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Pasta Making 101

Only once in my life had I ever made pasta and although that was only a couple of months ago, I really only filled ravioli and cut them out.  Tuesday’s cooking class taught me the entire process of making pasta and seriously excited me into buying a hand crank pasta machine…which I am searching for now.

But first, because I can only elaborate so much on making pasta, I will talk briefly about my bike ride to class.  It was fantastic.  I have been wanting to do it for awhile and this was the first time I finally did it.  It was about 9 miles from my office and then about 6.5 miles back to Bryan’s house.  It was sunny and pleasant, light breeze but not wind and not too hot.  I left right around 5pm so I was riding with a slew of people but not a problem because the Burke-Gilman trail is spacious and people know how to communicate on their bikes.  Somehow they have made the Burke nice and flat, a task I would have assumed to be impossible in Seattle.  It was mostly shaded which led to an eerily dark night ride after class with my headlight leading my way.  I want to do it again already.

So our pasta class involved making two shapes of pasta, linguine and agnolotti, and we experimented with two doughs, one all purpose flour and one half and half all purpose and semolina flour.  Along with the pastas we made four different sauces, each exceptional:  alfredo, the basic tomato sauce we learned a few weeks ago, a white wine and clam sauce, and a gorgonzola sauce.

Pasta is so simple; flour, egg, and salt.  No water, no oil, that’s it.  I actually volunteered to make the one dough while the instructor made the other type.  Using the counter and forming a well we beat the eggs and then incorporated the flour in with a fork.  Next the entire class took turns kneading the two doughs on the counter.  We then let it rest covered for 10 minutes before rolling and shaping the dough.  In pairs we then fed the dough through the roller to continue the kneading process and then used the adjustments to work the pasta into thinner and thinner sheets.  Once we had done this we each cut an agnolotti square for us to have and then fed the rest of the sheets through to cut linguine.  We hung all of the linguine and pasta squares on a drying rack while we then made the sauces.

Hand crank!
Hand crank!
Working that dough.
Working that dough.

The tomato sauce was not new to us, the only thing we did differently this time was run it through a hand crank food mill to make it very thin.  The alfredo I actually didn’t get to see made because I was working on my pasta.  We paired these two sauces for the agnolotti.  With the pasta squares we filled them with a creamy ricotta and spinach filling and folded them in triangles.  After cooking them we plated them on top of a plate with half of the red sauce and half of the white sauce and a fresh basil leaf, it was just so dainty and elegant.

Our spinach and ricotta agnolotti with red and white sauce, so cute!
Our spinach and ricotta agnolotti with red and white sauce, so cute!

The clam sauce was awesome.  We first steamed fresh clams in vermouth and water just until they opened their shells.  We strained the juice, reserving it for a sauce, and removed the clams from their shells, reserving them for the pasta.  We then added butter, garlic, shallots, parsley, and sherry to the broth, added to clams just until hot and then tossed that with half of the linguine.  What a fresh and tasty dish!  I really had fun fishing for the clams too.

Linguine with a clam sauce, awesome!
Linguine with a clam sauce, awesome!

And the gorgonzola sauce, wow!  We soaked dulce gorgonzola (so not as pungent) in cream for a while and then to make the sauce we heated this up in a pan with sherry and white wine until the cheese was melted and not clumpy.  We tossed this with the rest of the linguine and it was just so creamy and flavorful.  Nothing wrong or difficult about this dish.  We had each of the pastas in different dishes, and like my instructor informed us, you could not tell much of a difference at all in taste.  I can tell you that the semolina dough was much more difficult to work with and has a grainy texture to it.  I would probably just stick to all purpose when I get my machine!

Linguine gorgonzola, heavenly!
Linguine gorgonzola, heavenly!

Carbo loaded for my ride home!

Chelsea

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