New Project: Making homemade pasta

I got a cookbook called The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters from the library a few weeks ago and last Sunday decided to try my hand at making homemade pasta. Hey! That sounds easy, doesn't it? No? Exactly!

It sounded just hard enough to be fun.

The recipe for making pasta is very simple. Flour. Eggs. Extra egg yolks. Done.

Alice Waters tells you to wrap the dough up and let it alone for one hour. I amused myself by cleaning the bathroom while I left said dough some private time.

When the hour was up, it was time to roll out the dough and cut it into pasta-like strips. This part was FUN. The dough was really un-sticky and had almost a toughness to it. It cut pretty easily and I dropped the long strips into a bowl. At this point, glee set in. Maybe I would never buy pasta again! I would become one of those homemade people! One day my children would say "our mother never bought pasta. She always made it." And people would be jealous.

So then Alice Waters lets me down. She says nothing about how long you can leave this pasta alone before you cook it. So I went to the gym. And I read a book. And about 4 hours later, I got some boiling water together and tried to drop these delicate strips into the water. Sadly, they had rebelled. I mean, these noodles SUDDENLY GOT NEEDY for each other. In a way that you hope your neediest boyfriend never does. I thought, "maybe when they go in the hot water, they'll break up." Kind of like what happens when you're dating a needy boyfriend. Yell at him a little about getting some independence and he'll back off.

Well. I guess noodles are different than needy lovers.

"These noodles are ruined!" I complained to Chris, whose logical brain was both comforting and irritatingly undramatic.

"That's what happens when you cook," he said. "Sometimes it doesn't come out right."

Hrmph. I had to hack that noodle brick apart with a knife in the boiling water. And since Chris seemed ready to eat whatever came out of the pot, I prepared my oil and garlic sauce and put my hacked up brick into the pan, then mixed.

It wasn't terrible. It was pretty freaking dough-y though. I still hold a little bitterness towards Alice Waters. Cause, come on, Alice. You can't just let us hang like that! A few warnings about not letting your pasta re-solidify might have been nice. Next time I'll make and cut the dough just before dinner.

Anyone have tips on pasta making? What have you messed up in the kitchen lately?


Courtney said...

It's just so frustrating when you spend all day cooking something and it comes out like crap (although, your noodles - even in block form - look tasty)! I made a white bean soup and soaked the beans overnight and then cooked them for hours and they didn't taste any better than just opening up a can! It was just a big 'ol waste of time! Cooking is always educational... mostly when it's not very tasty!

Britt said...

Oh no! I see what happened.... So, it's actually okay, and can be a good thing, to leave your pasta for a bit before cooking it. Just make sure to lay it out so that the pieces are separated before you walk away. :)

I'm impressed that you pushed through and served it up anyway, though! Great advice from Dary--that kind of support is awesome. I mean, it can be tough when something doesn't turn out how you expected, and then it suddenly feels like this huge failure and you wind up on the kitchen floor in tears questioning your self-worth and facing the realization that you're now going to starve to death because there's just NO way you could ever eat this awful creation! Um, not that that's ever happened to me...just something I heard once.

skersh said...

Don't give up on Alice Waters! She's amazing. Though I agree with you-- anything which involves dough can be risky. When Sarah and our house mate Dave make pasta they use one of these things to help with the drying:


Though I am sure, with some creativity, you could fashion something just as good :-)

xoxo to you Chris and Oscar

evelyn said...

TRAGIC. that is totally tragic. try, try again!!! dani and i bought, heh, yes, bought, fresh pasta from arthur ave in the bronx and decided that fresh pasta is the only way to go. it's so frickkin delicious.

my most recent food gaffe was also quite dramatic: i was making pecan pie for dani's birthday, and everything was going swimmingly, and i was chatting away on the phone as i completed the final step before baking, which is to put the pecans in the batter. instead of 1 and a half cups of nuts, i put in 1 and a half BAGS. each bag, mind you, was over 4 cups. ummmmm, i basically made pecan brittle, and it was super dissapointing!!