Friday, June 22, 2007

Paprika Macaroni and Cheese

Chez V there is a great enthusiasm for pasta, especially fresh pasta. Our household has recently acquired two dedicated pasta making machines: a Marcato Atlas Regina and a Marcato Multipast. The Regina came in the mail first, so we've had more time to play with it. It extrudes 5 different types of pasta: two different types of skinny macaroni, two different types of larger ziti and rigatoni, and finally fabulous curly rotini. The Multipast is more of what you'd probably think of with a hand-powered pasta machine; it makes flat sheets and has different cutters for different widths, as well as a very exciting looking automatic ravioli filling attachment.

My first attempt at using the machine was a failure; I'm accustomed to making pasta that I can roll out on the countertop. To make it easy to roll, I've reduced the flour in that recipe to make a ratio of about 2/3 C of flour to each egg. This is a sticky dough that is pretty easy to knead and roll if you keep everything well floured, but it won't hold its shape when it's extruded out of the machine. The recipe that came with the machine suggested a ratio closer to a full cup of flour per egg, which is almost impossible to knead, but produces much better pasta.

The first successful attempt, then, were these paprika-flavored macaroni intended for mac and cheese.

Here they are coming out of the machine. The machine is fairly simple, consisting of a die, a screw to feed dough to the die, and a hopper to put dough in. You clamp the machine to the countertop and crank a handle to turn the screw. This turned out to be more work than I was expecting, but I think the results are worth it.

Of course, now you can make noodles any length you want; they don't necessarily come out of the machine evenly, either.

This was the total output piled on the kitchen countertop. I think the paprika flavor was a little too strong, but they were still good, very fresh and delicious.

They even made pretty good mac and cheese, although I have to admit sometimes I like the powdered stuff that comes out of the box... don't shoot me!

Experiments are continuing with fewer eggs, more water, using real semolina, and flavored doughs.

What, think this is suddenly turning into a food blog? Well, there might be a lot more about pasta now that there are new machines to play with (I can't wait to make ravioli) but once I get my cameras and computers to agree on how to do things, I have some new knitting to show off, too.

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