With the right tools and ingredients you can make a pasta dough recipe from scratch just like in mama's kitchen - or dad's kitchen, which was the case in my house.
Dad was the chef in the family and boy did he have a lot of practice growing up in a family of 14 kids. Yes… 14! When it came to cooking everybody had to do their part. My Father developed a talent and joy for cooking at a young age and that included learning how to make pasta. He's the reason I have a passion for pasta and Italian food.
There is more to making homemade pasta then just the type of pasta flour you use. I believe it has a lot to do with the amount of love you put into it that makes a great pasta dough. That, and a whole bunch of kneading.
To use semolina or not to use semolina? That is the question. What's the difference? Well, there's a big difference. Semolina is more coarsely ground and is made from durum wheat.
One of the reasons Italy became, and still is, the leader in manufacturing pasta is the abundance of high quality durum wheat present to this day in the Southern regions of Italy. It's a little more difficult to knead and manage, especially if you're making pasta for the first time, but ultimately you'll have a great tasting pasta. Using an all purpose flour is much easier to handle but it's more delicate and can break when you create your pasta shapes, even if you use a pasta making machine. I like to use a blend of flours that create both flavor and just the right texture.
The key to making pasta shapes is the making gradual adjustments in settings on your pasta machine. Start with a high setting and run the pasta dough through it twice. Then reduce the setting by one and run it through again two times. If you're making homemade ravioli or stuffed pasta you should make the sheet of dough thinner then you would for a spaghetti or fettucini. I almost never go below the second to last setting for creating my pasta shapes.
There are many creative ways to make pasta. The ideas are limitless. Try adding unique flavors and colors to your basic pasta dough. You can make any flavored pasta you like, such as lemon flavored pasta, spinach pasta, and basil pasta.
And what about a chocolate flavored pasta? How is that for decadence? Serve it with freshly stewed strawberries, sprinkled with a dash of crushed red pepper and a dollop of homemade whipped cream, and you have an amazing pasta dessert with just the right amount of heat to add passion and 5 star flavor to any meal!