Tuesday, April 13, 2010

BaltimoreDIY Makes Pasta

At the Waverly Farmer's Market last Saturday, I picked up a mixed bunch of mushrooms and a bag of broccoli rabe. Both were incredibly fresh tasting, and I wanted to make a dish that would really highlight the ingredients. Mushrooms and broccoli rabe sounded very Italian, plus I had a dozen eggs getting older by the day in my fridge, and 10 lbs. of organic flour from the bulk food coop.

Mushrooms + eggs + flour = my first attempt at making pasta!

I could have looked up a recipe online, but I had Thomas Keller's French Laundry cookbook sitting out, and decided to make his pasta recipe. It's more of a fettucine recipe since it called for six egg yolks! It made about four meals though, so I guess that's not too many eggs all at once.

Making a well in the flour with egg yolks, a little olive oil, and water (the recipe called for milk but I didn't have any.)

This dough sure was sticky at first! You have to be really careful to mix the flour into the egg in very tiny increments so everything doesn't get too glumpy. The top photo shows the dough in its early stage.

Instead of folding the dough over on itself like bread dough, you have to ball up the dough, then press it with the heels of your hands away from you. Ball up again, press away from you, and repeat. And repeat. Until the dough gets shiny and when you try to push your finger through it, the dough springs back.

My arm muscles definitely got a workout! Although I did like that you can never over-knead the dough. Here it is about to be rolled out into noodles:

I refrigerated most of the dough overnight so I didn't have to do the second stage of rolling out and cutting the pasta until the next day. But I did make myself a small dish that night, since I just had to try some of the freshest pasta I've ever had.

No pasta machine. This was straight up hand rolling and cutting. I folded the dough into thirds three times and rolled it out to make the edges straight and knead the dough some more.

Then I rolled out pieces of the dough as flat as I could, and cut them into strips with a knife. The edges were crazily crooked, but I chalked that up to homemade charm.

The noodles are draped over a chopstick in the photo above because they will stick to each other if they touch.

The noodles cook quickly, about 3-4 minutes. I made sure to cook them in a huge pot of salted boiling water.

Then I sort of made an estimated sauce by cooking the mushrooms in garlic + olive oil + chicken broth + apple cider vinegar + dried sage. A dollop of butter right at the end of cooking adds an extra layer of yum.

The cider may seem strange, but having a light tangy burst soaked up by the mushrooms is a fantastic contrast to the starchy and oily pasta. The pasta was nice and chewy.

The next night I made a similar sauce for the pasta with broccoli rabe, only I used white wine instead of cider vinegar.

Sorry, the proportions are rather estimated. I will say that this is one of the first dishes I ever tasted while it was cooking (I know, I should always do this!). It really made a difference and allowed me to add more salt when needed, more wine, etc. Usually I just guess and then eat the result.

This recipe was definitely not easy, but it was really worth it for such a unique experience. Fresh pasta! I think I'd make it for someone's birthday or another celebration that merited something extra special.

Although this project was a lot of work, it was a fantastic DIY project. Not only did it use local or organic ingredients, it also was an interesting experience reviving a way of making food that is so rarely done anymore. It taught me a lot about the value of machine-made food (sometimes it's worth it!) but also about what makes something handmade so valuable.

Feel free to share your pasta or sauce tips, I'd love some new recipes!


Kim C said...

That looks super delicious! Broccoli rabe is easy to grow... very hardy. But the last two years leaf miners have gotten into it.

Angry Asian said...

oh this looks wonderful! great job with this. my pasta post is tomorrow.

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