We had a great time last night learning how to make pasta properly at Fifteen restaurant, thanks to Google London. If you didn’t know, Fifteen is the restaurant set up by Jamie Oliver to train young apprentice chefs, and all profits are put back into training the next generation of chefs. Alumni of the scheme have gone on to open their own restaurants and work at other top kitchens in London, so the scheme’s definitely a success, and the flagship Fifteen is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year.
We started our class with chefs Alex and Nathan talking us through making the basic pasta dough. It’s just equal quantities of liquid (egg, water or flavourings like tomato, spinach or mushroom paste) to fine ’00’ flour, and a glug of olive oil. The dough is then kneaded to stretch out the gluten, then should be rested for up to 24 hours.
The rested dough is flattened by hand then fed into the pasta machine.
I picked up a top tip here that I’ve been missing out on at home: fold both edges of the dough back into itself on the first few goes to get a smooth ‘leathery’ texture and create a sharp straight edge. Genius.
When it’s long and thin, time to fill with a ravioli filling, in this case a mix of roasted squash, garlic, ricotta and chilli – yum.
Use a piping bag for pro results and make sure to leave plenty of space between each dollop for sealing.
Then ‘cup’ each little mound with your hands to seal and push out any air.
Finally, cut around each mound (a fancy ravioli cutter looks good but a pizza wheel or knife will do fine) and voila – perfect little raviolo. They just need boiling for 4-5 minutes and tossing in a butter sauce.
We got to take our proud creations with us to cook at home, along with some brilliant tips for making pasta at home. I learned loads that I hadn’t thought of while trying my own efforts, but it really is quick and easy when you know how.
We then headed down to the restaurant for a lovely meal of antipasti, the squash ravioli (properly prepared by Nathan!) and chocolate brownie, complete with a matching glass of wine for each course. Fab night, thanks Google and Fifteen.
Google are running loads of foody events at the moment due to acquiring respected restaurant reviewers Zagat, and lots of them are open to anyone who applies by reviewing some restaurants on Google Places, so keep an eye on their Twitter to see how you can get involved.