Last weekend I made fresh pasta for the first time in years! I haven’t even attempted to make fresh pasta since someone bought me one of those Ron Popeil pasta machines about 15 years ago! It was good, even if I am saying so myself! However, I learned a valuable lesson…never, ever attempt to make fresh pasta without a pasta roller. The pasta turned out wonderful, especially for a novice pasta-maker! I know it is very obnoxious, but I even took a picture of my pasta! The process, and the end result made me so happy(except for the kneading part, I thought my arms were going to fall off)! Making the ‘nest’ in the flour and mixing in the eggs, kneading the dough, rolling it out…all of it was therapeutic and entertaining! I often wonder, in the middle of writing one of these posts, what it is that I have to say, why am I doing this? Quite often, I don’t have an answer. I think I may have an answer today, at least for today. I have joy that I want to share. My life is far from perfect and I know I have the same struggles that many people do. The stress of working, raising children, trying to stretch the paychecks, marriage. My struggles are not new struggles, but they are unique to me. I keep struggling and trying to find the answers and the best way to do things, trying to choose my battles, and trying to make my life the best it can be for my family and I. I keep ‘kneading’ my problems and my life, stretching my limits and my expectations, trying to produce the best flavor I can from my life, the most joy. So, keep making fresh pasta, keep ‘kneading’ and most importantly, find the joy.
The Pasta Dough recipe is from http://www.smittenkitchen.com~absolutely wonderful site, with great recipes!
Seven-Yolk Pasta Dough
Adapted from French Laundry Cookbook
Mound flour on a board or other surface and create a well in the center, pushing the flour to all sides to make a ring with sides about 1-inch wide. Make sure that the well is wide enough to hold all the eggs without spilling.
Pour the egg yolks, egg, oil and milk into the well. Use your fingers to break the eggs up. Still using your fingers, begin turning the eggs in a circular motion, keeping them within the well and not allowing them to spill over the sides. This circular motion allows the eggs to gradually pull in flour from the sides of the well; it is important that the flour not be incorporated too rapidly, or dough will be lumpy. Keep moving the eggs while slowly incorporating the flour. Using a pastry scraper, occasionally push the flour toward the eggs; the flour should be moved only enough to maintain the gradual incorporation of the flour, and the eggs should continue to be contained within the well. The mixture will thicken and eventually get too tight to keep turning with your fingers.
When the dough begins thickening and starts lifting itself from the board, begin incorporating the remaining flour with the pastry scraper by lifting the flour up and over the dough that’s beginning to form and cutting it into the dough. When the remaining flour from the sides of the well has been cut into the dough, the dough will still look shaggy. Bring the dough together with the palms of your hands and form it into a ball. It will look flaky but will hold together.
Knead the dough by pressing it, bit by bit, in a forward motion with the heels of your hands rather than folding it over on itself as you would with a bread dough. Re-form the dough into a ball and repeat the process several times. The dough should feel moist but not sticky. Let the dough rest for a few minutes while you clean the work surface.
Dust the clean work surface with a little flour. Knead the dough by pushing against it in a forward motion with the heels of your hands. Form the dough into a ball again and knead it again. Keep kneading in this forward motion until the dough becomes silky smooth. The dough is ready when you can pull your finger through it and the dough wants to snap back into place. The kneading process can take from 10 to 15 minutes.
Even if you think you are finished kneading, knead it for an extra 10 minutes; you cannot overknead this dough. It is important to work the dough long enough to pass the pull test; otherwise, when it rests, it will collapse.
Double-wrap the dough in plastic wrap to ensure that it does not dry out. Let the dough rest for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour before rolling it through a pasta machine. The dough can be made a day ahead, wrapped and refrigerated; bring to room temperature before proceeding.
As for the Italian Sausage Sauce – I winged it! But basically, it was Italian Sausage, olive oil,onion, garlic, white wine, about 6 or 7 oven roasted Roma tomatoes, salt, pepper and fresh parsley. There are several recipes out there for a sauce similar to this, just find one you like! The fresh pasta is so amazing, I think I could have put hand lotion on it and I would have loved it!