Homemade Pasta and a Weekend in the Country

Homemade Pasta and a Weekend in the Country

Last weekend we spent a night in the "Brandenburger" countryside. About an hour outside of Berlin we have been refurbishing an old farmstead with a couple of friends. 

As often as we can - which lately unfortunately has been rather rare - we drive out there working on the renovations of our part of the house or helping out in the garden. Or sometimes we just trade in all the hustle and bustle of the city for a few days of peace and quiet. Listening to birds chirping whilst rocking myself to sleep in the hammock...Mmhh..Sounds decadent? Yeah I know.. It is :-)

The farmstead was built some time at the beginning of the 20th century. We were told that with the area being part of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) during the division of Germany the farm was annexed and it became part of the communist collectivization endeavor. It has been vacant for a couple of years and was never fully restored, which leaves us with a lot of work but also with a lot of room for interpretation. 

Even though everybody talks about what is commonly referred to as 'Landflucht' (flight from the land and migration into the cities) I am surprised how many young people actually prove the contrary, seeking a quiet (mostly second) home in country, realigning with things like self-sufficiency, growing your own vegetables and reducing daily tasks back to a more basic, essential level. From my own experience a lot of people are seeking something like that to balance out the information overflow to which they are exposed in their urban day-to-day activities. At least I do.  And for me (and my dog as you might be able to tell from the pictures), this mixture of urban and rural life really works. 

But now back to the important stuff: food, glorious, food! After all, this is why I am here - and you, too, I suppose? Not only did I spent my weekend reclined in an armchair, I was also well fed by my dear friends who started this whole country-living-potato-growing-rhubarb-picking-wood-chopping-adventure. While my friend who is an extremely talented and passionate foodie (both on the production and of course the consumption side) was making spelt pasta I was jumping and buzzing around her with my camera, climbing on rickety furniture to get some shots and share this delicious dinner with you. 

Spelt Tagliatelle

Depending on how much you wanna make, you can roughly assume that on 100 g of flour you need 1 egg. In our case we had four empty bellies to cram which estimated to the following: 

  • 700 g of flour
  • 7 eggs
  • 2 - 3 tbsp olive oil
  • salt to taste
  • water as needed
  • pasta machine with tagliatelle attachment (e.g. Imperia or Marcato are both Italian high standard machines)
  • pasta drying rack (you can easily improvise this by using a laundry rack or even stretching a cord between two kitchen cupboard handles)

The procedure is pretty straight forward. Your main concern should be your muscles as this involves a lot of kneading. 

1. Mix the flour with the salt and add the eggs. Roughly combine everything in the bowl using a spoon or your hands. Add the olive oil and continue kneading. 

2. Move your dough to a clean surface and start working it with all the strength you have. If it seems too crumbly add a little water to make it smooth. It should not be sticky - if it does get a little to wet add a pinch of flour. Yeah, I know where this is going, but trust me, if you do this a couple of times you'll get a sense of how it works. Continue kneading until your dough is soft and flexible. Cover with cling foil and let it rest for 30 - 60 minutes. 

3. Now we continue with the fun part. On a floured surface take little pieces of your dough, slightly flatten them whilst making sure they are well dusted with flour. Put your pasta machine on the lowest dial and continue rolling the dough through the machine each time adjusting the dial to a smaller size. In-between rolling dust with flour to prevent the dough from sticking to your machine.  

4. Now feed your well-floured stripes of dough through the tagliatelle attachment of the machine, using one hand to guide the dough and the other to gently pick up the emerging tagliatelle. 

5. Place your pasta on a drying rack. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil and generously add salt. When the water is ready quickly add all your pasta. Let simmer for 4 - 6 minutes (depending on whether you like your pasta al dente or well-done). 

Serve with some pesto or homemade tomato sauce. And most importantly, it's best enjoyed amidst your friends and loved ones. I was lucky enough to have both at my disposal :-)