Saturday, January 9, 2010

Pasta Adventure, with original Garlic Bread recipe

So! Yesterday's pasta making was quite the adventure. I've never used a machine before and had no idea how it would come out, but I absolutely *love* it and will pretty much never go back to rolling it by hand. It's so easy this way!

I make my dough with half semolina flour and half all-purpose flour (2 cups each), and four eggs. It all goes in a bowl together:

Technically, you're supposed to make a pile out of the flour and a little well for the eggs, but I'm clumsy and know I would manage to knock over an edge of the well and spill eggs everywhere, so I use a bowl. You may notice the egg carton in this picture is symmetrical. I do that. In fact, if someone else doesn't do that, I fix it. I always thought I was strange until my boyfriend mentioned that he does the same thing (though of course, he's pretty strange, so we might both just be weirdos).

Mixing the eggs in is fun--you stir them with a fork until they're broken up, and then start slowly bringing in flour from the sides until it gets tough enough that you need to knead it with your hands. (I always need to add small amounts of water so the flour will all stick, otherwise it's too dry and doesn't work. I could probably do with a fifth egg, but this way works just fine and I can play with it to just the right consistency.) By the end, it looks kind of like scrambled eggs:

Or something. That gets pushed together until it's all stuck in a ball, then you break off pieces, roll them out a little bit with the rolling pin (otherwise it won't go through the pasta machine; I tried). Then the exciting machine-related part happens! I was so nervous for this. It's probably unreasonable to be nervous about using a pasta machine, especially when it's not even a machine because there's nothing mechanic about it, but it was new and therefore scary.

But there was nothing to be scared of! It's a little tedious at first--you have to put it through on the widest setting a number of times, folding it in half each time so that it eventually becomes rectangular instead of having ragged edges, but I expected the actual turning of the handle to take more effort than it did. Once I got all the dough through (with the knob on 5, it seemed an appropriate thickness) it was time to make noodles out of it! This was probably the most exciting part. I was nervous about this too, because the instructions for the machine say that if your dough is too moist it won't cut, and mine was sort of moist, but it came out beautifully:

I loved how it made a curtain of spaghetti. (That's the thinner, round setting; the other one wasn't cooperating for pictures. I felt like I was dealing with a six-year-old, but in pasta form.) Everything piled together looked pretty awesome:

That is, it looked awesome until I realized that it had to dry for a while, and we had to sit down and separate all the slightly-sticky noodles. It was, however, well worth it.

Delicious! My (half-Italian) boyfriend makes homemade sauce with meatballs, which is pictured here, but not documented because he made it about a week ago and froze it. I find that sauce sort of works like soup, where it's almost better for having been cooked a while ago. He does the whole cooking-for-five-hours thing; perhaps some day he'll teach me and let me document it or share the recipe here (though it's an old family recipe; I wouldn't be surprised if he were protective of it). The pasta came out to about two pounds--twice as much as we needed for the sauce, and I hope my mom figures out something to do with the rest because I disappeared for the weekend and don't know how to store fresh pasta yet.

The garlic bread pictured is my own invention; I needed something to soak up the sauce remains on the plate once we'd eaten our pasta and it worked great. I only had a vague idea of what I was doing when I made it, but it came out so well that I'm posting the recipe here for all to see and steal. (Seriously, steal it. It was delicious.)

-1 loaf Italian bread (bought at the grocery store works just fine, but you can make it if you're ambitious. I'm not.)
-1/2 stick butter
-Lots of fresh, finely-minced garlic--I used about 8 cloves, but they were tiny, so maybe about 4 or 5 normal sized ones (though I'd probably use more next time, just because I love garlic so much).
-About 1 tsp italian seasoning
-About 1 tsp garlic powder
-A dash of salt
-1/4 cup parmesan or romano cheese, finely grated (optional)
-1/4-1/2 cup olive oil

1: Slice the loaf of bread in half lengthwise so you have two big flat pieces of bread.
2: Mince the garlic.
3: In a small pan on low heat, melt the butter with the garlic, italian seasoning, garlic powder and salt. Allow to bubble for a little while so the garlic flavor infuses into the butter, but not for so long that anything burns (probably around 8 minutes, I wasn't timing myself).
4: Using a kitchen brush, brush the liquid in the butter mixture over the fleshy (not crusty) parts of the bread until they are mostly covered. Then, using a spoon, spread the garlic that you didn't pick up with the brush over the bread as evenly as you can. If you're using the cheese, sprinkle it over the bread now.
5: Pour a small amount of olive oil into a bowl. Using the same brush, cover the buttery garlicky (and possibly cheesy) bread with olive oil. The goal here is to saturate the top layer of the bread so that it's nice and mushy when it's done.
6: Put the two halves of the loaf together again. Using the brush, get whatever you didn't get out of the pan earlier and brush it on top of the loaf. (This mostly just makes it look pretty--shiny--but it also gets some flavor into the outside of the loaf. I didn't brush the bottom, but it would probably be delicious if I had.)
7: Wrap the loaf in foil and allow to sit for a few hours. Flip it over every half hour or so; this way, any moisture that is seeping through the bread will seep through in both directions.
8: Heat the oven to 350 degrees and bake (in the foil) for 15 minutes. Remove from tinfoil, place on cutting board, slice and enjoy!

Step 4

All in all, my pasta-adventure was quite successful. We all had a wonderful meal and were afraid to move for a while afterward because we'd eaten so much.


  1. Rachael,
    I'm so glad your mother taught you how to cook so well. I'm sure she has a bottle of Ragu to pour on the left over pasta! :)