Thursday, May 13, 2010

You Don't Need a Pasta Maker! A Tutorial

Finally, here's the requested tutorial for making pasta - actually, to be technical, they are egg noodles. I like them best in lasagne, but I do use them in soup and sometimes (like in this tutorial) for regular sauces where I would use commercial semolina pasta.

Fresh Pasta (from Alice Waters in The Art of Simple Food)

First, separate two eggs, keeping the yolks. Mix the 2 yolks with 2 more whole eggs and set aside.

Put 2 cups flour in the bowl. I used 1 cup whole wheat, but I have also used 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (to make it local). Make a well and dump the mixed eggs in there.

Using a fork, start to coax the flour into the eggs in a scrambling fashion. Keep "scrambling" until there's no liquid left and then get your hands in there and knead gently until it comes together. It reminds me of playdough - a stiff dough. If needed, you can add a smidge of water to get it to a cohesive, smoothish mass.

Now, shape it into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap (or a very close-fitting tight container could work) and set on the counter for at least an hour to allow the gluten to relax.

Now you can roll it out!

I divide my disc into 4-5 hunks to make noodles. Generously sprinkle the counter with flour.

Roll the dough thinly into a big sheet (I usually roll until I can barely see my black countertop through the dough). Fold the sheet in half, flouring between and on top and stack all the sheets on a cutting board.

Use a sharp knife or pizza cutter to cut into noodles - you can make them short or long, skinny or fat. Then gently pick them up and run them through your fingers, shaking them apart (this is so fun!) and adding a bit of flour if they are sticking to each other.

Try to shake excess flour off before putting them in the pot. Cook the noodles in more water than you normally use because they can boil over - I'm sure you can guess how I know this; cook for 3 minutes. Other tips and notes about my pasta here.

We ate ours with a simple sauce of homecanned tomatoes and chard with roasted carrots and turnips on the side.

Beware, pasta can give energy for craziness!

The Condensed Pasta Recipe (you know, so you can fit in your recipe box!)
Mix together:
2 egg yolks
2 eggs

Put 2 c. flour in a bowl, make a well in center. Dump eggs in center. Scramble flour into eggs with fork. Then knead gently, adding a bit of water only if necessary, until a stiff dough is formed.

Wrap dough in plastic and allow to set for at least an hour. Roll out in sheets, using lots of flour. Fold and stack sheets and cut into thin ribbons. Cook noodles in lots of salted water for 3-5 minutes.

One more piece of pasta business: Meghan asked about my marinara when I made lasagne. For the lasagne, I used a batch from the freezer using the Simply in Season recipe. But otherwise, here's what I do to make about 4 cups spaghetti sauce:
Fry an onion or two.
Add lots of herbs: at least a teaspoon each of basil and oregano, then less of thyme, rosemary, marjoram, and fennel.
Dump in 1 quart canned whole tomatoes with their juice.
Break up the tomatoes as the sauce simmers on low, uncovered. It will be thick in probably 30-45 minutes. About 5 minutes before you think it's ready, add several garlic cloves, minced fine (not pressed). Taste and add salt and pepper.
Sometimes, to taste, I add hot peppers, Worcestershire sauce, some red wine. Some people might add a bit of brown sugar. Sometimes I also saute mushrooms with the onions. If you've got fresh herbs, by all means use those, but add towards the end.
If the sauce is too chunky, puree some or all or it. If it's too watery, turn up the heat and let it reduce, keeping a close eye on it.


Jennifer Jo said...

No salt?

Margo said...

Alice Waters doesn't add any to the dough itself, but Martha Stewart does. I've always liked my results from Alice, so I didn't tinker with it.

Meghan said...

Thank you!

Christian - Modobject@Home said...

I've never made homemade noodles before... maybe someday when I'm cooking again, until then will you send me some?

Margo said...

Christian, I'd be glad to :) If you lived in my neck of the woods, I'd be bringing you casseroles until Baby Sister is sleeping through the night!
I guess I sound evangelical about the noodles, but I always thought homemade pasta required special equipment and lots of time in the kitchen. And lo! it does not.