Day 323—Carol’s Big (Mis)Adventure

My brother and and sister-in-law are coming for a visit tomorrow and, as is our custom, Arthur and I will make homemade pasta, get drunk on good red wine, and enjoy a fun evening. I thought I’d make the pasta dough ahead of time so we can concentrate on the “fun” part, employing the pasta attachment for my Kitchenaid mixer, and pressing out long sheets of pasta while we toast our accomplishments. I learned how to make excellent homemade pasta when I took a pasta-making class a few years ago at Whole Foods. The dough is fabulous and I learned that I could make pasta dough quickly in the mixer, so soon after I took the class, I bought the pasta rolling attachment for my mixer. Now, when my brother and I get together, either at my house or his, one evening is always dedicated to a messy, floury pasta fest.

While planning my pasta meal for my brother’s visit, I found a yummy-sounding recipe in Anne Burrell’s (I consider her the Food Network’s female equivalent of Guy Fieri–at least she has the same hair!) cookbook, “Cook Like A Rock Star,” for whole wheat pappardelle with butternut squash, broccoli rabe, and toasted pumpkin seed. When I read Anne’s recipe for whole wheat pasta, for some reason, I decided to try her method, the one you always see when someone like Mario Batali mixes pasta dough: Dump the flour on the countertop, make a well, break in some eggs, mix in the eggs, and knead the dough. Before you know it, it’s perfect pasta dough!

Since I have never made pasta that way, and I have a tried and true method, I don’t know why I decided to try Anne’s method. I guess because I considered it a new adventure for me and I am willing to tackle just about anything. Appropriately enough, today’s Flickr theme is “adventure” so off I went. I first set up the camera near my work surface which I had meticulously scoured and wiped dry. Once I started to handle the dough, my hands became encrusted with floury dough so I had the camera set to self timer and I depressed the shutter release with the end of a clean wooden spoon. Things started out okay. The eggs in the flour well looked fine. And it was easier to mix with a fork than I suspected. But, whole wheat flour is denser than white flour and absorbs the liquid quickly. Anne suggested kneading the dough would take from 8 to 15 minutes (it take just a couple in the Kitchenaid mixer with the dough hook and no elbow grease is involved). After 20, I was thankful that my workout at the gym has strengthened my arms and I didn’t feel tired at all. It was just that the dough was very dry, starting to break apart and was no where near the look I was trying for (Anne’s benchmark was the head of a preemie Cabbage Patch doll!). I decided to get out the mixer and use the dough hook. All that accomplished was straining the motor so I stopped that before I burned it out. With the mixer bowl, filled with the dry lump of pasta, perched on the edge of the countertop, it took only a slight bump of my arm to send the bowl with the lump of pasta dough inside crashing to the floor, where I watched helplessly as the the dough rolled erratically across the floor and stopped dead on the floor mat by the sink. The five-second rule doesn’t apply in my house so the ball of dough ended up in the trash. What a disappointing misadventure. After cleaning up the mess, made another batch of pasta in under 5 minutes using my tried and true method and that disk of pasta is resting in the refrigerator until tomorrow’s pasta fest.

I did document a few of the steps toward failure, but I didn’t capture the ultimate insult. Just as well, I guess.

Step 1):

Step 2):

Step 3)

Step 4): Noooooooooooooooooooo