I like to cook with my kids, it’s very satisfying to make something yummy and then sit down together to eat. Usually, they are very enthusiastic cooks and helpers, and though I know I will end up scraping more food off the walls and floors (and once even the windows!) than we eat, it’s still real quality time.
So let’s make pasta, I think it’s a fantastic idea. Like bread it’s one of the most basic and wonderfully versatile foods, and the family all love it, so off I trekked to Waitrose for a bag of Tipo 00.
We go for the basic 100g flour to an egg recipe and as there are 4 of us, the kids measured out 400g and made their own little Vesuvius volcano of flour on the worksurface. They crack the eggs and get stuck in stirring with their fingers – and things are going really well, much less mess and more control than I had envisaged. Here they are having a ball…
The dough comes together well, but as it is very tough to knead, the kids duck out onto their bikes while I hammer the lump into a smooth ball. Time for a coffee while it rests…
Now, I don’t have a pasta machine. ‘That’s ok’, the internet reassures me, ‘Italian Nonnas scorn and ridicule such gadgetry and have relied on strong arms and a rolling pin forever’. I can do that too!
So begins the next 40 minutes. I roll and fold the dough sideways a couple of times to keep the strip narrow and then transfer to the kitchen table for more space. I roll until the palms of my hands ache. Then husband arrives and holds the end of the pasta to keep it in place while I roll some more. I stand on the bench seat to get more weight behind the pin and jump up and down. It’s getting quite interesting now and the kids come to the door to stare and point… The pasta is now at full table capacity, so I cut it in half with the scissors and start again. Husband wanders off muttering something about computers (but I know that really he thinks I’ve gone mad and is edging away slowly). I keep on rolling because it’s now me or the pasta.
Meanwhile, the children are back in the house. Bored and hungry they are clearly destroying the other end of the house while I roll on and on until – yes, I could see the animal pattern on the table cover through the pasta! I’d read something about seeing newsprint through the dough, so it must be ready. I fold and cut triumphantly.
With tomato sauce bubbling and water on a rolling boil, I drop in the pasta strands. Almost immediately it becomes clear that the pasta was too thick and as they take on water, huuuge snakey strips float in the pan. I know where this is going, but lets see it to the end – I add the pasta to the sauce with parmesan, serve it to the kids and hide round the corner.
After a few minutes I go in the room to find out why it is so quiet, and bless them, there they are trying to eat it.
I have learnt several things
1. My kids are lovely
2. Never mess with an italian woman, ever
3. My local pub does an excellent pizza and wine deal
4. I need a pasta machine