Making fresh egg pasta is in my genes
I do have memories of my Grandma Clara making fresh egg pasta from scratch. The outer ring of flour on the wooden board surrounding freshly cracked eggs. The motion of her arm and hand as she used a fork to whisk the flour into the eggs. How she cut the rolled out dough into noodles. Kitchen magic.
Clara was not an Italian Nona. She was my Ukrainian Jewish grandma from Tarnopol. Her noodles were not in red sauce. They were part of a dish she often made for me, that was one of my favorites. So simple, yet so good. Bet you can't guess how she used the noodles, so I will tell you. Noodles and pot cheese! Probably a little butter on the noodles first. I would often make this with store bought pasta during the decade of my twenties, when I lived in a studio apartment on Jane Street, while working as a book designer.
Coronavirus support cookies and comfort pasta
Today I went shopping at the Park Slope Food Coop. Things were not as bad as they were last Sunday due to coronavirus panic. The shelves were stocked well and u-boats with boxes of fresh produce were on the floors. Workers used box cutters to open the boxes, found the spot where the food being unboxed resided in bins or on the shelves, and stocked the food for purchase by members of the coop.
We have a phone paging system where announcements may be made for all to hear. Members may page out and ask if an item they need would be coming up from the basement soon, or if the coop was out of say, artichokes. Today there were two funny pages out.
One was an announcement that there were coronavirus support cookies on sale, to be found in a shopping cart by check-out. Only sixty-seven cents for a box of these comforting cookies. The other was more of an observation. The pager wondering if there would really be any room in members' apartments for all of the food they were buying. In these trying times, it feels good to feel a smile on one's face in response to some funny quips. Unfortunately in these times, a face that one should not touch anymore.
Fresh egg pasta virgin loses her virginity
After food shopping at the coop, my fridge is now loaded to the brim with the groceries I purchased. Always overly ambitious, I had picked out about four recipes to cook in the coming week, and shopped with grocery list in hand.
However, I suddenly decided to u-turn my plans. Most immediately, I would try to make egg pasta from scratch. I was inspired by a post describing same, sent to me in an email from a food website to which I subscribe. (and might I unabashedly add here dear readers, please do subscribe to this food blog, cookingthekitchen.com).
I had not purchased any comfort cookies at the coop, but decided that making comfort pasta would fit the mood of the evening. And I had sugar snaps to be sauteed, to go with my pasta.
Aftermath and hindsight
I made a lot of rookie mistakes. All in all, my freshman effort resulted in not so bad pasta. I am glad that i jumped in feet first and gave it my personal best.
Like any art, pasta making requires practice, practice, practice. In the future, I will go back to this recipe in order to perfect my skills. I look forward to getting fancy and making variations like spinach pasta. Or I could make this blog's recipe for Lasagna with Collard Greens, using freshly made lasagna noodles.
Perhaps I will stop being a luddite and try a hand crank pasta machine one day. Who knows, I may even graduate to a stand mixer with pasta making attachments.
But right now, I like not having the clutter of extra kitchen equipment. Less is more for me. My rolling pin is all I really need for making fresh egg pasta when cooking the kitchen.
Follow my lead and jump in with both feet. Try making fresh egg pasta too, and enjoy!
Fresh Egg Pasta
. You can really use whatever flour you want to use;
. "oo" flour will yield silky pasta;
. Bread flour will yield a toothy pasta;
. All-purpose flour will be inbetween silky and chewy;
. Humidity and age of flour will affect how liquid will be absorbed, so use your judgment. If too wet, add more flour. If too dry, add a bit more oil;
. Cook it right away, or dry for future use by hanging in strands, or curl into nests. Because dough is made with eggs, bacteria can form so either cook it or store it.
. Flour is used to make the dough.
. Cornmeal is to store the dough (don't mix into your dough, but cover holding tray with some).
- 2-¼ cups (290 grams) all-purpose; bread; or "00" flour, and more as needed, (some people use whole wheat or other flours)
- ¾ tsp (3 grams) kosher salt
- 2 whole large eggs
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, more as needed
In a food processor, pulse together flour and salt. Add eggs, yolks and oil and run machine until the dough holds together. If dough looks dry, add another teaspoon olive oil. If dough looks wet, add a little flour until dough is tacky and elastic. [Alternatively, mix flour and salt in a bowl, make a well in the center and add the wet ingredients, and mix with a fork. You may mix further in the bowl with your hand before turning dough out onto work surface.]
Dump dough onto a work surface and knead briefly (or 10 minutes if mixed by hand), until very smooth. [Flour ball of dough so it does not stick to plastic wrap.] Wrap in plastic and rest at room temperature for 1 hour or in the fridge overnight.
Cut the dough into 4 pieces, keeping them covered with plastic wrap or a dish towel when not in use. (If you're rolling the dough out by hand, rather than using a pasta machine, cut it into 2 pieces instead.) Using a pasta roller set to the thickest (widest) setting, roll one piece of dough out into a sheet. Fold the sheet in thirds like a letter and pass it through the machine 2 more times on the same setting. Reduce the setting, and repeat rolling and folding the dough, passing it through the machine 2 or 3 times before going to the next setting. For pappardelle and fettuccine, stop rolling when the dough is about 1 or 2 settings wider than the thinnest one on your roller. For lasagna noodles, and for ravioli and other stuffed or filled pasta, go to the thinnest setting.
To roll out the dough by hand, use a rolling pin to roll each of the 2 dough pieces out on a lightly floured surface. This takes patience but is not hard. Roll until it is as thin as you like, as thin as a penny for fettuccine and pappardelle, thinner for lasagna and stuffed pasta.[Be sure to keep your board floured so dough does not stick]. [Either fold each sheet of dough in thirds, or roll into center from each end. Use chef's knife to cut into noodles. There is a trick where, after cutting into noodles, you may place your knife into the center of the line of noodles, raise up your knife and the long noodles will hang from the knife edge. Transfer to baking sheet lightly covered with cornmeal and cover with towel while working on second dough piece. Then either cook immediately, or store and refrigerate, or freeze.]
Shape the pasta. For pappardelle, cut rolled pasta into i-inch-wide strips. For fettuccine, run the rolled sheets through the fettuccine setting on your roller. Place cut pasta on a flour-dusted sheet tray and cover with a dish towel while rolling and cutting the remaining dough. Make sure to sprinkle flour over the cut pasta before you place another layer on top. If not using immediately, cover the sheet pan with a towel to keep the dough supple.
Bring a large pot os well-salted water to a boil, add fresh pasta and boil for 1 to 3 minutes, depending on thickness of the pasta. [Use tongs or a pasta spider spoon to pull pasta out of the water. Do not drain pasta by dumping it into a collander or your pasta will be coated with cornmeal that would have fallen to the bottom of the pot of water.]