I consider myself very lucky because I love my job. I get paid to do what a lot of people do as a hobby. I love cooking. There is a real satisfaction in making something with your own hands. As one chef once said to me "Cooking is not an art, it's a craft." I think that's what I like about it so much. There is a certain amount of artistry that goes into the job, but also the challenge of making something that's purpose is to both please and nourish. I realize that I'm already sounding like a hippy here, but as cheesy as it sounds, I find that there is something particularly Zen about making pasta. For some reason I find rolling out sheets of pasta from a hand-cranked pasta machine very relaxing.
Making homemade pasta is not that hard to do. A pasta machine will certainly help speed up the process; but if you are very patient, all you need is a table and a rolling pin. You just need to roll out the dough as thin as possible and then use the sheets to make ravioli or cut it into strips for tagliatelle/linguine. If you don't already own one, a pasta machine is a worthy investment. You don't need a fancy expensive one. The one I have at home cost me about $40 and works great. Bonus: they are really fun to use. Using a pasta machine reminds me of the ever-awesome Play-Dough Factory.
Using buckwheat flour gives the pasta a great earthy flavour, but if you want you can simply use 4 cups of regular white flour.
1 cup unbleached all purpose white flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup buckwheat flour
1. On a large, clean work surface, mix the 3 types of flour into a pile and then make a deep well in the middle. Crack the six eggs into the well.
2. Use a fork to break up the yolks and whisk the eggs. Dust your hands with a little flour and then start gathering up the flour from the sides of the well and incorporate it into the eggs. Mix the eggs with flour until a stiff, but workable dough forms. If the dough is very dry and too hard to knead, you can add a little water to soften it.
3. Kneed the dough for 10 minutes. It is important to work the dough well so that it will have some bite to it when cooked. If the dough is not worked enough at this stage, the pasta will becomes too soft when cooked. Whole wheat flour and buckwheat flour have less gluten than regular white flour and will need an extra bit of kneading. Don't be shy. Pick up your dough and slam it into the table. Hit it with your fist a couple of times. Relieve some stress!
3. Place the dough in a lightly floured bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour, or even overnight.
4. Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces and then flatten into rectangles. Secure the pasta machine tightly to your table and set it to the widest setting. Feed the dough through once, fold it in half and then pass it through once more on the widest setting. Continue passing the dough through progressively thinner settings, one at a time. Occasionally fold the dough over and pass it through the same setting twice, as you did for the first pass. When you reach the final setting you should fold the dough and re-pass it at least once. The sheets will get very long at this stage. It helps to have a friend nearby who can feed the pasta into the machine while you roll it out.
5. Spread the pasta sheet on a floured work surface and then repeat the process with the other pieces of dough. These sheets can be used to make lasagna or ravioli.
6. To make tagliatelle or linguini: secure the cutting attachment to your pasta machine. Feed the sheets into the cutter and then use a knife to cut the noodles when they get about 6 inches long. Toss the noodles in flour and place them in a sealed container until ready to use.
||Derek Bocking is a professional chef with over 15 years culinary experience. On his blog Derek's Kitchen he shares restaurant-style recipes for amateur gourmets to try at home, from quick and easy meals to more elaborate showstoppers.
by Derek Bocking