Thursday, January 11, 2007

on making pasta

in an effort to be more well-rounded in the kitchen (and i'm not talking about body shape here, har har), i've got it on my list of goals for this year to make pasta more often. yes, i have a "goals" list, which is vastly different than a "resolutions" list. the word "resolution" seems so desperate, and gives off that same negative vibe that the word "diet" has. so i have this goals list and it goes something like this.

(cut n' pasted from document on my desktop)

Culinary Goals for 2007:

Make bread. At least once a week.
Make pasta. At least once every two weeks.
Make one recipe from Thai cookbook at least once a month.
Make a cassoulet for the boy

Fitness Goals for 2007:

Kickbox regularly

Housekeeping Goals for 2007:

Plan the garden
Clean out gutters


how very suburban housewifey of me.

so yeah. i decided to make pasta this weekend, and as i have the Kitchen Aid pasta attachment, it makes life easier. i decided to use the pasta in one of the fresh pasta recipes from Molto Italiano (which, btw is a crazy crazy book. it's really in-depth, and it's all over the map. just like watching Mario himself when he's talking a mile a minute to his three guests and the map comes shooting out of the ceiling. anyway, i love it). i ended up adapting his Lasagna Bolognese recipe and we had that for dinner on sunday night.

fresh pasta is a dream to work with, an absolute dream. i love it. all those heavy pasta dishes you're used to? fresh pasta tastes nothing like that and isn't remotely heavy. i love to work with it. Mario's recipe uses green pasta, made from adding cooked spinach in with the eggs before you fork in the flour, but i wasnt sure how keen the boy and j were on green pasta (j was over that night), so instead i made a black pepper pasta. you have to knead it by hand for a full ten minutes, and lemme repeat what i've always said about kneading dough by hand, it is FUCKING GREAT. i love to knead dough by hand because it feels so good. it's incredibly therapeutic, especially if you're stressed out with work or life or both. it's also incredibly comforting to know that you're making the main ingredient for the meal from scratch. (side note: this is also what i love about gardening. in the summer when i have herbs and cucumbers taking over the back yard, it's so nice to eat a meal with garden components i've grown myself. it seems to taste better knowing that i grew those veggies myself. well, usually they are better. no chemicals here!)

so i'm kneading dough and kneading dough and kneading dough, don't even remember what i was thinking about except the tv in the kitchen was on and i had my back to it while standing at the kitchen island. Top Gun was on, and i remember the line where the guy who spills coffee all down his front yells out, "I want some butts!". and i cracked up, standing there staring at the clock on the microwave while kneading what seemed like just a small amount of dough. so anyway. yeah, after i ran it through the pasta attachment, i ended up with 8 million gallons of pasta. i had so much fucking pasta i didnt know what to do with it. i had it draped all over anything that was standing still in the kitchen. the boy walked in, looked at the pasta hanging over the top of the blender, the toaster, the faucet in the sink; nodded his head, turned around and walked back into the living room.

mario's recipe calls for a ragu that's not really tomato-ey, although it does use tomato paste. i guess this is traditional for northern italian dishes. anyway, there's that and the bechamel (or besciamela) which you alternate in the dish. after i was done assembling it and had shoved it in the oven, i still had left about 8 million gallons of pasta. Mental note: next time, make a half batch. i rolled it up and stored it in the fridge until yesterday, when i threw it out because, frankly, it was dirt cheap to make (flour and eggs - that's it) and i so enjoyed myself making it that i wont mind making it again. i just have to halve or even quarter that recipe, if possible.

the dish turned out most excellent, although the bechamel made it terribly rich and i couldnt finish my whole piece. but the pasta was light as a feather and just melted into the sauces and the bit of parmesan i put in there. oh! it was really delightful, even though my tummy wasnt so pleased later. however, the boy and i decided that it was missing something, nothing vital but just an herb or a spice or another small flavor. i think that if i'd made it with the green pasta we would have felt differently, because that small hint of spinach, not enough to be considered a whole ingredient but more of a flavoring, would make the recipe complete. so i might sneak it in there next time.

and i might make the green pasta this weekend, except make fettucini strands out of it and then use it somehow in some asian-inspired dish from my Thai cookbook that i coveted for years, finally got, and never made a thing out of. i do have a three day weekend after all, and i need some kitchen therapy.

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