Saturday, March 1, 2014

Playing with Pasta

My experiment to see if I could make striped pasta easily with a hand crank machine. Ravioli is tomato/plain egg/pesto pasta stripes with ricotta/mozzarella/red pepper flake filling. The orecchiette are my first attempt at hand shaping. NO recipe for this, I just winged these on a whim.

I would say this is another post that is more for keeping track of something I came up with, and do not want to forget what I did. As the previous pasta posts illustrate, I have a new pasta machine, your basic hand cranked one that clamps onto the counter. We made a lot of things from scratch in my parents' house, and my mom went through phases where she would make home made egg noodles. This must have been quite a chore for the dozens of mouths she fed daily, and she just rolled them out and hand cut them. I remember them as being thicker, but tender, and wonderfully filling. I don't recall any special way she served them, really just the process of making them and knowing I loved them. I do remember the first time my brother Joe made them himself, he made the mistake of drying them on newsprint. it was like those silly putty tricks, where you could get entire images in reverse on the surface. I think this could be done with edible inks and make really pretty noodles.

Beet Pasta:
Beet pasta, made by adding about 6 slices of canned beets and maybe 1/8 c beet juice to the eggs, then blending together before adding to the flour.
When I was in my late teens, I also got to make home made lasagna noodles with  team of young women, all of us unfamiliar with the process. We did this to help out Meno Meffini, a man who worked with us at Plimoth Plantation, and was hosting a lasagna dinner for dozens of Plimoth Plantation employees. His living room, kitchen and dining room were draped with white sheeting, and we arrived to find a central kitchen table with multiple volcanoes of white flour, each one awaiting eggs for the pasta making ritual.

Hummus Pasta:
Here I added about the same amount of hummus as an egg would be volume wise in a blender with one egg, mixed, and added it to about 1-1/2 c. flour.

They cooked quickly in a separate pan of boiling water then I added them with some shredded chicken, fresh spinach and pepper strips to some chicken broth and simmered a little.
In later years, in Berkeley, I got a pasta machine and we decided to make home made pasta for the Deetz clan. So life long friend Charley Brace (son of Mimi and Loring Brace), and my mom and I decided we would make about 12 lbs of spaghetti. We did everything we were supposed to do, but when it came time to roll out the dough in the machine it was like trying to roll out hardened clay. We tried everything adding water, reducing the size of dough ball, you name it. Charley was helping because he had done this many times with his Mom, and he had a call into her in Ann Arbor to find out the secret we were obviously not in on or not remembering.

We all sat down in the living room, probably played some dice, and waited for a return call. After a while, we gave it another try, as Mimi was not home yet, and the dough was beautifully supple and managed beautifully. HMMMM. This was the first time I actually realized the value of "letting the dough rest" which seemed so arbitrary and unnecessary at the time. Well, as I now know, the glutens in the dough need time to relax into the dough, and until they do, they are holding tightly together and make a very unreasonable dough. So we figured this out on our own, a dice game or five worth of waiting is all we needed. Mimi called mid process of the second attempt, and told us we just needed to let the dough rest. So this is the one constant I follow when working with wheat dough of any kind. Everything else is up for experimentation.

Green Chile and Corn/Wheat Pasta:
Green chili and stone ground corn noodles were really good. I used 2 eggs and 2 Tbl. of green chilies, mixed in a blender, added this to 1-1/2 c. flour along with 2 Tbl. organic stone ground corn meal softened into a paste with 3 Tbl. hot water. I will try this a few more times, adding more corn each time, and reducing the wheat, until I see what the best balance will be.

They cut into beautiful wide strips, took a little longer to cook, but were very tender and had a nice bite. The thinnest setting was more pleasing than a thicker one,  as I tried a couple thicknesses. I served this with some shredded chicken in a tomato/cream sauce.
So I now have another pasta machine, and am revisiting pasta, a batch here and there with what ever I have on hand. I really think aside from the tri-colored raviolis I made first today, my most successful experiment was the red curry noodles.

Red Curry Pasta:
The dough was a standard flour and egg dough, with coconut oil and red curry powder added

The curry comes through really well, with a small amount of heat on the tip of your tongue and lips. Lots of aroma. I used 1 Tbl. of red curry powder (just McCormick's off the grocery shelf), and about 1 Tbl. of solid coconut oil, 1-1/2 c. flour, and one egg. I made a well in the flour, the "volcano" and added in the red curry and coconut oil, mashing it all together to incorporate the oil. Then added the egg, and started stirring and incorporated the flour until I had a very nice, somewhat soft dough. I kneaded it a fair amount, to get all the coconut oil warmed up and incorporated. I let it rest about 30 minutes, then cut it with the thin cutter, and hung and dried it for a bout 30 minutes, and then cooked and added it to a noodle bowl.

The flecks of all the spices in the curry powder made a very beautiful noodle.
The noodle bowl was shrimp cooked with garlic, shallots and peppers, added along with the cooked noodles to some simmering chicken broth. I will plan ahead next time and maybe have a coconutty broth.


I have other pasta's like Peanut Pasta, on another post.


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