When I see those cooking shows on tv that show someone making their own pasta, kneading the dough, then rolling it out thin and yet thinner still in one of those pasta machines that also cuts the pasta into recognizable noodles, I'm always envious.
Making my own pasta at home has always been something I've wanted to do. So when ATG Stores offered me the chance to review a product and host a giveaway for my readers (more on that later) I knew exactly what I wanted to review.
A pasta maker.
ATG Stores very generously sent me the Prago Traditional Pasta Machine. Since this would be my first time ever to make pasta, I enlisted the help of my mother. Four hands are better than two, and hey, she's got a much nicer kitchen than my crappy little apartment kitchen!
I chose the plain pasta recipe, which is simply 3 cups of all-purpose flour, 1 cup of warm water, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Mix this into a dough, let it set for about 15 minutes, then the pasta making can begin!
Setting up the machine was easy. Even though this was our first time for both my mother and myself, we went by the simple directions that came with the pasta maker and had no trouble setting it up or figuring out how it works. It's really really simple. We were both a little intimidated at first, but the ease and simplicity of the machine quickly alleviates all doubts you may have.
There's a handy C-clamp included so you can clamp the machine to a table or counter top. I highly advise you to do this so that the machine isn't moving around all over the place. Then just attach the cutter mechanism to the main unit (it simply slides into place), stick in the handle, and you're ready to make pasta.
The basic recipe makes quite a bit of dough, and as you roll it out and keep making it thinner, you will see that it makes a lot of pasta. We split it up into 4 sections and worked with each section at a time so that our workspace wasn't overly crowded.
For spaghetti, use from 3 to 5 to get the thickness of the noodle that you prefer. We were so fascinated by how easily the machine thins the dough that on our first batch we went all the way to 1 and the pasta almost fell apart before we could cook it, that's how "dainty" it is! So it may take a bit of experimentation to get just the right thickness that you and your family prefer.
When you've got your dough all flattened out nicely, it's time to run it through the cutter. That part is easy too. Simply move the handle from the rollers to the cutter mechanism and do the same thing, running the dough through. It automatically cuts the dough into thin strips.
The length of the dough piece you put in will determine the length of your noodles. Since this was our first time, there was a lot of trial and error, and we found that it really makes things a lot neater if you trim your dough into nice straight edges first. A simple kitchen paring knife does that job easily.
The instructions suggest that you hang the pasta noodles to dry before cooking. They will dry pretty fast. We didn't really have anything appropriate to hang them on, so we cooked them fresh as is.
Fresh homemade pasta takes only a fraction of the time to cook that store-bought pasta takes. Make sure you use plenty of water and get it to a full rolling boil before adding the pasta. Depending on the thickness you chose for your noodles, it will cook very quickly. We were a bit skeptical of this at first, so our first batch came out overcooked and a bit mushy. The next time, we let the noodles cook for no longer than 3 minutes and they came out perfect. So again, experimentation is key, because it really depends on your personal preference.
Just for the sake of variety, we served the noodles with alfredo sauce and regular spaghetti sauce. Don't they look good enough to eat? :)
Overall we were both impressed with how easy it is to make your own pasta with this pasta maker. It takes a little longer, sure, but isn't that what makes it special? And no preservatives! A great family activity that even the kids can participate in. Spend a Saturday making up several batches, let them dry completely, then store for later use.
And wouldn't that make a great gift! A bag of homemade pasta noodles and a jar of sauce in a nice little basket would be a fabulous and much appreciated gift.
Hmm... I think I just figured out what to give those people on my gift list who are so hard to buy for...
Entering is easy. Please do the mandatory first step before doing the extra entries. Winner will be determined by using Random.org. Entries will be verified before winner is contacted, so please make sure you use the same username, name, and/or email address for each entry, or tell me how to identify you. And PLEASE leave an email address in your comment if it is not publicly visible on your blog! Thank you for adhering to these giveaway rules.
Extra entries - please leave separate comments for each:
Since many of you are not bloggers or tweeters, I want to offer you some extra entries as well.
For an extra entry, tell me if you've ever made homemade pasta and what your experience was like. Got any tips for me?
For another entry, email this giveaway to a friend and carbon copy me (cc: tnshadylady(at)gmail.com). You'll get an extra entry for each person you email about this.
Bonus entry if anyone you sent an email to enters the giveaway and states in their comment that you sent them. One entry for each referral.
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#Giveaway #Win $50 GC to @ATGStores! Over 500 stores! Shopping online has never been easier! @tnshadylady http://bit.ly/9pgPW2 ends 9/15
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Giveaway closes midnight CST Wednesday September 15, 2010. Giveaway open to US and Canada only. No PO boxes please. Winner will be chosen by Random.org and notified by email. Winner will have 48 hours to respond, or another winner will be chosen.
per sponsor: Anyone who is currently hosting an ATG Stores product review or giveaway is not eligible to enter.
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Disclaimer: I was provided a sample product from ATGStores.com gratis in exchange for providing an unbiased review of the product. No other monetary consideration was involved, and my review was not influenced in any way.