Sunday, March 17, 2013

Betty now makes pasta

Tragedy
While the pasta was great, nothing could save the bland, soggy lasagne

Betty now makes pasta

I've had my Betty for awhile now. She's great at making cakes, slices, even pizza. But I thought it was time Betty expanded her range of tricks a little, so being a pasta fanatic, I recently invested in a Kitchenaid pasta attachment for her.
Feeding pasta through the attachment

I've made pasta by hand before. It's actually pretty easy and there's something satisfying about eating pasta that you've made yourself. Before I bought the attachment, I used to borrow my mother-in-law's hand cranked pasta machine. Those pasta machines are fine, but there's a little bit more fiddling around - you need to clamp them to a table top, then hand crank the pasta through the machine while feeding it through with one hand, and then needing a third hand at the same time to catch it.

Having a pasta attachment on Betty though is so much easier. The pasta is fed through the rollers automatically using the stand mixer's motor. Without having to hand crank the machine, it allows me the free use of both hands to feed the pasta into the rollers and catch it on the other side at the same time. Good thing too, as rolling some of these pasta sheets out, they were getting pretty long - a couple of metres in length at least.
Loooong pasta sheets rolled out

The recipe for the pasta itself is pretty simple - flour (I used Tipo 00, found in my local Italian grocer), eggs, a splash of water and some salt. Allowing me to be virtually hands off, Betty mixed the ingredients together in a bowl to form dough, briefly kneaded it with the dough hook and I then left it to rest.

Next was the question of what to do with the pasta. The attachment set I bought included tagliatelle and spaghetti cutters, so I had planned to make tagliatelle with a basic chilli, garlic and tomato sauce. But the day before, I spotted some butternut pumpkin, and - it being scarcely ever available - picked some up, decided I could make a vegetarian lasagne with it, especially since Emperor D has been asking me to make one for awhile. I also picked up some sweet potato, another of Emperor D's favourites. So after some research with what I could make with the pumpkin and the sweet potato, I decided to make Lorraine Pascale's Butternut and Sweet Potato Lasagne.

I didn't follow the recipe exactly to plan - I didn't have any sage leaves and didn't use the breadcrumb topping, plus I'm not a fan of ricotta, so used my own much more simple b├ęchamel sauce - but it shouldn't made so much of a difference to turn out to be so bland as it was.
Pumpkin and sweet potato lasagne

The other problem was the lasagne sheets. I'd made fresh lasagne once before, but swore never to do so again. They're of course easy to make, but when I made them the first time, I thought I had to pre boil them, and did so. They became extremely difficult to handle, becoming stuck together, and tore once cooked - it ended up being so hard that I decided I wouldn't do it again. That was a few years ago, and making lasagne this time around I quickly remembered why I said back then I would never do so again. I had the same issues again this time and it turned into a disaster. This time I swear I definitely won't make fresh lasagne again.

The end result was a lasagne that was soggy from too much water, and rather flavourless. I was lucky to eat half a piece. Utter tragedy.

On the upside, I had so much pasta that I was able to make tagliatelle and freeze it, so I'll find a sauce to go with it and make that soon. But with the attachment, I can't wait to make lots of fresh tagliatelle, spaghetti, ravioli - and blog about it.

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