Since receiving a pasta maker for Christmas I have made homemade pasta twice – once it was successful and once it turned into a big sodden gloop.
I was booked onto a pasta making class for Saturday 8 March…a mere week or so after returning from the home of pasta, Italy. It was with some trepidation that I took my Dads Army apron in my hand, but by the time I was striding through Hoxton in the early afternoon sunshine, I was determined that in a few hours’ time I’d be a pasta making genius.
The Open Kitchen in Hoxton is a place of learning, attached to Hackney Community College and part of the London City Hospitality Centre, there were students flowing through the very nicely dressed restaurant talking and learning their craft. After being welcomed myself and eight others were taken to the less glamorous, but very practical, kitchens upstairs. Once we’d donned our aprons it was time to get to work…
We watched the main chef, there were four teaching our group of nine so very hands on, demonstrate how to prepare the dough for our pasta, then we went away and did it. The key I think for a course like this is to listen out for the little titbits of information that are passed on through discussion, for example, I thought my dough was too wet and I was about to add more flour when the chef told me that my dough was fine but my fingers were sticky. Obvious I know but over flouring and then over egging my dough was how I’d made pasta gloop weeks before.
Once our dough was made the chefs demonstrated different ways of making different types of pasta shapes including the classes focus, lasagne sheets, tortellini and rigatoni.
After the demonstration our dough was ready to shape and I have to confess, this was far easier than I’d ever found it before – but maybe that’s because I was under the instruction of professional chefs…who knows?! I used the machine to shape the dough, making lasagne sheets and the two different types of pasta and then set them aside while we had a demonstration on how to make béchamel sauce.
This creamy sauce is a mainstay of lasagne and we used the batch produced in the demonstration to make our own lasagnes with mounds of roasted vegetables that were provided. Once we’d cheesed up the lasagnes, they were put in the oven and we did some more shaping of the dough.
At the end of the class we took away our own lasagnes and our own pasta and the confidence to go for it at home. I know this brief description doesn’t sound like much but it was not only really informative and confidence building, but also a lot of fun.
The teaching was spot on and I’d not hesitate to recommend the Open Kitchen to anyone for a cookery course. Find out more on their website: http://www.openkitchen.biz