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I have expressed on a few occasions that I'd like a pasta machine... I meant more of a cheap just lets you run the dough through once to get it flatter kind of a pasta machine. But come Christmas my hubby got me the Imperia Italian Double Cutter Pasta machine! As angry as I was that he spent money while we are in a cinch I was so happy to try it out!
The pasta machine comes in a not so big red box with the Imperia logo clearly visible on it just above the picture of the machine at work. I must say I was surprised when I grabbed the box (Yes I grab my gifts from people...no time to be all nice when theres goodies awaiting!) it was quite heavy. I later weighed the machine and it came to weigh about 3lb. Now this is my first pasta machine so I don't know if thats standard or not but it made me feel like 'oooh now THIS is quality' sort of thing. It looks and feels a bit beasty and not at all like a toy but a serious machine.
Mines came with two different cutters. These will cut the sheets of dough into 2mm tagiatelle & 6.5mm fettuccine.
The machine needs a tidbit of assembly. You are required to put on the handle, secure it to your work surface and put on the attachment. It takes about a minute total to do this even if its your first time.
In the package you will also find an instructional booklet with quite a number of recipes and a copious amount of adverts for all of these mouthwatering GIMMEGIMME attachments for the machine. I was amazed at the possibilities!
The pasta making itself went smooth. I followed one of the recipes and instructions in the booklet.
My only gripe is I can't clean the machine good afterwards. The bits of dough keep on sticking in between the blades and I have to wait till its all hard n dry to try n turn them out, or shake them out....or plead?!?
If anyone has a trick for how to clean this god darn thing efficiently please do let me know!!
After a late night spree on Amazon, I somehow managed to convince myself that my life wouldn't be complete without owning my own pasta machine, and went with the Imperia after seeing a wealth of positive reviews (as well as negatives for anything that wasn't the Imperia!) I really thought I'd get bored of the thing like every other kitchen impulse buy I've made, but over a year later I'm still using it!
I can't speak for the other brands as this is the only one I've had, but it is definitely a fantastic bit of kit. It's rustic and charming, and does need a fair bit of elbow grease when using, as well as being firmly bolted to the counter top or table as it can wiggle about.
As someone brought up on dried and supermarket 'fresh' pasta, I was astonished at the difference making your own pasta makes to the taste and texture, and with the Imperia it's so easy to make. I tend to mix up the dough the night before (takes about 5 mins) and after a few hours/overnight in the fridge, just run it through the Imperia until it's smooth, definitely easier than endless kneading!
This device doesn't need cleaning, in fact washing it can break it, it just needs some oil such as rapeseed every now and again, and just make a bit of extra pasta if you've not used it in a while and throw the first piece away which will have cleaned the mechanism for you.
If you want to experiement, there's also lots of little attachments you can add, which don't cost too much, although the ones that come in the kit are enough for me, covering your bog-standard lasagne sheets, spaghetti and tagliatelle.
In short - don't be conned by the more convenient sounding 'automatic' models which many complain of breaking down further down the line, get this old favourite and enjoy it for years to come.
You don't really know until you try. Fresh pasta is so much nicer than the dehydrated version from the packets. OK, you can still make nice dishes from a box, especially if you pay a bit more and buy egg pasta, but fresh pasta knocks spots off it. The bad news is that it's not that easy to get hold of, and it costs quite a lot more than dried.
But the REALLY good news is that it's easy to make your own, and it doesn't cost a great deal. To make a lasagne for two, for example, you can create the pasta with four ounces of flour and a large egg. Double that if you're both hungry and want a little left over.
So where does a pasta machine come in? What is one?
You start by mixing the dough. Just flour and eggs, in the ratio of 3 2/3 ounces to one large egg. You can use a food processor with a dough hook, or a big bowl, or just a clean flat, floured surface. The flour should be type 00, which is extra fine. You might need to shop around a little bit to get this. Whizz up the eggs, and mix them thoroughly with the flour, then knead vigorously (I really enjoy this bit!) until the dough is nice and springy. Then cover the dough and let it rest in the fridge for an hour
Clamp your pasta machine to a table, have a little flour ready to dust the dough in case it sticks (I don't find mine does) and start rolling.
The Imperia is the real deal used by top places. The picture tells you exactly what it looks like, a beautifully engineered miniature mangle made from chrome-plated steel, operated with a wooden handle You take a ball of pasta dough, about the size of a small egg, and feed it through the machine on its widest setting (No. 1 - there are six width settings). Out it comes, quite thick and roughly flat. Fold it in half, and set the machine a little narrower to No 2. Out it comes, a bit thinner and either longer or wider, depending on which way you folded it in half. You repeat this process all the way to number 6 setting, the narrowest. If you are a purist, you then roll it up into a ball again and start again.
What is happening here is that you are not just thinning out the dough but continuing to work and knead it. It comes out astonishingly strong and flexible at the same time. On the second progression down from setting 1 to 6 you aim to finish with a beautifully smooth and thin pasta sheet a few inches wide, as if you were going to make lasagne.
The Imperia is really easy to work through this process: you just crank the handle with one hand, using the other firstly to feed the dough in and secondly to support the sheet when it comes out. It's enormously satisfying to be producing this having begun with the raw ingredients of just flour and eggs, and to do it all by hand.
The finished sheets can be hung over the banisters or something like a towel rail until they are all done. They are then ready to cook, but they can also be frozen until needed. You might spend twenty minutes making up your pasta sheets, but you save a bit on cooking time, so this is ecologically good as well as giving you a bit of pleasant exercise and getting close and personal with your food.
The Imperia SP150 comes with an extra attachment with two settings that will shred your pasta sheets into tagliatelli or fettucine. You simply remove the crank from the main body of the machine and put it into the attachment, then feed the sheets through. Easy.
Pasta is really clean to make, so the only cleaning you have to do is to wipe the machine with a dry cloth. Using water is a bad plan because the Imperia might get rusty. The only fiddly bit to clean comes if you use the tagliatelli or fettucine attachments, so you might prefer to do some skilful knife work instead.
You will find yourself paying the best part of £40 for an Imperia. It's well engineered and feels like it will last for ever, so you need to think of it as a long-term investment. You save a little bit of money each time you use it, if the alternative would be to buy fresh pasta. You probably don't save any against buying dried. So you need to weigh up how much you will enjoy the process of creating your own food from scratch, as well as the factors like improved taste, the potential for variety and individuality that lies in adding extra ingredients for colour and taste.
Mine was a present and I'm delighted with it, but it would have felt like a brave and extravagant purchase otherwise. However, I love using it, and expect to continue doing so.
Manually operated pasta making machine for home use