Friday, September 9, 2011

Kitchen nightmares!

The afternoon started out great,
it found me happily perusing the collection of cookbooks looking for inspiration for dinner.

My husband loves Italian food and I thought I'd try and make some fresh pasta with a simple tomato sauce.
It can't be that difficult.

We watch Lidia Bastianich most nights before dinner is served.
She makes everything look so easy.

I put all the ingredients in the food processor to mix as directed
and then proceeded to knead the dough.
It was hard work and my muscles got really sore.
It doesn't look that difficult on TV.
(that should have been my first clue that something was wrong)

At least I had some time to recuperate after fighting with the dough.
It needed to be wrapped in cling film and chilled 
for at least 30 minutes before rolling and cutting.

Try rolling a large clump of clay 
it was quite a battle and the clay won.

I managed with this pasta machine to flatten the lumps
but it was struggle with only two hands.
One to hold and guide the dough and one to turn the crank.

Why did I not purchase that Kitchen Aid pasta attachment when I saw it in Seattle?

Oh and I didn't have a pasta rack for drying the pasta.
(make do and mend)
 I used some glasses and put wooden spoons on top of them.
Pasta needs to dry before cooking it.

Cooking should take 3 minutes to al dente.

Here's where things got really messed up...
the pasta was cooked for 12 minutes and was still chewy and not at all al dente.

I felt like a failure as I followed the recipe to the letter.

I had simmered the tomatoes, garlic, onions and basil for an hour or so and it smelled delicious.

We were hungry so
we ate it anyway.

I am on the hunt for a fabulous pasta recipe
if you know of one please let me know.

In the meantime 
I will be visiting Lidia's Italy website 
seeking some pasta pointers.

Hope that you had a better day in every way!

Have a wonderful weekend
and carve out some time to just sit and be still 
and observe some of nature's bounty.


  1. I hate working with dough of any kind. Last time I tried to make pie dough, I started crying and threw it out. My son makes pasta using the Marcella Hazan recipe--he mixes by hand, uses the same Atlas machine you have, and dries on a dowel. I think he may have made a video of this...

  2. I guess we never posted the video, but here's a link to my DH making bread. I'm lucky to have men in my family who are happy to make bread and pasta.

  3. That is a fantastic photograph of the fresh pasta draped all around the kitchen - what a labour of love! I love pasta, I like it simply with butter and black pepper or with olive oil, pepper and garlic or spaghetti carbonara, really really creamy - which you only ever find in the UK and not Italy!
    I find a big bowl of it to be incredibly calming.

  4. Bill and I made pasta at home twice in the last six months. The first time was a moderate success, the second time was an utter disaster! We used the same recipe and everything, but it was gluey and mushy and so, so difficult to work with. I returned the pasta machine I'd borrowed from my friend and vowed to not make pasta again until I found a fail proof recipe. It's so much work that I'm crestfallen when it doesn't turn out.

    I watch Lidia almost everyday...she does have a way of making everything look so easy! I am hooked on her intro music, have you ever taken note of it? It's quite catchy!

    Have a wonderful Friday. xo

    P.S. I am currently reading "House of Riverton" - so far, I am really enjoying it (on page 100 or so). I think of you each time I pick it up. Thank you for the recommendation.

  5. Being someone, who only spends 15 minutes preparing the food, your story did not encourage me to stretch those minutes ;).
    Oh my, what a job. I raise my hat for you!

  6. Dear Hostess, as far as Jamie makes pasta, he uses both is hands AND arms - to lay the dough on the arm while grabbing for the stripes that come out of the machine while cranking the machine.
    And he lets the dough go through several times until it's really really thin. Your pasta seems to me not thin, I hope you enjoyed your well earned meal in the end! Or at least a glass of good wine.

    I recommend googeling for Jamie Oliver Pasta Youtube, he is a good teacher.

  7. My heart goes out to brother makes pasta several times a week, all by hand, no machine. Me, never. No skill there at all. I bake bread and make pies with the most deformed crusts ever, but they taste good and are flaky. We make pizza every Friday, and again, they look like a mess (imagine a slightly oblong parallelogram and you get the idea) yet are yummy. My breads turn out great, though! It's sad, as my grandmother was a professional baker, and if she saw my crusts she would berate me to no end. Ah, well.

  8. Did you put your pasta through the machine enough times?

    Maybe you need a different flour too?

  9. It looks as if maybe the pasta dough wasn't rolled out thin still looks delicious- I'm sure next time will be perfect!!

  10. I've made fresh pasta with my daughter and we had some fun with it. But really, there are so many good dried pasta brands from Italy, if it wasn't a "project" for the two of us I would never do it!
    Yes I commend you too, and I am also wondering if it was the flour?

  11. I always use the recipe from Sunset magazine's Food Processor Cookbook. A book by the way that is well worth the pennies it costs at Amazon. I have never had any problems. I have a pasta machine like yours and I always knead it in that...running it through several times...before forming the noodles. Like pastry making pasta can vary with the weather. Let me know if you would like me to email you the recipe.(-:

  12. The kitchen aid pasta attachment is not necessarily the answer. We have one and basically had the same experience you did. It's so easy to obtain fresh pasta and the high-end dry pasta brands are so good it hardly seems worth the hassle to make it by hand. I think you have to have grown up with an Italian grandmother to really learn how to make it at home :-).

  13. The one and only time I tried one of Lidia's recipes was a couple of weeks ago...I tried to make butternut squash gnocchi. It was a complete failure, I ended up with misshapen sticky blobs of dough. I actually gave a couple of them to the dogs for dinner before I threw it all away. I was laughing (with you not at you) while I read this post!

  14. Yes it would be my worst nightmare...but I would never make pasta by hand.

    Hope your hb appreciates your wonderful dishes.Ida

  15. I guess the answer is to buy great readymade pasta. I also love Italian food and we go to a restaurant here in Los Angeles that makes its own pasta. There really is a difference. But I don't think I will tackle that one! I'll just enjoy it when we go to the restaurant! Have a wonderful weekend. I like your parting words. I will try to do that!

  16. We've all had a kitchen disaster or two. And pasta. I remember one Christmas I got a Ron Popeil pasta maker. Yes I really did. And it made some pasta
    with a texture VERY suspiciously like potatoes. Dreadful. Shuddering even now:).

  17. Hostess I'm feeling your kitchen pain! I baked two cakes recently, one was for a gathering, and both came out flat as tacks due to out of date baking powder. Well those cakes were tossed in the garbage, utterly inedible.
    Perhaps the quality of the flour you chose was suspect? I've learnt some of our brands are better than others.
    I applaud anyone who attempts pasta from scratch, the mere thought of it sends me reeling.
    The photo looks delish!

  18. That's it - if I ever needed affirmation to my years-long refusal to make pasta, this is it. What I say is that there is perfectly good homemade pasta in any of the deli sections (that's my story and I'm sticking to it!)

  19. Oh no.. so sorry to hear about the pasta attempts! "try rolling a large lump of clay" - you made me smile! Never tried to make it myself but I am sure the sauce was top notch! XX

  20. hi leslie, i think freshly made pasta is prob my favorite food of all time. your sauce looks absolutely divine! it is incredibly exhausting to make. my recipe says to knead for 5-10 minutes. that's a really long time to knead! but it is delish. i only make it about twice a year on special occasions. have a wonderful weekend.

  21. My husband makes pasta by hand regularly and makes it look very easy (which he says it is). He mounds up the flour right on the counter, makes a well in the centre, and adds the eggs, working the flour into them (or vice versa) until desired consistency. He uses the machine to roll out and cut strips (and used to hang on broomstick to dry, but has been bypassing that step for years). If you're ever up our way, you'll have to stop in for a lesson ;-)

  22. I use the Jamie Oliver recipe in his first cook book. You have to roll it in the machine until it is really, really thin. I dry mine on the clothes airer.

    It took me several tries to get it right.

  23. Hostess, I am so impressed that you made your own pasta. I've made pasta sauce many times, but never the actual pasta. My only pasta sauce secret is to put 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil in the tomato sauce. After simmering it adds so much body you won't even notice there's no meat. Janet would love it.


  24. It is so nice to know I am NoT alone. :) and I have a great pasta dish recipe, you may like, sorry, none for the pasta as of yet, but you have sparked in me an interest. Stay tuned!

  25. Hi Hostess, I think you are amazing to make pasta from scratch, that is a bridge too far for me, and it looked delicious, I hope you perfect it next time; hope you don't mind but I name checked you and copied your kitchen window idea on my blog today xxx

  26. As I understand it from my spouse (and it's one of the few things he actually makes) is that it's 1/2 cup flour to one egg. He kneads it, sticks a glass bowl over top for 1/2 hour, then rolls it with a rolling pin. This is man's work - and why shouldn't some things be left to them? So the dough is divided into 4, 6 or 8 (depending on your energy level) rolled thing, turned like a crepe, sliced into fettucine-like strips and cooked for about 3 minutes. I suppose we should do it for all the bone-building effort it takes.