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Making Pasta

February 5, 2007

Pasta making-side bar.

You don’t have to be a chef to make pasta – in fact, it is child’s play. My grandchildren love making pasta in my tiny kitchen. (I have noticed, however, that in their minds, the more flour strewn around, the better, as far as they are concerned.)

There are many types of pasta makers around, but basically they fall into three kinds: hand rolled and shaped (i.e., grandmothers); machine rolled and shaped; extruded. The two best kind are the hand rolled and shaped and the pasta machine rolled and shaped. I have never been fond of extruded pastas, or the devilish machines that go with the process, including gadgets added to expensive mixers.

Hand rolled pastas include phyllo dough, rarely made by machine, and strudel dough, which are great fun as well to do with children, but may be a bit frustrating the first time around. They are more usually made just with flour and water, so tend to be a bit tougher due to overhandling by beginners. They are also rolled thinner than traditional (what we think of as Italian) pasta and won ton wrappers.

The little machines that knead, roll, and cut into shapes are available for anywhere from under fifty dollars up, and at such diverse places as Target and Williams and Sonoma. It is not necessarily true that you get what you pay for – cheaper ones are frequently as good for a small batch. Usually the more expensive ones are marginally larger.

To make pasta dough, flour and liquid (or egg) and/or fat (like olive oil) are kneaded thoroughly until smooth and elastic. This can be done by hand or in a food processor or mixer or through the largest slot in the pasta machine (after you have formed a rough dough.) The crucial part is to rest the dough to allow it to stretch. The minimum is 20 minutes, but frequently I make my dough the night before and let it rest overnight at room temperature. (If using egg rather than water, use your own judgment, but remember pasta is always cooked so there should be only a small of concern.) I wrap my dough in plastic wrap or place it in an oiled plastic bag.

It is then stretched or rolled by hand or by putting through consecutively smaller slots in the machine. It is then cut by hand or through the various gadgets that can be attached to a machine. (The more gadgets, the more expensive.)

To see children at work making pasta, go to my website, Nathaliedupree.com to view my grandchildren.

Layered, fluffy, feathery, silky, soft, and velvety biscuits all come together in Southern Biscuits, a book of recipes and baking secrets for every biscuit imaginable.
The magical combination of shrimp and grits, whether for pre-dawn breakfast on a shrimp boat or as an entrée in the finest New York restaurant can be deliriously wonderful.
A beautiful book, winner of the James Beard Award for Entertaining, that will help the novice and the experienced alike.
The best of traditional Southern cooking, as well as innovative, new cuisine.
This book will be a keepsake for anyone with Southern roots, and a practical book for those who like to cook! A winner of the 1994 James Beard Award.
Master index to all of Nathalie's cookbooks

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