Pasta unboxed
November 26, 2012 8:32 PM   Subscribe

Please recommend me the best gifts for my pasta-making friend.

My dear friend and her husband are enamored with the pasta attachment for their KitchenAid stand mixer. I'd like to buy them a Christmas gift that helps make their pasta dinners even more awesome... but I've never made pasta from scratch, and I don't know what that might be. So, hive, please recommend me your favorite pasta-related gifts. Do you swear by a particular cookbook, uncommon spices, a certain sort of flour, or etc.? Is the KitchenAid's ravioli attachment similarly fun, or do you find it ventures over into too laborious?

The only potentially sticky wicket: Whatever I buy must survive a few days to a week in the mail to get from me to them.
posted by commander biscuit to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Book: The Geometry of Pasta
posted by AnnaRat at 8:44 PM on November 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

Truffle oil. Obviously you'll need to pack it well, but it is a food of the gods.
posted by kjs4 at 8:58 PM on November 26, 2012

Eh, truffle oil is a really divisive ingredient...some people love it, but a lot of people seem to think it is evil incarnate. So, I would probably avoid it for a gift.

I would recommend a set of high quality olive oil and can of course make plenty of pasta dishes with the normal versions of these things, but it's always fun to get the treat of using the good stuff, which makes for a nice gift.
posted by rainbowbrite at 9:13 PM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

King Arthur makes a nice pasta blend flour.

Small truffle with a truffle shaver. Squid ink, for making black or striped pasta.

Maybe a garganelli or gnocchi board.
posted by bcwinters at 9:16 PM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Why not get them a chitarra, if they don't already have one? It's very much fun, and very much about home-made pasta!
posted by trip and a half at 9:41 PM on November 26, 2012

A ravioli mold. A copy of The Top 100 Pasta Sauces. I ate a lot of the top 100 pasta sauces growing up--several have become beloved family recipes. The KA pasta extruder attachment is said to be total crap. I don't know anything about the KA ravioli mold--I use a mold similar to the one I linked above.

I don't want to start a war, but "truffle oil" has almost never has been within 10 miles of an actual truffle.
posted by mollymayhem at 9:42 PM on November 26, 2012 [4 favorites]

Ixnay on the truffle oil - and if you get them truffle, stick to a black truffle which is MUCH less expensive. White truffles are running about 8 bucks a gram right now - but it has been a fantastic season for them this year. You'd be looking to spend about $300 for a decent sized one. Also - I'd be your friend if you are the kind to hand those sort of things out during the holiday season.

Marcella Hazan's Classical Italian Kitchen is my bible. It has a grest section on pasta and what makes a good home made pasta and some fantstic sauces.
posted by helmutdog at 10:13 PM on November 26, 2012

Ingredients are a far better idea than equipment. Though I do love my chitarra and for that matter my ravioli rolling pin, I wouldn't buy either for a friend unless I knew they wanted one. Fresh truffles are out of the question if the gift is going to spend a week in transit. While we're discussing truffles, add me to the list of votes against truffle oil.

I'd assume they've got the basic pasta thing covered already. So I'd be more likely to suggest putting together an assortment of ingredients and recipes that will let them use their pasta roller for things other than pasta.

Dandan noodles are an easy start - send them szechuan peppercorns, a recipe for fresh udon noodles (I've had good luck using this one), and a recipe for dandan noodles.

Eggrolls are made with dough awfully similar to egg pasta dough, I can't think of any ingredients worth including but a recipe seems like a good idea.

Asian egg noodles - there are a handful of different kinds, the only less-common ingredient that comes to mind is tapioca starch or tapioca flour (which you can also use to make brazilian cheese bread). The bible for Chinese noodles is Florence Lin's complete book of chinese noodles, dumplings, and breads. The book is out of print but a digital copy was available on google last time I looked.
posted by foodgeek at 10:17 PM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Parmigiano-Reggiano, the real stuff and only the real stuff. As large of a wedge as you'd like to spend on their gift, plus a simple cheese grater. I'm partial to a plain, flat, microplane, but some people like thicker shreds.
posted by girlhacker at 11:30 PM on November 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

When I've made pasta at home in my small kitchen, drying the noodles has been a bit of a challenge. Initially I hung them over a broomstick laid across an aisle between 2 counters, but this (a) was in the way, and (b) positioned the raw noodles perfectly for my dog to steal them. So then I started wedging the stick between the fridge and the cabinet above it, cantilevered out into the room, which at least got it away from the dog.

All that to say: a countertop pasta drying rack might be nice, if they do this a lot.
posted by jon1270 at 2:13 AM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Marcella Hazan's Classical Italian Kitchen is my bible.

Absolutely. Don't bother considering any other pasta-making aids unless this is already on their shelf.
posted by torticat at 6:20 AM on November 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

Give them a call, and ask them curious questions about making pasta. Have they tried ravioli? An attachment or by hand? (or was there some tool that would have made it easier - molds, cutting wheels, little tiny scoop) How do they dry it? What have they tried so far for flavors?

Basically, there are a ton of tools out there, lots of recipes, attachments, gizmos, flavorings, etc. But everybody's going ot have an opinion - fortunately a project like this is somethin gyou can ask a lot of questions about without sounding like you're trolling for gift ideas.
posted by aimedwander at 7:01 AM on November 27, 2012

A pasta cutting wheel or roller. These allow you to make noodles whatever width you want. And some of them look really cool. Fantes has several types.
posted by wryly at 10:57 AM on November 27, 2012

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