Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Pasta Time

Today was another special day for me. I got to make pasta from scratch. I know, it doesn't seem like that big a deal, but it's something I've wanted to do for a while. I opted to make the dough by hand instead of using a food processor. If I can do it old school, I can do any which way I need to in the future. I made a whole wheat saffron pasta dough and then we cut it into tagliatelle/pappardelle strips (about 1/2 an inch wide or so, give or take). It was very time consuming and three of us in my group worked on it during the rolling out and cutting process. We had limited space to dry the dough once it was rolled and then cut, so we just tried to do our best given the conditions.

Here is the basic recipe for the dough:

Mix together: 4 whole eggs, 2 pinches saffron, 2 T. olive oil, and a pinch of salt
Mix together: 3 cups bread flour, 1 cup whole wheat flour

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the liquid. Using a fork slowly bring the flour into the liquid mixture. Add water as needed and gather the dough together (first with fork, then with hand) until it forms a ball. Need it to form the glutens, then wrap it in plastic wrap and let it rest about 30-45 minutes. Proceed to roll it out in portions, drying out each rolled out dough slightly before cutting it into strips.

My group was also responsible for some delicious ratatouille (essentially finely chopped vegetables--zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant, red bell peppers, tomatoes--garlic, and herbs stewed together for a while) and some gorgeous and tasty chicken roulades stuffed with spinach and sun-dried tomatoes sauteed in some garlic and olive oil, as well as some goat cheese. Yum!

Our chicken was the last thing to finally finish cooking (we rolled them up in plastic wrap and poached them in the wrap until almost cooked, then removed the wrap and seared the outside in a hot lightly olive oiled pan to finish cooking), and we didn't even get to plate our dish until after the class had eaten most of the other food we had all produced. I stood there with the WHOLE class and the chef standing around me, staring at what I was doing, and quickly and somewhat nervously plated our dish. I knew exactly what I planned on doing up front (but it didn't help to have an audience), and I knew my group had the same ideas since we had discussed it at length earlier. I managed to throw the components onto the dish pretty rapidly and yet make a really respectable and appetizing plate of food. It was lovely. Here are some photos from class!

Working it old school

Time to rest!

Lightly rolled and cut into strips

Fresh pasta rules!

Yum! Quickly boiled and tossed with a little olive oil :)

Double chicken breast pounded and stuffed with lightly sauteed spinach, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes and finished with goat cheese

Chicken roulade with ratatouille and whole wheat saffron pasta

Salmon en papillote

Chicken skewers, stuffed grape leaf, and Greek salad

Flank steak cooked in a banana leaf

BBQ pork tamale with orange jicama slaw, pico de gallo and avocado crema


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