Saturday, June 11, 2011

It Took Nearly 10 Years

Many, many years ago a friend gave me a pasta maker.  At the time, my (then) fiancee and I lived in an itty bitty studio apartment in St. Thomas.  The place was truly amazing.  We had a cute little courtyard that had endless potential for being a private tropical paradise.  There was also a little terrace that had a spectacular view of the ocean and surrounding islands.  The view alone was worth the lack of kitchen space.  We had the smallest kitchen I have ever tried to cook in, or ever seen.  It would easily fit in our closet with room to spare.  We lived in that little 100 square foot palace for over a year and cooked maybe five meals.  Our priorities were different then.  We used the kitchen, not so much for meal preparation, but as storage for our beer and........oregano.  At any rate, there was no way I was going to be able to make my own pasta.

My pasta maker has lived in it's original box and faithfully travelled with us everywhere, only to be carelessly stashed in the back of some cupboard.  Since we moved from St. Thomas, we have had much more functional kitchens, but by then we had started our little family and  it was all I could do to get a nutritious meal on the table every night.  Every now and then I would wistfully stare at my brand spanking new pasta maker and dream of cranking out linguine by the pound, but my thoughts would inevitably be interrupted by the demands of a baby or toddler, or both.  It seemed that the pasta maker would have to wait a little bit longer. 

Lately, I've been trying to systematically clean out my cupboards and pantry.  I can handle chaos and disarray in every part of my life except my kitchen.  We have a very nice kitchen here, but not enough cupboard space and our pantry is even smaller than our kitchen in St. Thomas.  It is very easy for these spaces to get completely cluttered and disorganized.  So, I have gotten into the habit of trying to clear them out every few months.  By chance, I came across that faithful pasta maker which reminded me of some semolina flour I accidentally bought last year. (It's a long story)  I decided it was time to either make some pasta or get rid of the poor, neglected, never-been-used maker.

The dough was surprisingly easy to pull together.  It's just semolina, salt, eggs, water and a little olive oil.  Mix it all up and let it rest for about 20 min.  It actually took me longer to assemble the machine than it did to make the dough.  Not because the machine is so complicated and has many pieces that need to be fitted together with a special allen wrench, but because there were no pictures to accompany the directions.  I work better with schematics.

Once I got the thing assembled and secured to the counter, I used a small piece of dough to practice and also to clean out the edges of the machine.  What fun!!  It was so easy and everything worked perfectly.  No torn dough or surprise messes.  I must have been oozing excitement because my son, Elijah, was suddenly at my side asking to help.  I had him crank while I fed the dough through the rollers.  Two minutes later we had one looooooooooong strip of dough.  Two more minutes later and we had another loooooooooong strip of dough.  Voila!  Pasta!!  I can't believe I've thought for all these years that it would be so hard and time consuming.  It took me exactly 6 minutes (not including the 20 minutes of rest time) to make enough pasta for at least 40 raviolis.

A little more rummaging and sorting produced some frozen spinach, use-or-lose mascarpone and roasted red peppers.  I just sauteed the spinach with a little garlic and then Abby helped me stir everything else together.  The spinach was still hot, so the mascarpone just melted in perfectly.  We dumped in some Parmesan cheese and, in neat little spoonfuls, made two looooooooong rows on the first strip of dough.  I wet the edges and in between all the little piles of filling with a pastry brush, lay the second strip of dough on top and sealed it all up.  The raviolis were ready to be cut and cooked.  We bathed them in boiling water for a couple minutes, dumped some sauce over the top and dug in.  They were mighty tasty if I do say so myself.  The kids liked them too.  Well, Abby liked them.  Jonah gobbled them up until he realized he was eating spinach, and Eli picked the noodle off the filling.  All in all, a success!  Especially considering I got Jonah to eat a few bites of spinach and Eli to eat something that had been touched by spinach.

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