I am totally intimidated by fresh pasta, despite the fact that it contains no yeast. I'd never made it, and I'd written it off as Something Other People Make, until I found this blog. The author is vulgar, snarky, hilarious, and a butcher. I was in lust. He makes pasta seem manageable somehow, in between all the swearing and drinking.
And that's pretty much what it's like.
I had three recipes to choose from: his, one at smitten kitchen, and the one that came with the pasta machine I bought at Ross that day. I opted for the one that came with the machine because it yielded enough pasta for six and I was throwing a potluck dinner party. Remember that rule about not trying new recipes out on guests? Right. There's a reason. A messy reason.
The process seems simple: 5 eggs and 3 cups of flour. Mix. Knead. Add more flour if it's a bit sticky. Let it rest for 30 minutes all wrapped in plastic and then roll it out and put it through the machine several times until it's thin and then again to cut it into fettuccine. Simple!
When the first guests arrived, including two people I hadn't met before, I was stirring the first bit of eggy floury dough. That shit was WET. Not just sticky, but cling-to-everything miserable. I added a handful more flour. It worked itself in, seemed okay, and then the mass got sticky again. Repeat. Repeat with what seemed like HALF A BAG OF FLOUR. Eventually, i gave up. My kitchen looked like a Columbian love-fest, since I had trailed flour everywhere I went. EVERYWHERE.
I had told my first guests that if the pasta experiment failed (as now seemed certain) then I would order pizza. At this point, my second guests arrived, bearing wine AND a homemade spicy chicken pizza. With cheese in the crust. Sometimes, god loves me. Only sometimes.
One of my guests, Josh, got really excited about the pasta machine and proceeded to attempt to screw it to every surface in the kitchen. This is when I realized that it's a very good thing that I didn't sell my dining table, since that's the only table that works for the pasta machine. I put the dough through a couple of times, but it was still too sticky and unworkable. I proclaimed defeat. Josh would not capitulate (makes sense, as he's not the one who spent an hour flouring the same mound of sticky hell). He put it through the machine, floured it, put it through again, floured it again, roll, flour, repeat. Fifteen minutes later THERE WAS PASTA DOUGH. We put it through the noodle-cutting bit, separated the strands, and boiled that shit until al dente.
In the end, it was a bit thick I think (we rolled until setting 4 or so, not a 9 like you're supposed to) and we didn't let it "rest" all sealed up like one should, and god knows how much flour was in there at the end... but what all this goes to say is that pasta is a lot harder to ruin than you might think. Everyone liked it! There was hardly any left over.
There was a pesto as well: after reading one of the comments to an earlier pesto pasta, I decided to make parsley-walnut pesto. At this point, I'd had a lot of wine, so measuring ingredients really wasn't going to happen. I threw some italian flat-leaf parsley, walnuts (toasted), olive oil, grated parmesean cheese, and pepper into the food processor until it tasted good, adjusting various quantities as needed. We also sauteed some crimini mushrooms to put over the top along with some shredded parmesean. The pesto was delicious and also tasted good days later on a baguette.