I’m beginning to notice that I go through distinct phases of cooking. I’ll make the same dish several times over a short period of time before moving on to a new one. The reason? I’m not quite sure, but it probably has something to do with the fact that I usually don’t have a chance to take pictures of the first few attempts. It takes me a few tries to get comfortable with a technique or the preparation of a dish to where I can make it in under six hours.
That way there’s still time for pictures before inhaling the entire batch out of desperate starvation.
This dish is from the end of a homemade pasta phase. I made an epic batch of bitty raviolis filled with spinach, goat cheese and sun-dried tomatoes (or, more accurately, “oven-dried”). Alas, the careful construction of so many little pasta squares and tiny scoops of filling took, I kid you not, six hours. No pictures, no leftovers.
Homemade pasta dough is so simple once you figure out how the end product is supposed to look and feel like. Once you’re no longer searching for recipes and simply adding water or flour depending on the dough’s consistency. Once you gain the instinct to know, “Okay, this is done. This is right.”
The recipe I use for pasta dough has been adapted to various sources, and cannot be considered accurate or complete with all of the additional flour and water that is added throughout the whole process. This is just a starting point, but remember to keep lots of extra flour on hand.
– Pasta dough – by Ivory Pomegranate
2 cups flour (I’ll usually mix two kinds, like half white whole wheat and all-purpose, or half semolina and all-purpose)
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp water (I never have open white wine on hand, but I’ve seen recipes suggesting 2 tbsp white wine with 2 tbsp water)
– Make a well with your flour and salt in a large bowl (or on a table if you’re confident in your ability to not make a mess). In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, olive oil and water (and white wine, if you’re using it). Pour the wet mixture into the well and use a hand to gently swirl the wet and dry ingredients into a cohesive dough. Add more flour as needed so that the dough isn’t sticky, and add more water if it’s too dry.
– Knead until the dough is smooth, very smooth. Wrap it in plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Rest your forearms in the mean time.
– Cut dough into desired shape and either let it dry for several hours (if you’re planning to store it for later use) or cook immediately (cooking time will be very short, like 2-3 minutes in boiling, salted water).
My old-school pasta roller has two wheels to cut different sized noodles, but they usually jam up (they’re practically antique, I got them from my dad after all), so I opted to hand slice noodles this time. Use liberal amounts of flour to prevent sticking, that’s all I can say. I also had to improvise some sort of instrument to facilitate the drying process, so I set up some wire hangers on a lamp with flexible arms. Lo-fi? Yes, but it worked like a charm.
And if you’re in the mood for a bit of sweet-spicy-tangy peanuty goodness to accompany your noodles, here’s the perfect recipe. It also goes great with chicken or stir-fry veggies. Beware, this recipe yields a lot of sauce, but it does keep well for several weeks in the fridge.
– Peanut sauce – adapted from Food People Want
1 can (14 oz) coconut milk
8 tbsp red curry paste
2/3 cup peanut butter
6 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp chili oil (optional, can be adjusted according to preference)
– Bring coconut milk to a gentle boil over medium heat. Add curry paste and cook for approximately three minutes, until the paste is well incorporated and fragrant.
– Add peanut butter and cook for an additional minute, whisking continuously to ensure an even consistency.
– Reduce the heat to low and add brown sugar. Continue stirring until sugar is dissolved.
– Remove sauce from heat and stir in fish sauce and chili oil, if desired. Add warm water for a thinner consistency.
Notes: This sauce will taste uninspiring until the brown sugar is added, which magically adds a more complex flavor to the sauce. The fish sauce could probably be omitted if you don’t have any around, though you may want to add soy sauce to add that additional savory layer of flavor. If the sauce breaks while cooking, lower the heat and whisk vigorously to pull everything back together.