My time in pastry school is almost over. Oh, how I have been counting the ways. Seventy-two hours of class. Twelve days. Three weeks. One and a half courses. One more ironing session (if I’m lucky). No more shining shoes. The end is so close. In June I will start an internship, and it feels like a fresh start is coming. I cannot wait.
This past weekend was the best I have had in months. Because of recent schedule changes at work, I feel like I have gotten my life back! At the least, I have gotten my weekends back, which, given my schedule over the past months, is no small thing to me. On
Sunday morning I went to bed 15 minutes before I would normally have to get up
for work. At 2 a.m., I would rather say "goodnight" than "good morning."
So to my great relief, during the past few days I was able to do whatever I wanted in my own kitchen! I had the time, the freedom, and no chef breathing down my neck. Faced with such liberation I quickly got overwhelmed and had no idea what to do. While I lolled on the couch waiting for inspiration, Bryan made helpful suggestions that made it hard to sustain my preferred method of brainstorming. One of them was this recipe for pasta that my mom had emailed him (because they are buddies).
For a long time I thought that it was hard to make noodles from scratch. A couple of years ago, Bryan and I made them for the first time, and I was surprised by how simple it was. I assumed we had taken some shortcuts or done something wrong because they were so easy, but they turned out great. This recipe from Cook's Illustrated is straightforward and I was very pleased with the results. The dough is simple, with only three ingredients, and can be mixed in a food processor if you are the lucky owner of one. I am not, but it came together easily by hand. For shaping, I cut long strands, which required minimal fuss. I have no doubt you could spend a long time making fancy pasta shapes by hand if you really wanted. No matter how much I love farfalle, I did not want to spend the following five hours forming tiny noodles, the fun shape of which I would enjoy on my tongue for all of a millisecond.
My current class on sugar artistry has been doing a number on my self-esteem, so even though these noodles made me feel more accomplished than was really deserved, I'll take what I can get. I could try to flatter myself, but I know now easy these were. While certainly not an everyday item, I will definitely be making them again when I get the chance. It was a satisfying endeavor and an excellent way to celebrate having my weekends back again.
from Cook's Illustrated
Yields 1 pound
It took me about 30 minutes total to make the dough and shape it. The dough must rest for at least 1 hour before rolling and shaping.
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, plus 6 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons olive oil
If mixing by hand: Place the flour in a bowl and make a well in the center. Combine the eggs, yolks, and olive oil and pour into the well. Mix until the dough comes together roughly. If the dough does not become cohesive, add more water a teaspoon at a time. If it sticks to your fingers, add flour a tablespoon at a time. (You will want a dough that is barely tacky after kneading.)
If mixing by food processor: Process everything until it forms a cohesive dough that is soft and barely tacky. If the dough does not become cohesive, add more water a teaspoon at a time. If it sticks to your fingers, add flour a tablespoon at a time.
After mixing with either method: Turn the dough out onto a dry surface and knead until smooth, only a minute or two. Roll it into a 6-inch cylinder and wrap in plastic. Let sit for 1-4 hours, as convenient.
Cut the cylinder into 6 equal pieces. Keep any dough that you are not working with covered so it does not dry out. Flour as needed to prevent sticking and roll into a rectangle that is approximately 6-inches by 20-inches. Lift the dough as you roll and flour minimally. It should stick just a tiny bit. The dough should be thin and you should be able to see the outline of your fingers through it. Set dough aside for a few minutes until is slightly dry around the edges. (You will be rolling it up, so it should be dry enough to not stick together. Flour lightly if necessary.) Roll out more dough while you wait. When the rolled out dough is slightly dry fold it at 2-inch intervals until it is all rolled up. Slice crosswise equally at your desired width for the pasta. Unfurl them and set aside. You do not want to pile them on top of each other too much or they will get compressed and stick together. (The first photo on here is what I did with mine.) Repeat with remaining dough until all pasta is shaped. Cook within an hour or the pasta may be frozen at this point for later use.
Boil a large pot of water with about a tablespoon of salt. (The original recipe suggests 4 quarts of water if you want to be exact.) Add pasta and cook for about 3 minutes. Drain and serve as desired.