Saturday, July 29, 2006

mailing it in: back to the pasta pin

all i can do is apologize for the crazy formatting blogger adds -- and for the stuff it strips out -- of these mail-in posts. if i have time i'll clean it up later.

thanks for your patience. anyway. . .long-time readers know i spent a few days acquiring the materials for and then making my own italian-style 32-in. pasta rolling pin to the exact specifications dictated by famed italian cookbook author marcella hazan.

now that i have this oaken beauty, i obviously needed to make some handmade pasta with it. which i did today. the continuing heatwave stretches from california thru new york and apparently as far as central europe! amazing -- the weather maps on cnn international will blow your mind.

thus i wanted to make a lunch that required very little cooking. gentle readers may recall that my husband has been keeping up the fight on the gazpacho front, but alas he's not like me: man cannot live on cold tomato soup alone.

so naturally i decided to make some handmade egg pasta with above handmade rolling pin and sauce it with likewise handmade spinach-walnut pesto from anna del conte's classic ligurian recipe.

this also involved the famous australian olive oil, the search for which devoted readers will also recall with deep amusement entirely at my expense.

as i was saying, i whipped out my favorite large maple cutting board, dumped out 5 oz. king arthur flour with 11.3% protein, made a mound with a well in the center, dropped into 2 large pasture-raised organic eggs i got from hudson farms via the csa, and mixed away.

a couple minutes mixing with the fingers, 8 minutes hand-keading, and wa-llah! lovely golden pasta dough.
just wrap that in plastic, let rest for 1-2 hrs., and start rolling! what's interesting about handmade pasta is that with this marcella-type pin you really can roll the stuff out thin enough to read through.

the magazine i tested my pasta with was an australian tourist promotion magazine called voyages. . . .

anyway, pasta is one of those things that books make seem terribly complicated and difficult to create. actually, it's even easier than ciabatta.

marcella herself somehow devotes about 12 pages to the process, making it seem rather like rocket science or nanotechnology or something. it's nonsense. making the darn pin is waaay harder.

marcella finally closes her tedious and off-putting account by warning that it may take practice before you produce something edible.

pish-tosh. it's delicious right away. there's nothing mysterious about it; it's almost embarrassingly straightforward.

so you roll this puppy out, turning and stretching it not unlike pie dough, it seems to me. it's just that with pasta you do it a while longer till the australian travel board can beckon you to perth.

at that point you drape a lightly floured towel over the back of a chair, hang the pasta on that as if it were handwashing, and relax for 10 minutes.

after 10 minutes, rotate the pasta, put the water on to boil, and after another 10 minutes you roll the pasta up into a loose tube. slice away into whatever thickness you please.

unroll your pasta slice to find lovely perfect long noodles and lay 'em out on the wooden cutting board. drop 'em in your boiling water, stir gently.

they take about 1 min. to cook. no problem.

drain 'em, divide 'em up onto plates -- i think 1 cup of flour serves 2 for lunch with a salad -- and gently toss with generous amounts of above spinach pesto.

make the recipe in this small amount a couple of times and then go for larger amounts. it's always 2 eggs per cup of flour, so double, triple whatever the recipe.

you'll be astonished at how toothsome handmade, handrolled pasta is. there really is a noticeable improvement in the texture when you make it on a wooden surface with a wooden pin.

plus it's a great tricep workout: that rolling pin gets a little heavy towards the end. delicious.

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posted by fortune | 8:30 PM | top | link to this | email this: | links to this post | | 0 comments

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