Of course, it helps to have a proper pasta machine and I was thrilled to be using mine again – it is particularly fun and entertaining for the children who really enjoyed putting the dough through the rollers, first to flatten then to cut the spaghetti.
Ingredients list (for four big portions):
250g of pasta flour (or grade OO)
2 whole eggs plus 2 yolks
1 teaspoon of sea salt – I have discovered Maldon crystal salt from Essex recently and I am fan!
This recipe is borrowed from the oldest cookery book I own: La Cuisine de Madame de Saint Ange (Larousse 1927). I love diving amongst the yellowing onion-skin pages and unearthing wonderful concoctions and tastes from the olden days! It is a treasure box of simple, truthful, family cooking and a delight to read.
According to this lady, pasta is a basic and simple affair and we made ours very quickly indeed.
First, make a fountain with the flour and put in the salt diluted into a spoonful of warm water. Then start breaking each egg into the well of the fountain and just work it in with the tip of your fingers, adding each egg one after the other has been absorbed. When everything is mixed in, check your dough: add some flour if too sticky or some egg yolk if too dry. I incorporated one spoonful of olive oil and you can also add some creamed spinach or a spoonful of tomato concentrate if you want to play around a bit with the basics. It has to be fun: you are not making pasta every day so enjoy the occasion! Involve the kids and get the creative juices flowing!- as they said in Advertising…
Make a ball but do not knead it. At this point, if you have the time, it is best to roll it in a kitchen towel and leave it to rest one hour in the fridge – we did not!
Split your dough in two or three parts so you are not handling too much at one and start putting it through the rollers to flatten – or the rolling pin.
Get it as thin as you can without breaking – you could see the tablecloth design through ours so I gather that’s thin enough.
Now cut it through the machine or with a pizza cutter if you are making lasagna sheets.
Dust with extra flour if it gets sticky and make a nice pile of spaghetti as you work along! Separate them with your fingers by shaking through some flour then leave them to rest a bit.
Meanwhile, boil some salted water and plunge the pasta in for a few minutes: serve as soon as they are cooked with the sauce of your choice! Madame de Saint Ange recommends a simple sauce made of cream, nutmeg, salt and pepper: Put the drained pasta in a deep frying pan, season and let the sauce melt then add a little butter when it is boiling hot.
I made a quick carbonara with some fried cubed pancetta, a few spoonful of crème fraîche, 1 raw egg chucked in the hot pasta, some black pepper and a drop of olive oil. Perfect for lunch outside in the patio… And we felt such pride and warmth to have been all working together! Simply priceless.