Leland makes fresh pasta
I try to visit my favorite thrift stores, Angel Street and Housing Works, both on 17th Street, every weekend. We furnished half of the apartment on that one block, from the bookshelf to the wine rack. Both have small kitchen sections, and occasionally you see something really special. Last weekend, I got a copy of Richard Olney’s Simple French Food for $4 at Housing Works, and a manual pasta maker from Angel Street for $12. I’d been coveting such a device for a few months, but I wasn’t ready to buy it because I was pretty sure it wouldn’t see much use. And it probably won’t see much use now, but when it’s just $12, it’s time to purchase.
I went right home and whipped up tagliatelle with celery sauce.
Thank god Mark Bittman has a section on how to use a manual pasta maker, because it’s not entirely evident without instructions. You have to thin it first a few times through the lasagna hole, and then pass it through the cutters. Even then, I had plenty of trouble. I later read that it helps to let the dough dry out after thinning it, and then to dry it out more after cutting it. Richard Olney says to hang the strands on a broom stick suspended between two chairs!
After I managed to cut enough for two portions, I put the remaining dough back in the refrigerator (it went in the garbage five days later) and finished dinner. The celery was melting in the Dutch oven, and we were starving. I was terrified that the pasta would fall apart in the boiling water, but it was perfectly easy to cook and delicious to eat.
If any readers use these contraptions regularly, please leave some advice in the comments. How do you keep the pasta from bunching up in the rollers? How do you clean it? What kind of dough works best? I’d love to be able to just throw fresh pasta together whenever the desire strikes me, but it’s hard not to just buy a pound of it from Murray’s for $2.99, or at the ten other stores in walking distance that carry it.