Serious food lovers take the responsibility of recommending foodie finds seriously. That’s why I feel compelled to bring to light the worst pasta I ever had, so that you can be spared the indignity of trying it yourself.
I made it.
It started with the intention of making something delicious while saving dough. The dish: spinach and wild mushroom ravioli from a Wolfgang Puck cookbook, tossed in brown butter, toasted hazelnuts and freshly-grated parm. How bad could it be?
Pretty bad, it turns out. Don’t try this at home.
It started with the making of the pasta dough, and using a hand-powered pasta machine to roll it thin.
|Rolling homemade pasta dough. As you can see, the dough
has picked up gear grease from the edges of the machine,
and it is being incorporated into the ravioli. Mmm.
Concurrently, we made a brown butter sauce, toasted hazelnuts, chopped herbs and minced garlic. About a pound of exotic mushrooms were chopped and sautéed with shallots and olive oil, as well as garlic and herbs. The kitchen was smelling delightful!
So far, so good.
|The mushroom ravioli stuffing. Looks good! Photo by Charish Badzinski.
Then, it all went wrong.
My arm was exhausted from turning the hand crank pasta machine. Sweat ran down my forehead and stained the back of my shirt. The dough refused to cooperate. It got stuck in the machine, so I cranked it in reverse to free it, folded it over, and tried again.
Suddenly, the internal mechanism of the machine refused to turn. It was like a stripped gear–try as I might, I could not get it to work again.
Keep in mind, this is about the third time I’ve used this pasta machine. In five years or so.
Plan b: rolling pin.
But my friend had none.
Plan c: we decided to try to press the pasta dough as thin as possible with our fists and fingers. With the bare minimum done, we hand cut the ravioli, stuffed them and pressed them closed with a fork.
Finally exhausted, we dropped the rather creative-looking ravioli into the sauce and waited for them to soften.
Meanwhile the sauce reduced, so we added more stock. It reduced again, to a thick, over-salted mess.
We finally gave up. The dough was simply too thick to cook through. My friend called it “pasta steak.”
Here is the result:
|Mmmm. Cough, cough. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
|Sure it looks good, but it was like penance. Next time, we’re going out for pasta.
Share your cooking failures here!
Charish Badzinski is an explorer, foodie and award-winning travel and food writer. When she isn’t working to build her blog: Rollerbag Goddess Rolls the World, she applies her worldview to her small business, providing strategic communications, media relations and writing support to individuals and organizations.
Find Charish on Twitter: @charishb
2 thoughts on “The Worst Pasta I Ever Had, or, Don’t Try This at Home”
You had to feel the same as I did when early in my marital bliss I decided one day to surprise my Ever-lov'n with home made cinnamon rolls. Now I'd made bread many times before always with brilliant success, but for this occasion I decided to use my grandmother's recipe. Her rolls and breads were richer and smoother in texture then mine because she used scalded milk instead of plain water to make her dough. At nineteen years old, experienced enough in the kitchen to have helped my hubby put on fifteen pounds the first ten months of wedlock, I thought, "How hard can it be?"So I set about collecting my tools and ingredients; my biggest bowl perfect for bread making, measuring cups and spoons, flour, shortening, salt, sugar, yeast, milk and a sauce pan to scald the milk in. I mixed the active dry yeast with a half cup of warm water and little sugar, set it aside to "activate", poured two cups of milk into the sauce pan and put it on the stove to scald while I combined the dry ingredients in the bowl. The yeast mixture, nice and foamy and scalded milk, were ready a few minutes later so I added them to my bowl. I remember thinking the dough was a little hot to handle as I worked it but soon I had that nice satiny look bread makers desire from kneading. I cleaned my bowl, greased the bottom and sides, flipped my ball of dough, covered it and set it aside to raise.An hour and forty-five minutes later I uncovered the bowl and noticed it hadn't raise much but punched it down anyway and turned it out onto the bread board and began rolling it out for rolls. My mouth watered thinking about the fresh cinnamon rolls my Ever-lov'n and I would be enjoying that evening after dinner. Lots of butter, lots of cinnamon, lots of sugar and just a pinch or so of nutmeg. Roll it up and slice. I sprinkled loads of brown sugar in the bottom of my pan, generously dotted it with butter to make that yummy caramel all great cinnamon rolls have and carefully laid my rounds on top. Covered and set aside for the final rise.An hour later there was no noticeable difference in the size of my little rounds of dough. I thought maybe they weren't warm enough so I moved the pans to a spot in my kitchen where they wouldn't be in a draft and replaced the towel over them. A half hour later they looked like they may have risen a little so I decided to let the oven do the rest of the work. You should know that besides being an eternal optimist we were like most young couples and, honestly, money was pretty tight that first year of marriage. I wasn't about to dump a couple of pounds of flour, sugar and spices in the trash can. So I baked. They were going to be delicious!Now you know why I call him my Ever-lov'n. Between the two of us and probably because they were full of butter and sugar and cinnamon, we ate every last crusty, heavy, mini-ball. And we laughed. He can at times be the sweetest man. Hmmm, either that or I had killed all his taste buds with my newly-wed cooking which could also explain the fifteen pound weight gain?Took me six months to try again and I made sure the scalding hot milk had cooled to a reasonable finger tested temperature. And I'm happy to say, I'm not afraid to offer my cinnamon rolls to guests.
Rollerbag Mom! What a great story. I remember Rollerbag Pop once commenting that in the early days of marriage you tended to sprinkle pepper until you could see it on the food, which he said led to some peppery meals! I think at the time he was looking on in fear as I was seasoning some food I was cooking for him.These days, your food is like home to me, with comfort in every nibble. I guess we all have to learn along the way when it comes to cooking! I know I have. The failures sure make for great stories though, and they show us who our true friends are.