I am easily inspired. It’s either that, or I have a short attention span.
A couple of months ago, I binge watched a new Netflix series called Master of None. (Highly recommended, run there after you read this post!). In the final episode (I hope I’m not letting any spoilers slip), someone lights shuck for Italy, to learn how to make pasta (of all things, pasta!).
Last night we began watching another Netflix series called Chef’s Table (smart people notice a pattern emerging), and pasta, too, played an important role in the story of Massimo Bottura.
Well between the two, I became inspired to make tortellini.
Now understand… I’ve never made tortellini before, nor have I ever made pasta, which is the natural and simpler starting point. It’s sort of like be studying to get my driver’s license so that I can race Grand Prix.
In other words, typically Teddy.
Here’s a tangent to the story; we have two dozen eggs in the fridge. Long story, but I bought a dozen to make sure we could make French toast last weekend, forgetting that la Fille ™ had picked some up as well. So we had some extra eggs in the fridge.
(Another tangent; in most of the world, no one refrigerates eggs.)
The second ingredient of pasta (in fact, one of the only three ingredients – TIL) is eggs. Thus the source of at least part of the inspiration; what to do with the eggs.
Pasta is, in fact, very easy to get going. We happen to have a nice big wood counter top upon which to do it the traditional way, and so why not? 2 cups of flour, 4 eggs, two whole eggs, and one teaspoon of salt was all it took. Following Niki’s guidance, it was just that easy.
Now, anyone who’s made pasta is (or should be) enamoured with getting that “silky smooth” look. It’s what I aspired to. It’s what I missed by a county kilometer. Still, it was workable.
The key to good pasta, the experts like Niki will tell you, is to let your dough rest before rolling. I did. It didn’t work that well… the dough was still springy and stiff, and slowly shrunk as I let off on the rolling. I was able to get a fairly even thickness even without a tapered pasta rolling pin or mechanized roller. For my first attempt, not too bad.
Those are 10 cm circles (2 inches for my American friends). BTW.
The really fun stuff began the day before, with a marinated chicken dinner, from which we had plenty of left over chicken. Chopped up nice and fine, stir fried with spinach and goat cheese, and there you go – the basis of a fabulous tortellino.
Here’s my Teddy Pro Tip ™ for tortellini: roll your pasta circles thinner than you think, and add less filling than you might. I used a medium zip lock baggie as a piping tool, and worked on my consistency. It looks impressive, no?
There is no secret to a good tortellino shape. (Singular tortellino, plural tortellini.) Tortellini are just modified Italian perogie. Smaller, for sure, but the same thing I grew up with, by Momma. I could try to explain how to make the shape, but I would not do a god job of it. Instead, I just looked at a store bought, factory made tortellino and… copied the classic shape.
I am not unhappy with the results.
I am most happy, however, with how we approach the idea of food. We cook a lot. Both of us, la Fille ™ and I , love to cook. We both have taken lessons in various countries (in fact, we travel for food, and seek these kinds of experiences out aggressively) and enjoy the act of preparing and cooking.
Saturdays are our informal “kitchen lab days”, where we’ve begun to pick a couple of cool recipes from our hard copy resources (we love cookbooks), and make an evening out of it. Tortellini was my contribution to the evening, a wonderful dill flavoured stuffed zucchini as Ti’s. The Petite Fille ™ usually gets involved, and it becomes a family thing. This is the life we want; with simple, homemade, and good tasting foods.