Gazing out the window with a cup of tea in one hand and in the other - a peach so ripe that I need to tuck a napkin into the palm of my hand to prevent the juices from running down my arm, I am trying to wrap up this post while eyeing the latest copy of Christopher Kimball's Milk Street magazine laying next to me. We are still waiting on our baby's arrival, which could be any day so I've been trying to keep my mind off of the "delay" as I had hoped it would have happened by now. Back to the peach(es) though, I love them and await their arrival every year but like strawberries, after they are gone, you won't usually find me indulging in peach, strawberry or any other popular fruit flavored desserts because I like them in their simplicity - whole and fresh.
Speaking of whole and fresh - I've been wanting to make my own pasta for what seems like ages now. I've eaten fresh pasta made by my mother, friends and at fabulous restaurants but I could never bring myself to do it for one simple reason. I have always wanted to use the cute, hand-cranked, pasta machine and everyone I knew who made pasta just did it completely by hand (which is just as tasty, but didn't seem to be as fun). During our visit the other week, my wonderful, quiche-sharing friend mentioned she had such a machine so I offered up to host a pasta making day if she would bring it with her and so it happened!
You might be thinking - how hard could it be to buy your own pasta machine and make pasta? Not hard at all and I might be over-thinking it but I wanted to be sure that this was something I enjoyed and would want to do often enough before investing into another piece of kitchen equipment. I am a minimalist and hate the idea of putting money and effort into something that will be useless to me within a short time. Having said that, the happy verdict is that a sparkling new pasta machine is definitely joining my collection of kitchen tools in the near future!
The recipe I used came from Alice Waters' book The Art of Simple Food. We rolled out the dough to the thinest setting available and cut it into fettuccine to go with the bolognese sauce I had made. I highly encourage you to try out different thicknesses and cuts of pasta to see what you like best. As for the bolognese sauce, I also used Alice's recipe as a guide and it was scrumptious, but I have a few adjustments in mind before I can share it with you.
Fresh Egg Pasta
- Making the dough: add the flour into a large, shallow bowl and make a well in the center. Place the eggs and yolks into the well and using a fork, whisk them lightly without incorporating the flour into them just yet. Once the whites and yolks have been broken and combined somewhat, start slowly incorporating the flour from the sides into the eggs a little bit at a time. Continue to do this until the mixture starts to thicken and form a shaggy dough.
- At this point you may set the fork aside and continue mixing by hand. If you feel that the dough is dry and crumbly after most of the flour has been incorporated, add some ice water to the mixture using no more than a teaspoon at a time. At this point you can continue working the dough in the bowl or transfer the mixture onto a flat, floured surface. Knead until the dough comes together completely and is neither sticky nor dry but is smooth and taking on a shiny look. The kneading should only take a couple of minutes.
- Rest the dough: roll the dough into a quick ball, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for an hour at room temperature before beginning to roll it out.
- Make pasta: if rolling out by hand, do so on a lightly floured surface to the desired thickness and then cut into desired form. If using a pasta machine, the basic first steps usually include lightly flouring and flattening the dough enough to fit through the widest setting on the the machine. Fold the dough into thirds after the first pass and repeat this two more times before decreasing the setting to your desired thickness. Cut into noodles or use as desired for making a filled pasta.
- Cooking the pasta: cooking fresh pasta is simple and faster then what you might be used to with store bought versions. While it may take about 3-6 minutes to cook it, keep in mind these tips to get the best results:
- use lots of water when cooking pasta and salt it generously.
- do not crowd the pasta as this will cause it to stick together.
- bring water to a rolling boil before adding pasta, this helps prevent the pasta from settling down and sticking together. Make sure to stir it a couple of times afterwards.
- There is no need to add oil to the water when cooking pasta, this will only interfere with any sauces you might want to add to it later.
- Do not rinse in cold water unless you plan to use the pasta in a salad. Simply toss with a bit of butter if you plan on serving it plain.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- ice water