A photography tutorial: How my mom makes pasta

January 18, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

If you've ventured over to my commercial side of the Skysight Photography website lately, you'll likely notice a growing food photography portfolio. I've been working a lot on food recently and decided to do a little fun project on a snowy Sunday afternoon with my mom.  

I come from a family of cooks. My mom has passed down all the ways of the grandmothers' (plural) cooking tips over the years, and making homemade pasta is one of them. We've made homemade pasta in my home since I was a kid, because well... its easy, cheap and tastes amazing.  The Italian side of my family was from Italy only a few generations back so the way we do it is how Nunny showed us.  

My mom told me the "recipe" as we made the pasta, and I photographed her hands.  I'll explain it as we go below...  Just a warning, if you like real measurements, this isn't the recipe for you LOL.  Me? I love recipes that are a little pinch of this, a dash of that, a juice glass full of this, and a "lot" of that.  Especially recipes I can learn from heart and make over and over. 

Even if you don't want the "recipe" (if I can even call this that) - I hope you enjoy this beautiful photographic journey of my mother's hands making a classic meal enjoyed in my family for generations.

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Start off with some eggs, milk, salt and flour.  Mom says to keep the eggs and flour equal.  One cup of flour? Then you use one egg.  For this shoot, we used two cups of flour and two eggs.  It made about four servings for dinner that night.

 

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You don't need a mixing bowl, but you could if you want. The way Nunny did it was right on the table.  Pour out the two cups of flour onto the table, then make a little hole in the middle like you're building a little pool.  

 

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crack the eggs right into the "hole"  (yup, thats official recipe language)

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start mixing it up with a fork, like your scrambling the eggs

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If the wall caves (above pic), just pull it back in (below pic)

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As you mix the eggs, start to fold the flour from the sides of the walls into the middle. Slowly keep going...

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Pretty soon you'll notice it getting thicker and closer to a dough you can form and roll.

 

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Add a big pinch of salt.  We added a few big pinches. How much? Ummm... Told ya this isn't a recipe for those who need exact measurements haha.

 

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Soon enough you'll be able to start working it all together with your hands into a ball of dough. Now its time to add the milk.  Nunny's recipe said a "juice glass full of milk"....seriously. So you can interpret that the way you want. Remember a juice glass from the 40's or so? Little things.

Mom says to add the milk slowly and you'll see how much you "need" to make the dough the right consistency and not too dry. Basically, little splashes here and there. work the dough, a few more splashes. Ok you're good.

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Form the dough in a long roll. 

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Cut the roll into segments, like this...

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Add some flour so it will be smooth and roll easy through the rollers of the pasta maker.

If you don't have a pasta maker you can obviously check online, but usually Italian stores like Delallo's in Greensburg or Labriola's in Monroeville/PennHills/Wexford will have them, you can call and ask.  My brother bought this one for me years ago for Christmas, I'm pretty sure from Labriola's! 

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The segments get rolled through the pasta maker. Start with the flat roller set on the widest setting first. Roll it through, then close the gap and roll again, and again. Each segment will go through about 3 times. You want it really thin! 

 

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Keep adding flour generously to the pieces you are rolling through! 

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When you get them thin enough, they're almost paper thin and really long! 

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Switch your handle over to the pasta side and choose which you want - we decided to go with fettuccine. 

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Dont forget to keep the dough covered in flour!

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And important tip, be sure to catch it when it comes out the other side. One hand to crank, one to catch and lay flat immediately. 

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Remember - crank and catch! Its a quick moving process, so be prepared. Two people is even better/easier.

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When its all done you'll have a mess that is the stuff dreams are made of. You can let it dry out and save it, give it to friends and family, or cook it right up for dinner that night. We only let it sit about an hour and it was into the boiling water. I noticed it cooks quicker than store bought pasta, so be careful not to overcook it. I pulled it from the water just a smidge after it tasted al dente and it was absolutely perfect. 

Bon appetit!
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