I’ve never had much luck with my pasta making exploits. A couple of attempts at making tagliatelle, plus a few goes at making ravioli have left me slightly frustrated and wondering what I was doing wrong. My pasta either ended up soggy and claggy, a sticky mess…or too thick and a bit rubbery. Even when I was given a pasta machine last Christmas I couldn’t get it right so I’d given it up as a bad job.
My attempts at pasta making have left me frustrated, but I’m not easily beaten, especially by a lump of dough so I got reading. All the pasta making tips, videos and recipes I could find. They all made it look too damn easy, when I knew it wasn’t!! But then I found a recipe in Yotam Ottolenghi’s book Plenty which sounded really simple. None of this “roll out fifty times at each thickness on the pasta machine” just simple clear instructions that left even me feeling confident I could do it correctly.
And I was right! The pasta was perfect. OK my cutting was a little clumsy but with a bit more practise I’m sure I will improve. But still I was proud of my efforts as I gazed lovingly at the delicate sunshine coloured ribbons with occasional deep red saffron flecks, hanging out to dry.
Unusually for me I stuck to the recipe like glue, I wanted to feel safe and secure and although the pasta didn’t look perfect, the taste and consistency were spot on, which is the thing that counts as far as I’m concerned. I was wise to stick to the recipe because now I feel totally confident with my pasta making and maybe next time I can experiment a bit.
Yotam Ottolenghi’s saffron tagliatelle:
2 teaspoons saffron threads
4 tablespoons boiling water
4 medium free range eggs
4 tablespoons olive oil
440g or so of OO pasta flour (Doves farm or Shipton Mill are good)
1 teaspoon turmeric
Place the saffron threads in a bowl and pour over the hot water. Leave to stand for 10 minutes or more to infuse. Add the eggs and the oil and beat together.
Place flour and turmeric in a food processor or large bowl and slowly add the egg mixture until a crumbly dough is formed. If you need more oil or flour just add small amounts at a time. You don’t want your dough to be too dry or too sticky.
Dust work surface or board with flour and knead the dough into a ball and continue kneading until you have a silky soft dough. Wrap in clingfilm and chill or at least 30 minutes….but you can leave it in the fridge for up to a day.
When you are ready to make your pasta chop the dough into 3 pieces wrapping the other two back up so they don’t dry out. Dust with a little flour and with a rolling-pin flatten the piece into a thinnish rectangle. If you are using a pasta machine set the roller to the widest setting and pass the dough through. Keep doing this narrowing the setting each time and making sure the dough stays dusted with flour to avoid it going sticky. I didn’t narrow the machine to its thinnest setting as it seemed too thin for tagliatelle. Fold the pasta sheet twice along its length making sure it is still dusted with flour and cut into long strips. Either hang to dry over a pasta hanger as I did or over the back of a chair. If you don’t have a pasta machine you can still achieve the desired thickness by some persistent rolling on a well floured board, all a machine does, is speed up the process.
Repeat this process with the other two portions of dough. This recipe made enough pasta to feed the four of us…with a little left over so I guess it would probably feed five to six people. Leave the pasta for about 10 minutes before cooking in plenty of boiling salted water. It only needs a few minutes and then mix with a sauce of your choice.
I used another Ottolenghi recipe, not entirely sure whether the kids would like it, but I wanted to try it anyway.
500g button mushrooms
200ml white wine
2 bay leaves
a few sprigs of fresh thyme
1 teaspoon caster sugar
250ml double cream
zest of two unwaxed lemons
2 cloves garlic
a good handful of finely chopped parsley
40g dried breadcrumbs (Panko Japanese breadcrumbs are the best and easily found in oriental supermarkets)
400g purple sprouting broccoli
Saute the sliced mushrooms in plenty of olive oil until just starting to turn brown. Add wine, bay leaves, thyme and sugar. Bring to the boil and simmer; the wine needs to reduce to about a third of the original amount. Stir in the cream, season with salt and pepper and keep warm.
Mix together lemon zest, garlic and parsley. Keep to one side. In a hot dry pan toast the breadcrumbs until golden brown. Leave to cool slightly before mixing with the lemon mixture.
Trim the broccoli and slice any extra think pieces in half. Blanch for a couple of minutes in boiling water then drain. Cook the pasta in boiling water for a couple of minutes and while that is cooking mix the broccoli into the mushroom and cream mixture.
Drain the pasta and mix into the creamy sauce adding a bit of the cooking liquid if it seems too thick. Divide between warmed plates and sprinkle over the breadcrumb mixture and serve.
The verdict? Well I will give you a quote from the teen…
“Mum it’s really nice…it tastes like it’s from a restaurant”.
High praise indeed coming from two kids that apparently hate mushrooms. That Ottolenghi knows his stuff 😉