There are so many great cooking schools in Sydney, and one of the newer ones is at the Italian food emporium Salt Meats Cheese, and we’re here for an introductory pasta class. The long table is set up, the pasta machines ready to go, and the eggs and flour await.
Manuela, a native Italian, talks us through the process. She is absolutely delightful and I could listen to her all day. The authentic “formula” for pasta, she tells us, is very simple:
100g of flour and 1 egg per person.
Yes, that’s it – two ingredients. Though of course, the flour may need to be adjusted for the size of the egg, and humidity will also have an impact. The ones we were using looked like 60 grams. She recommends “00” flour that refers not – as is often incorrectly stated – to protein content but to the fineness of the milling. This, she tells us, results in pasta with a more delicate texture. You can now buy 00 flour in Coles and Woolworths, once upon a time you could only get it at the Italian delis – I buy either Molini or Molisana brand.
We work on marble slabs, which are a great non stick surface. Coincidentally Aldi had marble slabs on sale the week after our class for $14.99, and a friend kindly picked me up one. It will also come in handy to ‘fresage’ my pastry.
To start, weigh out your flour depending on the number of people. Segregate a portion of the flour (say 10% or so) because it is much easier to add more flour if you need it rather than end up with overly dry and tough pasta dough. Create a well with the rest of the flour, and crack your eggs in the centre. Beat the eggs lightly. It is at this point, Manuela tells us, that you can make any flavour additions if you want to make a particular type of pasta – pureed spinach, pumpkin, saffron, squid ink – the possibilities are endless.
Then, using the fork, gradually begin to incorporate the flour into the dough until it comes together and you can knead it with your hands. Gradually incorporate the flour you had set aside if the dough is sticky. Here we all are hard at work!
Once your dough is nice and smooth, shape it into a ball and leave it to rest for half an hour – this resting step is very important. After resting, you can begin to roll out your dough into sheets and then into strands of pasta – like so!
Allow the pasta to dry a little before cooking it and adding your desired sauce. We sat and enjoyed a relaxing glass of wine while the Salt Meats Cheese crew cooked the fruits of our labour in a ginormous pasta pot.
If you don’t feel confident about making your own pasta, this class will definitely do the trick.
Salt Meats Cheese, 41 Bourke Rd, Alexandria, Ph (02) 9690 2406