Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Ode To A Culture That I Love But Can Not Claim Ancestry In

Things I will need if I ever make pasta from scratch again:
  • A six-week upper body intensive workout prior to pasta making
  • Brakes on my kitchen cart so I don't have to chase it around the kitchen while kneading pasta dough
  • Ibuprofen
  • An Italian Grandmother by my side, shaking her head and saying "Tesoro, let me do it."
  • My head examined for not using my Kitchenaid mixer (hello, dough hook) or food processor
  • A heavier rolling pin
  • More than one CD repeating on the stereo*
This makes it sound like I don't recommend making your own pasta from scratch, and/or that I am never going to attempt it again. Both summations would be wrong. Since writing the above, something has happened to me. It could be the release of some sort of hormones or endorphins** in my system that make me feel all loopy and in love with the pasta-making process, or it could be that I just finished cooking and eating the results of all that hard work. I made egg-noodles! How cool is that? Ask me tomorrow when I can't use my hands for all the pain and swelling going on.

Below is a list of links to various pasta recipes online. Maybe I should say varying instead. For something with essentially two ingredients, the ratios vary widely, as do the suggested cooking times and dough-handling techniques. Some recipes say to knead the dough like you would bread dough, others specifically say not to knead it like bread dough. Some say to roll the dough out gently while others say to do it vigorously. Who's right? Your Italian Grandmother is. Don't have one? Just pick a recipe and follow it. I have a sneaky suspicion that they'll all work out just fine. Seriously. Did I make mistakes? Oh yeah. Did it still taste like rich and wonderful fresh pasta? Uh huh. I just kept up the following mantra: "You can't overwork this dough. You can't overwork this dough. You can't overwork this dough."

I will definitely make fresh homemade pasta again. Why not? It's cheap to make, tastes great, you can freeze it, or you can dry it and keep it in the pantry. Not to mention the sense of accomplishment, which I have to say is pretty huge. Next time I'm trying one of the whole-egg versions though. And if I'm ever faced with the challenge of what to do with 14 egg yolks again, it's a safe bet that I'll be making lemon curd.

Homemade And Handmade Pasta from Joy The Baker
Basic Egg Pasta Dough from Jamie Oliver via MSNBC
Fresh All-Egg-Yolk Pasta from Busy Nothings blog
Seven Egg Yolk Fresh Pasta from French Laundry via Evie Eats Everything blog
Rich Man's Golden Pasta from Lidia Bastianich for Cooking Light April 2008 via
Pasta Fresca from Cafe Lago via
How To Make Egg Noodles at Saveur magazine
Fresh Pasta on page 92, Martha Stewart Living magazine, April 2000
Homemade Noodles on page 218, BHG Complete Step-By-Step Cookbook, 1978

My Notes: I used 12 egg yolks, 5 cups of flour, a splash of olive oil and a splash of water. Did not get anywhere near all the flour incorporated into the dough, and I ended up adding a whole egg to the dry shaggy mess to try and salvage it. It came out o.k. and tasted good. Not fabulous, but not horrible for a first attempt. Dried the rest and cooked it up a couple of nights later. Ugh. Big mistake. Back to the drawing board.

My Notes (1/10/10): Used the Café Lago Pasta Fresca recipe for amounts and for their stellar suggestion of using a food processor! I barely had to knead the dough at all. They should have called it "No-Knead Pasta". After letting it rest for 45 minutes, I cut it into quarters, then rolled it out and sliced it up into long strips. It was gorgeous: it looked gorgeous, it felt gorgeous and it tasted gorgeous. It made me want to make fresh pasta every day. Put what we didn't cook into the fridge. It was just as good cooked up the next day. Life is good.

Tesoro: Italian term of endearment meaning "treasure".
*To get in the mood, and tap into any hidden Italian-ness in my genes, I put The Hot Frittatas: Caffé Liscio CD on repeat. It provided the perfect soundtrack for playing with pasta. I think it's important to engage all the senses, and besides, it just made the whole thing seem a lot more fun.
**or en-dolphins as we like to say.
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