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Newbie pasta making questions

 
 
Dave T
 
Fri 11 Nov, 2011 01:27 pm
After a recent trip to Italy, I decided to try to make my own pasta. So, I got a Marcato Atlas 150 after seeing the positive reviews on Amazon, and started pasta making. So far, I have made fettucini, capellini, spaghetti, and ravioli. All have come out reasonably well, but I have some niggling issues that I could use some advice on.

I use this dough recipe for my kitchenaid mixer:
http://www.food.com/recipe/perfect-homemade-pasta-or-spaghetti-for-kitchenaid-mixers-288125

* First of all, what are you supposed to do to separate the pasta? The fettucini was pretty easy to seperate by hand after it came out of the Marcato rollers. But the capellini and spaghetti are too thin to separate manually. The pasta was stuck together, usually 2 or 3 strands were stuck after cooking. It was still edible, but it would have been nice if it was more separated. Should the strands be coming out of the pasta rollers already separated? Is there some special drying technique I need to do? Was my dough maybe too wet? Do you actually need to manually separate each strand? (I hope not!)

* How do you determine the proper thickness of the sheets that you run through the pasta maker? The Marcato has rollers that let you produce sheets of varying thickness, that you then run through the desired pasa roller. The manual says nothing about what sheet thickness setting goes with each type of pasta roller. And can anyone recommend a thickness for ravioli on the Marcato?

* How long do you cook fresh pasta? I've scoured the internet, and have seen everything from "less than 1 minute", all the way to 5 or 6 minutes (for spaghetti). I know I could test it, but is there any prevailing wisdom on this topic?

Thanks!

- Dave
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Mame
 
  2  
Fri 11 Nov, 2011 02:17 pm
@Dave T,
Hi Dave:

I've never made pasta by hand but when I want to learn how to do something, I go right to youtube. They have videos on everything. Here is but one on pasta-making, and I would advise you to look at several, just as you might look at several recipes to get the one you like.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXOMswcP5eM&feature=related

Also, how long you cook it (in boiling, salted water) depends on the thickness of the pasta and how al dente you like it, so it's up to you. I would say 6 - 8 min. for linguine and fettucine, and less for spaghetti, and even less for angel hair pasta. If you have fresh penne, I would say test it at 8 minutes. Again, how al dente do you like it? Some people like it cooked so it's limp, but I don't.

Little tip for you - when your pot starts to boil over, pour in a little cold water. It will calm right down. You'll have to keep doing this, but it does prevent the water from boiling over. It's a drag to clean dried up pasta (or potato) water off a stove!
Mame
 
  1  
Fri 11 Nov, 2011 02:33 pm
@Mame,
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CxeZ8vRHIyA&feature=related

Having watched this one, he says cook for 2 - 3 minutes - he sounds good.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Fri 11 Nov, 2011 02:38 pm
@Dave T,
Hi, Dave. I was taught to make fresh pasta by my italian teacher, who was from Padova and spent a long time in Bologna before marrying a cad and arriving in the US.

So, by the time we all spent several quarters bringing italian to thick minds like mine, we were all scholars together, bound from interest. I took seven quarters, learned a lot. Anyway, she taught us all to make fresh pasta, a fast and dirty mix of egg and flour, she did not knead it, not that I would call kneading, and put it through a macchina, and from there into a pile. Picked up the pile quickly and distributed the strands on one or more hangers (I now can't remember the type, but I use plastic ones), then more of the mix, more hangers, and hung up the hangers. Meantime there was a long simmered bolognese sauce (Hazan's, by me) and a lobster garlic butter sauce (de Medici), by another, waiting for the quick cook of the pasta. You need water at a good boil and not much time. I'd have to look it up, but max 3 minutes, possibly less, depends on altitude re boil, etc. Taste is the test, and then quickly draining.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Fri 11 Nov, 2011 02:40 pm
@ossobuco,
Yeh, Mame, no six or eight for fresh.

Well, there is grocery store fresh (gah) and homemade fresh, I never buy the grocery stuff, not to sound the snot again, but it's a waste - if I want fresh it's easy enough.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Fri 11 Nov, 2011 02:45 pm
@ossobuco,
I'll be back with Hazan recipes in a bit.
0 Replies
 
Dave T
 
  1  
Sat 12 Nov, 2011 09:36 am
Thanks for the replies everyone!

Any suggestions on seperating?

Ossobucco - have you done it lately? Your technique sounds pretty much like mine. I got a little wooden dowel drying rack from Amazon, and also use coat hangers when that fills up. Still struggling with strands sticking together with the thinner types of pasta.

- Dave
Ragman
 
  1  
Sat 12 Nov, 2011 10:12 am
@Dave T,
Won't they separate easily in the boiling water when you chase them around with a (wooden) spoon?
0 Replies
 
Mame
 
  1  
Sat 12 Nov, 2011 10:19 am
@Dave T,
That video I posted suggested you flour both sides of the pasta each time you put it through the machine, including when it's being cut. The flour makes it stiffer and dryer so it tends to not stick together so much. I would separate the pasta right away, when drying it, rather than later.
0 Replies
 
CalamityJane
 
  1  
Sat 12 Nov, 2011 10:29 am
@Dave T,
I usually put a bit of olive oil to the water and stir around with a fork, separating the strands that stick together - the olive oil helps quite a bit though.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Sat 12 Nov, 2011 10:41 am
@Dave T,
I see I didn't come right back with recipes..

I've not had any trouble with the pasta sticking together, at least once it is in the boiling water, and mine is pretty thin (#6) on my machine.. maybe the difference is that flours vary a little bit?
I bought a drying rack but it sits in the box - I still use hangers.

Another difference may be that I don't really knead the dough - I didn't even know people did that until fairly recently.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Sat 12 Nov, 2011 11:09 am
@ossobuco,
I've been looking up some recipes - Marcella Hazan (The Classic Italian Cookbook), Patricia Wells (Trattoria), the Romagnolis (The Romangnolis' Table)..
I find a lot of variation re egg to flour ratio, and Hazan and Romanoli go on about the consistency you want... and that once you know the consistency, you'll be able to use different sized eggs and be able to adjust as you go.
They all knead more than my teacher or I ever do. (So it goes....)
Hazan is particularly elaborate re technique. They all let the dough rest an hour.
James Beard's Beard on Pasta - wonderful drawings. His dough (also kneaded) rests 30 minutes (or more)
I suppose I let mine rest a bit too, not so much on purpose but that I'm a lazy woman and like to take coffee breaks.
Haven't looked up Lydia Bastianich on the subject yet.


I just reread - I have a Marcato machine too. Anyway, I've only made the fettucine in recent years and don't remember trouble with cappellini, but I can imagine it.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Sat 12 Nov, 2011 11:36 am
@ossobuco,
In Lynne Rossetto Kasper's The Splendid Table -
- she does the flour by weight and says flour can vary with humidity a little less on dry days, little more on very humid days, that you can judge by the feel of the dough.
- she kneads until the dough is satiny like all the others
- says she has skipped the resting (30 minutes to 3 hours) when she is in a hurry to no ill effect
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Sat 12 Nov, 2011 11:46 am
@Mame,
Mame - I didn't watch the whole thing yet but I know I'm going to like him...
ossobuco
 
  1  
Sat 12 Nov, 2011 12:12 pm
@ossobuco,
Now for something entirely different - here is Lidia Bastianich's take on fresh pasta -

http://www.lidiasitaly.com/recipes/detail/1004



Dave - two things -
if you want, I'll make a list of what amounts of flour and eggs each of those authors mentioned, including what Mame's video guy said
and
next - how did you like italy? You can probably tell I'm italy nutso.
Ragman
 
  1  
Sat 12 Nov, 2011 02:44 pm
@ossobuco,
For some of us we're glutens for all these recipes. For others, it's a thing of the past-a!
ossobuco
 
  1  
Sat 12 Nov, 2011 02:53 pm
@Ragman,
Ma (but), rice noodles are good too..
Ragman
 
  1  
Sat 12 Nov, 2011 03:01 pm
@ossobuco,
Rice noodles . ptui...(sorry editorial comment). Soba is not Greek.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Sat 12 Nov, 2011 03:09 pm
@ossobuco,
Eggs to flour -

Marcella Hazan -
3 or 4 persons
2 eggs and 1 1/2 c all purpose flour

5 or 6 persons
3 eggs
2 1/4 cups ap flour

7 or 8 persons
4 eggs
3 cups ap flour

I notice she mentions that "it is easier for beginners to work with less than with more flour, because the dough stays softer and easier to handle. If you keep it too soft, however, it may also become a problem, because very sort dough is likely to stick and tear. Until you develop a feel for the right consistency, you are safest with these (above) proportions."

Patricia Wells

2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
3 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten

Romagnolis'

3 1/2 cups all purpose unbleached flour (approximate)
5 medium eggs at room temperature
1/4 tsp salt

"Incidentally, for beginners we advise starting with a small batch of pasata: let's say 2 eggs, approximately 1 1.2 cups of flour, and a pinch of salt, for 2 to 3 people."

James Beard I should scan the drawings, so good, a little like Thurbur's, by Karl W. Stuekleu, or maybe Stueklen. I wonder if he illustrated others of Beard's many books..

1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon oil, if using the electric mixer or food processor

Lynne Rossetto Kasper
"Makes enough for 6 to 8 first-course services or 4-6 main-course servings"

4 jumbo eggs
3 1/2 cups (14 ounces) all purpose unbleached flour (organic stone ground preferred)

This book is quite elegant, says me - and not elegant in an off putting way.

Lidia Bastianich

2 cups all purpose flour
1 large egg
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
ice water as needed
(see website above for what she does with all that)

Mame's link guy, Jerry

2 eggs
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup (durum) semolina flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

0 Replies
 
Dave T
 
  1  
Sat 12 Nov, 2011 04:43 pm
Wow - thanks for all the replies, everyone!

Not sure I'll address all the responses, but I'll try.

First of all, thanks for the recipes. I will try them. One thing - I mix the dough with a Kitchenaid mixer. I'm not sure why that would matter, but I've seen people say that you should use Kitchenaid specific dough recipes.

I do rest the dough (for 30 minutes in the fridge, at least), and I do dust both sides of the sheets with flour before running through the cutters. Still get sticking.

Boiling does help somewhat, but still have plenty of stuck strands even after a lot of stirring.

I tried olive oil in the water but still get sticking. And I've heard people say you shouldn't oil the water - keeps the sauce from being able to stick to the pasta as well.

Loved Italy! We went to Lake Como and Venice. Como was beautiful and Venice was beautiful and way too crowded, but the restaurants were awesome.

Back to the sticking issue - can someone who makes their own pasta confirm that this can be done? Can you make thin pasta where the strands come out of the rollers seperate (not stuck together)?

- Dave
0 Replies
 
 

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