Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Got Eggs? Make Pasta!

The new chickens (in relative terms) are starting to lay, which means I have gone from 6 eggs a day to 10 or more.  Since they are new eggs, they are bite-size, so they can be hard to sell.  We've eaten quite a few, I've used a bunch in bread, but there are more coming every day, and at one point I had 6 1/2 dozen in the fridge, after selling what I could.
So I tried to find a way to use up the eggs-mostly the really little ones.  Then I got the idea: pasta!!  It's a fairly eggy thing, so I should be able to use a whole bunch of eggs at one time and use them in a good way.  I have never made pasta before, so I researched a little on recipes and techniques and then dove in. 

The recipe I used was this:
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp water

I pretty much made it up, and it was super easy to double, and seemed to work beautifully.  I knew the guidelines for pasta were one egg to one cup flour, and then a little water.  Some recipes have the olive oil, some don't.  I decided to add it to my recipe, and it worked really well.

For this, I used two appliances.  The food processor to mix, and the mixer to make the pasta.  In the food processor, put in the flour and then add the eggs.  Whirl it around a minute or so, until it looks grainy.  Then add the olive oil and mix for a second.  Then keep the processor on and add the water, one tablespoon at a time, until it starts to look like it's coming together.  Then stop the processor immediately.  You don't want the processor to whirl around the dough, because it will get tough, like pie crust would get tough.  Instead, open the processor and take out the blobs of dough and knead it all together instead.  Don't go crazy--just knead it until combined into a nice lump.

Then comes the fun part--rolling.  I borrowed the KitchenAid pasta attachment from my dad.  WOW!  That is just too much fun!  Take your combined dough and put it through the sheeter.

This is sun-dried tomato pasta going through the thickest level of the sheeter
I did run it through and fold it back onto itself and then run it through again once or twice, just to give it a little cohesiveness.  Maybe it'll make it lighter (maybe it'll make it dense as a brick--I have no idea).  Then I would make the sheeter smaller and smaller to make the pasta thinner.  The best I could do without it falling apart was number 5.  That was a nice consistency.  Oh, and don't be a hero here--don't make your sheets too long.  It's very hard to control in the machine if it's really long.

Then you hang the pasta to dry.  You can do this on your handy-dandy pasta rack (or my dad's handy-dandy pasta rack),

Or be really classy and hang it on the back of the chairs.

I did both, because that's the way I roll.  Either way, you've got to hang it until it's a little dry on both sides, which means you probably have to turn it.  How long does that take?  It depends.  If you do this on the type of day that I'm doing it on,

ie: raining cats and dogs so that there are pond-puddles in the front yard, then it'll take longer than say, on a day when there is sun out (sun?  What is that?)  You can hurry it along a little by using a fan.  Be patient, either way.

No matter what, you should wait until your pasta has gotten a little sheen to it and feels a little leathery.  Then it's ready to cut.

That's the really fun part.  If you've gotten the dryness right, then the strands will not stick together as they come out of the cutter.  And then yep, you have to hang it back up to dry some more.

After you are done, then you can eat it, or you can store it.  I made sure mine was pretty darn dry, and then I bagged it up and froze it.
A little pasta.  I don't do anything by halves, do I?
Now it's ready to eat whenever.  What a treat!

This is what I've learned from this:
1.  Don't mix too much in the food processor.
2.  Don't run the pasta through the sheeter too many times--it'll get too sticky.
3.  Whole wheat flour will make drier pasta than white flour.
4.  Don't make the sheets too thin or too long.
5.  Don't rush the drying process, but don't wait until it's brittle, either.
6.  There will be little bits of pasta all over the floor, no matter what you do.
7.  This is addictive

After I had made a few batches of straight white flour pasta and some whole wheat pasta, I got creative.  I made some sun-dried tomato pasta, some tomato whole-wheat pasta, and some pumpkin pasta. 

I would tell you how to do that, except I totally made it all up.  Seemed to come out really well, though. 

I hope you all try this soon!
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