The first rule of getting married is: don’t talk about getting married.
Ok, I’ll rephrase. Do talk about it to a select few people, suppliers for example, without whom the big day is pretty unlikely to even happen at all. Talk about it with enthusiastic friends and family, people you’ve not seen in a while or as a subject to fill that awkward moment when you’re stuck somewhere like a lift with a stranger and need to make small talk. But don’t talk about getting married to excess.
There seems to be something about putting a ring on it that sends people just a little bit crazy. Women who are already married want you to be part of their club, suddenly everyone has an opinion on everything from designing the invitations to changing your name and people who previously expressed no interest in decoration, make-up or fashion are suddenly knee deep in baker’s twine and hessian, frantically pinning unrealistic images of fairy light-strewn country barns when their wedding will actually take place in a city centre.
I’m not sure I’ve quite managed to stick to this rule. And with another six months until our wedding day I may well tumble further into the abyss of wedding-related boredom before then. Please tell me if I do. In a previous post I wrote about grand gestures and simple moments of which there could, perhaps, be no better example than a wedding day followed by spending the rest of your lives together. The day is what people remember, the life lived afterwards is what really matters, and while our wedding day will be incredible, it’s the rest of our lives bit that I’m really looking forward to.
You’ll have ascertained from the soppy ramblings above, and previous posts, that I’m head over heels in love with my husband-to-be. My second love in life, something of which you’re probably also aware, is cake. And while I’m sticking to my guns is supporting the small things over grand gestures, that doesn’t mean I don’t want an absolutely epic celebration on our wedding day, complete, of course, with an utterly incredible cake. Fickle: perhaps, greedy: definitely, but (if you’ll pardon the pun), I want to have my cake and eat it.
This weekend we briefed our wedding cake at a company called Choccywoccydoodah. As the name suggests, their several-tiered, personalized creations are completely covered in chocolate without a crumb of fruit or swirl of fondant in sight. This is my kind of cake.
We’ve briefed a design that’s completely personal to us. I’m not going to spill the beans because it’s going to be a surprise for guests and I’m hoping to share some of the details with you all when we’re back from honeymoon in September (assuming you still want to know and haven’t been bored senseless by wedding chat in the intervening months). Suffice to say, it’s going to be good. You can’t really go wrong with three tiers of chocolate-crafted goodness.
The first rule of getting married is not to talk about it. The first rule of driving blog traffic is to include your key words in the opening sentences of a post. But today I’m breaking the rules by talking about weddings and bringing you a plate of squid ink pasta: the perfect ending after all this talk of cake. Fishy, dark and delicious, this pasta is a riff on the simple tagliatelle I made a couple of weeks ago, subbing in some squid ink squeezed from slimy sacks (no need for those fancy packets, ask your local fishmonger and they’ll probably give it to you for free) and reducing the amount of egg ever-so-slightly.
Served with chilli, garlic, parsley, picked white crab meat and a squeeze of lemon, this tagliatelle makes the perfect simple supper. Exactly what you want when you’ve been eating copious amounts of cake and talking about getting married too much.
Squid Ink Pasta (adapted from my Homemade Tagliatelle)
(makes 600g tagliatelle)
Squid ink, approx 8g
1 – 2 tsp cold water
400 Tipo ’00′ Flour
4 large free range eggs
3 large free range egg yolks
Mix together the squid ink and one teaspoon of water to form a paste.
Put both flours into the bowl of a stand mixer, make a well in the middle and add all the eggs, yolks and squid ink mixture. Knead on a low speed for about 30 seconds until a crumbly dough is formed, then remove from the mixer and knead on a clean work surface until the dough is smooth and silky (about 5 minutes). If the dough feels a bit dry, add an extra teaspoon or so of water. Wrap tightly in cling film and pop in the fridge for one hour to allow the gluten to relax.
Remove your dough from the fridge and divide into five roughly equal portions. Store four portions under a damp tea towel until needed (this will stop the dough drying out).
Place the heel of your hand over the single dough portion and squash as flat as you can. With the pasta machine at its widest setting, pass the dough through the machine. Fold it over on itself, squish down once more and pass through the machine again. Repeat at least six times on this setting to bring the gluten to life – the dough will gradually become smoother and glossier with each roll.
Gradually decrease the width between the two rollers, passing the dough through each setting a couple of times until you have reached your desired thickness. I rolled my tagliatelle to notch 5 on a Kitchen Aid pasta attachment – the thinner settings are really more suitable for filled pastas so don’t roll it too fine unless you’re looking for something really delicate.
You will now have one long, thin sheet of pasta, ready for cutting. Cut the sheet to your preferred length – 40 – 50cm is about right – then dust lightly with flour and pass through the pasta machine using the tagliatelle attachment. Have a large floured tray ready and place loosely gathered bundles of tagliatelle onto it. Repeat the process for the remaining pasta dough.
At this stage the pasta can be covered and stored in the fridge under cling film. You can also freeze individual portions, making sure they are well wrapped up.
To cook the pasta, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Drop your tagliatelle into the water (about 100g per person is good), shaking off any excess flour. Cook for a scant 2 – 3 minutes, depending on how thick you have rolled it. Drain, season and combine with the sauce of your choice before serving immediately.
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