Monday, January 4, 2016

L'Arte della Sfoglia, Part 4: Other Pasta Shapes

In addition to tortelloni and tortellini, Claudio and Ida make a variety of other pasta shapes. Using their supple sfoglia, they make bowties.

And garganelli. The ridged tubes are created using a pettine.

They make small cuts for soup.

Ribbons in a variety of widths.

Narrow ones are paired with butter or fish. Tagliatelle is served with ragu, and mushroom and game sauces go with wide pappardelle. The strands are cut to order sometimes by hand, sometimes by machine and formed into nests.

It seems that forming the perfect nest is an art in itself.

Requiring just the right amount of fluffing.

Separating of the strands.

A precise weight.

And a certain winding motion.

My nests never look so artful or voluminous. They layer sfoglia with ragu for lasagna, to be be baked for precisely 45 minutes at 180˚C.

The extruder was not put to use the day we visited.

Claudio explained that they use 90% semolina and 10% 00 flour with a mix of egg and a little water for their macaroni.

Incidentally, they do have a small display of Giuseppe Cocco dry pasta, because for certain dishes, only dry extruded pasta will do.

Flavored pastas are also made in the shop. Spinach pasta is mixed using the ratio of 8 eggs and 100 grams spinach to 1 kilogram 00 flour. Cordonetti, named after shoe laces, is made with 1 kilogram integrale—that’s Italian for whole wheat—flour, 200 grams 00 flour, 10 eggs, and 170 grams water. This dough cannot be rolled as thin as dough made from 100% 00 flour, and the resulting pasta looks more like spaghetti alla chitarra. It’s served with ragu and all kinds of other sauces. Neither of these were on the prep list the day we visited.

After our brains were filled with so much knowledge, it was time to fill our bellies. Ida cooked up a lunch of gargantuan portions of tortellini in cream sauce and then lasagna, which we ate at a tablecloth-covered workbench. Needless to say it was outstanding.

We thought we learned so much about the art of pasta that morning. But as Claudio pointed out, 100 kilometers away from Bologna all of the pasta shapes and all of the fillings are completely different. We’ve only just scratched the surface!

Previously: L'Arte della Sfoglia, Part 3: Tortellini.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Flavored Butters on AM Northwest

That’s me making Pie Spice Butter on AM Northwest! After the show my students gave me a hard time for not scraping out the bowl!

Flavored Butters is full of “tasty-sounding recipes” that are “a new way to liven up a meal” according to

Saturday, June 13, 2015

L'Arte della Sfoglia, Part 3: Tortellini

Contrary to what I had imagined, Ida did not employee an army of small children to make tortellini. The tortellini production, in fact, proceeded in much the same manner as the tortelloni production before it.

First, in a show of excellent mise en place and utilization, fluted scraps of pasta leftover from making tortelloni were used.

Sfoglia specifically for tortellini is cut with plain wheels, so they typically have straight sides.

Zoom, zoom!

I wonder if anyone ever notices the oddball tortellino with wavy edges in their bowl of brodo?

L’Arte della Sfoglia’s tortellini filling recipe is a closely guarded secret, but Claudio did divulge that it contains fresh pork “lombo”, mortadella, salsiccia, Parmegiano-Reggiano, nutmeg, white pepper, and salt.

The chicken provides sweetness, and all pork would be too strong.

Ida could not have been more opinionated on the subject and insisted that prosciutto, which is a common ingredient in tortellini filling, does not belong.

She explained that prosciutto results in a filling that's too dry and “acidic”.

According to Ida, prosciutto is not for cooking, period. She pulled a bag of filling made by a local restaurant and provided to them for contract work out of her reach-in, and an impromptu tasting proved her point.

Claudio told us that their tortellini took fourth place in the area and first place within Bologna in one contest.

My husband, an engineer inculcated by the American culture of constant improvement, innocently inquired if they would adjust the recipe and try for a higher result.

Claudio summarily rejected the idea.

They were not interested in first, second, or third place if it meant changing their recipe. They would never deviate from the traditional recipe. “If you change the taste of the tortellini, they kill you,” Claudio said.

Ida, with her nimble fingers, makes it all look so easy. She motions as if to snap and another tortellino appears. But trust me when I say that making these tiny purses of pasta is harder than it looks, even for a relatively dexterous and accomplished cook. Each time she fixed one of my ugly tortellini she said she was “restyling”. She’s a patient teacher. Only after shaping dozens of tortellini, did her instructions to “pinch and then fold” make sense.

Together we produced what must’ve been thousands of tortellini. (And this was their slow time of year!)

Then it was time for lunch. As the pasta cooked, Ida made sure we understood that tortellini must be boiled in in broth, not water. We were treated to massive portions of tortellini tossed in thickened cream and topped with Parmegiano and, as if that weren’t enough, big slabs of their rich homemade lasagna.

Before I sign off, if you missed my last appearance on Flavors radio show back in April you can hear it here (listen at the six minute mark). Also check out this feature on Marinades in The Palm Beach Post. They ran my Four-Citrus Marinade and Buffalo Wing Marinade recipes.

Previously: L'Arte della Sfoglia, Part 2: Tortelloni.
Next up: L'Arte della Sfoglia, Part 4: Other Pasta Shapes.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Coming Up

It’s time for an upcoming event update!

The winter Clark College class schedule is out. I’ll be teaching Éclairs, Cream Puffs & Choux Pastries next Saturday.

If you ever wanted to make these ethereal pastries, you simply must join me in the kitchen for this in-depth hands-on class. Only a couple of seats remain, so sign up now!

Then I’ll be doing a photography showing and book signing at the Portland West Elm on Saturday, February 21 from 1PM to 4PM.

At 12:15PM PT on Sunday, April 19 and again at 12:15PM PT on Sunday, June 7 I’ll be a guest on Flavors radio show. By the way, if you missed my last appearance back in December you can hear it here (listen at the nineteen minute mark). The topic of conversation always seems to turn to my cookbooks, which of course is perfect for me!

Please mark your calendars and join me for the foodie fun!
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