There are few things better than fresh, homemade pasta. It has a vastly superior texture and flavor when compared to that dried stuff from a box. I suspect that more people don’t make it because it seems somewhat intimidating if you haven’t done it before. While it does take a bit of time to complete, it isn’t difficult at all. However, it is somewhat difficult to give a procedure with precise measurements because the exact size of eggs and the hydration of flour can vary with time and location. Making pasta dough is definitely one of those kitchen activities that requires some on the fly adaptation to the conditions at hand. If the dough looks dry add a bit of water or oil; if it is too sticky, knead in some flour. Below I give directions for making the dough by hand – you can also throw everything into a food processor and whirl it around until clumps of dough form.
Before attempting fresh pasta on my own I did a survey of all the recipes I could easily find and they ranged from a ratio of 3/4 egg per cup of flour to recipes with a ratio of slightly more than 1 egg/cup flour with extra yolks added as an enrichment. As a sensible compromise I chose to use 1 egg per cup of flour – this has the added benefit of being supremely easy to remember.
1 cup flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
large pinch salt
1. Mix the flour and salt in a bowl. Make a well in the center of the bowl and add the eggs.
2. Working outwards from the center, slowly stir the flour into the eggs until it becomes difficult to incorporate more flour.
3. Dump the contents of the bowl onto the counter and knead the dough until a smooth, elastic dough is formed (about 5 minutes).
4. Wrap the dough in plastic and rest for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
5. Cut the dough into pieces and use a pasta machine to roll it, typically the pasta sheet is rolled 1-2 times on each setting, decreasing the roller spacing one notch at a time until the desired thickness is reached.
6. Cut the dough into the desired shape.
You can cut the dough by hand into large pappardelle as I have above, or any other shape you like. At this point it helps to let the pasta lay on the counter to dry slightly before handling it, this will prevent clumping. A light dusting of flour is also helpful. If you want to be really fancy you can buy one of those spiffy pasta drying racks with all the arms (this would be really helpful if you don’t have lots of empty counter space).
Next up: Christmas candies
– Sausage, Potatoes, and Garlic (recipe to follow soon)
– Brussels sprouts
– Braised artichokes
– Homemade ciabatta
Not my best looking ciabatta ever, but it tastes good.
– Creamy scrambled eggs on said ciabatta
– Braised beef short ribs (this will be my next entry; check back later this week 🙂 )
– The yummy pate de ville at Carmon’s
– Veggie chili (I’ll post this one sometime too)
Mmmm...tasty tasty apples...
Along with all the ‘gourdy fun‘ this weekend (thanks for coining the phrase Christine) we also stopped at a nearby orchard. We didn’t pick our own apples since we tired from our fabulous day in the country. Well, the myriad insects were decidedly less than fabulous, but I suppose they provided wonderful opportunities for interpersonal bonding via nit picking (think chimps, minus the eating). I’m assuming there aren’t many exotic diseases spread by the various flying and biting critters of central IL. Anywho… after careful deliberation I purchased a 1/2 peck of Jonathan apples. A normal person’s thought process might have gone something like this:
‘Goodness this is rather a large bag of apples…how does one eat this many apples…mayhap I should purchase fewer….why yes, that seems quite right indeed.’
My thought process was more like:
‘Wow! Apples!! Yum!! Apples are good! I like apples!! Hmmm….I can’t carry a whole peck…oh look….I can totally carry the 1/2’
This is how I came to be the proud owner of roughly 784 ± 1.3 apples. What does one do with this many apples? Eat them? Drink them? Use them as props in denture adhesive commercials? What if they grow tiny arms and legs and go on the attack before you can use them all (a la Attack of the Killer Tomatoes)?! Clearly this threat had to be neutralized; I was not about to die an ignominious death at the hands (stems? fangs?!) of 4.404884 L of apples. Hence the big batch of applesauce I made last week (take that pomaceous terrorists).
About 3 lb. apples
1 c water
about 1/4 c brown sugar (feel free to adjust the amount to your taste)
1/2 t cinnamon
- Clean, peel, and core the apples, then cut them into approx. 1/2 inch pieces
- Add the apples, water, and brown sugar to a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
- Lower the heat, cover the pan, and simmer the apple mixture for 20 minutes, or until the apples are tender.
- Remove the cover and simmer the mixture until most of the liquid is evaporated (feel free to crank the heat up here, just be careful to stir frequently if you do so).
- Remove from heat and the add cinnamon.
- After the mixture is partly cooled either a) for a chunky texture: mash the apples with a fork or potato masher or b) for a smooth texture: puree the apple mixture in a food processor.
Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of the finished product, so I’ll leave you with this final shot…
Just imagine them with tiny arms, legs, and fangs...
Several times today I looked out my window, quickly turned back to my desk, concentrated REALLY hard, looked out again, and was met with nothing but colossal failure. No matter how hard I tried, no amount of hoping, dreaming, or nose wiggling could restore the sunny 80 degree weather of two days ago. I was met with nothing but gray skies, 60 degree temps, and intermittent drizzle. Blah! Luckily, thanks to my weekend excursion to the Great Pumpkin Patch (more on all the gourdy fun another time) I am loaded up on more squash that I know what to do with. After digging through my pantry for a bit I was struck by a bolt of autumnal inspiration and decided to make squash risotto.
1.5 T butter
3/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 acorn squash, peeled
1 t rosemary, finely chopped
1 c arborio rice
1/4 c white wine (something you would drink, none of that supermarket ‘cooking wine’ please *shudder*)
3.5 cups chicken stock
about 2 cups spinach
about 1/2 c grated Parmesan
- Prep all the ingredients!! I religiously prepare (slice, dice, measure, grate, pulverize, pound, implode, etc.) everything before I start the cooking process. It has saved me from disaster (or at least inconvenience) countless times. Not only is there no rushing around to get the next ingredient ready (what if Martha Stewart is peeking in your window?! You wouldn’t want her, or your friends to think you are anything less than the picture of kitchen perfection), you’ll know if any key ingredients are missing.
- Bring the stock to a simmer in a medium sauce pan.
- Heat the butter over medium heat in another large pot (I use a big, enameled cast iron Dutch oven), add the onion, and saute until the onion begins to soften (ca. 5 mins.)
- Add the squash and rosemary, tossing to coat with butter and being the cooking process, about 4 minutes.
- Add the rice and stir for about a minute
- Add the wine to the onion/squash/rice mixture and stir until absorbed.
- Add stock to the rice mixture a ladleful at a time, adding more as the stock is absorbed, stirring frequently.
- After all the stock is added and the rice is tender, remove from the heat and stir in the spinach and the Parmesan.
Cooking the squash and onions
fuel for stirring...
Finally, after all that hard work….