A little over a week ago, Akemi and I attended a gelato-making class. Today, we took part part in a pasta-making class.  Yes, we’re working our way backwards.  Next week, who knows?  Deviled eggs and pigs-in-a-blanket?

Being huge fans of Pasta Famiglia artisan pasta (available only at our local winter farmer’s market), we were thrilled to hear that owner Peter Ciuffa was offering a course in fresh pasta making.  Given Peter’s passion for food, and pasta in particular, Akemi and I knew we were in for a treat.

Akemi, as always, travels apron-ready.
Akemi, as always, travels apron-ready.

For $45/person, we were given a hands-on demonstration of the pasta-making process that culminated in a sampling of our hard work, and enough take-home fettuccine and spaghettini for a couple of meals.  I know, I know.  Being Italian, I should know all about making pasta – and I do, up to a certain point. My mother used to make pasta all the time growing up – and still does.  Unfortunately, as interesting as it looked, I was ultimately more focused in the end-product and so, never really pay that much attention to lead-up.

Today, I paid attention.  Our instructors, Peter and his sister, Daniela, regaled us with stories of childhood kitchen adventures with their mother as part of a fun and informative afternoon.

Peter and Daniela
Peter and Daniela

We started with 200 grams of Type 00 Italian flour.  After making a little well at the center of the flour, we add two farm fresh eggs, a pinch of salt, and started mixing with a fork – breaking the eggs and then, slowly but surely, incorporating the surrounding flour.

Eggs in the well
Eggs in the well

We mixed.  And mixed.  And mixed some more until our dough began to take shape – at which point we dusted our table top with flour, transferred the dough, and started the kneading process.

Akemi, building those triceps.
Akemi, building those triceps.

We kneaded.  And kneaded.  And kneaded some more.  Eventually, my dough began to assume the smooth, silky texture we were looking for. Done! It was at this point that Akemi switched doughs on me.  So I kneaded.  And kneaded.  And kneaded some more!

A beautiful baby dough
A beautiful baby dough

With our dough done, we allowed it to rest, covered, for 20-30 minutes while Peter and Daniela taught us one of their mother’s favorite pasta sauce recipes.  Olive oil, garlic, parsley, and a tomato base were slowly cooked down while we redirected focus to the dough – cutting, shaping, and then feeding our pasta through the pasta machine’s rollers, working our way through the various settings which yielded an increasingly longer, increasingly thinner sheet.

1Akemi and I were a well-oiled machine (much like the well-oiled pasta machine we were using).  One of us fed the pasta into the rollers while the other cranked.  Then, we switched.  In no time, we had our sheets and then, it was onto the cutting.  We had a choice of two settings – fettuccine or spaghettini – and elected to go with both.  After dusting the freshly cut pasta, Akemi immediately went to work, laying it out so that the individual strands wouldn’t stick together –

Painstaking work.  I refer, of course, to my picture-taking while Akemi sorts out the spaghettini.
Painstaking work. I refer, of course, to my picture-taking while Akemi sorts out the spaghettini.

With the sauce done, we all got to sample the fruits of our labor…


"Yammy!" as Akemi would say.
“Yammy!” as Akemi would say.

Wow.  What a world of difference.  From now on, I’m only eating home made pasta.

Provided Akemi has the time to make it.

1 Like tonight for instance:

Our pasta haul
Our pasta haul


Spaghettini with Italian sausage, broccolini, garlic, basil, and olive oil.
Spaghettini with Italian sausage, broccolini, garlic, basil, and olive oil.

Thanks to Peter and Daniela for a great afternoon (and even greater dinner!).  My mother is already planning my Level 2 class: orecchiette and capundi!


17 thoughts on “March 24, 2013: Pasta-making 101!

  1. Wow, that looks so good! Another great skill to know for when you own your own restuarant. (“own your own”? Is that right? English is confusing!) Hey I don’t recall that apron in Akemi’s Apron Fashion Show video. I think she was holding out on us. 😉 How many aprons does she have?

  2. On the DVD for the movie Kung Fu Panda, there is a special feature where they show how to make pasta noodles. I found it fascinating. Have you seen it?

  3. Molto buono! Mi piace!

    I have never tried to make my own pasta; maybe when things calm down for me (ha!), I’ll give it a try. I’ve been wanting to do my own sauce for my weekly pizzas for a while now, so maybe that will be my incentive; adding pasta to go along with the sauce making.

    I haven’t forgotten that I owe Akemi a Cherry Cheesecake recipe…I wrote it all down a week ago or so, but I think I still need to tweak the West Coast style variant. It’s almost there though, so hopefully I’ll have it up on the blog this week.

  4. Wow, that looks delicious! I totally agree about fresh pasta being so much better. After you’ve had it, the dry stuff tastes like crap. Sounds like you guys had a fun day.

  5. Nothing compares to home made pasta! And it’s so easy.

    There’s only two things you need when making pasta (apart from the ingredients, of course):

    1. Lots of space – It’s amazing how long your dough stretches once you start feeding it into the machine.
    2. Three hands – If you’re using a machine to roll out and cut the dough then it’s almost impossible to do it by yourself. You need one hand to feed the dough into the machine, a second hand to turn the crank and a third had to guide the pasta out of the machine.

    If you don’t have a pasta machine don’t be put off. You can also roll it out with a rolling pin and cut it with a knife. If the cutting is a bit tedious then just use the sheets for lasagne. You won’t go back to the dried out sheets of cardboard ever again!

    I don’t make my own pasta nearly as often as I’d like. Thankfully, I work close to Jamie Oliver’s Italian Deli and they make fresh pasta every day.

  6. I used to make my own pasta, I had one of those nifty machines and hubby made a pasta drying rack for me. But the machine got improperly stored, it rusted a bit and I never did get the hang of pasta again. Time consuming and my hands hurt too much for the kneading now. But oh, that’s some good stuff.

  7. WOW, looks delicious,, you all make it look so easy to do, and fun! Nice apron Akemi> Thanks for sharing. and now I am hungry… Have a great day!!

  8. My grandmother Lucia would hang the long pasta over a (clean) broom handle to dry. The orrechietti were laid out on flour sacks. We made a game of trying to steal a sample or two as they dried and my grandmother made a game of trying to catch us and threaten to whack us with a wooden spoon.

    My brother and I thought the orrechietti looked like little hats, so that’s what we grew up calling them. I didn’t know the real name until about 5 years ago!

  9. Hi! I’ve just discovered you’re Italian! Joseph… Giuseppe I presume!
    My Brother’s name is also Joseph and my mom is calling him Peppino… Funny! I’m from Montreal and here, Italian traditions are strong and yes we do make pastas the way our ancestors were making it every Sundays. Have you learned how to make real lasagna and gnocchi… From where my family comes from (Campobasso) the cavatelli and orecchiette is also a strong tradition too. Making them is very funny for all my family, especially for the technique to make gnocchi with a fork… If you don’t know it, if you pass by Montreal, I’ll teach you how to make gnocchi with patatoes… in Italian.

  10. Oh, I love pasta. I used to make my own using a bread hook (Kitchen Ad mixer) and it did the kneading for me. I’ve never made spaghetti (so delicate) but usually went with lasagna noodles. Are you planning a dinner party? Pasta and gelato sounds wonderful!

    Das: I loved Boo-kitty’s pictures yesterday. The table is a big no-no at our house. I catch our cats on the table sometimes but they scatter pretty fast.

    I was so exhausted yesterday. I took an hour nap during the day, went to bed at 9:30 p.m. and slept like the dead till morning.

    Oh and the apron is so cute Akemi!

    Plus, it was great you ran into your friend in yesterday’s blog. Life can bring good surprises sometimes. Did Mr.Tichenor give you any ideas for your project problems?

    Don’t make fun of Mr. Binder’s culinary choices! Steadfast is a good thing in a friend/co-worker. You will never have to worry about sharing your foie gras or cod sperm with Mr. Binder AND No wondering where to go for dinner, any Chili’s will do! 😉

  11. Holy smokes that looks delicious, that dinner you guys had. Sometimes the things with the simplest of ingredients can be the most rewarding.

    Wait, on second glance, it kind of looks like an Italian stir-fry dish. I’m sure it was fantastic, though.

  12. @ Joey – Your mother will be proud!! But only if YOU make it. 😉

    @ Tam – The cats will probably never be broken of the table thing because it started years ago in our apartment, and one cat just teaches the other. See, our first kitty used to sit on the dining room table because it was in front of sliding glass doors, and the only place she could look outside without sitting right in a window and being seen by the landlord. 😉 So we let her do it. Besides, we mostly ate in front of the tv set and rarely at the table anyway.

    When we moved to the house the table once again was placed in front of the biggest window in the house. The cats just went right back to sitting on it, and since we let them do it in the apartment they just laughed at us when we tried to break the habit in the house. Water bottle? Ha! Shouting? Ha-HA! Banging the table AND shouting? Hahahahahaha! So when the window was installed we had a ledge built, and that helped a bit, but never quite broke them of the table habit.

    On the rare occasion when we actually both sit down and eat a meal at the table the cats know not to join us, but hubby’s little breakfast routine with Boo! is something the two of them started and it’s unlikely to stop. They will also join us if we’re doing paperwork on the table…like big, furry paperweights. Our kitchen table is really more like the work table and less like the dining table anyway.

    In my opinion, it’s like kids – if you don’t want them under your nose all the time, don’t have ’em. 🙂

    That said, I do NOT let the cats on the countertops! That’s where I prepare food and where food may actually come in contact with the surface, so I want them kitty-free. However…I have this pot of bacon grease on the stove, and every day there’s a new tongue depression in it, so I know SOMEone (*glares at Boo!*) counter-surfs during the night while we’re asleep. 😡

    One good thing to cats on the table? No one ever asks me to make the family dinner! 😀


  13. Now THAT I would eat! Wouldn’t care to share the recipe, would you? I’ll buy store-bought fresh pasta. Speaking of fresh pasta, off to put some semi-scratch made spaghetti sauce on top of Patrick’s for a midday snack. You know the kid is a growing boy and meals are snacks for him. 6 feet tall, 32 inch x 34 skinny jeans, so I’m not worried about weight gain on him….yet. Age will catch up to him and his metabolism will slow down.

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