"Things won are done,
Joy's Soul lies in the Doing."
- William Shakespeare

Monday, April 23, 2012

All Sorts of Good

This past weekend has been a huge treat.  Summer weather, which is uncommon around here in April, had us loving on some outside time, getting up to all sorts of good things, with good friends.

There may have been a little rope swinging action.

There may have been some archery.

...with cute baby bumps.

As you do.

(Actually, it's not something we usually do, but it was indeed fun.)

And best of all, there was pasta making, my friends.

Which, like the archery, was a first for me.  And it was all sorts of good.

You need some extra hands for this one, preferably those of some very dear friends, like our M & J, (who brought the pasta maker, as well as the bow and arrows) perhaps a couple of Kiddos to help with cranking the dough through the rollers, and a Mister, to snap photos of the whole thing.

J found the recipe here on cook-italian.com, and it worked amazingly well.  Not that I have much, ahem, any, experience with making fresh pasta.  But M is Italian, grew up eating fresh pasta, and he wholeheartedly approved, so there you go.  You can trust him.  Being the slacker that I am, and lacking the finesse (as well as confidence) in my dough working abilities, we cheated, and adapted the recipe for the pasta setting on my bread machine.  I must say, major pat on the back for that clever move.  (M's the one who told me about the pasta setting, too.  Very hip to it, that guy.)  So, I'm sharing instructions for how we made our pasta, if you want to roll lazily along, like we do.  If you're a little more hardcore, and prefer to do it by hand, just visit the site for complete instructions.

Also, the recipe said the amount fed only 1 to 2 people, so we tripled it, and Mamma Mia!  Did we ever have enough pasta for four adults, and two Kiddos, with leftovers.  I'm giving you the doubled amount of the original, to feed six easily.

Here you go:

Fresh Semolina Egg Pasta - adapted from cook-italian.com
 - serves six

4 large eggs, beaten
2 cups semolina flour (Bob's Red Mill makes this, and you can get in in bulk at Fred Meyer too)
1 cup all purpose flour
4 Tbs olive oil
4 or 5 Tbs water
1 tsp fine sea salt (plus more for boiling pasta)

In your bread machine pan, place the beaten eggs, olive oil, and 4 tablespoons water, followed by salt, and the flours.  Set the machine to the pasta setting, if you have it (or use the dough setting, and take it out after about 10 to 15 minutes, once thoroughly kneaded).  After about 5 minutes, peek in and make sure the dough is combining well, if it appears dry, add another tablespoon or two of water.  If it looks too wet, you can flour your board and knead in extra flour soon.  The dough will appear much stiffer than bread dough.  This had me concerned, but M assured me it was right.  And it was.

Once the pasta cycle is complete, and the dough is nice and smooth, place it in a covered bowl, or plastic bag, and refrigerate for 20 minutes, up to overnight, to rest.

Here's the fun part.  Divide your dough into four to six pieces, keep the ones you're not working with covered, in the fridge.  Roll out a piece to a thickness that will fit into the pasta machine, approximately 1/4 inch thick.  Starting on the largest setting ("1", in our case), roll it through the machine. 

Keep at it, until it's your desired thickness.  (We felt good with "5")

Next, you get to decide what type of pasta you're craving.  We went with fettucini.  I'm fantasizing about some serious lasagna next time.  And spaghetti.  And ravioli.  Mamma mia!

Hang the pasta to dry on a pasta rack, if you have one.  If you run out of room, because of copious quantities of pasta (which is never a bad thing), you can use hangers, like we did.  

How lovely is that?  Let the pasta dry for about 20 minutes or so, while putting a very large pot of heavily salted water on to boil.  Drop the pasta in carefully, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until al dente, with a bit of a bite to it.  You may prefer to do this in two batches, because it's rather tricky getting that much pasta into the water quickly, and not dropping the temperature too low.  If you do this, use tongs or one of those groovy pasta scoop things, to fish out the first batch, then bring the water back to a rolling boil for the second.

Drain the pasta, being sure to save a cup or so of the water.  Toss the pasta with some of your preferred sauce, a bit of pasta water, a glug of olive oil...and serve it up, family style, with some good parmiggiano.

Okay.  Just one more:  
Mamma Mia...what a good day.

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