At First You Don’t Succeed, Try Again. And Again. And Again…

I’m as stubborn as they come.

I do prefer to use the term persistant; it conveys the same point, but with less of the negative connotations.

Like most people, a couple of things do come naturally to me. Multitasking, for example, wasn’t something I realized I could list as a “skill” on my resume until I joined the workforce and realized that it (and subsequently proper prioritization) is a valued trait that not everyone possesses.

Unlike my husband. A captivating commercial comes on TV and he stops, mid-sentence, with pupils as large as saucers. And at that point I sigh, because the marketers are winning.

But what he lacks in multitasking he more than makes up for in his attention to detail, crazy good math skills, and contagious optimism that I love to be around.

And he made this:

ikea-kitchen-remodel

Pretty much from scratch. That takes some serious skill.

In addition to IKEA kitchen building, there are several other things in the world that I do not pick up easily. Parabolic equations, for example.  And Dr. Mario. It took several tries at a player level of no less than 10 (Honey, we can play an easier level! NO! I WILL master this). And I did. And now I kick Chris and his brother’s butts. As well as one of my friends, who STILL owes me french fries after he lost that bet.

So when I failed at my first attempt at pasta, I was disappointed. But I knew it wouldn’t be the last time I made pasta.

When I failed at my second attempt at pasta, I just got pissed.

Meanwhile Chris too, must endure these failed attempts. And I feel bad for him, because what I served was really quite awful. Yet he eats these things (with love?) with an approving nod, if accompanied by a slightly weak (yet understanding) smile.

My third attempt at the pasta itself was actually successful. But I killed it with some Costco cheese and a horribly thick, sludgy, unappealing homemade sauce.

So this time I knew. This is it. It had to be. Or I’d lose all faith in myself and cooking abilities.

Plus I couldn’t bear another pasta brick for dinner.

First, I made the pasta dough in the food processor. It’s super easy, fast, and I have no clue what the point is of doing it by hand, Mario Batali. Typically I do 1 cup of sprouted brown rice, buckwheat, or kamut flour + 1 cup of regular flour (wheat works too). I know for you gluten-intolerant folks it doesn’t matter if it’s 50% gluten free, or even 1 spec of it. The stuff is poison to you. But I’d like to think it still lightens up the pasta (at least a little) for us gluten-eaters. Pasta is still a treat in our house, and not something we have often.

Next I put 4 eggs and a little olive oil in the food processor, pulsing it until just mixed. Typically the mixture balls up around the blade.

homemade-pasta-food-processor

Empty the mixture onto a floured surface, and knead for a couple of minutes. If the mixture is too sticky, add more flour. Too dry, add 1 tablespoon of water.

Roll the dough up into a ball and let it rest for 30 minutes. Letting it rest will make it more pliable when you start to roll it out.

homemade-pasta-dough

After my failed attempts I finally discovered that this is what the dough should look like. Not too crumbly, but not horribly sticky either.

I firmly believe that success in cooking and baking begins with understanding what texture you’re looking for. Once you know how the mixture should look and feel, you can begin to compensate if something isn’t turning out quite right.

Once I figured out what the proper texture of the dough was (letting it rest for 30 minutes also helped), everything was smooth sailing. Using my handy dandy Atlas Marcato Pasta maker, I was able to roll out my dough to a level of 5 (there are 9 settings, and previously I was only able to get to a 3 without the dough puckering). I let my pasta dry on this drying rack while I got started on the sauce.

homemade-pasta-with-atlas-pasta-maker

To make the sauce, I typically always start with a little olive oil, shallots and garlic. From there I add pretty much anything, and at the time I had some preserved lemon, parsley, and pancetta. My mom bought me the preserved lemon and I have to say, this is an under-utilized ingredient in Italian cooking! It’s fresh and bright, containing the perfect amount of acidity without being too overbearing.

Toss my fresh linguine in some salted, boiling, water, and voilà!

homemade-pasta-dinner

Now that it’s been my fifth time or so making pasta, the process is definitely much faster and smoother. Next time I might try doing spaghetti instead of linguine. And of course it would be fun to try shorter noodles like penne sometime too.