I waited about 24
hours to play with my new KA pasta roller. During that time I researched how to make pasta,
pasta recipes, and (taking the advice of goodeatNZ) cutting and filling
cannelloni. It was definitely a think on your feet kitchen adventure. Overall, success! But no pictures :(
1: Cut a hole in the box!
Ahhh, I kid.
1: The Dough
I was a little
stressed about actually making the pasta by hand since the only teacher I had
was them dangol internets. I used these three resources for insight on this step:
Great tips all around, courtesy of lovely AR staff
The Recipe from Mark Bittman, courtesy of NY Times
Inspiration, courtesy of SmittenKitchen
I just plunged right in. There are no pictures, I'm sad to say, because my hands were covered in floury egg yolky mess and my partner in crime/guinea pig was still at work. There's nothing I hate more than the feeling of gunk food on my fingers. I'm almost compulsive about it - as soon as they get messy I wipe them off. Battering food for frying with no faucet in sight would be a small hell for me.
Why were they so gunky, you ask? That would be because, instead of using a fork like so many recipes called for, I used my pointer finger. I don't know why. This is the point where, if I had a flesh-blood teacher, they would have chuckled and said, "Go clean your hands off and let me show you a better way." Oh well. My flour dam held, with some re-engineering halfway through, for the 10 minutes I was stirring the yolks. They got creamy like they were supposed to, ever so slowly pulling in flour from the well. Then I realized I forgot salt. The salt shaker got a bath that evening.
My pasta dough was like an adolescent, happily taking in all the flour, then in what seemed like a SECOND became a confused mass of flour and eggy bits and nothing at all like dough. I was confused, so instead of thinking about it I turned to auto pilot and kneaded the crud out of it. The compulsion of washing the egg off resulted in a drier dough, so I had to add quite a bit of olive oil to get it the right consistency.
Then, seriously, 20 or 30 minutes of kneading. Kneading pasta dough is much different than bread dough; it's thick and it doesn't like being pushed around. I found it similar to kneading someone's back in a back massage. If I keep this up I will get man arms. Anyways, my advice here is (like in a back massage) keep it slightly oily.
Step 2: The Filling
While my dough ball was resting, looking appropriate and not as sullen as 20 minutes ago, I made two fillings to use up some stuff in le fridge; the first was based on a Giada de Laurentiis ravioli recipe. Okay, is it just me or does her name sound like a product and not a person? Maybe I'm ignorant.
Spinach & Mushroom
1/4 C olive oil
2.5 oz cremini mushrooms, chopped finely
5 oz frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry (a cheesecloth is excellent here)
1/4 C mascarpone
1/4 C parmesan
Saute the mushrooms in hot oil until water has evaporated out (they will still be somewhat juicy). Stir in spinach and saute another 2 minutes or so. Remove from heat. If you want a smooth texture, blend in food processor until coarse. My spinach was already finely chopped and I don't have a food processor so I skipped this part entirely. Stir in the cheeses and set aside.
The second filling was just a mish mash that turned out okay. The Exquisite Pizza Sauce, when cold, turns into a jellied mixture. I microwaved it for a bit but didn't add anything else.
1 C Exquisite Pizza Sauce (or any tomato/pasta sauce would work, cooked down)
2 Italian sausages, casings removed
1/4 C onion, finely chopped
Brown the sausage, adding onion towards the end. Saute until onion is soft. Stir in pizza sauce and cook until flavors blend, and sauce is not very juicy.
I learned that fillings for pasta can't be too juicy or the pasta won't stay togeter well. Since the cannelloni we were making was open-ended, this didn't matter as much, but I adhered to the policy anyways. My fillings ready to go, I boldly went to step three, which turned out to be MUCH MORE DIFFICULT than I had anticipated.
Step 3: Rolling and Shaping the Pasta
Here's where it got tricky. Luckily, an extra pair of hands was at home ready and eager to help hold the dough and calm me down! I pinched off 1/3 of my ball, rolled it out, and turned to my new beloved attachment. This part was actually easier than I thought it would be. The dough gets pulled through the roller, getting longer and thinner and longer and thinner and finally as long as two of my arm lengths! I cut that in 6x8 sheets.
I didn't know how to boil cannelloni, so I threw two in the pot - big mistake. They stuck to each other, themselves, and it was almost a mess. Almost. We got a system going where I'd drop it in, he'd monitor it, then when it was done I'd soak it in the ice water, hang it on the side of the bowl to drain, and take the drained piece to the stack of boiled sheets, slightly oiled.
Boiling and handling the pasta was the most stressful part but I think the next time it will go much smoother because we'll know what we're doing. Rolling the dough was just fun and kinda chaotic, but definitely not something I want to do alone.
Step 4: Assembly
Cannelloni is easy. Like Bittman's recipe says, just smear some filling in and roll it up, then lay it in the buttered pan. Since we had two fillings we tried meat only, spinach only, then mixed. The mixed were the best!
Step 5: Bake
We poured some prepared pasta sauce on, which to me seems like a shame. I mean, I went to all that trouble to make my own pasta, fillings...then I had to go and use PREGO. Not that I'm knocking PREGO. It is good for a lot of quick fixes in the pasta dept...late night spags, rice cracker pizza, pizza sandwich in le sandwich maker, fried mozzarella dip.
But I digress. Topped with shredded mozzarella and baked for 30 min at 350F.
Simple! Well...not entirely. From start to finish it took 3 hours. The accomplice was a bit cranky because he was hungry and it was 9pm, but that all melted away with a glass of wine and a few delicate, savory cannelloni.
I used about 2/5 of my total dough ball and got 7 cannelloni sheets out of it. You could easily make ravioli too, although that just looks a little more complicated than I'm ready to tackle.
Oh! I do have a picture of the mozzarella balls! Instead of forcing the mozzarella in the cannelloni, I tried something new: fried mozzarella balls. The gunk on my fingers factor was high last night. That recipe was ok. You have to watch the balls closely because a few seconds means cheese leaks.
And what did I do with the leftover noodle dough? I refrigerated it until this afternoon, when I made some pea and roasted pepper pasta. The peas...they were okay. That pepper dressing? AMAZING. It makes a $1.79 red bell pepper worth every single red cent! (haha, get it?). The only hitch with this lunch was that, for some reason, the noodles
weren't as tender as the cannelloni was last night...but edible for
Both the roller and fettucine cutter are so easy to use. I'm going to attempt the wheat crackers next, with fresh whole wheat and a pasta roller in tow!