Sunday, June 25, 2006

Mio Pasta Esperienza

As of today, I have fulfilled my goals for 2006! Yeehaw!!!

The last goal...take a cooking class.

I headed out to Sur La Table in Pentagon City today to take a Beginning Pasta class.

Sure, I've made pasta before. Sometimes it was sublime and great...other times...not really.

I figured if I was going to improve my homemade pasta skillz, I should have someone who knows what they are doing show worked! Within minutes I knew exactly what I've been doing look out world.

Our teacher was great, Chef Elizabeth Madigan. She used to run the Sur La Table in Richmond, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu.

She gave us the basic pasta recipe...

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 eggs
a large pinch of salt

Done and done....

well, run it through the food processor until it forms a ball. It might need a small bit of water, but you'll know....once the pasta dough forms a ball in the machine, let it go for about 30 seconds, allowing it to 'knead.' Wrap it in plastic wrap and let it rest in the fridge for 30 minutes or so. Then roll it in your pasta maker.

The thing I learned today. You need to treat your dough rough. I used to treat it more like I would a shortbread dough...lovingly and gentle. No wonder it would fall apart one me.

After the dough, the class made four different sauces and I tried them all...the reason this is huge...there were mushrooms! I tried them. (I'm still alive!) And a sauce that was all peas. Now as freaked by that, but thats a new one to me!

Here are the'll see at least two of them on here in the future:

Cappellini with Roasted Tomatoes and Kalamata Olives
Linguine with Lemon Cream and Prosciutto
Pappardelle with 1000 Herbs
Open Lasagne with Wild Mushroom Cream Sauce

My group made the Pappardelle with 1000 was a really interesting, tasty a nutshell.

The linguine had lemon and orange zest and about 800,000 peas. But it was really good. The prosciutto was great, but I a little wigged out by the color of it after it warmed in the sauce...a brownish grey...but very tasty.

The Cappellini had the tomatoes roasted with oil, balsamic and some herbs. Then it was all tossed with pine nuts and cheese.

The lasagne was really mushrooms, cream, Marsala and cheese. Really the sauce itself was tasty. The mushrooms were fine..but really I don't care for them still.

To get us started, here the is...

Pappardelle with 1000 Herbs
Serves 4

1 lb pappardelle

3/4 lb plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced into 1/4 inch dice
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup fresh flat leaf parsley
1/2 cup fresh basil
2 TB fresh tarragon
2 TB fresh mint
1 1/2 tsp fresh thyme
1 tsp fresh sage
1 tsp fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp fresh marjoram
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

Roughly chop all the herbs and put into a food processor with the cheese and olive oil. Wizz together until it creates a nice smooth sauce.

When the pasta is done, drain and add to the pesto and tomatoes...toss. Taste to adjust seasoning and serve immediately with additional cheese.


Now, the fine print of my experience....made me a little grumpy.

I went in and sat at a table, there were four other people. An old man with eyebrows that were trying to reach out an grab me, an old lady and a kid were together. Then there was a woman. Chef ordered the three sets of tables to break into four. Each group doing one sauce.

At this point the old lady turned to the woman and I and said..."We're TOGETHER"...essentially ordering either the woman or I to leave...I really didn't mind moving to another table, but it was said in a tone that was completely unacceptable.

So I moved to another table. I didn't want to be with someone who was going to be like.

I moved to the back table, a table assigned to make the papardelle...which I wanted to make anway.

But This table was going to present it's own challenges. But ultimatley it was a great group and I only had to have a little patience. One person at my table was handicap and in a wheel chair, her mother and grandmother were there with her. They were fun. We joked and they were impressed with my cooking skillz...HA! As I said though...a little patience was needed, I couldn't just jump in and do everything. So I spent a lot of time standing back while everyone got their turn.

I would so do a class again. The classes are small, 12 people for the hands on classes. I'm sure the demo classes are larger. AND...I signed up to recieve information on how to be a kitchen help prep for the students and then to help as the students do their thing....I'll see what's in it for me...but it might be a fun opportunity.

OK, I need to go in case this newest thunderstorm knocks out the web! Stay DRY!

AND go see AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH...I finally made it...great movie...depressing, eye opening and well done. I remember a major environmental push when I was a kid and it was mentioned in the movie. I hope this causes enough dialogue to get people thinking and acting again...the future is pretty grim if our course isn't changed!


Stef said...

I loved INCONVENIENT TRUTH. The crazy weather of the last few days fits right in.

I'm glad you enjoyed the pasta class! Maybe someday you can have a pasta party, like your soup-er successful soup party??? :-)

ScottE. said...

OMG! i'm so going to do that and have a pasta party! The fresh pasta cooks in moments and then folks can choose their sauce choice...and have more than one of course....OMG, have to get the calendar out and start planning.

YES...the weather has really been nuts and the movie drives it all home.

Lady Brandenburg said...

Glad you enjoyed. Glad you got away from the rude lady. But, most of all, glad you are considering a pasta party!!

ScottE. said...

Rude Lady
Obnoxious Man

Silly Goofy Iowans! The one women kept saying..."we're in hell's kitchen!" I just smiled....!

This will be my next foodie party...but it won't be for awhile...

Maybe I will even have people make their own pasta!!!??!?! That could be fun...make people get their hands dirty.

Barbara (Biscuit Girl) said...

The class sounded like fun (despite the grumpy table). I'm taking a class next month at Galileo! My brother is flying up from TN to take it with me. Should be a blast. It's a five course dinner featuring lobster. YUM!

I'll definately be posting about it afterwards.

DC Food Blog said...

Pasta parties really are great. The way we've done it is the host provides the pasta and a salad and everyone brings their favorite sauce (or garlic bread or dessert). We could have a "sauce off." Do you have a pasta maker? I tried making pasta without one and I can do fresh pasta lasagna fine but it tastes too doughy for any other kind of pasta.

ScottE. said...

Yep, I have my pasta maker...the more I think of it...I'd have the sauce done in advance and then actually get people involved with the making of their own pasta! have bunches of dough ready, just needing to be rolled out, cut and cook! Hands On Dinner Fun!

Biggy said...

Yay, Sur-la-Table! I'm coveting pasta lessons for exactly the same reasons... Some things just need to be demonstrated, don't-cha-think?

Thanks for all the recipes and DC-ism. I'm working on becoming a native! (I'm already rushed and impatient in the Metro, so I think I'm partway there...)