could possibly be, you’re about to find out. If you have a partner use them now (to turn the handle). Then adjust the rollers two down, I jump a setting so go from 9-7-5-3 and I stop at 3 because 2 and 1 are too thin in my experience.
Right you have created the food equivalent of sellotape. Now put semolina everywhere. Do not let two pieces of pasta touch else they will fuse. Repeat the whole process until all of your thickness-3 pasta is rolled out. Now add the cutting attachment to the machine, and put the turning handle in place. Lift your first piece carefully into place and turn the handle whilst lowering the pasta sheet into the cutter. Use your third hand to guide it out underneath so it doesn’t pile up and stick.
You’ve created tagliatelli/spaghetti. Drape it somewhere dry, it is important you don’t let it clag up and form lumps. I’m using mine tonight but in theory you can leave it to dry for the rest of the day, and overnight, and can then keep it in your store cupboard indefinitely. In theory.
For lasagne obviously cut squares out of your thickness-3 pasta without cutting it in the machine, lay the squares somewhere to dry where they aren’t touching, or use immediately.
For stuffed pasta I improvised because I had very few ingredients in. I blended to a paste sundried tomatoes, mozzarella, pesto, fresh basil, salt and pepper, fresh parmesan and garlic oil. I put the attractive brown paste in lumps onto two equal sized strips at regular intervals and used two other equal sized strips to cover them. Then trying not to spread your filling press a circle around the pasta until it is tucked in. I used a cookie cutter to cut them into circles. Boil the ravioli and pasta for a few minutes, not as long as commercially bought stuff, and serve with butter, herbs, olive oil and any number of sauces. If you successfully dry the pasta then the cooking time in the future will be slightly longer.
Finally ask yourself, other than a project zero challenge why on earth would you spend an hour and £3.00 making something which costs £1.50??