Sometimes, things just don’t work out the way you expect – especially in the kitchen. Even when you have the best of intentions, follow recipes, and have a foodie friend in the kitchen helping you out. Even when you and the aforementioned friend have been talking for months – literally, months – about how amazing it was going to be to make fresh pasta from scratch someday. Even when you watch, often with this foodie friend, hours and hours of Food Network, carefully observing how “real chefs” make their fresh pasta. This blog is, then, devoted to the “Pasta Fail” that Lindsey and I experienced on Friday.
Our goal was to make ravioli. We figured it wouldn’t be that hard. One reason: we’re both able to hold our own in the kitchen. We’ve attempted, successfully, recipes much more complicated than fresh pasta. We figured that we’d make up a couple sheets of fresh pasta, stuff it with a mixture of ricotta, goat cheese, parmesan, and herbs, topped with a marinara sauce: how bad could that be?
Pretty bad, actually.
Problem number 1: I couldn’t decide on a recipe, and didn’t do enough research to find out the “best” one to use. I had semolina flour, purchased specifically for the fresh pasta making, and I was determined to use it, even though most pasta recipes just called for plain old all purpose flour. So, the recipe I chose loosely followed Tyler Florence’s homemade pasta recipe (probably should’ve gone with Mario Batali’s, in hindsight, since he’s actually Italian). In my stand mixer, I combined: 1 cup semolina, 1 cup all purpose flour, couple glugs of olive oil, 3 eggs, and salt. While kneading the dough, I was clueless about what consistency would result in “good” fresh pasta. It was a little on the dry side, but I didn’t want it too wet, fearing it would make a mess of the cute little pasta maker we’d be using to roll out the sheets of dough. So, in hindsight, I should’ve added some water to loosen it up just a tad. This resulted in problem number 2:
Problem number 2: Our dough was too dry. Rolling it out was actually a lot of fun, and it took both of us to do it, since I couldn’t get my pasta maker sufficiently clamped to the counter. Though we were enjoying ourselves a little too much, tag teaming to develop beautiful, thin sheets of fresh pasta, it kept crumbling as we got it thinner and thinner. Another problem with it being too dry, is that it basically shattered whenever we tried to fold over our little ravioli pockets. It was at about this point in the process, a good hour and a half after starting the pasta making, that we realized there was no way we were going to be able to actually eat this stuff for lunch.
Problem number 3: the dough wouldn’t stick together when we tried to seal up our ravioli. I was getting supremely frustrated, and I wasn’t even on “sealing” duty. We didn’t even care about making them pretty on the edges; we just wanted them closed up so they wouldn’t explode in the water when we attempted to cook them. Oh, but look what happened.
See all that foamy stuff? It’s exploded ravioli filling. At least the water was “well seasoned,” as Lindsey noted.
Problem number 4: we had no clue what we were doing and needed the services of an actual Italian grandmother to show us the way. She could’ve intervened at the dough-making stage and probably prevented the profuse amount of cursing that occurred as a result of our precious ravioli not working the way we wanted. Where’s Lydia Bastianich when you need her?
Bright side: look at the cute little amuse-bouche we got out of 2 hours of hard work.
Yep. That’s all that were edible. Out of all of this mess we made:
It wasn’t a total loss: the pasta tasted fine. And the filling was good. Our amuse were tasty. And none of the ingredients were particularly expensive, so I didn’t feel like I’d wasted a lot of money. So, for next time, we know that the basic recipe isn’t completely a bad idea – but we will think twice before executing a project of this nature without authentic Italian supervision.
Instead of our pasta deliciousness, we punted and went to Mellow Mushroom for beers. And pizza. And then came home and took naps while watching Everyday Italian reruns. And then drank iced coffee while watching more Cooking Channel. And we still had a fabulous day of fun.
And the next time I decide I want fresh pasta, I’m just going to go to Harry’s, purchase some premade ravioli, and cook them at home, at least until someone who knows what they’re doing is willing to come show me how to do fresh pasta correctly. Yes – that’s an open invitation to any of you blog readers who are expert pasta makers to come to Casa Dawmilam and help Lindsey and me redeem ourselves from the great pasta disaster.