Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Challenge 3.1

The source Eat This...It'll Make You Feel Better! by Dom DeLuise

The recipe This is Italian home cooking 101: DIY pasta. Even though I already know how to do this (and maybe you do, too), I selected a recipe for homemade pasta as my first Cookbook Challenge #3 recipe for two reasons:

1. this recipe does not use eggs (unlike my family recipe), therefore suitable for vegans and people allergic to eggs (hellooooo C.!); and

2. it is noticeably less gargantuan than my family recipe, therefore likely to be easier to undertake on a day when I want some fresh pasta but don’t have, say, six hours to spend in the kitchen.

The ingredients
3 cups/360 g semolina flour*
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup/250 ml warm water**

The method Pile the flour either in a very large, shallow bowl, or on a countertop or board suitable for kneading dough. Sprinkle the salt over. Make a well in the center of the pile, and add the olive oil. Mix in gently, using the tips of your fingers and being careful to keep the olive oil from escaping.

Making sure the mixture is still in a pile, with a well in the center, pour in about 2 Tbsp of the water and continue mixing. Pull in flour from the outsides of the pile; continue mixing gently and repeat, adding the water a little at a time. Eventually the dough will start to come together, and you can begin to mix it a little more vigorously. When you can, form into a ball and knead briefly, to make sure the dough is consistent, then put under an inverted bowl and rest for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, knead the dough for 3-5 more minutes, until it is soft and pliable. Form into a ball again, put back under the bowl and rest for another 15 minutes.

When ready to make pasta, cut the ball into thirds or fourths. At this point you can roll it flat for noodles, using a rolling pin or a pasta machine, or you can make whatever macaroni shape takes your fancy. What you see in the picture are what my family calls cecchedette (please excuse (or correct!) wildly approximate spelling; I’ve never seen this word written down), which look exactly like gnocchi made from regular pasta dough instead of potato dough. To make these, roll one-quarter of the dough into a sausage about 1 in/2 cm thick, then cut off chunks about the size of the top of your thumb. Then, using your thumb, roll them over the tines of a fork, or a woven basket, so that they flatten and curl over your thumb with the pattern on the outside.

Allow to dry for one hour before cooking, or freeze.*** When ready to cook, drop into salted, boiling water; they will cook in 2-3 minutes. When they float to the top, they’re ready.

Serves 4 people with leftovers.****

* I used 2 cups plain flour and 1 cup coarse semolina, because I wasn’t sure that was the same thing as semolina flour. I’m still not, but it seems to have worked.
** You may need a little more or a little less, depending on your flour and how dry/humid it is where you are.
*** To freeze, space out pieces of pasta on baking trays and leave in freezer until starting to harden, then put in a freezer bag. If you skip the baking-tray step, you will end up with a huge lump of frozen pasta. I promise.
**** Homemade pasta is much more filling than dried pasta, or at least mine is, probably because it’s never as fine.

The verdict This one is a keeper. It's a great alternative to egg pasta; doesn’t take too long to make, gives you the satisfaction of a fairly involved cooking project, and tastes delicious.


C. said... Best Blogger Tips

Who loves me the most?!


Thank you, thank you.

I know what I'll be doing this weekend.

Roving Lemon said... Best Blogger Tips

You know I'm always thinking of ways to improve your egg-free existence. Buon appetito, baby!

Mark Scarbrough said... Best Blogger Tips

Any recipe that originated with Dom Deluise is a recipe for me! But this one looks particularly lovely. Yum. While I'm more the get-it-done kind of cook, Bruce loves projects, so maybe I'll have to hint and whine for a while and see where it gets me.

Roving Lemon said... Best Blogger Tips

Mark, this one is definitely worth hinting and whining for - we managed to finish off the whole batch in less than two days and I'm already planning when to make the next one!

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