January 30, 2007

I'm an Embarassment to Paster Makers Everywhere

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I’m still working on refining my pasta making skills. They don’t seem to be improving, but I guess they’re not getting worse either. Despite my mediocre pasta, the filling for this ravioli was delicious. Once again I went and retrieved some mushrooms from my mushroom growing friend, (all legal, I assure you) and was delighted to find that he had some shiitakes, oysters and lion’s mane ready for me. Wicked! My ravioli filling was practically made for me with a spread like that. All I had to add was a little butter, garlic, onion, peppercorn bacon, (bacon makes everything better) and white wine. Then came the tricky part of trying to actually get my pasta to look like nicely shaped ravioli. That never happens. They’re always a multitude of sizes and shapes and if I’m lucky, one or two of them might actually look like ravioli. I still have no problem eating them all, but I know they could be much, much better. Perhaps having better flour would help, maybe this “00” flour I keep hearing about for pasta making. I’m not sure exactly where I could procure this flour, but I will have to look into it. I’m certain I could order some online, you can find everything on the internet. Everything.

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Part of my obsession with pasta lately might have something to do with the fact that I just finished reading Heat by Bill Buford. I’ve been waiting about 6 months to get this book from the library and I feel like I’m the last person on earth to have read it, (that, and The Omnivores Dilemma, I’m still waiting on it). What I’ve learned from the book is that I really can’t learn proper pasta making without going to Italy. Even then, I’d be hard pressed to find someone who would be willing to teach me. And if I was lucky enough to find a crazy old Italian pasta maker, she’d be afraid that I would tell her secrets to Mario Batali and she still wouldn’t teach me. Eventually though, I would win her over, only to find out that upon my return to Canada I would never be able to find eggs and flour like the stuff she uses and consequently, my pasta would always be sub-par, which it about where I’m at right now. Sup-par. Sigh… but I keep trying.

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As I keep trying to improve my dismal pasta, I recall the words of the great Julia Child: "The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude." So what the hell! I’ll keep making thick, tough, oddly shaped pasta. At least my sauces have been good, but that’s only because I haven’t been to Italy and I wouldn’t know any better. Ignorance is bliss.

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Anonymous said...

There's no such thing as bad pasta and when it tastes that good, there's no such thing as ugly pasta either :)

K and S said...

I think it looks delicious!

wheresmymind said...

Dude...that pasta looks FAB!

Anonymous said...

Looks good to me!

Husband said...

It looks great. I make a ton of pasta from scratch.

However, I've given up the had made stuff and do it all by food processor. 1 egg + 1 cup flour... pulse... add just enough water so it comes together while going... let it roll around for a bit in the processor... let rest for a couple minutes...poof pasta!
Also just flour it well and you'll be a champ, though I think you are looking like one already so I'm not sure why you are worried.

Gattina Cheung said...

you (or your friend) have an amasing collection of mushrooms!
Agreed with "husband" said, let the dough rests more (between rollings), the gluten will be less tense (which is the cause of the tough texture).
About farina 00, I used it many times, it's very similar to our American bleached all-purpose flour. But for home-made pasta, I'm using "pasta flour" (got mine from an Italian grocery store) as its flavor seems nicer to me :D (but I don't know the difference between pasta flour and farina00/all-purpose flour ;p). But if you give me your yummy ravioli (double up the fillings please), I'll look up for you!

Anonymous said...

i have heat in my stack of to read books. i hope it inspires me to dust off ye ole pasta maker too. i think these are just fine and i bet they are delicious!

Abby said...

Um. I just bought one of those ravioli things - where you put the dough on the little tray and roll over it with a pin - you know?

I've never made pasta.

I don't have a what-the-hell attitude, I have an I-Can-Do-Anything one, or maybe what-am-i-getting-myself-into attitude?

Regardless, yours looks great!

Anonymous said...

Your ravioli sounds like my kind of pasta. The mushrooms with garlic,butter and....bacon (drooling now). I love 'Heat' it's very inspiring, how I wish I would have even 50% of the opportunity Bill buford had. Julia's advice is sage advice indeed. We need to apply this to our fear of caramel Brilynn.

Lis said...

I like tough pasta. I do. The chewier the better, IMHO. So, I'd love your pasta. You could make me that for my dinner that I still haven't received yet.

Yanno how my dad did it? He rolled out his dough.. he took a water glass and cut out trillions of circles.. he'd plop some stuff kinda off-center and then he'd fold the pasta over and use a fork to make sure the seam was closed. They all looked the same. And it seemed simple enough. Course it wasn't very chewy - and I like chewy.

Anonymous said...

Looks good to me too.

Anonymous said...

I'd call that some pretty darned good looking ravioli. Doesn't look subpar to me. And your filling sounds really, really delicious.

Anonymous said...

What's wrong with the pasta? Huh? What? Personally, if I could afford it, I'd be hiring a jet over your way to snaffle up a plate of that!

Anonymous said...

im just about to try and make fresh past for the first time. had my paster machine for over a year. could not find the right flour ? .just hope it turns out as good looking as yours.