Saturday, 21 November 2009

Last Night I made Pasta

I have a juicing machine with which I have a love/hate relationship: love the juice, hate getting all the little bits of fruit gunk out of the cone-sieve-thingy once I've used it.  So the juicer gets used for a couple of mornings and then sits on the side for months until I have another "must eat more healthily" fit.

Anyway, this much neglected juicer - which I have had for at least three years - comes with another cone (a smooth one) and a special nozzle for making pasta, which I've never tried.  Until yesterday.

I read up about making pasta dough on the internet and it looked easy.  Pile a heap of flour on the work surface, add some salt, make a well in the middle, drop two eggs in and using your fingers gradually mix the flour into the eggs.

Firstly, I finished up with most of the dough stuck between my fingers and spent several minutes scraping it all off and back onto the work surface.

Secondly, I think our work surface is not meant for making dough.  It's slightly textured and the dough formed a fine film, nicely filling up the dents in the worktop.  By this stage the dough would have been excellent for grouting bathroom tiling.

I persevered, having read that one has to put considerable effort into making pasta dough and gradually it formed something approaching a squidgy, springy ball, which I popped into the fridge to rest.

Having assembled the juicer/now pasta maker, I took the springy dough, cut it into chunks and fed it into the top of the machine, switched the machine on and using the plunger pushed the dough towards the nozzle.  To my delight, three thin pasta worms started to emerge and curl into the bowl I had waiting underneath.  This quickly got out of hand as the curly worms kept on coming and I could see there would be no way I could separate them as they formed their Gordian knot.

Some of the internet articles suggested hanging the pasta over a broom handle to dry.  I balanced a rolling pin between a tall glass and the wine cooler, found some scissors and started again. Push dough through until it's a sensible length; switch off machine; cut off three pasta worms; hang them over rolling pin; start machine and repeat.

The thin strands of dough hanging over the rolling pin had rather a strange grey tinge.  It reminded me of when I was very young and the colour of the tarts I used to make with bits of left-over dough from my mother's baking. Mind you, I had nice clean hands and the work surface looked quite shiny.

By this time it was getting late and the large saucepan of ready-boiling salted water was half empty.  So I decided we'd do without the drying stage and just tipped the pasta into the water to boil.

There are times when Tod's irresistible urge to get involved in my cooking proves useful.  He started stirring the pasta and noticed that each bunch of three pasta worms was staying firmly stuck together.  They were cooking along the edges but remaining stubbornly raw in the middle.  So with much "ouching" we fished around in the boiling water, lifted out bundles of pasta, pulled the three strands apart, dropped each individual strand back and fished around for the next ones.

Amazingly, in the end, when thoroughly covered in spicy Breton sausage, tomato and veg sauce, the pasta tasted quite good.

Next time I'll forget the hand mixing and use my multi-mixer with its dough hooks.  I'll also see if I can find hard durum flour in the Bio shop and not the soft supermarket flour that the French love.  I might try adding some tomato, or maybe even black squid ink to the dough (just to hide any suspicion of grey).  And I'll hope that Tod's around to help me separate the pasta worms before they go in the boiling water.

There will be a next time.  The pasta cone and nozzle are really easy to clean.


  1. It's the food processor you want to use, not the Multi Mix (which I assume is something like a Kenwood?) Pasta dough in a processor couldn't be easier - 2 cups flour ( I always use 00), 3 medium eggs, 1 tsp olive oil, a generous pinch of salt. Put the whole lot in the machine and process for 30 seconds, until it has homogenised into a solid lump; it shouldn't be sticky to the touch (if it is, add a tsp of flour and re-process for the few seconds it takes to resolve itself back into a solid ball). Rest it in the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes, and then roll out as desired. Eccolo!

  2. Pomiane thank you. Yes it's the food processor I need. Not too easy to find 00 flour here! The French like their soft flours.

  3. very funny! :) I find it useful when my helper stands next to me & helps to catch the strands of pasta as they come out of the machine at great speed. We then put them down on a floured tray, which helps to prevent the sticking together. Spelt flour works fine for us. N x