WW1 Rationing: Italian Paste
If someone had asked me to have a guess at what First World War Rationing recipes included, on my list would not have been pasta. However, here it is, almost as tasty as what we are used to. Egg is replaced with water at times due in part to their being rationed. Anna del Conte says that the standard ratio should be 1 egg:100g 00 flour (refined Italian flour).
I used standard plain flour instead of 00, which is what was used in the original recipe. Using standard flour is not uncommon, as Michael Caines advised during his lectured at Leiths School of Food and Wine in 2004. Pasta can have water added to it, whole eggs and egg yolks. Different regions of Italy add different quantities of egg. I like to use whole eggs and to add an additional yolk if more moisture is needed. The choice is yours. The aim is to have a smooth dough which is not sticky, to work with.
In the words of Granny Dot:
‘Ingredients. – 1/2 lb of household flour, half a teaspoonful of salt, one egg, and two to three tablespoonfuls of cold water.
Method. – Mix the flour and salt in a small basin and stir in the egg and water with a knife. After a preliminary kneading in the basin the paste is rolled on a table or marble slab under the palms of both hands until it resembles a long roll, then reversed and gradually kneaded into a short roll with the palm of the right hand just above the wrist, applying considerable pressure. The alternate movements are continued from twenty to thirty minutes, until the paste is elastic and quite smooth. The paste is more easily handled if halved and rolled into two sheets almost as thin as paper instead of one larger one. Just a little flour may be sprinkled on the table, but none on the rolling-pin. Leave the sheets of paste spread our for about two hours. In this state the paste breaks easily, but cutting is speedily accomplished by means of a knife strong and sharp enough to go through many strips of paste placed one on top of the other. Though the paste may be cooked as soon as it is cut, it is better if kept overnight spread in single layers to harden before being used.
Nouilles or nudeln are made in just the same way, but as a rule a little batter and one or two more eggs are added. These, however, are not really necessary.
A still cheaper form of macaroni is made of
Ingredients. – 1/2lb, flour, salt, boiling water.
Method. – To half a pound of flour add a small level teaspoonful of salt, and afer warming the flour, boiling water is stirred in gradually until half the flour is moistened, leaving the remainder to be kneaded in. Knead and cut as in the previous recipes.’
(The Eat-Less-Meat Book, 1917, Mrs C.S. Peel)
8 oz./226g flour
1/2 tsp salt
2-3 tbsp cold water
You can either form a hollow circle of flour and salt and break the eggs into the centre, putting one hand behind your back so as to resist the temptation to dive in with it, and mixing the egg yolks, gradually bringing in the flour which surrounds them, until a paste is formed. Knead it for 5 minutes. Wrap it in cling film and work with sections, so that it does not dry out before you want it to.
Using a Pasta Machine
You will need to put it through the first setting of the pasta machine, turning it after each roll, until it is smooth. Put sections through the pasta machine, starting at the highest setting and working down to one of the last two (setting two or three for ravioli). At this point, remove it and cut into the shape you require.
Roll it very thinly, and slice, or take it to level 1 or 2 on the pasta machine before slicing. Drape the pasta over tea towels on the back of a chair to dry. If you leave it for a few minutes, you will be able to make it into bundles when it is dry enough, but not so dry that it breaks when bent. It will keep for a long time.
Boil in salted water for 2 or 3 minutes and serve with a sauce.