Italian Cooking is fun and EASY, and always warms any palette!! It uses only the freshest ingredients, simple and quick cooking proceedures with minimal prep. An important kitchen utensil you'll need will be a pasta machine. These come in various different ways, some hand cranked, others electric with DISKS. IT'S IMPORTANT TO NOTE that you should never immerse or wet cloth wash pasta machines. Use a painters brush to get rid of any grit.
Your pantry of course should always have Olive Oil, Eggs, Semolina Flour,fresh Garlic, and Tomato Products.
Extra Virgin First press - is the cream of the crop, and should be uses ONLY for salads, and topping on fresh vegetables, NEVER COOKED. Virgin - Can be used for sauteeing, but best for salads and toppings as well. Olive &/or Pomace - are the third and fourth pressing. These two are recommended to fry, saute and bake in.
Only purchase high end tomato products, preferrably SAN MARZANO tomatoes. They are from Italy (make sure it's just not the branding name), and are grown under different soil conditions (volcanic ash) than we have in the States. THIS DOES MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
If you're making spaghetti or some other string pasta, you can hook a clean broom handle up, and drape pasta strings over that to dry. You could also use cleaned/wiped off hangers. OR you can use a Pasta Drying Rack. Most fresh pasta cooks in MINUTES as compared to dried in the box. Make sure you add a generous portion of salt to your boiling water, When the pasta begins to rise, it's done. If you live in a humid area, I wouldn't even attempt to dry out pasta for future use. It will crumble. So when I make stringy pasta, it's for that day's consumption. Making homemade noodles is for the PRESENT use, and the taste is spectacular!! You CAN freeze homemade ravioli's however, see the recipe.
NOTE: You can flavor your pasta. Just buy pureed BABY FOOD, like strained carrots, pureed spinach, etc. Once I made COFFEE PASTA using strong espresso as the liquid. I then served this with an Alfredo Sauce on top!! Otherwise the basic recipe for pasta is SEMOLINA FLOUR, eggs, warm water and olive oil. SEE RAVIOLI RECIPE FOR DOUGH RECIPE.
A lot of recipes say to put the flour in the middle, then add the egg in the center etc. I've tried this method, and you know what??? Using a KITCHEN AIDE to mix the pasta dough produces the same result!!! (I also make my PIZZA doughs using the Kitchen Aide. As the attachments for the kitchen aide are rather expensive, I make use with my manual and electric pasta makers.
Use the dough hook when making your pasta dough, you can time it's speed as you add the liquid.
The Electric Pasta Machine ORDER HERE ON AMAZON mixes the dough and liquid (olive oil, flavoring, water...) AND gives you an assortment of DISKS to make different stringy pasta - linguine, angel hair, ziti, lasagna, spaghetti and fettuccine. It will make the dough for lasagna and ravioli, but then you'll have to roll it out with the manual pasta maker.
The MANUAL Pasta Maker ORDER HERE ON AMAZON, comes with ATTACHMENTS to make fresh spaghetti, fettuccini, angel hair, ravioli and lasagna sheets. You lightly flour the pressed out dough (as well as the grooves in attachment) and hand crank it through. NOTE: once you have made a "sheet" you can gently roll it up, and then cut with a knife to make Pappardelle, which is like a very wide Fettuccine noodle!!
Once you have your rolled out "sheet" there are two ways you can make Ravioli's. On would be to put the sheet on a lightly floured surface, and place your stuffing and inch or so apart. Then take the PASTA WHEEL (ORDER HERE ON AMAZON), which looks like a pizza slicer but with serrated grooves, and roll through cutting your pasta. OR you can use a RAVIOLI PRESS which has the serrated grooves built in. You loosely lay the rolled out dough and place on metal part. Then with the plastic piece, gently push inwards. Stuff, and lay another rolled out sheet on top. Then take a rolling pin and roll over pressing down, which cuts the ravioli.
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PIZZELLE MAKER Wafer thin Italian cookies, similar to waffles. Have cookies YEAR round!!
DELI MEAT SLICER for the home cook. Important to have if you're making Italian Beef's with top sirloin roasts!! Works like a charm on Briskets, Corned Beef and Pastrami too, as well as meats for antipasto, onions, tomatoes and cheese
FOOD PROCESSOR Important to have for all your pesto sauces, and especially for salad dressings like Creamy Garlic, Creamy Italian, Casear dressings!! Make garlic juice for your Italian Beef broth too.
Cheese Knife - specialty knife to cut hard Parmesan cheese Grater - to grate cheese Ravioli Cutter Gnocchi Board - roll them along the ridges with a gentle pressure to imprint Chitarra - looks like a flat harp, but allows the pasta dough to be cut and slide off when rolled over and pressed on strings Pasta Bike - Cuts sheets of dough into ribbon noodles Pasta Drying Rack Colandar Cannoli Form - for frying cannoli shells Garlic Press - for small bits Pasta Pot - or stock pot, for large noodles Dutch Oven - for steaming seafood and Osso buco Olive Pitter - with one squeeze presses the pit out of the olive, keeping the skin nearly intact. Sometimes called a Cherry Pitter Herb Cutter - which is a multi-wheeled utensil that is run over the herbs. This slices and dices the herbs without risking fingers. Olive Oil Cans - not only decorative, but spouts make it easier to measure the liquid, particularly when using measuring spoons or pouring atop a salad.