The Geometry and Topology of Pasta

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I’ve always had a geeky appreciation – and awe – of mathematics. I have spent countless hours tinkering with programs that create math-based designs like fractals and Spirograph-style curves. As a young teenager I spent hours playing with an oscilloscope making sound waves dance on the tiny screen. But I never really thought much about the math behind pasta until I stumbled on two books: The Geometry of Pasta and Pasta by Design. And once you open them, you have one … click below for more!

More Pasta Making

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My first attempt at ravioli was, I admit, a disaster. But you learn from trying what you need to do the next time. And you also learn from reading what tools you might need to do better. Sure, you can make ravioli and other stuffed pasta by hand, but what I wanted was a plaque. That’s the one I bought in the photo on the right. Simple, inexpensive and easy to use. A plaque is a die for making ravioli. … click below for more!

Pasta Books Reviewed, Part 1

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While I can’t say my collection of pasta making and recipe books is as exhaustive as it could be had I an unlimited amount to spend and equivalent time to read and make pasta, I have garnered a few useful books over the past month. I wanted to share some opinions and comments about those I have collected to date. Also see part two of this review for more titles. Books on pasta have been around ever since cookbooks themselves. … click below for more!

Pasta Books Reviewed, Part 2

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This follows from part one of my book reviews, posted on this blog. Please see that post for the introduction. These, with either the Pasta Bible or Pasta Cookbook (preferred) by Jeni Wright, from the first post, are the recommended books. I’ve rated the books from A (highest) to E on TRIPDO – technical content (T – what details they offer, whether they use weights and volume measurements or only volume, how much technical information about ingredients is presented, etc.); recipes … click below for more!

Resting, Relaxing and Rising

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I’ve been reading of late about gluten. How it works, how it develops, why it matters. Gluten is the key to good bread and pasta (the gluten-free fadists notwithstanding, gluten-free anything is an aberration that should be shunned by anyone not diagnosed with celiac disease*). I’m learning more about how gluten links with itself to form the chains necessary to make our food, and how to improve it in my cooking. The Canadian Grains Commission tells us: Gluten is a … click below for more!

Update: expanding my pasta making

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I’ve just ordered a pasta extruder – the Marcato “Regina” pasta machine, which I expect to arrive in another week. This will allow me to make hollow pasta types like penne and rigatoni, not just the flat varieties I’ve been making to date. The machine got fairly good reviews online at various cooking sites. These extruders work much like a meat or dough grinder: a corkscrew gear forces the dough through a cutting die that determines the extruded shape and … click below for more!

The Paleo-Fantasy

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[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMOjVYgYaG8] Perhaps the best – and certainly the funniest – description of what happens to your life when you pursue pseudoscience fads like the “paleo” diet is here on Popsugar. It’s laugh-aloud funny and too good not to be shared. I loved so many lines it’s hard to pick one or two, but from the description of making inedible “paleo” cookies: The cookies look exactly the same before they are digested as after. They are eternal and unchanging. As time … click below for more!

Late Spring Pastas

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I’m still working on a formula for the perfect pasta dough, trying different mixes of flour and other ingredients to get both the best consistency and taste. And to experiment with texture so the pasta has the best mouth feel. I make fresh pasta once or twice a week now. My efforts so far have been pretty damned tasty and all but one – a notable one – have been a success as dinner. However, I just got a new … click below for more!

May’s Breads and Pasta: 1

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So far this month, I’ve made two loaves and one batch of pasta. But the month is barely started, so I have lots of time to make more. The breads so far were nothing spectacular – acceptable, reasonably tasty, but hardly exciting. I’ve made better. The pasta on the other hand, is getting quite good and I look forward to making more. The first loaf I made in the first few days of this month was a simple boule, made with a … click below for more!

Making Pasta

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Last year I decided to start making my own pasta. Seems a natural extension of my bread making. But it took several months before I could get started, what with personal issues and, of course, the holiday season interfering. This week I finally took the step. As usual with me, I did a lot of online research and reading before I took the first step. I looked at many reviews of pasta makers, as well as read techniques and recipes … click below for more!

Spring Breads

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It’s been a while since I wrote about baking bread. During the election campaign last fall, my baking was sidetracked somewhat, but I did manage to get a few loaves in. Last month I got back to baking in earnest. However, along the way, I ignored my levain and it went off. I had to toss it, and have not yet started a new one. The loaf on the right is the last one I made with my levain. It … click below for more!

The Canadian Way of Drinking

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Do you drink a glass of wine with dinner every night? That puts you in the top 30 percent of American adults in terms of per-capita alcohol consumption. If you drink two glasses, that would put you in the top 20 percent. When I read that in the Washington Post, I went, yikes! I have a glass of wine with dinner many nights – three to five times a week. The US figures show about 30% of Americans don’t drink at … click below for more!

The Perfect Cuppa

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I was incited to blog about the “perfect” cuppa by an article in The Guardian titled, “How to make tea correctly (according to science): milk first.” As a user of many tea bags – a single bag per cup – I must protest. You cannot possibly get a decent cup of tea that way. The milk cools the water too much for the tea to steep properly. It comes out like that stuff they serve in fast food places: greyish, … click below for more!

Extra Virginity

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For some time before I got this book, I’ve been aware that there is more to olive oil than meets the eye. Or tongue. How much more really was startling. When I started reading Tom Mueller’s 2012 book, Extra Virginity: the Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil, I was simply amazed at how little I really knew about the stuff (and of course you already know how much I love learning new things). Recently, the good folks at the Collingwood … click below for more!

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