Success ! My fresh egg pasta
I’ve had a pasta machine for a while now. My first experience was a complete disaster. My kitchen counter was too thick, so I had to end up experimenting with various sized books to try to clamp the machine to, none of which were heavy enough. The recipe I used was too dry and I wasn’t experienced enough with doughs to understand what consistency I was looking for. And I hadn’t planned ahead and had no where suitable to dry the pasta once it was rolled out. I made such a mess, ended up with horrid dry pasta, and the machine promptly went back in the box and stored.
Call it stubbornness – today I faced my fears and I conquered the machine !
My recipe is a combination of many others (including Jamie Oliver, Bertolli and Mario Batali) – I also had to consider that I am making my dough in hot and humid Singapore, so I think it’s just important to work the pasta dough until it’s the right consistency, adding flour and/or water as necessary, to make it a smooth, elastic dough. And I can’t stress enough how important it is to rest the dough, it becomes so soft and workable once the gluten has had a chance to relax. I have to admit it sure is easier and faster to just used dried pasta, but fresh pasta tastes so different, and making my own pasta gave me such a sense of satisfaction and was so much fun that I’m sure that made it even more tasty.
Ingredients makes enough for 2 hungry people
- 200g plain flour
- 2 eggs (I use really small eggs (60g) so if you have larger eggs then you’ll need a little more flour)
- 3 tablespoons iced water
- Place the flour on your counter and make a well in the middle
- Crack your eggs in the middle, mix them and then slowly start incorporating the flour from the inside edges of the well
- Add the water and continue to incorporate until you can bring the dough together with your hands
- The dough at this stage will be very grainy and feel quite dry. This is where you get to channel all your frustrations and anger into the dough as it needs to be kneaded – a lot. There’s no real time I can give you (it took me 10 minutes) but you need to work the gluten so that you get a firm textured pasta, and you’ll know when to stop when the dough suddenly becomes smooth and elastic. I carried on kneading a bit more at this stage for good measure.
- Divide the dough into 4 small rounds, wrap in cling film to stop them from drying out, and let rest for at least 30 minutes
- Once you are ready and have your pasta machine clamped firmly onto something heavy (preferably your kitchen counter – for me it was my “Toys for Chefs” book!), and also have somewhere ready nearby that is suitable for drying your pasta (trust me you don’t want to have to worry about this when you have a handful of sticky pasta ribbons), set the machine to the first setting, and roll through one of the dough balls
- Fold it over and run it through on the first setting and repeat about ten times more. This helps to work the dough more and helps you get that lovely stretchy texture in your pasta
- Continue roll the dough through the various numbers on the machine until you have it at your desired thinness. I made fettucine and I like my pasta thin, so I rolled it till it reached maximum setting (9). You may want to have it thicker if you are making something that needs to be a bit more robust, like a lasagna sheet or rag pasta
- Dry the pasta ribbons on a floured rolling pin or other surface so that they don’t stick together. You have to work relatively quickly here because the pasta dries quite quickly
- When you’re done with all four portions of dough, you’re ready to cook the pasta. As the pasta is unseasoned, you need to heavily season the water you are cooking it in – it needs to taste “like the sea”
- What you do with the cooked pasta is entirely up to your imagination (I made a pesto pasta) and I guarantee you it will taste better than you imagined!
Homemade sausage rolls in puff and shortcrust pastry
I knew there was something odd about my shop in the supermarket that day – asking for that much minced pork struck me as strange. On auto-pilot, I carried on, paid and got home only to realise that I was trying to make sausage rolls with just minced pork and not sausage meat. Feeling a tad dusty from a few too many drinks the night before, the last thing I wanted to do was head back to the supermarket again, so I did a bit of research online hoping that I would have everything I needed already in the pantry or fridge.
I also found that night that I had just one sheet of puff pastry and decided to do half the mix with puff and the other with shortcrust pastry, thinking it might be just as good. Final verdict – stick to puff – it had a better texture and flavour that worked better – with my sausage meat, anyway.
Essentially anything goes with sausages in terms of flavouring, but you need to ensure that you have sufficient fat in the sausage – apparently a minimum of 10%, to ensure that the sausage meat stays moist (I’d go for more, around 25%).
Here’s the recipe – measurements are estimated, my suggestion is that you fry a small pattie of the mix to check for flavour/seasoning before you commit to wrapping the entire lot in pastry. But just have fun with what you have available and/or what you think will work together !
Ingredients – makes about 8 individual sausage rolls about 10cm in length
- 400g minced pork – don’t pick the lean pork mince if you have a choice
- 100g fat – pork fat if you can get it, I had duck fat which I used and it added a nice gamey flavour to my sausage meat
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 2 tbls dried sage (or handful of fresh if you have it)
- 2 tbls maple syrup
- Generous pinch of salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- 2 sheets ready rolled puff pastry
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- Preheat oven to 200C
- Combine pork, fat, sage, maple syrup, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper together in a large bowl and mix well with your hands. You can test for flavour and seasoning by frying off small patties
- Shape into 4 round logs about 5cm in diameter and about 1 cm short of the length of the pastry (this allows some space for the meat to expand as it cooks)
- Place on the pastry about 3cm from one side and roll the pastry over the sausage meat, cut the pastry so that you have an overlap of about 2-3cm
- Brush some of the beaten egg along the edges and seal
- Continue until you finish all the sausage meat, you should have four long sausage rolls. You can leave it there or I cut each in half to make them a bit more manageable to eat
- Arrange on a roasting rack over a tray and brush the rest of the beaten egg over the pastry
- Bake in oven for 20 – 25 mins or until golden brown
My homemade burger
Inspired by a post I read on Chubby Hubby on burgers, I decided to make burgers for dinner tonight (clearly on a much less posh scale).
Burgers have always been a bit hit and miss for me – they seem to turn out dry and I have struggled with getting the sort of flavour that you get in burger joints without overseasoning the meat or without lashings of sauce in the bun. And getting good (or sometimes any) burger buns easily in Singapore is also a challenge.
So I decided to give them another try and just go with what I could get my hands on in the supermarket.
The one thing that I did take from Chubby Hubby’s post was to mix beef and pork mince together instead of just beef. The end result of what I’m about to write below was excellent – a juicy and tasty burger – hurrah ! Not bad for a Wednesday night dinner at home.
Ingredients (makes about 6 generous patties) (ps these measurements are as close as I can make them especially the seasoning so adjust to taste)
- 300g beef mince
- 100g pork mince
- 1 red onion, finely chopped
- 1 egg (raw)
- handful mushrooms, chopped finely
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/2 – 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbs tomato sauce
- 1 tbs steak sauce
- freshly ground black pepper
- Mix everything together with your hands (so satisfying)
- Shape into palm-sized patties (I made them to fit the buns I bought from the supermarket) and pop into the fridge for 30 minutes
- Fry in a pan for 2-3 minutes each side (for the thickness shown in the photo above)
- While patties are cooking, lightly toast the buns
- Top the pattie with whatever you want – we had lettuce, tomato sauce, mustard and pickles but you could add cheese, onion jam or even just onion rings