The Gift That Keeps On…Giving Me A Headache

Before I start this story, let me say that I greatly appreciate the gift I was given.  When I received it, I thought it was the best gift ever; but it soon turned into something I avoided – kind of like a Snuggie or colonoscopy.  I was given a pasta maker.  Don’t get me wrong, in the beginning, I dreamt of making fresh pasta weekly – fettuccine, ravioli, and spaghetti;  the plans were endless.  No more boxes of Barilla pasta…I would use my own creation.   But like Frankenstein, his own creation turned against him.  No, my pasta didn’t try to kill people but rather it kills me to make it. 
The first time I tried making my own pasta it was a total failure.  Here are a few things that made that night a living hell – it was pure kitchen mischief:
  1. I traveled all over Birmingham (4 grocery stores!) looking for semolina flour (thank you Whole Foods!)
  2. My first batch of dough seized in my mixer almost breaking the dough hook attachment
  3. Not an inch of my kitchen was NOT covered in flour
  4. The pasta tasted like mush
  5. We ate at 10:30 pm that night and STILL had to clean up the mess
I learned from my mistakes; so follow me through a photo journey of making a batch of pasta dough and a final dish. 
Photo by Ray Hydrick

Photo by Ray Hydrick

Basic Semolina Pasta Dough
1 cup semolina flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon water 
1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt

 So so the journey begins…
Adding Flour

Adding Flour

Start by adding the flour and salt to the mixer with a dough hook attachment.  Don’t have a mixer?  Here are instructions on making it by hand – good luck!

Adding at a time

Adding at a time

While on low, add one egg.  Once incorporated, add another.  And so on.  After the final egg, add the two tablespoons of olive oil.  You may need to scrape the sides of the bowl a little.  Add the water. Let the mixer continue until a ball forms.   
Kneading the dough

Kneading the dough

Once the dough forms a sticky ball, remove it from the bowl and place it on a floured surface.  Knead the dough with the heel of your hand.  Fold the dough in half towards you and turn it a 1/4 turn each time.

Yes, I said 10 minutes!

Yes, I said 10 minutes!

Knead the dough for 10 minutes.  (I was so unhappy about this part – I was missing my TV shows!)

Wrapped for resting

Wrapped for resting

Wrap the dough in cling wrap and let rest in the fridge for 20 minutes.

It looks so innocent

It looks so innocent

While your bundle of joy rests, get the bane of my existance…I mean, your pasta maker out.

Start with #1 and work your way up

Start with #1 and work your way up

Make sure the setting is at the largest width – that would be the #1 setting for mine. 

So the squishing begins...

So the squashing begins...

Retrieve your bundle of dough and cut into four equal portions.  Using floured fingers, flatten a portion so that it fits into the roller.  Each time you send it through, dust it with flour and fold it in half.  You will want to send it through at least 6 times – folding and dusting.  Do all four potions before preceeding to next steps.

Yes, I am still at it

Yes, I am still at it

Move your machine indicator to #2, send through a strip of dough, dust the strip.  Move to 3#, send through the strip of dough, dust the strip. Move to #4, send through the strip of dough, and you guess it, dust the strip.  Turn the knob back to #2 and continue with the other pasta strips until all are done.  Fun huh? (You may want to play with the thickness of the pasta for what you are making)

Reminds me of the paper shredder at work

Reminds me of the paper shredder at work

At this point, you need to decide what you are making.  If ravioli, use the sheets.  If spaghetti or fettuccine – use the pasta cutters.  If making pappardelle – cut with a knife for wide, rustic pasta.  I chose fettuccine, so I used my cutter attachment.

Cooking and Plating
Bring a large pot of water to slow boil and add a good bit of salt.


Add the pasta and cook for 2 minutes.  Fast huh? 


Heat your sauce (or bought sauce – I’m not judging) in a skillet or saute’ pan.  Add the pasta directly from the water into the sauce.  

Photo by Ray Hydrick

Photo by Ray Hydrick

Stir pasta to coat with sauce.  Serve with fresh basil and freshly grated parmesan.   

So maybe I am being a little critical of the pasta maker…I mean it did make some really good pasta.  I get so use to packaged food for the ease of use that I forget how good homemade really is.  Will I make pasta on a weekly basis as I had once dreamt?  Not on your life.  But now and then isn’t so bad.  I guess I’ll have to get used to my Snuggie as well – at least I have the leopard print.  😉


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7 Responses to “The Gift That Keeps On…Giving Me A Headache”

  1. Clay Says:

    Hey, I noticed your paper shredder comment, it reminds me of a WikiHow To article. I think you will find this article to be funny, check out “How to Use a Paper Shredder as a Pasta Machine”. I wouldn’t want to use my crosscut paper shredder to make pasta. First of all, I spent money on it, and don’t want to break it, and second of all I wouldn’t want shredder oil on my pasta.

    • Matthew Says:

      Clay, that is hilarious. I went to the site and it says the article has been nominated for deletion for the following reason:
      * “Extremely dangerous, reckless and irrational”,
      * “Impossible instructions. These instructions could not
      practically be followed”, and
      * “This is impractical and potentially dangerous because of non-
      food-grade manufacturing processes. If you don’t have a
      pasta machine, why not use a knife to cut the pasta into

  2. jamie Says:

    Homemade pasta sounds delicious. What night will you be making a huge pot for Family-style dining?

  3. Ben Says:

    Sounds like fun… plus it is also something I would like to do, but do you know of a way to make and store the pasta for future use, or is it … make and consume all? Thanks for the tips …. now I just need a pasta attachment.

    • Matthew Says:

      Ben, good question. Maybe I should test some storing possibilities. Off the top of my head I would think that freezing would work perfectly. Shop around for the attachment – you can get some good deals…just don’t use a paper shredder.

  4. Jennifer Says:

    Here I was thinking “Ben, please don’t get the pasta attachment for the new mixer” and he’s already shopping for one. 🙂

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