My son Jonathan has been a keen cook since he was small enough to need to stand on a stool to chop and mix ingredients and his sons Freddie (5½) and Benjamin (2¾) are fast following in his footsteps. Thus they were very excited yesterday by Daddy’s new ‘toy’: a super-grade KitchenAid mixer with a pasta-making attachment.
Jonathan has been making sourdough bread and fresh pasta for some time but having this mixer will make it much easier for him to produce loaves and pasta regularly as it basically does all the hard work – all the kneading. He’d already made some bread with the machine but last night was the first pasta making. It’s great fun because the attachment allows you to choose fusilli, bucatini, rigatoni, spaghetti, and large or small macaroni.
Being now a well-practised baker and pasta maker, Jonathan and I discussed the advantage of him having made bread and pasta by hand for some time. It allowed him to look and feel the dough and know whether it was ready; he could actually see how it was coming together as the mixer whirled away.
The following photos show how the pasta making went and how easy the machine made everything (I promise KitchenAid aren’t paying me to say that!). The machine had been on Jonathan’s wish list for a time and last night I was delighted to join in the fun of the first ‘run’ and be asked to photograph the journey.
The pasta was made first: we had some Italian ’00’ flour that we buy at Corto Deli in Twickenham (it’s where I also bought the sausages for the sauce). There was a base of 300g flour and 3 eggs. As you can see below, the flour was weighed straight into the mixer bowl, followed by the eggs.
Then the mixer started doing its work, closely watched by Jonathan.
After 5-10 minutes it came into a ball and Jonathan could tell by feeling it that it was springy and ready. It was wrapped in some cling film to rest in the fridge for 20 minutes – a step which Benjamin was keen to help with, hence little hands in the photo below.
The sauce: While the pasta dough rested, the sauce was made. The head of broccoli was cut into florets; big ones halved for uniform size. A red onion was sliced; a red chilli too and a large clove of garlic.
The sausage meat was removed from the skins and broken up into clumps. Fennel seeds were ground – which was Benjamin’s job!
The sausage meat was browned in a little olive oil and gradually the other ingredients added, including seasoning and about a glass of white wine.
When the wine had reduced and the sauce pretty much cooked, the broccoli florets were added but not stirred in. Jonathan put a lid on for them to steam but turned the heat off while we made the pasta. In the final stage of the sauce, the broccoli was stirred into the mix and some crème fraiche added.
The rigatoni disc was put into the pasta attachment. Then the dough is pushed through from the top. A cutting wire can be twisted round to cut off the shapes once they’re the desired length. Jonathan tossed them gently in a little semola (semolina flour) to stop them sticking.
The boys were very excited by this step. It has to be said their Nonna was too! With Jonathan’s help, the boys were each allowed a turn at cutting off the shapes.
A large pot of salted boiling water was ready and they only needed a couple of minutes cooking.
The sauce meanwhile had been heated through and finished off with the crème fraiche. Once the pasta was done, Jonathan lifted it out with a slotted spoon and put it straight into the sauce.
Portions were spooned onto shallow dishes and a shower of Parmesan grated over the top.
It was all really delicious. The pasta was wonderful; fresh pasta is different to even the best dried. The sauce was fabulous too – and being able to buy the top quality Italian sausages from Corto makes a big difference.
What a fun evening with the family and ending with a great meal.