Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Making Homemade Pasta

There is really nothing better than homemade pasta. Once you have it, you will taste the dried boxed stuff and ask yourself, "Why did I ever think this was good?" The best part about making pasta is that the recipe is so forgiving.  You simply cannot mess it up! When I make pasta... I get in a zone. I make a whole day of it and refuse to care about what sort of flour mess I make in my kitchen. I crank up Dean Martin on the Ipod and get to work. It's my favorite kind of kitchen therapy.

Making anything from scratch can seem a bit scary, but get over that because this is NOT! Not only is it simple, it will make every single pasta dish you make taste 100% better than using the old store bought boxed stuff!

Let's get started...

Homemade Pasta
Serves: Four (4)

Four (4) eggs
Two (2) cups flour
Dash of salt.
*Increase as you wish, but for each cup of flour you add, add another two eggs.

On a floured work surface, pour the flour into a tall mound and make a well in the middle. Pour the eggs into the well, making sure that the sides of the well are high enough so the egg doesn't spill over. Add a dash of salt.

Making your flour and egg well.
With your hands, slowly incorporate the egg and flour together until the ingredients form a sticky dough.  At this point, add flour to your work surface as needed and begin to kneed, roll, and punch your dough until it is smooth and no longer sticky.

Wrap dough in plastic wrap and allow to sit for 20 minutes at room temperature.

Set up your pasta machine by clamping it to a table, counter-top, or sturdy cutting board.

I use the Norpro 1049 Pasta Roller/Cutter
Divide the pasta dough into six or eight palm-sized pieces. Working with the first piece, adjust the pasta rollers to #1, the widest setting, and put the pasta through.  Make sure you flour the pasta dough lightly so that it doesn't stick to the rollers.  After the dough comes through the rollers, fold it into thirds and pass it through the #1 slot again.  Do this a couple of more times. The pasta will become very soft and velvety.  Adjust the rollers to the next setting, #2, and pass the pasta through a few times.  Do not fold the pasta this time.  Keep passing it through the rollers, adjusting them thinner, until you reach the thickness you like. (For ravioli, I stop at #4 or #5, as you want ravioli dough thicker while you work with it.)  As you pass the pasta through narrower settings, the pasta may become sticky again - keep lightly flouring it. Continue on to the next piece of dough and allow each "sheet" of pasta to dry out a bit.

This is roller setting #2

This is roller setting #5, almost finished.
Once all of your pasta sheets are to your liking and have dried a bit, attach the noodle-cutting attachment to the pasta machine according to your manual's instructions. Next, feed the thinly rolled sheet of pasta into the cutting attachment, catching the noodles by draping them over your hands as they're cranked out of the machine (again, it's helpful to have another person helping to turn the crank).

I used the fettuccine cutter for the pasta shown here.
Repeat above process with remaining sheets of dough and hang each section of noodles as they are cut. Hang each section to dry while you continue to work with pasta. They have fancy pasta racks out there, but you can use a laundry rack, or even hangers. Some of them can be found here at Amazon. I just used hangers.

Hang the pasta to dry about 2 hours before using.

Hanging to dry.

Ready to enter a boiling pot of water.
To cook pasta: 
Bring a large pot of water to boil
Add 1/4 cup of salt to the  boiling pot first. Now add pasta and cook 2-3 minutes.
Top with sauce of your choice!

Once your done with your pasta roller, brush it or wipe it with a dry towel. DO NOT clean with a wet rag as this will ruin your pasta rollers. If large pieces of dough are stuck inside, remind yourself to add a bit more flour when running them through the rollers next time. Allow the dough to dry and brush clean. Avoid using a wet rag at all cost!

Now, that doesn't seem so hard does it!? I bet it's easier than you thought. If you don't have a pasta roller, you can simply roll out each section with a wooden roller until very thing. Remember that pasta will "puff" up a bit when it's cooked so the thinner the better.

Once you get the hang of making basic pasta, experiment with it! Add in a pesto sauce or sun-dried tomatoes for flavor! Try a whole wheat or gluten free!The possibilities are endless.

Source: A combination of many recipes, finely tuned to my own liking!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Meet Keith! (An insight to why you haven't seen any food posts lately!)

Wow. It's been an incredibly busy past few weeks. I have hit a new level of busy and for the first time in years feel completely overwhelmed with where to direct my time. My day job keeps me at my desk from the minute I walk in the door to the moment I leave. Even better, The Little Bitchin Kitchen has gained quite a little clientele and I am honored to be planning/catering two wonderful couple's weddings.

In true Kristen form, taking on a heavier work load and expanding my own business wasn't enough on the plate! Todd and I decided to expand our growing "family."  On February 20, 2013 we brought home a twelve week old flat-coated retriever puppy and named him Keith. (Our oldest flat coat is Jagger. Do you see a theme here?) He is a rambunctious little fella and keeps Todd and I running at full speed, (literally!) His little personality fits our household well and we love him a ton!

Though I am too busy to remember my own name these days... I am happier than ever and just had to share. Here's a photo I grabbed of him while he actually sat still for a moment.

Isn't he just a doll? I love him very much. Big brother Jagger is doing fine. Although he doesn't love losing ALL the attention, he is teaching Keith a ton. You know, things like how to kennel, sit, pee outside, and most importantly... be a good dog.

Big Brother Jagger

A little brotherly love.
Yes, I have officially turned in to one of those dog people. I treat them as my children and take a ton of photos of them... don't judge me!

So there you have it. THIS is the reason I have been away so long. I apologize, but I do also have a lot of fun things coming up next week. First up: Irish Soda Bread. Who knew bread COULD be easy!? Then, how to make homemade pasta, followed by a wonderful shrimp pasta recipe to put all your pasta to use!

I hope you're looking forward to it, I know I am! See you all next week!