Craftsy Class Review: Homemade Italian Pasta with Giuliano Hazan

So you may recall my recent birthday celebration held at the New York Wine and Culinary Institute in the Finger Lakes of New York State. 

And how I learned how to make pasta.

And how I fell in love with making pasta.

And how my husband bought me a pasta machine, and I've been off and running. (Amazingly, even with all this homemade pasta in the house, I've still managed to lose weight the last couple of weeks. Must be all the calories I'm burning cranking the rollers on the machine.)

Well, finally--as promised awhile back--here's my review of the very tasty and very helpful Craftsy class: Homemade Italian Pasta with Giuliano Hazan. 

  My first pasta made at home.

My first pasta made at home.

I. Loved. This. Class.

Giuliano Hazan is the son of the woman who has been credited for bringing Italian food into American (and British) home kitchens, Marcella Hazan. I'm not familiar with Marcella's work as I don't own any of her cookbooks. But I can say that Giuliano is a wonderful teacher in his own right. I found his lessons very easy to follow. In fact, the first couple of times I went through the process of making pasta with my new pasta machine, I did it side by side with him, having the videos running while I was doing the steps. Remarkably easy to follow, in fact, as I didn't have to keep jabbing at my iPad screen with pasta-covered fingertips to go forward or back. Smooth sailing.

The very first time you use a new pasta machine you have to make a batch of "waste dough," so to speak, because sending the dough through the rollers cleans any manufacturing or shipping dirt off the rollers and prepares it for service. This gave me the perfect opportunity to make my first batch of dough using his techniques because I had nothing to lose.

  First taste--noodles with butter and poppyseeds--the way Mom made then when I was little .

First taste--noodles with butter and poppyseeds--the way Mom made then when I was little.

Admittedly, though, I didn't see much stuff coming off on the pasta as I rolled it through, so I tossed the earlier bits more likely to have invisible gook and still cooked up the later bits so I could see how everything was going. Since I'm still with us to write this blog post, I must not have ingested anything too suspect. 

I've been playing with different flours, which I will say comes more from the Artisan Pasta cookbook I bought than it does from Giuliano's class. He does talk about flours at the beginning and helped me understand why there were so many different ways to approach making pasta (in short: it's a regional thing) as well as a little more about the different types of flours you might use, but Artisan Pasta goes a bit more in-depth on the subject. I've been going back and forth between using an unbleached white flour and a pasta flour (which has semolina and durum in it). I also bought a whole wheat flour but haven't had a chance to test that one yet--that's next week's batch, I think. Giuliano also talks about making "green pasta" (with spinach mixed into the dough) and explains how to adapt it to "red pasta," (with tomato mixed in), but I haven't tried either of those yet either. Artisan Pasta also has a ton of recipes for flavored pasta doughs that I haven't gotten to yet.

So much pasta, so little time.

Ah, but back to the class. 

  My most recent batch of pasta.

My most recent batch of pasta.

Giuliano is very easy to listen to, tells little stories here and there through the class so you get a real sense of how pasta and Italian food is such a part of who he is, and does a great job at filling in "dead air time" (while he's kneading or rolling or whatever) with extra information, substitutions, and great tips and tricks. He took all the concern out of trying to use a pasta machine myself, without a partner, by explaining some extremely easy fixes. Doh. Of course. 

He also explains how pasta is rolled out without machines, and gives information for using electric machines such as the type that attaches to a KitchenAid mixer. Because the electric ones are noisier, though, he mostly uses a hand-crank machine in the videos so as not to interfere with the sound.

Again, I really, thoroughly enjoyed taking this class. I'm looking forward to mixing his techniques with recipes from Artisan Pasta, as well as learning how to adapt the techniques to different ingredients. It's a matter of getting a feel for the proportions needed of liquid to flour depending on the density of the flour you're using, as well as how thick a pasta you need for the shape you're making. So far, I've been keeping it simple, but oh, I can see the possibilities.

  Noodles in soup

Noodles in soup

Since I'm also one-tooth-short-of-a-full-mouth these days (and no, that's not a euphemism), I've been finding that pasta is a very easy-to-gum meal. So last night I combined a Parmesan broth recipe from Peter Berley's Building Flavorful Soup class (see my review of that one here), with homemade noodles from this class, threw in some diced tomatoes, crumbled chicken sausage (Wegmans Fire Roasted Tomato & Basil--my all time fave), and some fresh basil from my garden, and yum yum. I almost didn't mind having a sore tooth for a few minutes, there.

I highly, highly recommend this class. Everyone should be making their own pasta, in my opinion.

The Basics

  • 7 lessons ranging from 10 to 25 minutes
  • The class begins with a brief introduction to Giuliano but dives almost immediately into making the dough. The first lesson includes the instructions for making spinach pasta with a mention of how to adapt those instructions for making tomato pasta, and concludes with information about how to use and store the dough.
  • The next lesson covers how to roll out and make basic cut pastas. The rolling technique in this class is where he varied most from what I learned from the chef in the culinary center on my birthday--I've been using Giuliano's technique and it works great, so I'm sticking with it. 
  • Lessons 3 through 6 are how to make a variety of shaped and filled pastas, and each includes a recipe for that particular pasta. I liked that he talks about what kinds of dishes each pasta works best in, and sometimes how they're used traditionally in Italy as well as more modern uses. 
  • The final lesson talks about how to cook and sauce pasta. It may seem straightforward, but I found that lesson gave me, if you'll pardon the pun, food for thought. 

Even if you don't plan on learning to make your own pasta (but why wouldn't you?) I think you could still get something out of this class, just in knowing what the shapes of pasta are and how to use them most effectively, plus a lot of great recipes.

I do have to also mention that Hazan has two other Craftsy classes. I don't own either of these yet but I imagine I can see them ending up in my shopping basket in the not-too-distant future:

Classic Italian Pasta Sauces: Meat & Tomato with Giuliano Hazan

Classic Italian Pasta Sauces: Seafood and Vegetable with Giuliano Hazan

Review complete. Two thumbs up!

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