Challenge number 42: Pasta

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):

My afternoon making pasta:

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??

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12 thoughts on “Challenge number 42: Pasta

  1. Why would you, indeed? I’ll tell you why, Dave. Because in the post-apocalyptic nightmare when super-markets are super-slave-markets and 7-11s become pot-farms, you’ll be able to eek out a meager but safe existence making pasta for the eye-patch-wearing-moonshine-guzzling-weapon-toting black marketeer rather than whoring yourself to the lowest, syphilitic henchmen on his staff. That’s why. And judging by the news from your island over the last week, I think it’s closer for you than perhaps any of you may have thought.

  2. I remember well trying to think up a blog title – I was sitting in a hot sticky hotel room in Vietnam feeling incredibly sad, and staring at a fan that was spinning, probably for about half an hour before it came to me. I was aware that my title couldn’t be too maudlin, as I would hopefully still be writing the blog at a happier time (see!? ta daaah!) … ‘Silly wrong but vivid right’ is a line from one of my favourite Manchester Anthems, a line that has always struck me as, well, me.

    I like your “I want the satisfaction on my deathbed of looking back and knowing that I tried.” That’s all anyone can ever ask of you 🙂

    You make pasta look difficult. I have seen another pasta making blog entry that made it look very simple (there were no machines involved!!) and so shall be following those instructions for mine 😉

  3. I’m VERY Impressed! I think that pasta making is something that I would like to do on a regular basis, a sort of therapeutic kneading and working out at the end of the working day… like bread making (if only I could master them both)
    For me there are two important questions: 1) you KNOW what is in your food, 2) taste.
    So… How DID the home made pasta measure up taste-wise to commercailly bought stuff?
    The mix inside your ravioli circles is right up my alley… sounds seriously yummy, so how did they taste?
    Was the machine easy to use (yes practice DOES make for smoother and faster working I’ve heard) so I wouldn’t expect perfection until I’d really gotten to know the gadget well, but was it relatively intuitative? or even remotely?
    I totally appreciate the photo series.. I’m a “learn by seeing” type of person so the pictures really are worth a 1000 words.
    Bravo for braving the machine and taking serious steps towards mastering the art…
    yeah the shop bought stuff is cheaper, but satifaction of making your own fresh, preservative free ravioli … WITH custom ingredients depending on your mood? Can’t necessarily put a price on that 🙂

    • Tasted like zombie flesh because I forgot salt. But no, it did taste okay. I’d agree that its nice knowing that you did it yourself. Yeh you should try it then at least you can say you did. The filling was nice, but the whole thing needed a tonne of salt. Its my fourth time with the machine, the first I was guided by a trained chef, and yes it gets easier. Certainly when you expect the pasta to be lethal when it sticks to all it comes in contact with. If you can deal with that you’ve cracked it. I meant to tag you in somehow but you found it anyway. I think I’m going to enjoy recording my challenges.

  4. Hey Dave – I’m another fellow Manchester blogger! I made pasta not long ago as part of a daring cook’s challenge – I made stuffed pasta, and yes the rolling was a bit fiddly, but coupling it with a bottle of wine and a friend to help made it a, dare I say it, ‘fun’ task!
    I only ever usually have the cheapest of dry pasta’s so appreciated the taste difference for the effort…
    Anyway – love your take on the blog name! Mine started as something else… I wanted to start blogging but thinking of a name was a big hurdle. Only finally found my blog name “My BlogJect” when it just sort of came to me…

  5. Just looked at your pasta pics – ok, mine looks shit in comparison no wonder I didn’t find it as difficult!

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