Famously renowned in our family for being a tad ambitious as to what can be squeezed into each day, and in spite of being in my fourth decade of this glorious life, I still have not learnt from previous mistakes and my endless resolutions are testament to this! Honestly, it doubles as a ‘to-do list but who cares. At least there may be some fleeting chance of success. So topping the list are some fairly grandiose ideas like, getting published, going viral (not really sure what that means but in terms of a blog I think it is a good thing), becoming a food stylist and food photographer, then there are the usual very dull ones, drink more water, less wine, no coffee, exercise, get fit and run at least twice a week, and that is not after the ‘little people’, uumm all of that bit is starting this week when technically my new year really begins! Somewhere in between the absurd and ridiculous are the vaguely achievable resolutions, cook something new everyday, read more cookery books, read any books, start a pop-up restaurant / supper club, cook more, waste less, learn how to tweet, operate facebook, get a grip of social media, turn on the tv, turn off the tv, the list is endless. Hidden amongst these endless random wants and not wants is a resolution that has already been achieved, ‘to make my own pasta’ – ha ha – a home goal, how smug am I? Goodie, off to a fabulously optimistic start.
Please don’t get me wrong, I have made pasta before but it had not become a kitchen staple and there was probably a good reason for this. That said I was really keen to remind my self that any task done once becomes instantly easier, faster and less messy on the second outing, and this particularly applies to pasta making. Homemade pasta does require patience and a serious love of pasta so probably not advisable for the faint hearted, wheat intolerant or pasta ignorant, but for those in the know whom respect this humble marriage of eggs and flour start preparing the kitchen for a little ‘flour’ dusting! I have now made it twice in the last week and it is very good, I think on that basis the pasta machine has done an impressive jump in culinary social-climbing and will now remain resident in the larder as opposed to hanging out in the laundry.
Many of you will appreciate our family’s love of Italy, so it is no great surprise that pasta is regularly on the menu at home. We use vast quantities of dried pasta the likes everyone is familiar with but fresh ravioli and tortellini we only eat occasionally. And it was this latter form of pasta that got our fingers itching. Pasta itself is very easy to make, flour and egg yolks are combined to make a dough which is then passed through a pasta machine, this process compresses the dough and makes it thinner and thinner and thinner until on the last setting the correct pasta width is reached. I don’t mean to over simplify the process but there really is very little to it. What I have failed to mention is that we have an electric pasta machine that does substantially speed up the rolling process. Kindly given to us some years ago the ‘Pasta Presto’ is genius, it has 3 settings, the first to make flat pasta sheets, then tagliatelle and then little ravioli – really clever, and very easy on the arms!
As for the filling, the jewel in the middle of these nifty little parcels, that is largely up to you. Ravioli traditionally are pasta parcels stuffed with leftovers, it hence seemed appropriate that a little cunning fridge raiding would probably produce the necessary bounty. A few off cuts of veal were minced and thrown together with some savoy cabbage and Parmesan – inspired by some Agnolotti devoured at Boca Di Lupo, I had a quick flick through their bible of a book and found said recipe, Mr.P was thrilled. Second outing we were much braver and concocted 2 creations ourselves, swiss chard, ricotta and Parmesan, and then a butternut, almond, sage and ricotta. Both delicious and elevated to an unprecedented height by a wonderful sauce discovered in the ‘Boca’ cookbook. ‘Walnut sauce’ was a complete new one on me and a seriously good discovery. This I promise will be used time and time again and will absolutely become a regular feature in our kitchen. Deceptively creamy and luxurious you would imagine the sauce has a huge cream content, actually it has none, it is a savvy emulsion of bread and milk, walnuts, Parmesan, oil and water. I admit it does sound unconventional, I promise it works, it really is fantastic, and actually with a little ingenuity could be used in a number of different ways. So on that note, I don’t really expect you to reach for the pasta machine but please try this sauce, it is revolutionary. Silky, nutty, even healthy – you will love it – that is almost an order!
200 gms of 00 pasta flour
3 egg yolks and 1 whole egg
This will make more than enough pasta for tortellini for 4 people as a starter or 2 as a main course. Anything extra you can always keep aside as plain sheets for lasagne or make parpadelle! To cater for more I would jump to 400gms of flour and 6 egg yolks. BUT please note this is merely a guideline, the aim is to make a pliable dough, not indifferent in texture and feel to ‘playdoh’ , so if the mix is too dry just add in more egg yolks until it comes together and forms a dough. My brief experience of making pasta is to be guided by how it feels as opposed to the recipe as the size of the eggs makes a huge difference so do go on instinct instead of hard and fast recipe quantities!
When the dough has come together knead well and then roll until it is a sensible size to start passing through the pasta machine. Every time it is passed through, fold it and pass it through again. We put the pasta through 3 times on each setting and stopped at setting no.2 for making tortellini. You can go thinner obviously but this is what Boca di Lupo recommended and it certainly worked for us. When the pasta is the required width to work with cut into your desired shape, we simply used a large round cutter, place a small teaspoon of filling in the middle, fold the parcel in half, seal with a little water, pinch around the sides and ‘ker- ching’ your parcel is made! We dusted an oven tray with polenta and flour and rested the tortellini on top and stored them in the fridge for several hours before using them, I think this works as it drys the pasta out slightly and allows the filling to set a little before plunging them into a pot of salted boiling water!
Wonderful ‘Walnut Sauce’ from Boca di Lupo – Jacob Kenedy
80gms of freshly grated Parmesan
4 tablespoons of milk
60gms of bread broken up crusts removed
100gms of walnut halves/ pieces
150ml of olive oil
300ml of water
1. Soak the bread in milk and then add the Parmesan and walnuts. Blend in a liquidizer or hand blender until completely smooth.
2. Now gradually add in the oil and water – the paste will become very thick and then gradually will thin down as the emulsion forms into a lovely smooth nutty sauce. Add pepper and salt and then re-heat in a pan to serve with pasta!
EAT and ENJOY – !