Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Meet Angelina!

My mom sent me an email last week filled with the regular chitchat. She was particularly excited about the brand new KitchenAid mixer she had purchased from Costco (a 475-watt, 12-cup bowl-lift stand mixer) so that she could finally make her own bread and pasta. Her email went on to detail the highlights of her week but closed rather cryptically, saying that if I visited on Sunday, I’d finally get to meet Angie. She had never mentioned any Angies before.

“Who’s Angie?” I wrote.

“My mixer.” (The tone was obvious.)


“Why did you name your mixer Angie?” I asked.

“Because she’s beautiful,” she wrote back simply.

We’ll skip any concerns regarding my mom’s good sense, and instead acknowledge that Angelina is indeed a striking piece of machinery.

Angie sat, gleaming and regal on my mom’s counter, wedged between the microwave and toaster oven, when I visited this past Sunday. The other appliances seemed small and insignificant in comparison. My mom could hardly contain her excitement as she showed off each of Angie’s attachments, including a three-piece pasta-roller and cutter set.

“Let’s make pappardelle!” she exclaimed.

I shrugged, then rolled up my sleeves. No real recipe in hand, no thought of a sauce to accompany our pappardelle when we were finished, we dove right in.

The end result was pretty bad. It was grainy, and tasted vaguely of polenta. We’re not entirely sure where we went wrong, but then again, I suppose we had no real expectations of doing anything right that afternoon.

Our dough consisted of: 2 eggs, ½ tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon water, ½ cup (plus 2 ½ tablespoons) of all-purpose unbleached flour, and 1 cup of semolina flour. The semolina is probably where we went wrong. My mom had it lying around, and while the back of the package said it was an “excellent flour for pasta-making,” it reminded me from the get-go of polenta. Next time, it’s regular flour and eggs.

The dough was fun to make. We mixed our ingredients for 30 seconds with the flat beater, and then used the spiral dough hook to knead the dough for 2 minutes.
Afterwards, I kneaded the dough by hand, and made four small pie-shaped discs. Here’s two of them. Aren’t they cute?
Next, we took one of the discs and held it over the pasta roller attachment (on the lowest speed and the first thickness level).
It’s a little tough to start the dough—make sure your disc is thin in order for it to catch. …and don’t forget to “Watch your fingers, idiot!” as my mom so politely cautioned me):
Once the disc was through the roller, we folded the dough in half, turned off the machine, turned the thickness to 2, and ran it through once more. We repeated this process until we were at a thickness of 5, at which point we ran the dough through one more time...
... then folded it and cut it into four strips.
The finished strips were hung on a pasta rack.
Once all our pasta had been rolled out and hung, it was time to boil it. I’ve read that homemade pasta should come out of boiling water a lot sooner than you think: once our water was at a full boil, we boiled the pasta for about three minutes, which seemed like the perfect amount of time. Except that it was gritty. And polenta-y.

Whatever texture it was, it was time to address the sauce, or lack thereof.

“What type of sauce would you like with your pappardelle?” my mom asked, rummaging through her refrigerator.

“Lamb Bolognese,” I declared without hesitation.

My mom paused, then rummaged around some more and unloaded the following smorgasbord onto the counter:
“That’s all I’ve got,” she said. “I don’t even have tomato sauce.”

What we made doesn’t even qualify as sauce. We pan-fried four strips of bacon, about 15 pieces of shrimp, then removed it; stir-fried some broiled peppers, garlic, shiitake mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, garlic scapes, added in the bacon and shrimp, added our noodles, some fresh basil, and grated parmesan cheese on top.
“This is… not so great,” my mom said, chewing thoughtfully.

Stay tuned for our next pasta-making session. Next time, we’ll utilize Angie’s full potential. Let’s face it, we were operating Angelina at like, Foxfire-level. Next time, I’ll bring over the Babbo Cookbook for a real sauce, and we’ll ditch the semolina flour. Then Angie can show off those A Mighty Heart Oscar chops.

In the meantime readers, any advice on where my mom and I went wrong? Techniques? A good pasta recipe? (Dave DiBari: we need your help!)


  1. Mixers are so much fun. I remember my excitement when I first got mine. Her name is "Betty", by the way.

    It looks like it turned out great. I find that sometimes my best dishes are just kind of "thrown together".

  2. Arg, my Italian mom says that the best way to make pasta is simply with regular flour and a few eggs. Check out Jamie Olivers website, he has a failsafe recipe that I think is still up (although sometimes it needs extra water in the dough depending on your eggs). I have made his a million times, even the spinach pasta and all that jazz.
    I nearly died laughing when I scrolled down to see the happy faced dough turn into a sad face. You are hilarious!

  3. Betty is a great name, too! (as in Betty Crocker per chance?)

    And thank you, Coco Bean. We'll try Jamie Oliver's pasta next time, and a REAL sauce!