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I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Friday, April 13, 2012

Homemade Fettuccine

Just before Easter I wrote about my new KitchenAid® pasta sheet roller and fettuccine cutter attachments.  Easter Monday, I decided to take a bit of time to play with the attachments.  I've made pasta manually so had an idea of what to expect.  Fresh homemade pasta just has such a lovely flavour!  It is more expensive than dried pasta (not bought on sale) and while I initially calculated it to be more expensive than store bought fresh pasta, it actually comes in less expensive.  If you raise your own chickens, the cost of homemade fresh pasta is considerably less expensive than store bought dried.  Homemade pasta can be easily tweaked to make vegetable or herb pastas as well and you can be sure you are using free range eggs if that is important to you, as it is to us.

first pass of pasta dough through the pasta sheet roller
Pasta dough should be firm and leathery to the touch but also pliable.  It should not be sticky or crumbly.  External factors like humidity or brand of flour can affect the dough consistency so small amounts of additional flour or water may be necessary to get the dough to the right  consistency.

I used the basic egg pasta recipe in the KitchenAid® manualI will be honest in that I had serious doubts about the dough.  It did not come together in a smooth ball and did not look like it would hold together well at all.  It was a very stiff dough!  I was almost ready to give up and try another recipe after the first pass through the pasta sheet roller on setting 1.  However, the dough actually came together quite nicely upon further passes through the roller.

Basic Egg Pasta
source:  KitchenAid®, KitchenAid® Pasta Sheet Roller and Pasta Cutter Attachments Manual, Pp. 9.

4 large eggs
1 tbsp water
3½ unbleached flour
½ tsp sea salt

Mix ingredients together using the flat beater.  Change to dough hook and knead 2 minutes on setting 2.  Remove dough from blow and hand knead 1 to 2 minutes.  Let rest 20 minutes.  Divide dough into quarters then flatten for processing with the pasta roller.

folding pasta sheet for next pass through the pasta sheet roller
The pasta sheet roller has 8 settings.  The first time through is on setting 1 which is the folding and kneading.   Each time you roll the pasta sheet, fold the ends in as pictured or fold the entire sheet in half then roll again.  If you use the half fold method, alternate how you feed the dough into the roller so you end up with two relatively straight ends.  Repeat the folding and rolling until you reach setting 2.  After that the dough does not need to be folded, simply passed through the roller until you reach the desired consistency.  Fettuccine can be rolled to setting 4/5 or if you want a thinner fettuccine it can be rolled to setting 6 or 7.   Within a couple of passes through the roller the dough took on a very smooth, uniform appearance.  

pasta sheet as it is being made
I was absolutely amazed at how quickly the dough was formed into smooth sheets of pasta.  It was beyond impressive!  Just look how gorgeous that sheet of pasta looks.  I can easily use these sheets as is to make lasagna noodles and ravioli as well as using the fettuccine cutter.

I had no problems passing the sheets of pasta through the various settings on the roller.   I folded the pasta sheets then stacked ready for cutting (bottom left).  By the time I got to the last couple of sheets, they had started drying a bit more than I would have liked so next time will cover them with a damp towel until ready to cut. 

cutting the pasta sheet
I cut each pasta sheet in half to pass them through the fettuccine cutter simply to make the resulting strands easier to handle.  Cutting the pasta was every bit as easy as rolling the pasta.  Each pasta sheet fed through the cutter, easily cutting the sheet into fettuccine. 

For just learning how to use the roller and cutter, the problems were minimal as was the time it took to get the fresh made pasta onto a drying rack.   I dried the pasta (see below) because I wasn't sure how much we would use for dinner and I wanted to try the drying process.  In all honesty, without the drying, rolling and cutting the dough took me about the same time as spooning batter into muffin tins.  With the drying time, it took less time than getting bread ready for baking.  So, in terms of time, homemade pasta takes very little time.

drying the pasta
I used my brand new (when we moved here) clothes drying rack to dry the pasta.  The thing is too flimsy to dry clothes on anyway.  I found the best way to load the rungs was to catch the pasta half-way through the cutter using my hand turned sideways, thumb up so the pasta draped over my hand.  I then transferred it to the rungs and separated any strands that stuck together.  I let the pasta dry about 45 minutes before transferring it ready for cooking and storage.  KitchenAid® warns that foods containing perishable ingredients like eggs should not be un-refrigerated for more than one hour as this is a food poisoning rick that could cause sickness.  While homemade pastas are not suitable for drying as a shelf stable product, they will keep in the refrigerator and can be frozen for longer term storage.  The only thing I would do differently using this rack would be to place a clean towel under it to catch any pasta pieces that break off.

freshly made pasta ready for cooking and storage
Once the pasta had dried, I set out enough for that night's dinner and the rest was vacuum sealed for the refrigerator.  This is where I had to adjust my calculations.  The recipe basically made the equivalent of four packages of store bought fresh pasta.  That would have cost me about $14 but the homemade only cost me $1.44 which really works out to less than the cost of store bought dried pasta.  I won't eliminate dried pastas from my pantry storage but I will stock less.  Dried pastas will become more of what dried milk and cheese are, part of our emergency preparedness.  What the pasta attachments will do is eliminate buying store bought fresh pastas. 

I am very excited!  Tomorrow I will post about the dinner I made with the homemade fettuccine noodles because after all, taste is everything.  I will be experimenting with whole wheat and a variety of vegetable pastas as well as a few herbed pastas.  So watch for that coming in the near future.  I definitely will be buying the attachments to make spaghetti and thick noodles and I am looking into a pasta extruder to make shapes like elbow noodles. 

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