Folks who are buried under snow have it pretty tough right now, but they have one thing those of us in L.A. don’t have: a great excuse to stay indoors and cook all day long. Fortunately, one of the best chefs we know, Chef Joe of Friday Night Out Catering in Philadelphia, took advantage of his indoor time to do a guest post for us on making your own pasta. Here’s what Joe has to say:
In my mind there are few things in life as satisfying as homemade pasta, and with a little practice it’s easy enough to make on a Fun Food Saturday, or on any other day of the week. Plus, my kids will drop anything they’re in the middle of to help out. At our house we use a simple hand-cranked pasta machine that’s easy to find for around $30, but there are dozens of different styles out there – and you can even flatten your dough with a rolling pin and cut it into shapes with cookie cutters.
The ingredients are basic and the process is simple, even without a collection of pasta machines lying around. The only slightly unusual ingredient you’ll need is semolina flour, which you can find in most well-stocked grocery stores. You may need to look in the organic section rather than in the regular baking aisle.
To get started, you’ll need a large flat surface with plenty of room to roll out the pasta, and some extra flour so the dough doesn’t end up sticking to your hands, children, countertop, and everything else it touches. Once you’ve cleared a space, you’ll need –
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup semolina flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large eggs
In a large bowl (or if you’re adventurous, right on the countertop) mix the dry ingredients together. Make a well in the center and add the eggs and olive oil, then gently fold the dry ingredients into the well until the mixture forms a sticky ball. Here comes the sticky fun part… transfer the dough to your generously floured workspace, and knead for about 10 minutes until the dough is smooth. While you’re kneading, add a little flour at a time if the dough sticks to your hands, but not enough to make it dry and crumbly. Once you’ve finished kneading, tightly cover the dough and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes so the gluten can relax.
When your dough is ready, cut it in a few pieces (smaller sections are easier to roll out), and let the fun begin. If your pasta shapes are all the same thickness, they’ll all take the same amount of time to cook, so flour your workspace again and roll out a nice even sheet – and then you can cut out long spaghetti strands, Harry Potter wands, Lego shapes… the sky’s the limit.
When you’ve finished cutting your pasta, toss it in a pot for a couple of minutes, and check frequently to see if it’s cooked – fresh pasta cooks faster than dry pasta. Bonus tip: Don’t toss the extra misshapen scraps in the trash when you’re finished. Our kids love to toss them in a separate pot of boiling water and call it ‘Dali Pasta’, sometimes the odds and ends come out looking great!
Jolly Tomato here again: Need some more visuals? Joe also made this great video to show us how it’s done (stay tuned until the end to watch the outtakes). Big thanks to Joe, Sara, Sam, and Lily for devoting their snow day to this project. If you’re in the greater Philadelphia area and need an amazing caterer (or if you just have any questions), you can reach Chef Joe at fnocatering [at] comcast [dot] net.
Fun Food Saturday: Because food should be fun.
P.S. Wanna be entered to win 24 custom valentines from Pear Tree Greetings? Leave a comment after this story (winner to be selected Jan. 31).