So, a while back, my parents got me this wonderful little pasta maker. It’s the Imperia CucinaPro Pasta Maker, and they are wonderful for getting me one. See, years ago in college, I tried to make a three cheese and buttered garlic popcorn shrimp herb ravioli. It was a delicious theory… but I’d never actually done it before.
Leave it to me to decide to make my first time out with a technique a ridiculously difficult version of it.
Anyway, all I had was this wooden rolling pin that wasn’t that great. It ended up that the pasta was a bit too thick and came out being more like dumplings than ravioli. It wasn’t an immense failure, per se… but it wasn’t a resounding success either. My mother ended up giving me a (I think) marble rolling pin… whatever it’s made of, it’s super heavy… and then, they gave me this fantastic pasta maker, along with a pasta rack and a ravioli press where you can fill in the raviolis and then cut a bunch at once.
Unfortunately, my counter space in my kitchen didn’t really allow for anywhere to place the pasta maker, clamp it down and still be able to turn the handle without it hitting the clamp. Until I got my new roommates, one of whom brought this little area for his coffee that has a big leaf and a lot of room for my pasta maker.
The fact that it took me this long to use it is the real travesty.
I followed the instructions left in the pasta maker’s manual as closely as I could… here’s what I learned from my experience.
1) MEASURE YOUR FLOUR CAREFULLY. It’s generally one cup, one egg, and that’s all the ingredients you need. The pasta maker’s manual said two cups, two eggs creates a bit more than a pound of pasta. I went with that. Now, the flour I used may not have been the finest flour ever, but I ran into trouble when I foolishly allowed for a bit of extra flour. The dough was not getting wet enough and mixing together at all. Plus, when I created the well in the flour and put the eggs in to whisk them, I got distracted and the well broke. It was messy. Fortunately, you can fix a mistake like too-dry pasta with some lukewarm water. You fix the egg spilling out by panicking and shoving it all back into the flour.
2) THERE WILL BE MESS. Holy crap will there be a mess. You want to mix your pasta dough by hand to make the best assurances for a smooth consistency… and it will be all over your hands. And everywhere else, really.
3) PUT IN EXTRAS BEFORE YOU MIX THE EGGS. I wanted to put some flair on and make the pasta Sriracha flavored. Because, again, I complicate things. Unfortunately, when the flour well broke, I panicked and completely forgot about the Sriracha until a little while into the process… I got some in, but not nearly enough to impart the flavor I was hoping for. Then again, it’s thoroughly possible that all the flavor of whatever you put in there will go away, which is why you don’t see too much flavored pasta in stores. Someone else probably knows better than me.
4) TWO CUPS OF FLOUR MAKES A WHOLE LOT OF PASTA. Like, holy MESS did I make a bunch of pasta. I was also foolishly not cutting the sections I was rolling out into smaller sizes… I ended up with a few sheets a couple feet long before I cut them. Definitely cut the sheets you roll out in half at LEAST once because they will get unmanageably long if you don’t. I only managed to succeed because I had a second person helping me.
Ultimately, though, the process was a success. Fresh pasta was made, boiled briefly and thrown into my pot of vegetarian chili for a much better version of chili mac or Cincinnati chili than the version I had last… The pasta was very thin and almost melted in your mouth, not distracting at all from the flavor of the chili itself.
Next time, I think I’ll either try for a slightly thicker pasta, maybe a spaghetti or maybe a ravioli again (gotta figure out how to make them not taste like water). Still, I think this ended up being a decent start to the new year and me trying out new techniques in the kitchen. I may try to bread and fry things next, but my lack of appropriate supplies may be a problem for that… My other dishes I’d love to work on are pad thai and ramen burgers.
Is there a specific type of dish you think I should try? Or a specific technique in the kitchen you suggest I should work on? As much as I love cooking, I’m still massively under-experienced in a lot of things… so I’d like to hear your input. It can be as simple or crazy as you’d like… And I’ll see about giving it a go.