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When I started my retirement travels - the first of which was my solo overseas trip to Italy in 2009 - I wanted a way to share it with family and friends as it happened. Hence, "My Travel Journal". However I realized I wouldn't always be on a trip and wondered what to do with the blog in between times. My daughter pointed out, wisely, that travels can also include trips to the kitchen to try a new recipe, trips to visit family, trips to my neighborhood Starbucks, or a fun day trip with a friend. You're welcome to join me on any of these journeys!

P.S. I've set up separate pages for each of my major trips (see tabs above).

I recently added an "Italian Word a Day" thingie which shows up at the bottom of every page. You see the word and can click to hear it pronounced. I've been enjoying it and I think my accent is improving as time goes by.

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December 02, 2009

The "Pasta Disasta"! The "Pasta Fiasca"! You Get the Idea?

Well....that was a disappointment to say the least.  I hardly know how to begin...
I had decided on two raviolis - one with a pumpkin filling, sauced with butter and sage and the other with a cube of cheese sprinkled with marjoram inside, to be sauced with some minced up roasted tomatoes and some of the oil they were packed in.  The tagliatelle noodles would be served with a bottled puttanesca-type sauce.  And, I had even found a bag of semolina and durum wheat pasta flour (it said that right on the bag)!  So, I was ready...as seen in this photo...

There I am - getting ready to stir the egg into the flour just like we did in Tuscany.  However, this wasn't Tuscany and I ended up with an unkneadable clump of "dough" (for want of a better term).  We did manage to put it through the rollers of the pasta maker, but it wasn't right - very dry feeling and it should feel kind of silky after kneading it and rolling it through a couple of times.  So, I decided to try again, this time using less flour per egg.  The first batch (which I made small just to run it through the rollers a few times and get any dust out), I had just used one egg and one cup of all purpose flour.  So now I would use three eggs and 2-3/4 cups of the pasta flour (which were the quantities one of my pasta cookbooks stipulated).  I also had a cup of warm water handy just in case.  And, lo and behold, that came out exactly the same way, a stiff, hard, clump of clay (that 's probably a better term) with quite a bit of flour left on the board that simply couldn't get worked in, even sprinkling it all with water.  We were now down to the last three eggs and I decided I would use 2-1/3 cups of flour, all three eggs, and one teaspoon of olive oil (with the warm water nearby for sprinkling).  No surprise here - it came out exactly the same as the others!  So, I rolled a little bit of that one too, although it was even harder to get through the machine than the first batch, cut a strip into noodles just to show Chris how it all worked and threw that batch in the trash also.

It was, obviously, a big disappointment.  But, amazingly enough, I didn't wail and gnash my teeth.  I just told Chris he could take us all out to dinner which he did and we had a nice evening in spite of the darned pasta.  And, of course, we still had pie for dessert and that helped. :)

I have no idea what the problem is but I'm not going to give up yet.   I've already figured out my next attempt.  I'm going to do a one-egg batch again and maybe start with 2/3 cup or so of the flour.  And, I'm going to do it in a bowl instead of the traditional "well" on the counter.  My hope is that, if anything, I would actually need to add more flour rather than have to try to add water.  I might even go as low as starting with 1/2 cup of flour...  At any rate, if that doesn't work, then I'm going to order some semolina on line.  That's what we used in Tuscany cause I remember thinking it was like corn meal and how could it possibly make pasta.  But it did.  However, I also remember over 40 years ago making ravioli from scratch one time (and one time only) with my first husband and, of course, all we had was normal, all-purpose flour.  The dough was hard to roll out because it was so elastic, but that's how it's supposed to be and that's why the pasta machine is such a help.  We had to roll that batch with a rolling pin and it would just creep back after you rolled it.

I do hope I figure out a method cause I would love to be able to make myself small batches now and then with interesting fillings and sauces. 


Christopher said...

So sorry to hear it didn't go well, but I'm a little skeptical about the accuracy of that metal measuring cup January had...
I found an article online, re: homemade pasta dough, which calls for 400g (3 1/3C) fine white flour, or American bread flour, which has more gluten, plus 4 eggs, plus salt. Mix in that "flour mound", and kneed for 10-15 mins.
Are those ratios at all like what you had in Italy?
Fingers crossed...

Mary Lynne said...

You're cute Chris! You were there for the whole mess and you say you were "sorry to hear...". Didn't you read the part where I said you took us all out to dinner? (which certainly was nice of you :) )

Anyway, those amounts you found aren't like what we did. We used one cup flour to one egg. But I ended up on that last batch with probably even a larger ratio of eggs to flour than the one you found. So who knows? Not me, but I'm going to keep trying to find out...

January said...

That being said, hang in there Mama mia, and keep trying. I was really proud of how calm and not wailing you remained. I sort of figured you were maybe just in shock, because it was truly puzzling...
Keep us posted on your next efforts!

Mary Lynne said...

Sung to the tune of "Stand By Your Man", we will now all sing "stand by your measuring cups"...

And I agree, it wasn't the measuring cups that were the problem cause by the end I had eliminated 2/3 cup of flour and it still wasn't right!

I still haven't brought the pasta machine (or my magnifying light) up from the car but will get that done the next time I go somewhere and then we shall see what we shall see...hopefully some pasta. :)

vrmichie said...

I can't believe that our grandmother used anything but plain ole flour, although it might have been bread flour because I do remember that she used separate flour for cakes. So I'd think keep working with the regular flour until you get something passable and then move on to semolina. Larry once tried making pasta (using Marcella Hazan's recipe). He got all his ingredients arranged, broke the egg into the "well" and immediately had egg running all over the place and a big mess. Didn't Heather used to make pasta? Why isn't she helping with this? Anyway, hope you keep at it because if you ever get it down to being easy, I'd like lessons. :)xo

Mary Lynne said...

Shoot, they probably didn't even have bread flour back then! She would have used cake flour for cakes and reg. flour for everything else. I WILL keep trying, but I'm just so mystified by how beautifully it worked in the class and how totally it didn't work this time!

Terry said...

Mary Lynne, I hope you haven't given up making pasta because once you get it, you get it! George, & I have been making pasta from the following recipe for many years without a hitch. I recall making it by hand, rolling out the dough, cutting the noodles, and drying them all over the apartment when we were first married (almost 40 years ago) but the Cuisinart method is the way to go!

For one pound of pasta dough:
1-1/3 cups of semolina
2/3 cups unbleached all purpose flour (plus some for dusting)
1/4 t. salt
2 eggs at room temperature
1-1/2 T. water (which actually ends up closer to 1/4 cup even in the moist NW)

Pulse all the ingredients in the Cuisenart with the metal blade until it rolls up into a ball. If it doesn't, add more liquid until it does.

Cut into 4 pieces(or more) before cranking the dough through the pasta machine.

If the dough is too gummy, let it rest(maybe 10 min?)and/or pat it with flour before running it through the machine.

Crank it through the first setting 8-10 times before reducing the roller opening to #2, etc. Don't hesitate to crank it through each setting more than once. If it falls apart, it's probably too dry. Keep cranking.

OK. So the Cuisinart method isn't authentic, but once you get to know the feel of the perfect dough, you'll never have any problems again.

OR - Fly out to Seattle and I'll give you a personal lesson! I mean it. Really.

Happy New Year!

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