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Daring Kitchen July 2011: Handmade noodles

Posted by Jeanne on July 14, 2011

Blog-checking lines: Steph from Stephfood was our Daring Cooks’ July hostess.  Steph challenged us to make homemade noodles without the help of a motorized pasta machine.  She provided us with recipes for Spätzle and Fresh Egg Pasta as well as a few delicious sauces to pair our noodles with!

So.  Fresh pasta, no motors.  I cheated, I need to confess – I made the dough entirely by hand but I rolled them out and cut them with a machine.  I made a fresh egg fettuccine with peas from the garden, shrimp, olive oil, and herbs.

So.  How did I do it?  First, this book.  This book will be the death of me.

French Laundry Cookbook, why can’t I quit you?

Probably because the recipes, while an enormous a bit of a pain in the neck, work so beautifully when you take the time to follow them.  It’s a matter of good stuff meets good technique – it’s not fancy, it’s just carefully and thoughtfully done.  This is how you turn 4 ingredients into sublime pasta.

8 oz. flour

6 egg yolks

1 whole egg

1.5 tsp olive oil

1 TB milk

Not even kidding, that’s all that’s in it.  I’m not going to reproduce the recipe here because you really, really should buy the book if you don’t already own it, but I swear  that those are the only ingredients.

It’s a most improbable thing when you look at it.  How can ALL those eggs fit into that little bit of flour?

So you slowly stir it up, and the egg mixture pulls flour from the edges of your well until you have what’s almost a dough with flour around the edge.  This is where the book gets wacky.

“When the dough begins thickening and starts lifting itself from the board, begin incorporating the remaining flour with the pastry scraper by lifting the flour up and over the dough that’s beginning to form and cutting it into the dough.”

Um, ok.  So I did that, and it looked like this:

And I started to laugh because for the love of god, there is no way this mess is turning into pasta tonight.

“When the remaining flour from the sides of the well has been cut into the dough, the dough will still look shaggy.”

Possible understatement of century.  See photo above.

“Bring the dough together with the palms of your hands and form it into a ball.  It will look flaky but will hold together.”

At this point, I do not believe it.  There is NO WAY IN HELL this is going to work.  But I dutifully gathered the dough shards into a ball-esque thing and knead it for a minute or two.

And it worked.

It really worked.  So then you clean the board and knead the dough for another 10 to 15 minutes at least – apparently this dough cannot be overworked.  15 minutes was about enough for my hands.

Rest the dough for 30 minutes to an hour, and then you can roll and cut it.

I made fettuccine.

We ate the pasta with some shrimp and some garden peas (also some frozen peas, the garden giveth but not that many peas) that were sauteed in olive oil, along with some garlic and a bit of onion.

We also added some fresh oregano, thyme, and basil – I didn’t want anything that would be too heavy or strong and mask the flavor of the pasta.

And it was very, very good.  Fresh pasta has a texture that is just out of this world, and can barely be compared to the texture of most dried pasta.

Making this was another reminder to me that I need to believe in the possibility of things – that the floury mess on the cutting board can become dinner, that things which seem impossible are not.

6 Responses to “Daring Kitchen July 2011: Handmade noodles”

  1. Jenni said

    Beautiful job! I’ve always loved looking through that cookbook, but I’ll be honest it intimidates the hell out of me! Great job on your pasta, it looks amazing. And a good lesson learned, too. Sometimes things that seem a big utter mess turn out to be…simply beautiful.

  2. daphnedel said

    so jealous of your pasta attachment. your creation looks beautiful!

  3. Andy said

    Wonderful! It looks great

  4. Your pasta looks wonderful and the sauce sounds delicious! Congratulations on the challenge!

  5. Jo said

    Looks delicious! I’ve got a hankering for pasta with shrimp now…

  6. Jen said

    I made pasta with my Sparks group last year (Canadian equivalent to Daisy Scouts) and they thought it was the coolest thing ever. I have a hand cranked pasta maker and each girl got to roll out their own noodles. They were all so proud of themselves. I loved teaching the girls that things don’t always have to come out of boxes.

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