Friday, June 29, 2012

Making Fresh Pasta

I've had a pasta maker for quite some time now but have been putting off learning how to make pasta.  A friend of mine was visiting who had made it before with some Italian friends so we all joined forces and gave it a whirl.  I was in charge of making the pasta dough and the boys took care of rolling out the dough and cutting it.  Here's what we did.

I used the basic pasta dough recipe that came with the pasta maker.  I was able to throw it together really quickly.  (Sorry, no photos for this step)

500 g of soft wheat flour 
(I used ground semolina durum wheat flour)
5 eggs, at room temperature

I poured the flour into a mixing bowl and made a hole or well in the top where I added the 5 eggs.  I mixed the eggs into the flour with a fork until I was no longer able to stir.  Then I used my hands to knead the mixture until it became completely homogenous and consistent.  You can add water if the mixture is too dry or flour if it is too sticky.  A good mixture should never stick to your fingers.

Remove the mixture from the bowl and place it on a light floured surface.  Cut into small pieces to roll with the pasta maker.

Flatten out a piece of pasta dough on a lightly floured surface making sure each side has a light dusting of flour on it.
Set the machine roller position to number 1.  You want to start with number 1 and work your way up to gradually make the dough thinner.  I think we ended up going to 7 out of a possible 9 (9 is really thin and our dough would not have allowed it).  Remember it has to hold together well enough to run through the cutter.  Follow the directions in your manual for a more detailed description of this process.
Adjusting the roller position
Feeding the dough through the rollers
The boys worked together rolling the dough
It definitely helped to have 2 pairs of hands
Once you reach the desired thickness it is time to cut the dough.  Insert the handle in the hole for the cutting rollers and begin to roll the dough through the cutting rollers.

We spread the fresh pasta on a large baking sheet to dry for at least one.
Cook the pasta in boiling water and enjoy!

We tossed our homemade fresh pasta with some homemade pesto that was in the freezer from last season along with fresh quartered cherry tomatoes.  I will be sure to do a post on pesto making when we make a batch this season.

I am now completely over my fear of making pasta.  It's not as hard and labour intensive as I had imagined.  I am definitely going to make it again.

Life in the Garden

One of my favourite things to observe and photograph in the garden are the little critters that fly, crawl, and wriggle about and call the garden their home.  I have learned that it takes a quick eye and a lot of patience to capture them in action.  Here are some of the residents I have spotted so far.

Can you spot the 2 damselflies?
A closer look
A beautiful white moth visiting a clover patch
A lady beetle larvae 
A ladybug shedding it's outer layer
(I still can't believe I was able to watch this)
A spider enjoying an afternoon snack of hoppers
Note: green hopper in top left
A caterpillar munching away on the apple mint I am trying to harvest 

Let the Gardening Begin!

With gardening season in full swing I have been absent from posting in quite some time (my apologies).  I have been busy in the garden planting all of the beautiful vegetables and herbs that will provide me with fresh, wonderful treats later in the season.  
Here are a few select photos of how the garden is progressing.  The garden has really taken off since these pictures were taken so I will have to take new photos soon to document the progress.
The front garden plot: green and yellow zucchinis, cucumbers,
assorted hot peppers, a variety of tomatoes and eggplants
In the clay pots to the right: yellow and green beans, 2 varieties of kale,
and a chia plant
A perfect match!
Grow your own pie: rhubarb and strawberry garden

Love the lovage
French tarragon

Sweet sorrel

Aside from the edibles, many flowers have made an appearance as well.