joyce (joyce) wrote,

... more cooking ...

I'd been wanting to try homemade pasta for awhile, and last night was the night for it. I'd never made it on my own, and the last time I tried to make homemade pasta in consultation with someone else was when I was living in Salt Lake City with rhiannonstone and Dan, when we cooked a lot, because what else do you do in SLC when one of you works until nine, another works until 11, and the third spends most of his evening picking the other two up from work because of the fracked up bus schedules? That time, the pasta turned out okay - it was certainly edible, but we never made the attempt again. It did not turn out nearly as horribly as the great moussaka episode, which was the worst thing I ever made with rhiannonstone or Dan.

Sorry. I digress. I checked Chez Panisse Pizza, Pasta, and Calzone out of the library recently. The directions for actually making the pasta were a bit vague. The book instructs you to:

- put 1 cup of unbleached all-purpose flour into a bowl with "a little salt" and make a well in the center.
- Add a beaten egg into the well. Working with your fingertips, begin to blend flour and egg from the center out, gradually gathering the flour from the sides.
- Mix the flour and the egg, getting the particles next to each other without actually working or kneading the dough. (At this point, it looked quite a bit like the biscuit dough from this morning, except not as wet.)
- When you have the flour and egg mixed, add a fed drops of water (I ended up with something over a quarter cup of water, which I hardly call a few drops) and begin to bring it all together as a mass.
- Turn it out onto a table (or cutting board) and begin to knead. It will take several minutes to produce a very firm, smooth, and strong dough (and more flour, in my case. I might have overwaterred, after all.) The amount of moisture in the dough is the most critical element: this varies according to the size of the egg and type of flour. As the dough comes together, decide whether a little water is needed, or whether it is too soft and requires a little more flour. Do this at the beginning, because the dough will resist the addition of lour or water after you really begin working it.
- When you have the right amount of moisture in the dough - and experience will teach you what that is - knead the paste for 10 to 15 minutes (I gave up at something like 5), then cover it and let it rest for at least 45 minutes before rolling and cutting.

I ended up with a fairly smooth but slightly sticky doughball. More flour or more kneading might have fixed this; I'm not sure. At this point, the directions diverge into what to do if you have a pasta machine. Since I do not, I simply rolled out the dough by hand (note to self: glasses work okay for this, but it's really time to invest in a rolling pin) and sliced it by hand. Consequently, I had thicker and more uneven pasta than I would have if it were machine cranked. Nonetheless, it still looked better than the last attempt, so I brought plenty of salted water to a boil. The cookbook specifies anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 minutes for fresh pasta, depending on the thickness; mine took about 90 seconds to 2 minutes.

So, at the end, we have pasta. We both sampled a noodle to decide whether it was edible, or whether we needed to cook up the ravioli stowed in the freezer, and decided that it was edible enough to try with some sauce. And it was actually really pretty good. The varying thicknesses of the noodles was a bit odd, but other than that, it was good. :) We were both surprised and pleased. A couple pictures of the process are here.

From this experiment, I learned that I definitely want to do this again. Before I do, I'll see if I can find a hand crank pasta machine (mm, Ebay) because that would make it much easier to make the pasta uniform, and would in general speed up the rolling and cutting process. Also, having more space and real counter space would help, so further experiments will probably wait until we move. But I'm definitely doing this again, and I also want to try homemade ravioli and lasagne noodles.

Finally, the last thing I made yesterday were Kit's Gingersnap Cookies. I love gingersnaps, but they've always been something I buy; I'd never thought about making them. And holy hell, these are good. They're a little bit sharper than commercial ones, and a little bit sweeter (actually, I intend to lower the sugar a little bit next time and see how they turn out; I got 31 cookies out of the batch, and I did the math, and they're 85 calories apiece. Which, for rich cookies, isn't bad, but it's difficult to stop at just one of these... I'll make them smaller next time, too), and much, much softer than commerical ones. And infinitely better, and they took about 15 minutes total, not counting baking time. I'll never need to buy commercial gingersnaps again.

Today, I have more stuff I want to make, for breakfasts and lunches this week. However, I'm running low on flour. I'll have to see if we end up going out and about today.
Tags: recipes:cookies, recipes:new, recipes:pasta

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