Run-away eggs & soggy pasta...
Today mum and I had a go at something we'd been wanting to try for quite a while:
Neither of us have ever actually made pasta before. We'd been sous-chefs: holding the fettuccine or lasagne as rolled out of the machine, but my dad has been the pasta-maker.
I was jumping out of my seat with excitement as we read the recipe-- it sounded like a blast.
6 eggs cracked into a well of flour, and then we get to break the yolks and mix it around with our hands!
I was determined to prove that it was easy. I mean, if 12-year-old Junior Masterchef winner Isabella could do it in 15 minutes, why couldn't we?
(As a side note, loads of my inspiration has been coming from those marvellous little cooks who churned out dozens of high-class dishes. Note to self: she's Italian. She has 'Nonas' making fresh pasta every. single. day.)
But Ohhh Boy...
The well of flour was good. Then we cracked one egg after another. The photo above looks lovely... just wait until six eggs were spilling all over the kitchen counter.
We had to stop after the 4th egg because we had four arms trying to contain run-away yolks that slipped between our fingers while my thoroughly amused sister cackled away at our struggles.
Slowly, with disgustingly gooey hands, we worked in the dough and had my sister crack in the last 2 eggs.
After loads of flour and mess, my mum finally got a ball of dough.
We forgot the basil, so I worked that in. Then we forgot the pepper, so we cracked in a bit. And after wrapping the whole thing, we realised we forgot olive oil. So I kneaded in the oil.
The vegetable marinade was easy and smelled lovely, too. Even you non-mushroom fans will love this tangy, light dish.
The funnest part was rolling out the pasta. This recipe gives instructions for the traditional way of rolling pasta, before there were machines. I was really intrigued and eager to try it and it was a success. For the most part.
At one point my rolling pin (the rolling pin... not me.) knocked over a glass of water that drenched my perfectly rolled pasta. We tried to dry it, but I just started afresh.
All in all, it was just relaxing. I mean, after you get the wad of egg off your hands.
Rolling, cutting, chopping and spending an evening with my mum.
It was yum. We all sat down and ate, discussing our days and the newly-founded Chocolate Tulip. Our dish even passed the 'Picky Sister Test'.
It's interesting to see the chemistry of a dinner table. My mum (not a ferocious eater) got full and couldn't finish, but my sister (a die-hard pasta fanatic), eagerly took her plate and finished for her. My sister left some of her vegetables, which I (a spinach-mushroom fan), happily stole. My dad (tall, boisterous food-lover) finished first.
In the end, all plates were polished clean.
Fresh Herbed Pasta
From Cookstr.com, by Lauren Groveman
Note: We only had about 1 cup of semolina, so we topped up with 2 cups all purpose flour. We probably should have blended the semolina in a mixer to turn it into powder as the pasta was quite grainy. My mum didn't like the semolina and felt that we should use only flour next time. I didn't mind it, but definitely powder your semolina if it isn't really fine and feel free to use a large amount of plain or whole wheat flour in place of part of the semolina.
Yield: 1 1/2 pounds pasta; 6-8 main course servings
3 cups finely ground semolina, plus lots more for dusting & rolling
6 large eggs, made tepid by submerging in a bowl of very hot tap water for 10 minutes
1 generous tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil or garlic confit oil
1 scant teaspoon salt
a few grinds freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup minced fresh herbs such as basil, parsley and/or chives
This recipe is really long, because it give detailed instructions on how to roll pasta by hand.
Essentially, you put the flour on a clean, flat work surface and make a well in the middle. Crack the eggs into the well, add the oil, pepper, salt and herbs and begin to work the dough into a ball by kneading with the tips of your fingers and the heels of your hands. I would recommend that you add the ingredients bit by bit, as we discovered the hard way that the flour just can't handle it all in one go. You'll need lots of flour to dry the dough and unstick it from the surface. The dough should be smooth and neat at the end.
Wrap the dough loosely in cling film and leave it for 30 minutes to an hour.
Divide the dough into quarters and begin rolling it, either with the hand instructions or using your machine. The recipe also provides proper instructions as to how to cook the pasta. It's relatively easy: just boil it in some salt water until 'al dente'-- with a bite. (But read the recipe!)
This is the link to the full recipe:
Lessons learnt: Even though the pasta seems to be rolled really thin, it's not. Roll it thinner as it will cook better.
Cook the pasta until it changes colour and is soft to eat (but still al dente)
Don't keep water nearby!
Don't forget the ingredients!
Lessons still to learn: How to mix the dough without making a mess
Lemon-Rosemary Mushrooms and Spinach
From Cookstr.com, by Nigella Lawson
Note: This recipe makes it all cold, like a pasta salad. But I certainly don't like raw mushrooms, so I marinaded my vegetables with the ingredients, cooked them and served them with the pasta.
I had only about half the required mushrooms, so I added about 10-12 leaves of spinach and I reduced the salt to 3/4 tsp because of the smaller quantity of vegetables. I omitted the zest because I find it always adds too sour a flavour and I don't like it. Add it if you wish. Lemons in India are miniscule, so I used 2 small lemons for the juice. If you're not a lemon-y person, add less, but I liked it as there's nothing else to flavour the pasta. I used a sprig of fresh rosemary leaves instead of thyme because I'm not too fond of it and we didn't have parsley, so that was omitted.
I also used our fresh pappardelle (I feel good saying that) instead of linguine.
Yield : Serves 4–6
8 oz/4 cups finely sliced cremini mushrooms
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt or 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
small clove garlic, minced
zest and juice of a lemon
4 sprigs fresh thyme, stripped to give 1 teaspoon leaves
1 bunch parsley, chopped to give 1/2 cup
2–3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese, or to taste
freshly ground pepper
Slice the mushrooms finely, and put them into a large bowl with the oil, salt, minced garlic, lemon juice and zest (optional), and thyme leaves. (or rosemary)
Cook the pasta according to the package instructions and drain loosely, retaining some water. Quickly put the pasta into the bowl with the mushroom mixture.
Toss everything together well, and then add the parsley (optional), cheese, and pepper before tossing again.
If you're cooking it like me, pour your mixture into a heated skillet (no need to add oil, there's plenty in the mixture and the vegetables will release a lot of water) and cook, stirring frequently for about 7-8 minutes, or until the mushrooms are lightly coloured, and add some freshly ground black pepper. The liquid will be simmering and there should be a wonderful aroma of rosemary.
Serve atop the pasta-- be sure to drizzle some of the lemon-olive oil liquid-- and top with parmesan.