Monday, July 5, 2010

L's4WLNYC- Part 2: Pasta cheer up

after 4 days of disappointing job search results and too many dumplings, bahn mi and pizza, i had had enough. what could cheer me up and lift my low spirits??

making pasta. i LOVE making pasta. sure it takes a long time and it hurts your back and it's a huge mess (especially when i do it- flour EVERYWHERE) but it's so satisfying when you do it right! and i do it right.

Lindsey's 4th Week Living in NYC (L's4WLNYC)
Part 2: Pasta Cheer UP

FRIDAY, July 2nd

i was craving mushrooms. so, on the menu for friday was Pappardelle with Mixed Mushrooms.
i went to Whole Foods and got some morels, crimini, shitake, and wood ear (which i had never cooked before!) but first things first....the pasta.

pasta is tricky. its hard work and its often extremely frustrating and you end up wasting cups and cups of flour and dozens of eggs and often tears flow as freely as the eggs all over your counter top. thankfully, i have discovered the secret and am now a pro! here is how i do it:

start with about 3 to 4 cups of flour or semolina and mix in 1 tsp of salt. (if you're a beginner i'd start with flour since you will undoubtedly need a do-over and throwing away regular flour is not going to piss you off as much) make a pretty big well in the center- i'd say around 4 inches in diameter.

next, crack 3 to 4 eggs and into a bowl (i often use 3 eggs and 2 egg yolks) and then pour all at once into the well- CAREFUL NOT TO BREAK DOWN THE SIDES. this is the trick. this is the essential challenge.
carefully, verrrry carefully begin stirring the eggs and breaking down the yolks. as you stir, you will gradually be taking flour from the sides of the well. DO NOT try to add it from the top or sides of the well. it will just happen naturally if you stir carefully, with wider and wider stirs.

it takes a long time. and your arm will feel like its going to fall off. but stay with it. be patient because if you try to rush it and add flour from the tops or the sides of your well you WILL end up with egg all over your counter. trust.

after awhile you will have a sticky dough that can be handled. YOU WILL NOT USE ALL OF YOUR FLOUR. i repeat. YOU WILL HAVE EXTRA FLOUR!!! this is the secret. once i learned this secret it was cake.

at this point you should start sprinkling flour onto your sticky dough and start to knead, incorporating in enough flour until your dough no longer sticky but still wet enough to work with. knead for another 2 to 3 min until the dough is smooth and firm. wrap in plastic and let it sit for 20 to 30 min. (see?! see how much flour is left over!!!!?)

cut the dough in half and keep the other half covered in plastic. flatten to make a disk that will fit through the lowest setting on the pasta machine. crank the disk through, folding in half 2 to 3 times until the disk is as wide as the pasta machine. run the dough through the machine, using plenty of flour between settings if necessary until you have reached your ideal thickness. for pappardelle go to the 5th setting. (unfortunately, after 2 tries now i know that i need to stop at 5. i went to 6 and ended up with clumps of pasta sticking together.

after you've reached your thickness, if you are making pappardelle or other hand-cut pasta flour both sides generously and lay the dough out onto the counter. fold the two ends into the middle, repeating and flouring between folds. cut your pasta into the desired width. using the back of a knife, slide it under the cut
dough and carefully let the pasta fall down from the folds. since my pasta was too thin my knife was cutting it in half so i used my hand after i got my knife in there.

lay out the cut pasta individually and again, flour flour flour. if you don't flour you'll end up with a mound of dry dough and a waste of an hour. repeat with the second half.

and that's it! it's cake! i haven't tried to use the cut settings on my machine yet but i plan on it! spaghetti and linguine! you betcha. im also eager to try hand rolled pasta like penne...

for my sauce i melted some butter into olive oil and threw in a whole clove of garlic. once the garlic had browned up a bit i added the wood ear mushrooms and let them fry a bit and then added the morels, crimini, and shitake. i seasoned with salt and pepper, added some crushed red pepper, a bit of chicken stock, lemon juice and truffle oil.

the pasta cooked up quickly and after tossing with the mushrooms i added fresh thyme and pecorino romano.


well, sort of fabulous. this is the second time ive made this recipe and it still needs...something. i'm working on it.



  1. i want to eat this wearing truth glasses

  2. Here's some fuckin truth glasses, bramell: I couldn't even get through half of this cooking lesson. After the part about the well and all the tricks and pitfalls, I knew that without a doubt I am far too lazy and easily distracted to ever do this. To ever even TRY this. I WOULD, however, love if you would make whatever dish that was for me. Thanks, Martha.

  3. hey evan, relax. you are, without a doubt too lazy. but, and this may surprise you, im not writing this blog for YOU.

    and don't call me martha.

  4. So, I left a post comment on this page and it never got posted. If this doesn't show up I am done.

  5. OK, so it showed up. I think I said; "How do you stay thin, I love this recipe. Glad to see you keeping up the food junkie tradition." Something like that.