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Daring Cooks July 2011|Pasta!

Let’s get down to it!

Steph from Stephfood was our Daring Cooks’ July hostess.  Steph challenged us to make homemade noodles without the help of a motorized pasta machine.  She provided us with recipes for Spätzle and Fresh Egg Pasta as well as a few delicious sauces to pair our noodles with!

So…we’ve made a lot of pasta.  In the fall, it’s an almost once-a-week kind of thing around here.  We love it.  This past winter and spring, we created a sweet potato ravioli to die for.  It’s super yummy.

Even though this challenge is less of a challenge than another excellent excuse to make fresh pasta (and pesto – first of the summer!), I thought I’d throw in a bunch of photos that would have been helpful to me the first time I tried to make pasta, over 20 years ago.  That was a disaster…which, come to think of it, I’m not sure how I got around, since we didn’t have youtube or any other great forum for learning quickly about cooking techniques.  I did, though, for some reason, and sure glad for it!

Steph provided a recipe for us to use (detailed below), but I decided to use the one that I’ve used for quite a while now.  I love it because it is very easy to scale (which I think Steph’s recipe is as well).  For this challenge, I thought it would be interesting to scale it down as small as possible (my husband is working late and won’t be around to help me eat this, so I really only need enough for one) and see if it works.  Ready for the ratio*?

100 grams of flour (I use regular unbleached white all purpose – not sure the weight you’d need if you used 00 or some other flour)


1 large egg

Once the flour is measured into a bowl (hard cord types do this on a board, but I think that’s way too difficult), you stir in some salt (just a pinch) and then make a well in the flour and crack the egg into the center.

And then the theory is…that you sort of scramble the egg and then slowly mix in the flour by adding a little to the egg and then a little more, and then a little more (see how this would be hard on a board?  If you had a really big surface, like a giant table, that might be ok, but not having it in a bowl is going to have most of us with egg running everywhere).  In practice, what I usually end up doing is beating the egg before I put it in the flour and then just kind of mixing it in with a fork.  You can use the fork to really smash the flour into the egg, getting it as thoroughly mixed in as possible.

However you do it, this is the piece of info that I wish I had the first time I made homemade pasta; it’s going to look like hell when you first mix it before it’s kneaded.  It’ll be really shaggy, pretty dry and not look at all like pasta.

I should have fixed the depth of field on this photo, but you get the idea.  When you feel like you have the egg mixed in as much as possible with the fork, use your hand (clean please!) to push it into a ball as much as you can.  It’s still going to be crumbly, but it will mostly stick together.

See how crumbly that is?  There are little flour bits everywhere (many of which didn’t make it into the final ball of dough).  But I just kneaded it and after 10 minutes of working it (yes, for real, 10 minutes.  You can do more but don’t do less, don’t skimp), it looked much more like pasta.

Now it needs to rest.  It needs to rest?  I’m the one who just kneaded it for over 10 minutes!  But it’s tired and needs to set up a bit and get even more pasta-y, so you can wrap some cling film around it or do what I do and throw it in a tupperware kind of container and put it in the fridge.  Leave it there for at least 30 minutes but you could leave it there overnight if you wanted (not much longer or it will turn grey – which doesn’t make it taste bad or kill you, but it looks icky).

Now you’re going to to cut it into wedges (this one is in fourths, but more dough could need sixths or eighths).

Cover the pieces that aren’t being rolled out so they don’t dry out completely.  Roll them out.  Ah, well…

There are a couple of ways to do this.  I use a pasta machine.  It’s not motorized (so it fits in the challenge) but I’ve never hand rolled pasta.  As far as I’m concerned, that’s for beautiful Italian women with massive arms to do.  Maybe someday I’ll get around to trying it.  But for now, I feel that kneading the dough is enough to do by hand…

Either way, you want to roll it out and then cut it or fill it.  I like to let my pasta dry a bit first on a rack (this one in a laundry rack).

This helps keep it from sticking.  Flour helps too.  When the pasta is a little stiff, you can cut it, either with a knife or a pasta cutter of some kind (my machine has a linguine and an angel hair cutter, both of which are very nice).  For this recipe, I like to cut it into squares/rectangles.

I made this recipe with a pesto sauce which works really nice with this pasta shape.  It’s an easy shape to do and it has a wonderful texture and resistance to it when it’s cooked.

Now it’s time to cook the stuff.  Boil water – lots of it with some salt – and then drop the pasta in.  Turn it down a bit so you don’t cook the heck out of it.

Once it’s back up to the boil again, it’s pretty much done, but taste it (not such a bad task) to be sure.  Be careful – it can turn to mush pretty quickly, and that is sad.

Drain the pasta and then sauce it.  I like to put some sauce in the bottom of the pan I used to boil the pasta and then add the drained pasta to it.

This helps keep the pasta from sticking to the pan or itself.  It’s not a bad idea to have the sauce warm, or at least room temperature (like this pesto – you don’t want to actually heat a sauce with this much cheese in it) before you add it.  I used pesto sauce for this challenge.  If you want my recipe, check out this post.

Plate and garnish however you like.

If you’ve managed to get this far, I think you’re going to be amazed and really happy.  There is nothing quite like fresh homemade pasta.  It’s not hard to make, it just takes a little time.  And hey – what else are you doing that could really be much better than that?

Thanks Steph for giving me an excuse to expound on the deliciousness of fresh pasta and being an amazing hostess!

Cheers.

*So because it’s a ratio, it’s really easy to modify.  If you want more pasta, increase both egg and flour by these quantities (ex: for 300 grams of flour, you would use 3 large eggs, for 600 grams of flour, 6 large eggs – and a lot of hungry people!)

 

Recipes!

Preparation time:
Spätzle – this is a very quick and easy recipe, about 30 minutes total

  • preparation of dough –  5 – 10 minutes
  • dropping into boiling water – 5 – 10 minutes
  • cooking time – about 10 – 15 minutes (for the denser style – thinner variations will take less time to cook)
  • sauce preparation – about 5 minutes, and can be done while the Spätzle cooks

Egg Fettuccine – this takes about 2.5 – 3 hours total, in the following stages:

  • initial dough creation – about 10 minutes
  • dough resting – minimum 15 minutes to a maximum of 2 hours (I let it rest for 30 minutes and prepared the sauce during this time)
  • rolling and cutting of noodles – about 1.5 to 2 hours
  • boiling the noodle – about 5 minutes

Equipment required:
– 1 pair of clean hands, ready to work!
– 1 sheet of plastic wrap  (for covering Egg Fettuccine dough)
– Large mixing bowl
– A clean, dry surface to lay or hang the cut Fettuccine during preparation
– A fine metal sifter (for sifting flour)
– Measuring cups
– Mixing spoon, preferably wooden
– Large pot (for cooking pasta)
– Two tablespoons (for shaping and dropping Spätzle)
– Manual pasta rollers (for rolling and cutting Egg Fettuccine) OR a rolling pin and a very sharp knife

German Spätzle

Ingredients:

2 large eggs
½ cup (120 ml) milk (any style of milk you what, but I believe buttermilk may be traditional. I’ve always used 1 or 2%.)
1½ cups (360 ml) (210 gm) (7½ oz) all-purpose (plain) flour (approximately – have more on hand, in case)
up to 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of herbs and spices (optional – I added some cayenne and herbes de provence)
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (3 gm) fresh parsley, chopped (optional – I added this for color mostly)

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and any herbs and spices that you want to incorporate into the spätzle.
  2. Incorporate the flour in small batches, by sifting in a small amount at a time and mixing until the flour is completely integrated. Keep adding flour until the dough becomes elastic, smooth and very hard to stir.image
  3. Boil a large pot of water. Dip a table spoon into the boiling water to wet it. To form the spätzle, fill the tablespoon about half way with dough, and release into the boiling water.image
  4. Boil for 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Drain the water from the spätzle. Because it’s full of fun craters where water can hide, you will need to drain it especially well. Toss with the chopped parsley.
  6. Plate, and dab a bit of the sauce on each spätzle. Don’t add too much – it’s really more of a light dressing than a sauce.

image

Butter and Breadcrumb Sauce (for Spätzle):

Ingredients:

½ cup (120 ml) (30 gm) (1 oz) fresh breadcrumbs OR ½ cup (120 gm) (60 gm) (2 oz) dry breadcrumbs (either variety can be used)
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Melt the butter… this can be done in the microwave, or on the stove.
  2. Mix in the breadcrumbs. If needed, gently heat further (especially if you store breadcrumbs in the fridge or freezer).
  3. Season to your taste

Handmade Egg Fettuccine:

4 – 6 servings

The following photos show the use of pasta rollers, however, the recipe will include steps for people using a rolling pin and knife instead of rollers. For a visual reference, please see this video of a pasta making demonstration with a rolling pin. His recipe is slightly different, but you can see the shape and thickness the dough should be, and how to cut the noodles. http://www.5min.com/Video/Hand-Made-Pasta-Recipe-179300529

Ingredients:

2 cups (480 ml) (280 gm) (10 oz) all-purpose (plain) flour
3 large eggs, beaten
water, as needed

Directions:

  1. Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Push the flour out of the very center of the bowl, to make a ‘well’. Pour the beaten egg into the ‘well’.
  3. Slowly incorporate the flour into the egg by mixing a small amount of flour into the “well” at a time and mixing until incorporated. Start by mixing in flour around the perimeter of the egg, and gradually widening the mixing to include more and more flour. Mix until all of the egg is mixed into the flour.image
  4. At this stage, use your hands to try to form a rough ball. If the dough is too dry, add a few drops of water and incorporate. Be careful to not add too much liquid – it’s better to slowly add water as needed, as opposed to trying to add more flour to a sticky dough. My trick is to wet my fingers, instead of pouring water directly into the dough. This ensures a minimal amount of water is added, and is more evenly distributed.
  5. Knead the dough for a few minutes, until it is smooth.
  6. Roll the dough into a ball, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside to rest. It should be allowed to rest for at least 15 minutes, at most 2 hours. Take this time to set up your pasta roller, and/or to prepare the sauce.
  7. Divide dough into 6 equal pieces. Take one piece to start, and put the remaining back into the plastic wrap so that they don’t dry out.
    image
  8. Form the piece of dough into a ball, and then flatten using the palm of your hand.
  9. If using pasta rollers: Run this through the pasta roller at its widest setting
    If using a rolling pin:
    Use a rolling pin to create a thin elongated oval.
  10. Place the dough horizontally on your work surface, and fold the long ends into the center, so that they meet. Press down on the edges to seal them. At this stage, you should have a rectangular shape.
  11. If using pasta rollers: Run the dough through the pasta roller, open-side first, again at the widest setting
    If using a rolling pin: Roll into a long, thin rectangle. Carefully flip the thin dough over, and dust with flour on both sides.  Skip to step #15.image
  12. Repeat steps 9 and 10
  13. Now run the dough through the roller two more times, again on the widest setting, without folding first. This will help to make the dough very smooth and elastic, for stretching.
  14. Now stretch the dough by running through the rollers, each time switching to a narrower setting. After the final setting, you should be able to see the outline of your hand through the dough.image
  15. If using pasta rollers: Run the stretched dough through the fettuccine-sized cutters. Gently lay or hang your freshly cut pasta, and cover with a clean cloth so that it doesn’t dry out while you roll and cut the rest of your dough.OR, If using a rolling pin: Carefully roll the dough up (like rolling up a yoga mat). Choose how wide your noodle will be, and using a very sharp knife, cut through the rolled up dough. Unroll the noodles as you go, to prevent sticking.image
  16. Repeat steps 8-15 for the remaining dough.
  17. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, gently drop in the freshly cut pasta, and cook for about 5 minutes. Drain and toss with sauce and enjoy immediately!

image

Aglio, Olio, Peperoncino e Basilico:

This recipe is sort of a cross between alio e olio (garlic and olive oil) and pesto. This doesn’t have the fine processing of basil that pesto does, allowing the oil to do most of the work of coating the pasta.

Should coat about 4 servings of pasta. Very easy to double, if needed.

Ingredients:

1 clove of garlic
¼ teaspoon (1¼ ml) (¾ gm) coarse sea salt, plus more to taste
1 small bunch of basil
¼ teaspoon (1¼ ml) (½ gm) chili flakes
¼ cup (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil
1 cup (240 ml) (150 gm) (5⅓ oz) quartered cherry tomatoes
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Directions:

  1. Using a mortar and pestle, mash the garlic with ¼ teaspoon of sea salt into a fine paste.
  2. Add a few basil leaves to the mortar and pestle at a time, and mash until softened (but not pureed). Do this until all of the basil is added.
  3. Add the chili flakes.
  4. If your mortar is not large enough, transfer the mixture to a bowl. Slowly mix in the olive oil. Add the salt to taste.
  5. Set the mixture aside for at least a half and hour to allow the flavors to mingle.
  6. When ready, gently toss with warm/hot pasta, adding more olive oil if needed.
  7. Add in the cherry tomatoes, and mix well.
  8. Add freshly ground pepper, to taste.
  9. Serve topped with Parmigiano-Reggiano, and a few more chili flakes.

Freezing/Storage Instructions/Tips:

  • The fresh fettuccine can be frozen before cooking. You may wish to lightly coat the pasta with a little bit of flour to prevent sticking. Gently tuck the pasta into a freezer safe bag and freeze flat. After cooking, the pasta may be refrigerated for up to two days.
  • The spätzle can be refrigerated after cooking, and will also keep for a couple of days in a properly sealed container.

3 Comments

  1. Jeremy says:

    Fun and delicious!

  2. Katsukhan says:

    Absolutely love the tutorial on making the pasta. Perfect for a beginner like me.

  3. Kathlyn says:

    Glad you like it – hope you give it a try. Fresh pasta is amazing!

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