It was at Boordy Vineyards new winery opening that editor of BMoreMedia.com Julekha Dash said she would like to learn how to make fresh pasta. Diane Macklin known as Baltimore’s lifestyle reporter on radio, web and print media as Downtown Diane said that she would like to learn as well. It had been awhile since I made fresh pasta but told the ladies I would teach them. That was three weeks ago and a date was set for the class.
I sorted through a number of my Italian cookbooks for a simple recipe for fresh pasta; Lidia Bastianich, Marcella Hazan, Mario Batali, Guiliano Bugialli, Guiliano Hazan and others. Some were too involved, too long but in the end the choice was Marcella Hazan, who is to Italian food what Julia Child was to French food. Unfortunately, Marcella Hazan passed away this week at 89 years of age. So her recipe seemed apropos for teaching my friends, a homage.
I was up at 5 a.m. cleaning, clearing off the kitchen counter, setting the table, creating a pasta rolling table. Diane was bringing the fixings for her tomato sauce including her prized bottle of extra virgin olive oil she brought home from her trip to Italy. Julekha was bringing her version of Alfredo sauce.
Marcella Hazan’s recipe for fresh pasta is one cup unbleached flour to two large eggs which makes about three servings. I was set to show my friends three methods of bringing the dough together through my mixer, food processor or by hand by creating a well in the flour that will hold the two eggs.
When the ladies arrived they received an apron and towel. The unbleached flour was already measured out, eggs in a bowl, all we needed was a glass of Downtown Diane’s red wine to kick off the lesson. The ladies both decided to use the old fashion way to make the pasta, build a flour well and mix the eggs. With a fork, they mixed the eggs for about a minute like you make scrambled eggs and slowly brought in the flour from the sides and kept mixing until it could be formed into a ball. At that point they were taught how to knead it, adding more flour, a little at time if it gets sticky. The dough was kneaded until it was a smooth texture and felt like an earlobe, smooth and pliable. Downtown Diane, was the class historian recording many moments for Instagram which you can see in the slideshow. What won’t upload is the video of us humming the Tarantella Napoletana while mixing the dough.
I had reached out to a local Italian chef whose specialty is pasta via text. He advised 10 eggs to 1 kilo of flour. I never found out what kind of flour but I broke the recipe down as best I could and it was almost identical to Marcella’s specs – maybe a touch more flour.
I have a hand cranked Imperia pasta machine that never quite fits well on any of my counters or table tops but I jury-rigged it. I lightly floured the rollers. I showed the girls how to run it through the widest section multiple times folding the pasta over on itself and then slowly reducing the space between rollers that thinned out the pasta. Julekha decided to roll out some of the dough with a rolling pin. We let the sheets dry for awhile so they could be cut into spaghetti and fettuccine shapes without sticking.
Two big pots of water were set to boil, Downtown Diane’s red sauce got a shot or two of the red wine, Julekha’s Alfredo sauce was warming. I explained that when the water comes to a boil, and you should have plenty of it, to salt it well with at least 1 ½ tablespoons of salt per pound of pasta. When the water comes back to a boil after adding the salt, add the fresh pasta, stir and let it come back to a boil, then a minute maybe two and it should be done. Pull a strand and taste for doneness.
I heated the serving bowls so the hot sauce and pasta wouldn’t break, get watery. We actually did a small portion of pasta plain with Diane’s imported extra virgin olive oil. Fresh Parmigiano Reggiano with my grater, Italian pepper flakes and black pepper were at the table for optional accoutrements.
The class on pasta making was documented onto Instagram via @downtowndiane , @juldash and my account @daracooks. It didn’t take long to get a request from an acquaintance asking when I was having my next class.
Downtown Diane – www.downtowndiane.net Twitter @downtowndiane
Julekha Dash – www.bmoremedia.com Twitter @BmoreMedia
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