To celebrate the ever-closer arrival of Binky (soooo excited), Mr & Mrs Kinney popped over for pasta.
I decided to make my own. I’ve done this before a little while ago & it’s actually very easy.
Cara is a fan of Italian food & I love cooking it. I adore the Italian philosophy of simplicity, using just a few good quality ingredients. Italian cooks rely chiefly on the quality if the ingredients rather than on the elaborate preparation. It’s all about family & tradition. Mabel loves anything Italian I cook her recently & pasta & Ragu is her absolute favourite.
The Italian food bible The Silver Spoon is where you should start.
The recipe for pasta is easy to remember. However many diners you have is how many eggs & how many hundred grams of flour you need. There were four of us so I used 4 eggs (medium) & 400g of flour. Just a quick word on flour – use Type ’00’ grade pasta flour. It’s very fine & results in a light, silky dough & is much more widely available these days. I didn’t add a pinch of salt as the sauce was fairly salty anyway.
Briefly whisk the eggs then dump the flour onto a work surface. Make a well in the centre & pour the eggs into it. Then carefully start to bring the flour into the egg with your finger tips & mix together. Be careful not to break the dam or you will be left with a flood of eggy, gooey mess!
Next you need to make like Paul Hollywood & knead, knead, knead. It’s hard work & takes about 10 minutes but well worth it for amazing pasta. You know it is done when the dough is transformed from crumbly & rough to smooth & silky.
Crumbly & rough:
At this point our guests arrived (I didn’t want to prepare it too far in advance as I didn’t want it to dry out). I got slightly way-laid & after a few glasses of fizz lost the confidence to competently use the pasta machine! Before we reached for the take away leaflets Dave stepped in to help! He is a dab hand at pasta making so we started to work the dough through together.
It’s not the end of the world if you don’t have a pasta machine. You will just have to roll the dough out as thinly as possible on a floured surface.
First you take an orange sized piece of dough (approx one portion) & run it through the widest setting a few times, folding between each turn. This works the dough nicely.
Next you reduce the width of the machine between each turn. The pasta gets gradually thinner & longer each time. It’s easier with two people; one feeds the dough in whilst the other receives it. It can easily be done with one, just perhaps dust the dough with flour so that it doesn’t stick together when it comes out of the machine.
I recommend hanging the pasta strands to avoid them sticking together & keep out of the way whilst you get on with the sauce. I used M’s baby coat hangers (washed before & after of course)!
We’re all cheese fans & I have a current love of marscapone. As I was making this last minute, glass in hand, whilst the pasta was hanging, it needed to be quick & easy. Jamie’s always dependable & is a very good Italian cook so I made his super easy, super quick, spinach, marscapone & Parmesan sauce. Recipe here
… or so I thought. M was grizzling so much round the supermarket that I did my usual supermarket sweep-style dash round. This resulted in me slinging a tub of ricotta rather than marscapone into the trolley. They are so similar though so I just went with it & used ricotta instead.
Start off by warming butter, olive oil, garlic & grated nutmeg in a wok or frying pan. Then wilt the spinach. Simmer & season.
Italians say the water you cook the pasta in should be as salty as the sea so I added lots of salt & a few drops of oil to the water to prevent it sticking. Also make sure the pasta has plenty of room in the pan.
Add the cream, ricotta & a few ladles of the pasta cooking water to loosen the sauce. Leave to simmer.