Working from Home?
Make Your Own Pasta
By TOM YATES
We’re living through crazy times these days. Navigating grocery stores, markets, curbside pick-ups, deliveries, and drive-up windows while maintaining proper social distancing in full protective gear can be a challenge. It’s really hard to avoid people. We are currently safe, happy, and anxious at home. Temporarily unemployed for who knows how long, I take refuge in my kitchen. On any given day, I end up covered in flour from baking things I would never bake in real life and making more fresh pasta than I ever would in real life.
This isn’t real life.
Even in normal times, I keep a well stocked pantry. For years, I’ve gotten ribbed for saving stuff. I toss little, if anything, away. Everything has a purpose or an eventual purpose in another form. Waste not, want not. I have the various grains and dried pastas covered.I never dreamed a time would come, like now, that my little gold mine would be worth its weight in gold. Right now, it’s all about the pantry and……time.
Just before the yeast shortages turned everyone into sourdough bread bakers, I bought a massive amount of active dry yeast. Boy, has it come in handy. I’ve also turned into a flour maniac. Sleuthing a bit, I’ve managed to procure whole wheat flour, whole wheat pastry flour, white whole wheat flour, 00 flour, almond flour, bread flour, cake flour,wheat gluten flour, all purpose flour (bleached and unbleached…..because, why not?), and cornmeal.
For a cook, the luxury of time is everything. Time to think things through. Time for patience. Baking is science. Baking is a lesson in patience. First things first, I’m not patient and I’m not a baker. At all. Even in culinary school, I squeaked through that part. I’m not much of a rule follower, either. Baking has rules. Big time rules. Even though I can barely follow a basic recipe without fiddling with it, self isolation has afforded me the time to be patient, pay attention, play along, and follow the rules.
Most of my food deliveries are haphazard affairs. I order quickly to meet the limited delivery windows. In doing so, I forget things from time to time. On one of my rushed play-by-the-rules delivery moves, I accidentally ordered 3 dozen large organic eggs. I started rolling out a parade of quiches, stratas, omelettes, and pies with meringue. It’s been fabulous.
“There’s never enough time” used to be my mantra. Now I cherish the time.
Fresh Egg Pasta.
(When life gives you eggs)
Over the years, I’ve made a lot of fresh pasta. This egg pasta using 00 flour was the most pliable and workable one I’ve ever played with.
After sifting 2 1/4 cups cups 00 flour, 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, and a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg into a large bowl, I made a well in the center of the flour before cracking 3 large whole eggs into the center of the well and drizzling 1 tablespoon olive oil into the well. Using a fork, I slowly incorporated the flour into the eggs until it formed a loose shaggy consistency. When it came together, I rolled the dough onto a floured board, and kneaded it for about 10 minutes until it formed a smooth dough. Still tight at this point, I wrapped the dough in plastic wrap and set it aside to relax for 45 minutes.
After 45 minutes, I divided the dough into fourths and worked with one piece at a time while keeping the remaining dough covered.
Rolling right along.
Pasta can definitely be made strictly by hand, but I have an old fashioned tabletop pasta roller/cutter that I adore.
I flattened the dough and rolled the first piece through the lowest setting of the roller 3 times, folding it in half after each pass. When the dough felt right (pliable), I dusted it with flour and started passing it through each setting (narrowing the setting each pass and flouring the dough) until I reached the second to last setting on my roller.
I dusted the sheet with flour, set it aside, and repeated the process with the remaining dough until I had about 8 sheets of pasta.
I wanted variety. While Tagliatelle pasta can stand up to most sauces, wispy capellini works great with lighter delicate sauces.
After moving the hand crank to the cutting section of the pasta cutter, I ran half the pasta through the capellini blades and the other half through the tagliatelle blades. I dusted the ribbons with extra flour to keep them from sticking together, covered them with a dish towel, and mopped the kitchen floor. (Again.)
Embrace the pantry. And the time.
This article also appears on page 18 of the August 2020 print edition of Ace.
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