Post #432 Flour for Dinner

October 28, 2015 at 4:17 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Okay, first day on the job went well.  3 hour orientation and them home.  Easy peasy.  So I have time to write the blog.  Yesterday was my last day of being ungainfully employed so I decided to make as many things from scratch as possible.  I also received my copy of Lidia Bastianich’s Mastering the Art of Italian Cooking the day before guess what kind of food was on the menu?

I’ve made pasta by hand for many years and have found it to be as tricky as making bread.  Since you can’t eat pasta that doesn’t turn out right, like you can bread, I haven’t made it as often as I have bread.  So I’m not skilled with homemade pasta.  I’ve watched Lidia make it a dozen times and she makes it look so easy.  Mary Ann Esposito makes it the same way and it looks so easy.  Even ATK makes it the same way and it looks so easy.  Well, there was a recipe in the cookbook that showed three different ways to make it so it was heavy, medium, or light.  And it had two different processes, by hand or by food processor.  I’ve been wanting to learn how to make it by machine and I’ve watched Lidia do this many times so I decided now was the time.

I went with the medium weight pasta.  I set up my food processor and put 2 3/4 cups of flour in it and a pinch of salt.  Then I put three large eggs and one large egg yolk in a two-cup measuring cup.  I added one tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil to the eggs, and a teaspoon of water.  I mix them all together.  Then I turned on the food processor and let the flour aerate for a few seconds, then poured the eggs quickly into the mix.  Eureka!  It actually did what it was supposed to do!  I had a ball of pasta in 40 seconds.  I unplugged the machine and turned the dough onto my counter which was floured.  My dough was a little sticky (it’s been very humid around here due to the hurricane remnants moving through.  It rained all day today and it’s still going on.)  So I floured my hands well and kneaded the dough until it was smooth and elastic, about a minute or so.  Not long.  I wasn’t going to make the pasta right away so I wrapped the dough in plastic film and set it aside.  This is an important step because it allows the dough to absorb the liquids in the batch.

Then I started on the Roasted Garlic Focaccia.  Focaccia is an Italian flat bread that’s sort of free form.  It can be made in large sheets or small rounds, whatever you like.  It can be made plain, or made to taste like a pretzel, or herbs can be added to the mix, or stuff can be piled on the top.  Mine was an Italian herb flavored bread with roasted garlic on top.

So here’s what I made:

bread (2)

That little ball of dough is about a pound.  A pound is a LOT of pasta.  The bread is about 11×14.  A lot of bread for one meal.  What I made would have served six people.

Here’s the recipe for the bread:

Focaccia Bread

  • 2 34 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1 (1/4 ounce) packet active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 12 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 12 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 dash ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese (grated)
  • 1 12 cups mozzarella cheese (shredded)
  • Directions
  1. Mix the yeast and water in a small bowl. Let proof for 10 minutes (until bubbles begin to form).
  2. In large bowl, stir together flour, salt, sugar, garlic powder, oregano, thyme, basil, and black pepper.
  3. Add the yeast mix and vegetable oil to the dry ingredients and combine.
  4. When dough has pulled together, turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic.
  5. Lightly oil a large bowl, place dough in bowl, and turn to coat with oil.
  6. Cover with damp cloth and let rise in warm place 25 minutes.
  7. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  8. Punch dough down, place on greased baking sheet.
  9. Pat dough into 1/2-inch thick rectangle (doesn’t have to be perfect).
  10. Using your knuckle, make indentations in the dough about 1/2-inch apart, then prick dough with fork.
  11. Brush top with olive oil, then sprinkle with Parmesan and mozzarella cheese.
  12. Bake for 13-15 minutes until golden brown.

So, while the bread was cooling, I made the pasta with my pasta machine:

pasta roller

I didn’t use the machine to cut my pasta though.  I rolled it and cut it with a sharp knife.  But I made a mistake.  I should have cut the pasta as soon as I stretched it and rolled it.  By the time I got to the fourth chunk of rolled pasta, it was sticking to itself.  I hadn’t used enough flour to keep it separate.  But, there was plenty for the two of us.  So while the pasta dried, I put on a gigantic pot of water to boil.  Once it was boiling, I made the pasta sauce.

I’ve written about this sauce before, but it bears repeating cuz it was GOOD!

I had two very ripe fresh tomatoes from my favorite veggie stand that if I didn’t use now, I would have to toss.  So I used the technique of grating the tomatoes that I wrote about in a recent post.  I put all the tomato into a bowl.  Then I heated up a tablespoon of olive oil and cooked up some onion until they were sweating and clear.  Then I added a half cup of pepperoni slices cut into quarters.  I cook them up with the onions until they were dark and were releasing their juices.  I added a couple of pinches of oregano and some garlic powder and stirred everything around.  Then I added half a pinch of pepper flakes.  Be very careful with these cut they are HOT!  I added the tomato and cooked it down until it was thickened.

The water was boiling furiously by this time, so I added about a tablespoon of salt (salting the boiling water is a matter of taste.  Some people like it very salty, and some don’t like any salt at all.  The salt in the water transfer to the pasta so the saltier the water, the saltier the pasta.)  I put my fresh pasta in two or three noodles at a time so they didn’t stick to each other.  Fresh pasta cooks much faster than dried pasta so in just a few minutes it will be done.  I fished the pasta out of the water with a net basket strainer and put it directly into the sauce.  Stirred the pasta and sauce around and served with the bread and some parmesan cheese.

Pasta

It was so good!  And a few hours before, it had been flour.

Enjoy

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2 Comments

  1. The bread looks great, though making pasta intimidates me!

    • The bread was delicious! Homemade pasta can be intimidating until you’ve tried it a few times. What’s hardest about it is knowing what’s right without having an example to follow. Most people making it learned at their mother’s knee, so to speak. One thing I highly recommend is getting the motorized pasta roller. Trying to handle long sheets of dough in one hand while turning the crank with the other hand is a lesson in frustration.


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