Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Fresh Pasta

My going away party was last Wednesday. I decided to have it at the Lazy Dog Coffeehouse in Minersville, just to mix things up a little. We were sticking with Amigo's for most of the going away dinners and I just wanted something different.

It's a cute little place. I had gone with Karthik there a few weeks ago and found it's probably the nicest casual place in town. A lot more modern in design and feel than the other places around here, most of which haven't redecorated since the 70's. It was a good night.

A lot of people showed up. We filled the place. For a while we were literally the only people in the restaurant. You could tell they don't do a lot of large parties and they had some small logistical issues. It happens.

Anyway, they gave me a few going away presents. The group got me a set of Kitchenaid attachments with the pasta maker, meat grinder and slicer/shredder. Now keep in mind I was planning on baking the cookies, the dough was in the bowl from the mixer in the fridge, cleaning the bowl and packing it up. Well that obviously didn't happen.

I had been diligently working at finishing off stuff in the fridge. But I still had some ground turkey, shimp, eggs and butter in the fridge, among other things. This was more than I could eat in a couple days.

Well I decided to make fresh pasta on Thursday. I left work at 4, came home and started all sorts of prep and a few of my coworkers came over for dinner.

I just used the recipe for a basic dough that came with the attachments. It was flour, an egg and a little water. Knead, rest and extrude. Well for some reason I felt the dough needed to come together more so I kept adding water until it was the consistency of pizza dough. I fed it through the extruder and I got these long strands. Only trouble was, all the strands instantly stuck together. So I added some flour and re-extruded. I also sprinkled flour as it was coming out. It took a whole bunch of passes but eventually I got it all out and separated into strands.

Fresh Pasta
Recipe is the one from the Kitchenaid book that came with the attachments, with my commentary on what not to do

Assemble the pasta maker according to the instructions (note that it comes with the extruder screw, mixing piece and 2 of the dies already installed, I spent 20 minutes yelling at the box that I couldn't find the auger)

Measure 2 3/4 cups flour, sifted into the bowl of your stand mixer.

Add 3 large eggs. Mix with the paddle until integrated.

Add 2 tablespoons of water. Dough will be very dry. Do not add more water (to try to get it to come together, your pasta will just stick when you extrude it and you will end up adding more and more flour). It probably should just come together.

Let it rest for 15 minutes.

Extrude. Dust it with flour as it's coming out to keep it from sticking. Separate all the strands as you go.

Cook in a pot of boiling salted water. When the noodles float, they are done. Take out and toss in sauce to let it soak up all the yummy goodness.


Turkey meat sauce
If you can even call this a recipe

Brown 1 lb ground turkey (or beef or the limbs of small children, whatever makes you happy). Drain off any excess fat. Add 1 jar of tomato sauce. I used a jar of stuff I got from Aldi's, I forget what it was called exactly. Simmer until the pasta is ready.

Shrimp garlic butter sauce (scampi maybe?)
This is why I don't name recipes

Use a big hunk of herb butter, I had about 6 tbsp in the freezer that I threw in the pan on low and got the butter melted. If you don't have herb butter you could add dried parsley at this point or fresh parsley right at the end. Chop up about 4 cloves of garlic as fine as you have the patience for. Add the garlic to the pan. I used this garlic butter to make garlic knots, added more butter and proceeded. Feel free to skip that step, whatever makes you happy.

Turn the pan up to medium and add about 1 lb of peeled shrimp. No tails on the shrimp; who wants to pick tails out of their pasta? Turn them over when they just start to turn pink. Oh and add salt and pepper at some point too. Probably when you first throw them in. Take the shrimp out so they don't overcook. Add a glug or 2 of white wine and simmer. When the pasta is ready toss it in the butter sauce and add the shrimp back. Toss so that everything gets buttery and good.

For those of you working with extruders, it is a standard 3:1.5 (not quite sure if that terminology is correct, I've only seen x:1 but the flight length is 1 inch, the diameter is 1.5 inches and there are 3 flights so I decided that's how it is denoted) screw with a deeply grooved barrel. There is an optional mixing section, which is put on only for certain products. There are both plastic and metal dies, I have not tested both yet to see differences in behavior. I haven't established how much of a difference the mixing section makes yet either. All in due time..... I have been informed that I will need to optimize the process and create directives.....

And for those of you not working with extruders.... it really make sense, I swear!

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