Hands-on Pasta Making Class at The Viking Cooking School in Atlanta

Hands-on Pasta Making Class at The Viking Cooking School in Atlanta

Several weeks ago I attended a pasta making class at the Viking Cooking School in Atlanta. Of course, this class just so happened to be one day after I managed to sprain my ankle (all in pursuit of another story for an article on my blog), so it was a bit of a challenge getting around, but it was so worth it to be able to attend!

The Viking Store is one of our sponsors for the Food Blog Forum in Atlanta in September. They are hosting the kick-off event along with Whole Foods and Montaluce Vineyards. Chef Kevin Rathbun will also be doing a cooking demonstration that evening. Thank you to The Viking Store for being such a great sponsor for our event!

While we were in discussions planning the kick-off party, I signed up for a hands-on pasta making class at The Viking Cooking School. Homemade pasta terrified me seems as though it would be very difficult to make, however, thanks to Chef Jessica Ray, I am now an expert able to make really delicious pasta at home. (It even gets the Mr. Bunkycooks stamp of approval!)

Of course, we can now add pasta to Mr. Bunkycooks list of “I will only eat homemade”. This is in addition to the homemade peanut butter, freezer jams and ice cream. If you need me, just look in the kitchen.

Anyway, we had so much fun at this class and Chef Ray certainly made pasta more approachable and less scary for all of us!

After getting some really important tips from Chef Ray, we went around in stations during the class. First stop was learning how to make the perfect pasta dough (including variations by adding flavorings such as spinach or herbs). We also added vanilla bean paste to one batch to make a delicious dessert pasta.

We next tried our hand at rolling out the dough and then turned it into spaghetti, fettuccine, linguine, tortellini, farfalle, molded ravioli and free form ravioli. We had various fillings to use for the ravioli. Of course, my filling always included ricotta cheese (because it is sooo good with mushrooms and spinach!).

I must admit, that I only attempted pasta one time in the past and I had minimal success. This hands-on class really made me confident enough to come home and make pasta in my own kitchen. There really is a trick to getting the dough to exactly the right texture in the food processor. It also is critical to have the right thickness in the dough while rolling it out in order to make the appropriate pasta. This is something I cannot explain and you need to experience the texture of the pasta dough for yourself.

Thank you so much to all of my classmates that evening who graciously allowed me to use their smiling faces in the pictures. We had a great group and a surprise birthday party that evening with a bit of champagne to go along with dessert!

All of the pasta dishes that we prepared were delicious. Chef Ray and George Wiedman (her assistant) made some incredible sauces to go along with the fresh pasta. There is no comparison to the pasta that you prepare out of the box. Sorry, but you too, will be ball and chained in the kitchen once you start making homemade pasta!

I would say that if you are intimidated (as I was) by homemade pasta, that you should attend a hands-on class. Once you have worked with someone who understands how to make fresh pasta, you will find that it is quite easy. You will also then be a permanent fixture in your kitchen whipping up amazing pasta dishes!

Here are some of Chef Ray’s tips for making homemade pasta:

1. No olive oil in the water when cooking fresh pasta.
2. Do not overfill stuffed pastas.
3. Do not overcook fresh pasta (3-5 minutes is all it should take).
4. Do not wash pasta machine (use a pastry brush to clean).
5. Be creative and not inhibited (that sounds like fun!).
6. Add flavor and color in the fillings and the dough.

She also suggests that when you first start to make your own pasta, to start with a regular flour dough, since it is the easiest to work with. Once you have mastered that, then you can add some semolina flour and try other variations.

Since this was my first attempt at pasta making after the class, I was not adventurous with the pasta shape (I made fettuccine), but I was really pleased with the results and the fresh mushroom sauce I made to go along with it. I sauteed my mushrooms (shitake, crimini and white mushrooms) along with garlic and shallots in some olive oil. I added lots of dry white wine, butter, olive paste, grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and chopped, fresh parsley.

I seared some beautiful Diver scallops in a mixture of butter and white wine, removed them and then deglazed the pan with some additional white wine and added that mixture to the pasta. I squeezed some fresh lemon juice over the dish to brighten everything up and garnished it with more fresh parsley. Of course, always use lots of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano on top!

The fresh pasta definitely absorbs the sauce more than a boxed pasta does, so you will need to incorporate lots of flavors and plan on preparing a little more sauce than you normally would make. As Chef Ray would say, be creative and have some fun making your pasta.

If you are interested in making your own pasta at home, I would suggest the following items. I have a Kitchen Aid attachment for making pasta, but Chef Ray suggested a hand cranked machine when you first start to make your own pasta since you can control the speed. I definitely agree. It is much easier. These are the items I have purchased.

Atlas Pasta Making Machine
Ravioli Maker and Press
Pasta Drying Rack

Buon Appetito!

36 Responses to “Hands-on Pasta Making Class at The Viking Cooking School in Atlanta”

  1. 1

    Brian @ A Thought For Food — July 19, 2010 @ 11:23 am

    Look at that fantastic handmade pasta! It makes me want to take the pasta maker attachment out again and make some fresh linguine. That looks like a wonderful class.

  2. 2

    Barbara @ VinoLuciStyle — July 19, 2010 @ 11:28 am

    It looks amazing Gwen. Although I’ve taken a class for fun, it’s just never been something I’ve felt compelled to do; maybe it’s the time element. I’m lucky to have a fabulous company in Denver that makes amazing pasta in seemingly every imaginable flavor combination…so while I hope try the dish; Pappardelle’s will be doing the pasta!

  3. 3

    Denise@There's a Newf in My Soup! — July 19, 2010 @ 11:36 am

    Sounds like a fun evening, and now you have new toys to play with – Great post and photos!

  4. 4

    sensiblecooking — July 19, 2010 @ 11:49 am

    oh that pasta looks so good. I am not sure about making pasta at home but lets try before giving up.

  5. 5

    Kath — July 19, 2010 @ 12:06 pm

    Your fettuccine with mushrooms and scallops is gorgeous!

    I have a question about the hand cranked pasta machine–it’s not difficult to crank and put the dough through at the same time? It seems like you would need 3 hands.

    • bunkycooks replied: — July 19th, 2010 @ 12:22 pm

      Thank you, Kath!

      Yes, you definitely need two people to manage the pasta properly, especially as it gets longer and when you cut the pasta with the machine. Someone needs to grab it on the other side so that it doesn’t get tangled. (That was Mr. Bunkycook’s job!)

      Maybe with time, you can learn to do it single-handedly, but I certainly couldn’t have managed without another set of hands!

      Gwen

      • Kath replied: — July 21st, 2010 @ 4:19 pm

        Thanks so much for your reply, Gwen! I could probably get my husband to help with that. He normally does not participate in cooking, but he does do all of the dishes every night! :)

  6. 6

    Ken — July 19, 2010 @ 12:12 pm

    I can only imagine how delicious the fresh pasta taste and the fun you had that evening. That plate of pasta and scallops looks absolutely scrumptious.

  7. 7

    SMITH BITES — July 19, 2010 @ 1:07 pm

    We’ve made pasta a few times here at home – a big job but FUN! And the taste is definitely waayyyyy better than dried!

  8. 8

    Monet — July 19, 2010 @ 1:28 pm

    How fun! I’m asking for a pasta maker for Christmas, and I will be taking many of these tips to heart! I love how fresh pasta tastes…it makes such a difference. I loved seeing how much everyone was having making their pasta. What a great way to spend a day!

  9. 9

    Marie — July 19, 2010 @ 1:37 pm

    So fun!
    Also, if you don’t have a pasta drying rack, my mother dries it on cotton kitchen towels.

    And, Gwen, you are right, with practice, you can use the pasta machine with just your two hands. It’s really great.

    Thanks for the fun post!

  10. 10

    Kristen — July 19, 2010 @ 4:14 pm

    Making my own pasta is definitley something on my list to do.
    You are spoiling Mr Bunky!

  11. 11

    Magic of Spice — July 19, 2010 @ 5:21 pm

    What a great class…nothing better than fresh pasta:) This dish looks amazing!

  12. 12

    Roger — July 19, 2010 @ 5:55 pm

    Mr. Bunkycooks isn’t spoiled, he is rewarded for his hard work and photographic genius. Lets see, what’s next. Maybe more homemade fruit preserves or veggie preserves. I’m sure it will be better than that canned stuff we buy in the winter. Can’t wait.

  13. 13

    Patty Price — July 19, 2010 @ 6:27 pm

    Looks like a lot of fun Gwen and Mr. Bunkycooks is even more of a lucky man to now have homemade pasta!

  14. 14

    Drick — July 19, 2010 @ 7:34 pm

    you are one busy woman… your scallop mushroom fettuccine looks just divine, something I would love to make and your are so right about fresh pasta, once you have made it the store bought is just not the same, even the so called fresh …. great tips ….

  15. 15

    The Mom Chef — July 19, 2010 @ 9:24 pm

    Wow, that dish looks fantastic. I can’t imagine the joy of eating my own pasta. It’s something I’ve never tried, but you make it look fun and easy.

  16. 16

    penny aka jeroxie — July 20, 2010 @ 12:35 am

    I love making pasta! How fun!

  17. 17

    Meghan (Making Love In The Kitchen — July 20, 2010 @ 7:49 am

    Cooking classes are for sure the most fun ever. Like arts and crafts that you get to eat after!

  18. 18

    Kim at Rustic Garden Bistro — July 20, 2010 @ 10:32 am

    Mr. RGBistro is with Mr. Bunkycooks on this one. He can’t eat pasta unless it’s fresh. We have a fire-engine red pasta cranker at home and we LOVE it. Don’t make fresh pasta as much as we should, so it’s a real weekend treat when we bring it out. Your pasta looks DELICIOUS! [K]

    • bunkycooks replied: — July 20th, 2010 @ 6:03 pm

      Oooh, I love the red pasta maker! What fun! I am hoping to get good enough to make some and pop it in the freezer (especially ravioli). You might as well make a bunch when you make that much of a mess!

      The Mr.’s are really eating well, don’t you think?! ;)

  19. 19

    sippitysup — July 20, 2010 @ 11:14 am

    I too made homemade pasta recently. On;y we did not have a machine and we hand rolled it. You method seems much better! GREG

  20. 20

    Cookin' Canuck — July 20, 2010 @ 11:42 am

    What a fun class! There is really nothing like the taste and texture of fresh pasta.

  21. 21

    deeba — July 20, 2010 @ 12:43 pm

    Nothing to beat fresh pasta. This is a gorgeous post! FUN FUN FUN!!

  22. 22

    Devaki @ weavethousandflavors — July 20, 2010 @ 1:42 pm

    Oh my Gwen! What a class! No wonder Mr. Bunkycooks doesn’t want anymore of that cardboard crap. Who would?

    What an amazing class to experience and it makes me want to run out and buy a pasta maker!

    Hugs,

    Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  23. 23

    doggybloggy — July 20, 2010 @ 2:53 pm

    I love making homemade pasta and I have been doing it for over 30 years now – once you taste it anything else is pale by comparison….welcome to the inner sanctum of pasta.

    • bunkycooks replied: — July 20th, 2010 @ 6:04 pm

      This is yet another time consuming venture, but really is worth the effort! The taste of this pasta was far superior to anything I have purchased (even the refrigerated stuff). I should have known you would be whipping this stuff up all the time! ;)

  24. 24

    Chef Dennis — July 20, 2010 @ 4:24 pm

    hi Gwen

    I am ashamed to say I have never made pasta, it is definitely something I need to do! I should get that pasta attachment for my mixer!
    it looks like you had a great time!
    Dennis

  25. 25

    Lawyer Loves Lunch — July 21, 2010 @ 12:02 am

    This looks awesome! I have never made homemade pasta because I’m terrified but your descriptions were so perfect (especially of the finished product), it makes me want to try this asap :)

  26. 26

    Roti n Rice — July 21, 2010 @ 12:37 am

    What an interesting class to attend! I have never attempted to make my own pasta but would certainly like to try one of these days.

  27. 27

    Christine @ Fresh Local and Best — July 21, 2010 @ 9:20 am

    I like that this is yet another item that Mr. Bunky will only eat homemade. The texture of fresh pasta, when done well, is unparalleled. Thanks for those tips, very helpful for first timers.

  28. 28

    Cristina - TeenieCakes — July 21, 2010 @ 9:54 am

    There’s nothing like fresh pasta. I made it once w/Daring Bakers and luved it. Kitchen Aid has a newer attachment called a pasta extruder…have had my eye on this toy and dropped many hints to hubby, but still to no avail! :(

    I enjoyed reading Mr. Bunky’s list of “homemade only” from now on. This looks like it was a great class and has definitely inspired me to get going on it too! Informative and fun post!

  29. 29

    denise @ quickies on the dinner table — July 22, 2010 @ 2:54 am

    Gwen – you make me want to go buy a pasta machine and stick my hands in some pasta dough! Everything looks so good and you know what? You make it seem possible!

    Look the pasta with scallop photo :)

  30. 30

    Oui, Chef — August 3, 2010 @ 11:57 am

    The kids have been begging me for a hand-made pasta lesson, you have inspired me to do it SOON. What fun it looks like you were having. – S

  31. 31

    Suzanne — August 9, 2010 @ 10:29 pm

    Ohhh ahhhh, it all looks so good and how fun too! I love the first picture on the blog with scallops they look so tasty. You take such great photos too, I need a good camera…one of these days.

  32. 32

    TheChouxGirl — September 18, 2011 @ 5:52 pm

    that looks extra fun and super awesome!!! I have only made pasta once at school..I’ve always wanted to do it at home but I don’t have a pasta machine/roller :( one day though!

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