Fresh Egg Pasta

 

IMG_0916I got a very good article to share with you, it is from the great Italian food writer – Anna Del Conte. Pasta is the generic word for any kind of dough, such as bread and pastry. ‘Pasta’ is also a paste, such as pasta di Acciughe (anchovies), Pasta Di Mandorle (almond). When used by itself the word usually means pasta in its best-known sense, which, to be correct, in Italian is called Pasta alimentare. And what is this food that in the last half a century has conquered the Western world? It i simply a mixture of flour or Semola and water and/ or eggs.

Pasta, as a mixture of some sort of ground cereal and liquid, was obviously made in ancient times. If the first pasta maker were the Greeks or the Etruscans it does not matter. Pasta was not brought back to Venice by Marco Polo in 1295, because there are references to it before that date. Personally I think that pasta was yet another Arab import into Sicily. In the past the Sicilian were recognized as the authority on pasta and Sicilian food was greatly influenced by the Arabs.

By the Renaissance, pasta – at that time called vermicelli – was enjoyed only by wealthy people. It became popular at the end of the 18th century, but only in southern Italy. Naples was the scene of the eruption of pasta as the food of the people; along with Vesuvius it became the symbol of Naples. In 1700 there were 280. On most street corners there was a maccheronaro selling Maccheroni from his stall – maccheroni being the general local name for pasta. The first pasta factories were established around the Gulf of Naples and it is from there that pasta, and spaghetti in particular, reached the United States when the Italians began to emigrate there at the beginning of the 20th century.

But there was an American who fell in love with pasta much earlier. It was Thomas Jefferson, third president of the US, who, having no doubt enjoyed eating pasta on one of his visit to Italy, ordered a pasta-making machine to be sent to Monticello, his house in Virginia.

Up until World War II it was only in southern Italy that pasta was eaten daily, usually as a first course at lunch. But in the second half of the 20th century pasta has become the most popular starter to a meal also in northern Italy, where it has ousted the local Risotto. A dish of pasta is now often served as a Piatto Unico (one-course meal) but never with salad. It is the typical meal of southern Italians, and it provides a healthy and well-balanced diet based on pasta plus a sauce consisting either of small amount of meat, or some vegetables, pulses, cheese or eggs.

In Italy, pasta usually means dried pasta. Fresh pasta is eaten far less frequently and is by no means considered superior, but rather a different kind of food which can be better or worse, depending on its quality.

Fresh pasta: In Emilia-Romagna fresh pasta is made using only eggs and 00 flour. The classic recipe is given here. In order regions one or two of the eggs may be replaced by water, which produces a softer and less tasty pasta. In the south the mixture is of durum wheat Semolino, flour and water, a type of dough that is hard to knead and shape. All these mixtures, once the dough is rolled out, are called sfoglia. Rolling pasta totally by hand is difficult job, but there are many machines for making fresh pasta at home. The Macchina per la pasta will roll and cut the pasta, too.

Dried pasta: This is commercially made pasta, the composition of which is tightly controlled by law. It is made only with durum wheat semola and water. For pasta integrale (wholemeal pasta) the durum wheat is less refined. Equally important is the drying process, which must be gradual and lengthy. The best pasta is dried over 48 hours, as opposed to 32 for the more mass-produced type. The dies through which the mixture is extruded also play an important part: for the best pasta bronze dies are used, giving a rough surface that is ideal for retaining the dressing. Dried pasta comes in many shapes and sizes, most of which are best suited to a particular type of sauce. Generally speaking, long pasta, such as spaghetti, is best with a sauce based on olive oil, as this keeps the strands slippery and separate. Thicker long shapes are dressed with sauces that may also be based on butter, cream and cheese, which also go well with medium-seized tubular pasta. These shapes are also perfect dressed with vegetables or pulses, while the large rigatoni and penne are used for baked dishes.

Cooking pasta: Pasta may be everyday food, but it should be cooked with great care. It must be cooked in a large saucepan in plenty of salted water: there should be 1 litre of water to every 100g of pasta, to which 10g of salt is added and immediately stirred. The cooking time varies according to the shape and quality of pasta, and whether it is fresh or dried.

When the pasta is al dente it is drained through a colander or, for long pasta, by lifting it out with a long wooden fork or a spaghetti server. Some of the cooking water is sometimes reserved to add at the end, should the finished dish seem too dry. This is always done when cooking fresh pasta, since it absorbs more liquid. Once drained, the pasta is transferred to the frying pan containing the sauce or to a warmed bowl and immediately dressed; it should never be left to sit in the colander or bowl without any dressing. Pasta shouldn’t be dressed with too much sauce, nor should the sauce be watery.

Pasta can also be cooked using a totally different method, which is called ‘the Agnesi method’, since it is from the late Vincenzo Agnesi, the founder of the Pasta Agnesi company. And here it is: bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, add the usual amount of salt and then add the pasta and stir vigorously. When the water has come back to the boil, cook, uncovered, for 2 minutes and then turn the heat off, put a clean towel over the pot and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Leave for the length of time suggested on the packet instructions. When the time is up, drain the pasta and dress as usual. Pasta cooked in this way will retain more of the characteristic flavout of the semolina. The other advantage is that it does not overcook if left a minutes longer.

Pastasciutta is a term meaning pasta that, once cooked, has been drained and served with a sauce. Pasta in brodo (‘pasta in soup’) on the other hand, is pasta served in the liquid in which it has cooked, which is the brodo, or stock.

Pasta colorata or aromatizzata (coloured or flavoured pasta) – pasta that is yellow (saffron), brown (fungi), red (tomato) or black (cuttlefish ink) – has now become as widely available as the traditional green (spinach) pasta from Emilia. Pasta ripiena (stuffed pasta) includes the large range of different types of ravioli. The wrapping is made of egg pasta and the stuffing is different for each type of raviolo.

In Italy, pasta is made in different ways in many regions, but the most popular fresh pasta is the pasta all’uovo made in Emilia, for which this is the traditional recipe.

  • 300g Italian 00 flour, plus extra for dusting (Double “O” is finely milled, it is easy to built the elasticity of the dough, you could use normal plain flour)
  • a pinch of salt
  • 3 large eggs
  1. Put the flour on the work surface and make a well in the middle. Add the salt and the eggs. Using a fork or your fingers, mix the eggs and draw in the flour gradually. Work quickly until it forms a mass. Scrape the work surface clean and wash your hands. Alternatively, you can use a food processor. Put in the flour and salt, switch on the machine and drop in the eggs through the funnel. Process until a ball of dough is formed. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface.
  2. Knead the dough for about 5 – 7 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Wrap in clingfilm and leave to rest for at least 30 minutes – or up to 3 to 4 hours.
  3. Unwrap the dough and knead on a lightly floured work surface for 2 – 3 minutes, then divide into 4 equal parts. Take one piece of dough and keep the remainder wrapped in clingfilm or cover with a damp tea towel. Roll out the dough using a rolling pin, or by machine following the manufacturer’s instructions.
  4. If you making lasagne, or any type of stuffed pasta, proceed immediately to cutting and stuffing. If you are making long pasta, before you cut it, leave the dough to dry until it is no longer sticky. Then feed each strip of dough through the broad cutter of the machine for tagliatelle or fettuccine, or through the narrow cutters for tagliolini. For tonnarelli, roll the dough out only to the fourth setting of the machine. Whe dry, feed the sheet through the narrow cutter to achieve a sort of square spaghetti.

At least you try this recipe by hand during the mixing process, I think it is very important for you to feel the ingredient when you working on it. The first attempt I made fresh pasta before I found this recipe, I didn’t use machine but by hand, it was very exciting when I mixed the flour with eggs, using heel of my hand to roll it as is using my body heat to gently working with the gluten of the flour rolling it and giving my attention and love toward the mixture. This is a good collaboration between me and the food; I called this the good relationship. Then when I rolling out into a sheet I cut them into several piece and floured each of them and piled them together and then rolled it like a swiss roll then used a sharp knife to sliced it. Unfortunately it doesn’t came out as I expected because it was stuck together badly. The second time I made it I didn’t dry them much it cooked too quickly and it fall apart. The third time I made it by machine and it is great!

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Spaghetti with olives & anchovies

IMG_0206AThe authenticity of this dish is about your elbow grease to make the sauce from pestle and mortar, it reminds me about my Mother using pestle and mortar for special sauce making, and takes hours to get the fine consistency, but now with machinery it had become easy. The thing that I love to use authentic method simply because you will see the wonderful transformation and the beautiful scent while you are working on it, I call this the good relationship between the cook and the ingredients.

This look alike pesto sauce for is very easy and it is no cooking involved, taste like I had been transport to coasts of Italy because it content anchovy. Anchovy has a delicate and tasty flesh, when fresh, its back is a lovely blue-green colour and its sides silvery grey, but when it is not so fresh its back turns deep blue or black. You can eat it raw when is really fresh. Mine I get it out from a can, all the flavour has locked in with olive oil and lemon juice.

The best kind of pasta to go with this is spaghetti and made from spelt, the reason to use spelt spaghetti is the earthiness texture is perfect with the pungency of the olive-sharp anchovies. In fact, it has a smoky, subtle strength that doesn’t overwhelm less feisty sauces, indeed it is ancient wheat, either. Some regular wholegrain pastas work well, I had run out mine so I stick with regular spaghetti, it got to be spaghetti I insist because the sauce will cling to every strand of spaghetti.

You can easily serves two greedy people in this recipe here is what you need

  • 200g Spelt spaghetti or wholegrain pasta
  • salt for pasta water, to taste
  • 10 pitted green olives
  • 10 anchovy fillet (from can or jar), drained
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts
  • small bunch of parsley
  • zest and juice of ½ unwaxed lemon
  • 60ml olive oil
  • pepper (only if you like some extra heat)
  1. Put a pan of water onto boil for the pasta. When the pan comes to the boil, salt the water generously, or to taste, and add the pasta and cook until al denta.
  2. Make the sauce put the olives, anchovies, garlic, pine nut, parsley, lemon zest and juice and olive oil in a small bowl and blitz with the stick blender (mini food processor). Don’t worry about the odd unmashed pine nut or olive, they rather beautiful and appealing.
  3. After the pasta had been in their hot bath, just before you drain the pasta remove a cupful of the starchy cooking water and immediately add two tablespoons of it to the bowl of the sauce, then give it another brief blitz to combine those last ingredients.
  4. Tip the drained pasta back into its pan, then pour and scrape the sauce on top and toss to mix, adding more of the cooking liquid if you feel need the sauce to be loosen.
  5. Season to taste you may want pepper or more lemon juice, but I can’t see salt being necessary then toss again and turn out into a warm serving dish or divide between two plates or bowls.

I just adored the green of the parsley that gives fresh grassy taste, the lemon has contras with the anchovies otherwise it might be too salty. It looks healthy instantly! Why not give it a go!

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Meat ball pasta

P1170019ASome bits and bobs in the fridge and freezer that will really become a wonderful meal, do you know most people tend to throw away some leftover that maybe just few days old in the fridge. Something got to change this habit, the leftover ingredient over here is three pork sausage, one very wrinkle lemon, (very doubtful if it still have lots of juice, I only need its zest, I save the ever last bit of lemon for washing up later) three slices staled bread about two days old, (tip the staled bread in food processor or tear it by hand and crumble it since it is dry and staled) semolina flour around about 50 gram. The rest is are store cupboard standby such as tomato purée and canned plum tomato. You will be surprise this could feed three greedy people. But right now is only me eating, so I make extra meat ball with bolognese sauce to keep in the freezer for a standby or emergency meal.

I am too lazy to break down the detail of the recipe but I will just write how I do with these ingredient and the cooking step in paragraph, I still got the washing up to finish off.

Ready to get your hands dirty. First, cut the sausage and tear off the skin of the sausage, put them into a glass bowl use your hand to mash the sausage up until it breaks like a mince meat, then season it with pinch of sea salt, black pepper. I do feel like to have extra heat in the sausage; I added about half teaspoon of cayenne pepper. That’s what I want. Grated some lemon zest just to give a fresh citrus taste to the meat, sprinkle the bread crumbs, semolina flour. Finally to crack one egg to bind them together by hand, although is a mess; I do enjoy it! Once is all mix up, pinch it about the size of your thumb and start roll it into a little meat ball shape and place it on a flat surface tray. If you have children to help you on this you could make 40 meat ball easily, because they got small hands. I had made mine slightly larger.

Pour two cans of plum tomato into a pot. Half fill each empty can with water and swirl and clean the can then pour it into the same pot on the high heat. Slightly mash the tomatoes and stir it occasionally with a wooden spoon to avoid it stick at the bottom of the pot. Season it with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile the sausage is cooking, in a sautee pan, fry the bacon without any oil because the fat of the bacon will release during cooking. I like my bacon golden brown and crispy then I place the cooked crispy bacon on plate line kitchen towel to absorb any exceed grease. Use the same pan that still hot with bacon fat, mince two cloves of garlic into the hot fat. Now you can tip in the meat balls to fry them until brown at the outside around 6 to 8 minutes on medium heat, it depends on the size of the meat ball that you had rolled. P1170022ABy the time meat ball is nearly finish its cooking time. Check the pot of tomato the liquid should be reduced to thicker consistency, turn the heat up. Add a splosh of sherry and give it a stir, shortly in about least than a minutes you will smell the alcohol is evaporating then is the time you add the meat balls into the pot and turn the heat to medium and cook them gently and stir it ever now and then and make sure the sauce is covering the meat balls.

Bring another pot of water to boil, at the boiling water point add sea salt then give it a stir and tip in the pasta of your choice, whatever pasta you got in the cupboard. Cook it until al denta. Roughly 8 to 10 minutes for the dried pasta; fresh one should be 2 minutes. Drain the pasta and coat the pasta with olive oil and tip the pasta onto serving plates. Spoon the bolognese sauce and meat ball on the pasta, then crush the cooled crispy bacon on top. Voilà!

P1170026AI made extra bolognese and I let it cool in the pot and spoon it into a freezer bag, and I keep it in the fridge for maximum 2 days, in the freezer for 1 week. Thaw it overnight if you stored them in the freezer then pour it in a pot and reheat it. That will be another meal. Saving your cost as well, hope you enjoy it.

Creole prawns

P1160200AAAs I know this dish are from America’s Louisiana. Obviously I am not been introduced to Louisiana’s food, but Creole‘s food is combination of French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese. What I know in my dish is the tomatoey of Italian, Spanish pepper, French wine and Portuguese Chili.

P1160209AAAI have a confession to make here, I haven’t got energy for shopping, I decided to cheat a bit of the ingredients by using a convenient way of supermarket – canned tomatoes, and puree. I always find these stocking in my pantry cupboard, for it is well stock it up, just in case you need something quick and easy that is the convenient products from supermarket. I know is not very antithetic but it is kitchen shortcut, If I would prepare everything from scratch it will take hours to get it done. Not in the mood of grandmother’s method. Here is how I start.

Ingredient

  • 250g frozen raw tiger or king prawns
  • 1 large onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1 fat clove of garlic, peeled
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 can of plum tomato about 350g
  • 1Tbsp of tomato purée
  • 1 red pepper, cut into strips.
  • 2 red chillies, de-seed and roughly cut into small pieces
  • 150ml dry white wine, I used sauvignon blanc
  • 2 spring onion, including the green parts, finely chopped
  • Handful of Parsley, roughly chopped
  • Cooked rice, pasta, noodles or couscous whichever you prefer to serve with. I used rice.
  1. To start of by cooking 250g washed rice into pan covered with water, and drizzle with some olive oil, let it boil with a lid off, once is boil about 1 minute, turn the heat lowest heat and let it cook further about 5 minutes or until the rice cook through. Once its cooked removed from the heat, give it a good stir and set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil in pan then tip in the chopped onion, garlic, pepper, chillies; and moving them around, give them 5 minutes to begin to soften and colour.
  3. After that, add the frozen prawns and stir them around for about 5 minutes, until they start to turn pink on both sides. Now Pour the canned tomatoes, use the white wine to rinse out the can, then add that too to the pan. Stir in the tomato purée, along with some seasoning. Bring to the boil, give a good stir, then turn the heat down to its lowest setting and let it simmer gently for 5 minutes. At this stage sauce will pop and mass up the kitchen.
  4. Scatter with the spring onion and serve with rice. and snip some parsley on top.

Voilà. Bon appétit!

Pasta with Sherry white sauce

P1150844AAPasta is one of those versatile ingredient you could ever think of. I used up the leftover sauce from my previous post of Chicken with morel & sherry wine sauce to make this delicious golden creamy pasta for my dinner of one.

I don’t need to tell you how to cook the pasta, you can have fresh pasta or dried pasta from supermarket, for the cooking timing you should refer to the packet.

After remove the cold sherry sauce from the fridge leave it to the room temperature before you adding other ingredient.

Ingredient

  1. Cook the pasta into salted boiling water.
  2. Pour the sauce into saucepan and then bring it to simmer.
  3. In a clean bowl put in the egg yolks, olive oil, salt, black pepper, then use fork to whisk it together.
  4. When the sauce is smoking a little bit, and simmer at side of the pan you could pour the egg mixture into this sauce, use a whisk to lightly whisk it to avoid any lump of the egg yolks.
  5. When all mix up, remove it from the heat, then tip in the cooked pasta into the sauce, give it a good stir to coat the pasta. Serve.

If you like any herbs to go on top just simply cut some fresh herb on top or you can enjoy as it is. Why this leftover so great, that is because the rich juices from the chicken, butter, mushroom, and other ingredient from my previous post (Chicken with morel & sherry wine sauce) had flavoured the sauce, so nothing much you need for that. This is what I love about leftover.

Italian Red Penne

P1150319ABeen a while, I posted the last post; simply because I looking for new inspiration for my meal. Obviously this is not a new idea but along the line I cooked for my pleasure, and satisfied my hunger. Is easy to cook.

  1. Heat up a pan with pancetta and bacon, when the fat of the meat is release adding the crushed garlic and stir fry until golden brown and set aside.
  2. Empty the can of tomato into deep pot with medium heeat. Fill the can with a quater of water and pour into the pot, then you can mash it with potato masher until the plum tomato had completely mashed, add in the wine, and give it a stir, then tip in the cooked bacon and pancetta, tomato puree, salt, blackpapper, leek and cheese. Keep stirring the sauce otherwise it will stick to the bottom of the pot. Once is done set aside
  3. In another pot of boiling water, add salt into the boiling water then tip in the penne and cook until al denta. Drain and return the pasta in the hot pot with some olive oil and stir the pasta until is coated with olive oil.
  4. Scoop the pasta onto serving dish, and dollop the red sauce on pasta and garnish with basil. You done!

Lemon Fusilli

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This is an easy and quick dinner to make when you had little time to cook and just got the mood for cooking. Of course your refrigerator should kept some double cream, parmesan cheese, butter, eggs.

I love the tanginess of the lemon. I like the pasta having a eggy bath, it is just simple to cook fabulous to eat. Here how it started.

  • Fusilli pasta (or any pasta you prefer)
  • 1 egg
  • 4 tablespoons of cream
  • Half of lemon zest
  • 5 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • pinch of salt
  • Handful of parsley, fine chopped
  • A knob of butter (30g to 50g)
  1. Put the pasta into a pan of boiling salted water. Boiling about 10 minutes. (refer your pasta instruction)
  2. While the pasta is cooking, in a clean bowl mix in the cream, olive oil, grated cheese, lemon zest and egg. Whisk it with a fork or whisk until well combine, set aside.
  3. When the pasta is cook to al dente, drain the pasta thoroughly, then return the drained pasta back to the hot pot and add the butter, and give it a good stir with wooden spoon and then pour in the cream and egg mixture and stir it until everything has combined, place onto your warm serving dishes and sprinkle the chopped parsley over the top. Serve immediately.

I found this is a good way to give yourself a indulgence treat in the evening, with few candle light up, a glass of sparkling white wine, romantic music. That will a definitely fill you up. I promise!

Lemon cream Conchiglie with Crispy Bacon

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I like to cook pasta, I love the idea of conch (English translated from conchiglie), the shell shape of the pasta allows the sauce or bacon to adhere to it and it sort of pasta with a loose filling.

I zested some lemon just to giving a summer taste of the sunshine pasta, feeling like on the seashore of Italy and enjoying the beauty of Mediterranean. Lovely!

 

  • 10 streaky bacon,farely fine chopped
  • 100g Conchiglie pasta
  • Fresh Parsley, finely chopped
  • Pinch of salt

Sauce

  • 20ml of cooking cream
  • 1 egg
  • 15g parmesan, grated
  • Zest of half lemon

 

  1. Boil some water in a pot, when the water is boiling add salt and give it a stir then add in the pasta, cook for 12 minutes or or until al dente. (if you using dry pasta, if is fresh pasta approximately about 3 minutes otherwise follow the intruction of the packet)
  2. While the pasta is cooking, heat up a frying pan, popped in the bacon and fry the bacon until golden in colour and strink. The the fat of the bacon will appeal in the pan, reserve the fat by strained it through a sift and put the fried bacon into bowl.
  3. To prepare the white sauce. In clean bowl, pour in the cream, add the egg, lemon zest and parmesan then give it a whisk with fork until everything combined.
  4. When pasta cooked, strain it throughly. (Got to work fast here) In the same hot pot with lowest heat add in the reserved bacon fat and then return the strained pasta into the pot, give it a good stir, finally add in the cream mixture and gently stir everything until well mix and pasta coated by cream.
  5. Served it on warmed plate, for final touch, sprinkle the freshly chopped parsley and served. Happily! Have a glass of lemonade with it is even much better.

Bon Appétit