When I returned from 2 weeks traveling through Ireland, Rome, and Paris this summer, I did a quick inventory before I filled out my customs form. More and more, when I come back from vacations abroad, I have less and less to declare.
I bring home a small Christmas ornament to remember our travels, and that’s about it. On this latest adventure I had a few of those plus the best souvenir from Italy one could hope for: the skills to make pasta from scratch learned in an Italian restaurant.
We’d only been home a week when the boys asked if they could toss some eggs and dough around to make a pot of pasta and sauce. When we were in Rome this summer, there were few things on our ‘to do’ list: my wife wanted to see the Colosseum, my kids wanted to eat all the pizza, pasta, and tiramisu the city could make for them. Knowing that food was such a priority for my sons, I booked us a family cooking class in Italy!
We spent 90 minutes working together to build a tiramisu and learning the intricacies of making pasta from scratch.
It was quite the workout to take a scoop of 00 flour and a brightly coloured fresh egg and turn them into fettucine, but we did it!
One thing you learn about cooking in Italy is how much local freshness matters. The different regions are celebrated with recipes using ingredients from the fields next door. For our homemade recreations of Italy, I wandered my Real Canadian Superstore‘s International and PC Organics sections to replicate that local magic here.
Now despite having all the tools I needed to perfectly recreate Italian magic, I didn’t have an Italian coach hovering over me like I did in Rome.
The boys did a great job with their tasks, but I struggled with my dough.
I didn’t knead it enough, I didn’t massage it enough, and I certainly didn’t get it thin enough.
This is the part about making pasta from scratch that you don’t realize: it’s a lot of work. Sure, the ingredients are simple – one egg and a scoop of flour – but the effort needed to turn those two items into golden strings of firm but chewy goodness is not to be underestimated.
You need to blend the egg and flour to make the dough carefully.
You have to stretch and bind it thoroughly.
You have to use your palm, your knuckles, and your fingers to squeeze out every atom of air and to create glutenous bonds in your dough that will hold up to a rolling boil even when paper thin.
And that’s the hard part: paper thin.
You need to almost be able to see through the dough and, sweat as I might this time around, I couldn’t get my dough thin enough (note to self: a hand pasta press is not a cop out, it’s for efficiency!)
BUT .. when the fresh sauce and hard earned pasta was topped with gorgeous meatballs and basil, it was just like we were back in Rome for a few minutes.
The boys gobbled up their lunch and we vowed to practice pasta again – once we first tried to recreate the tiramisu we learned!
FRESH PASTA FROM SCRATCH!
Ingredients (per person):
100 grams of 00 flour
1 medium egg
1 pinch of salt
Put the flour in the shape of a pyramid and make a hole in the centre, add a pinch of salt and put the egg in the middle.
Begin to work the egg with a fork and slowly add the flour, once the ingredients are blended, knead the dough for 10 minutes, roll and cut.
I’ll admit, we cheated on the sauce. After the stress of rolling out the noodles, I bailed on doing a pomodoro from scratch and opted for the PC Organics Tomato and Basil sauce which was, to be honest, the best one we have ever tasted.
1 lb each of PC Free From pork and beef
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Tbsp oregano
1 Tbsp thyme
1 tsp salt and pepper
With your bare hands, mix together the two meats along with the spices. Form them into golf ball sized pieces, and place on a cookie sheet.
Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees F. Makes 2 dozen.
This post is sponsored by Real Canadian Superstore