Sunday, April 21, 2013

Pasta Project Parts 2 and 3: It's About More than the Dangly Bits

I'm making turkey lasagna tonight.  We ended up with a little extra homemade sauce and not much room in our freezer for it, so the next logical step is, of course, to turn it into something yummy.  I have a confession, though…  I will be using boxed noodles.

"What?" you say.  "You were off to such a great start with your pasta attachment!  What happened?"

All I can say is that it was a classic case of success leading to cockiness and then my downfall.

The second time I pulled the pasta maker out was to make spaghetti.  I figured I'd give the filled pasta a rest and focus on something relatively simple:  noodles.  I think the dough sensed my heightened confidence, as it first decided to cower in fear in the bowl:

Then it huddled among other objects on the counter as it rested:

The sheets emerged from the rollers beautiful, long and silky.  The recipe said to let them rest for a bit, which helped to dry them out. 

Then came the harder part, sending it through the noodle cutting apparatus.  However, again it went smoothly, and I ended up with gorgeous long spaghetti noodles.

The spaghetti was in anticipation of my birthday, which was at the end of February and a couple of days away, so badass me even made calzones from homemade dough that night:

Yeah, I was rocking the kitchen.  I didn't get a chance to blog it for other reasons, which I will get to, but I was feeling confident.  My spaghetti making had gone without a hitch, and I now had a full set of lovely two ounce nests in my freezer.

Then, mid-march for Hubby's birthday, I decided to try the ravioli again.  I adjusted the recipe a little according to directions from Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, adding a tablespoon of milk to the dough and allowing the eggs to come to room temperature so the dough wouldn't be tough.  I also made some of her Ricotta-Parsley filling for inside the ravioli.  The pasta sheets came out lovely and silky, and I made them a little thinner this time, taking the rollers to 5 rather than 3, which had made them too thick the previous time.

I had my pasta and filling.

I had my strategy.

I even had a blog post planned out in my head titled, "It's all about the dangly bits."  I was going to be witty and clever and compare pasta making to writing romance and the importance of a certain kind of chemistry between characters. 

That's where it all went wrong.  No, I don't have any pictures from this process.  It was too gruesome.

In an effort to make the ravioli not come out thick and tough, which they were edging on the first time, I overcompensated.  Once I fed the dough into the ravioli press, the weight of the remaining dough on the sides caused it to stretch, and therefore only the middle row of ravioli (of three) ended up being completely sealed.  The outer two rows were pitiful half-raviolis that oozed filling.  The second sheet went a little better, but by the time I got to the third, it had dried out too much.  Stubbornly, I pressed on, but it mocked me, and I had very few keeper ravioli.  The fourth sheet got turned into fettuccine.  Here's the final result.  As you can see, there are many fewer usable ravioli than with my first attempt:

I still succeeded in my carb production efforts with a lovely focaccia, though:

And dinner turned out fine:

So yes, I could make pasta dough tonight.  Lasagna sheets would be easy, but I'm a bit demoralized.  I'm obsessed with the ravioli, my little square nemeses, and should I proceed with any kind of homemade pasta, the idea of ravioli would be taunting me.  The rollers would whisper, "We're over here!  Ravioli filling and lasagna filling is similar.  Just make a little extra and try again."

Oh, I will attempt them again with fewer recipe tweaks, thickness 4, and perhaps only two sheets so they won't dry out as quickly, but not tonight.  See?  This is why it's a bad idea to mix perfectionism and pasta.

However, red wine and pasta always go well together, so tonight, Hubby and I will be partaking of the Mettler Cabernet Sauvignon.  It's a good wine for those who love fruity and well-balanced reds, and this cool snap is the perfect opportunity to visit those big reds one more time before we shift to whites and more heat-friendly reds.

And yes, I will remember next time that when it comes to writing romance and pasta, it's about more than the dangly bits.

Note as to why I haven't been posting much this year:

Remember how when you were a kid, and there was that one toy you wanted so badly you felt like you needed it?  And then how when you got it, you couldn't play with anything else for hours, you were so enamored of it?  Well, we have the same strength of desire as adults, but we often don't admit what it is we really really want.

I got it at the end of January when I got THE EMAIL (in this modern age, you don't get THE CALL anymore) that a publisher was interested in one of my novels.  I made some minor edits they suggested, signed the contract, and since then have been hard at work on the sequel.  I just sent the sequel proposal to the editor, and I'll be getting my major edits for the first novel soon.  

So that's where my writing energy has been going.  There hasn't been a lot of energy to spare with work being super crazy with major personnel issues, and honestly, writing the sequel has kept me sane.  I will get to the samples and wine fridge I need to review soon and will try to post more often.


Tim said...

ugh, jack and I had similar problems with ravioli. However now going through more hands-on, less mechanical attempts I can say we will do better next go around. Oh and never attempt spinach inside ravioli, that b&*^h is tough.

Cecilia Dominic said...

Yeah, I'm going to get my mom's ravioli trays. They should be much easier. Thanks for the spinach warning! :)