Sunday, January 4, 2015

Homemade Pasta

I have always loved the idea of the Italian family tradition of Sunday Dinner.  Family coming together to learn about each other, laugh/cry, (probably argue if they are like my family and like to challenge each other) and most importantly: EAT!!  Hours and hours would go into preparing the feast.  It's like Thanksgiving every weekend!  I know you are thinking to yourself, “This chick is nuts! Thanksgiving every weekend!? I don’t have time for that!” I get it. But…
"Sitting down for family meals has been in decline in America
for decades..." Russo is right, look how old this pic is!

I heard an NPR "Special Series: Kitchen Window" piece by Susan Russo a while ago about Sunday Dinners and had to look it up for this post: "Who's got six hours to make dinner? We're too busy. But then I think, weren't our mothers busy, too? How did they do it? In some ways, life seemed better then..." Russo goes on in her Sunday Dinners piece, “Sitting down for family meals has been in decline in America for decades. According to surveys, however, that's beginning to change. This is good. Studies show that children who eat meals with their families are less likely to have behavioral problems, more likely to do well in school, and more likely to have a healthier diet. Not to mention that treasured childhood memories are irreplaceable.”  ...Despite my friends affectionate nickname of "Mom" I do not have any children of my own. I have had the opportunity to work with a variety of kids and families in my life as a nanny/babysitter, ballet teacher, and sign language interpreter.  I’ve had the chance to see the differences in “my kiddos” who have parents willing to make time for them and those who don’t. 

Okay… Okay… Enough with my opinion on spending time with your kids. I just know that personally I’ve noticed changes in my own attitude and spirit when I get to spend time with my family and friends and when I don’t.  And let’s be honest, what brings people together better than food?  Italian-American Family’s may be on to something… And amongst family and friends, who doesn’t love PASTA?!

Tah-dah! We are finally to the food portion of this post. (Apologies, I’ve just not had the motivation to actually sit down and write recently, so now that I’m feeling it, I’ve got a lot to say) Plus... For Christmas, I got the Kitchen-Aid attachments to make homemade pasta! Let the games begin!

I’ve written before about how much I love to make “family dinners” for my friends. A chance for everyone to get together in a chill atmosphere where we can all just be our (goofy) selves, eat good food, laugh really hard, and not have to worry about anything, except maybe eating too much!  This recipe is dedicated to my friends, as many of them have stood by me through some of the lowest and hardest points in my life.  I love you all (“Big”, Mark, “Favorite”, Kevin, Cody, Jane, Stepher, Jerry, Christine & Shawn, Waymire, and anyone else I’m unintentionally forgetting).  I hope to get to share this pasta with all of you some day! :-) 

2 cups AP flour
1 tsp Salt
2 TBS Olive Oil
1/2-3/4 cup Hot Water

In a large mixing bowl (or your Kitchen Aid with the paddle attachment instructions in parentheses) combine the flour and the salt.  Make a "well"-- a dent/hole in the center of the flour-- and add the olive oil.  Pour in 1/2 cup of water and stir with a fork, gradually incorporating the flour into the liquid. (Turn on mixer on the lowest setting)/

Add additional water if necessary to make the dough stiff and pliable, but NOT STICKY!

Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for 2-3 minutes, until smooth. Shape into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and let it rest UNREFRIGERATED for 15 minutes. 

I cut my disk into 6 wedges (so the pasta strands don't get too long/hard to manage).

Take a wedge, roll it into a ball and flatten into a small disk. Make sure to keep the dough you're not using wrapped completely in plastic wrap so it doesn't dry out. 

Follow the instructions on the guide that came with your attachments to roll out the dough.  Remember: Smallest number first and work your way up.  

I like roll out spaghetti to a 3 before cutting, fettuccine to a 4 before cutting (with the fettuccine attachment), and 5-6 for angel hair (cut with the spaghetti attachment) or ravioli (no extra attachment necessary)! 

From here, you have 2 options.  Put in a pot of salted (as my man Mario Batali says "to the level of the sea) boiling water for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Strain and top with your choice of topping. 

ORRRRR: Put it on a drying rack as seen here. Dry for at least an hour before storing in an air-tight container.  When you're ready, cook in salted boiling water for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Annnnnnnd Voila! My finished fettuccine with the sauce and veggies from my "Grown Up Mac No Cheese" topped with fresh cracked pepper and some nutmeg. Once you and your family (and friends) TASTE THIS! You'll never go back to store bought pasta! 


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