My message of the day is simple: "For Satisfaction, Make Noodles!" It’s easy. It’s not much work. And you don’t need a pasta maker. I have one back in Michigan, but it’s no big deal to do without it. All you need is flour, salt, an egg, a little water, and a little oil. Some recipes leave out the water and oil. Really? I don’t recommend it.
Start with 2/3 cup of flour in a bowl and make a little well in the middle of it. Separately, mix the egg, a bit of salt, maybe a teaspoon of oil and a tablespoon of water. Pour that into the well, and stir the flour into it with a fork. I have an exact recipe back in Michigan, but without it on hand I winged my noodle dough, and as it seemed a wee bit dry while being worked, I added a sprinkle more water. Note: If not measuring makes you nervous, remember you can always add (e.g., salt or water), but you can’t take out again. —Though I guess if you sloshed in too much water or spilled in an excess of salt, you could add flour and hope for the best. Not sure about that.
But we digress.
|What are those dark speckles?|
I did something different with my dough the other day, something I hadn’t done before and hadn’t planned ahead this time, either. Because I had grated more nutmeg than necessary (it was so much fun!) to garnish our cheesy cauliflower soup the other night, I had a sprinkling left and was suddenly inspired to add that to the flour for my noodles! (Isn’t ‘noodles’ a wonderful word?) Whether you do this or not, of course, will depend on what you’re serving with or over the pasta. For my purposes, it worked out fine.
Work your ingredients together with a fork, as I say, and then with your hands to form, ultimately, a ball. Place the ball of dough on a floured pastry board, cover, and let it rest. Don’t ask me why. Just do it. All the recipes say to do it, and you can wash your hands and the bowl and sit down for a while with a book, satisfied that you will be serving homemade noodles for supper! You are doing something, you see, even when you’re not doing anything! Don’t you love that kind of cooking?
Okay, after the dough is rested (20-30 minutes, and you can put it in the fridge if you want, but I never do), it’s time to roll it out flat. Use a rolling pin — or a wine bottle, if you don’t have a rolling pin. I used a wine bottle here in the ghost town cabin until very recently, and it worked fine, but I have to say I feel very “uptown” now with a genuine, beautiful, wooden rolling pin. And a nice big wooden board!
You haven’t done anything wrong when the dough resists being rolled out, so don’t worry. That’s just how pasta dough is, wanting to shrink back up, and you have to keep at the rolling, putting your shoulder into the rolling, as it were. I’m sure the dough’s resistance has something to do with gluten, but I’m not one of those cooks who needs scientific explanations. If you are, search it out for yourself.
How thin you roll the dough will — obviously, right? — determine the thickness of your noodles and how long they’ll take to cook. In our household, we like them full-bodied, tending toward spatzle. Cut the dough into strips with a sharp knife and drape it — hang it — somehow — to dry. I draped as many strips as I could fit on a cooling rack and the rest on an overturned steamer. Think of them as laundry hanging up to dry. In fact, if you had a wooden clothes rack, that would hold a lot of nice, long noodles!
Now you can either let the pasta strips dry until brittle and store them in jars (for storage or gift-giving) or cook them while still limp, as I did the other evening.
These homemade noodles aren’t fancy, but they are very satisfying comfort food, with nothing more than butter and salt. Also good with gravy, of course. Grated cheese is always an option. And oh, can you imagine making sweet noodle kugel with homemade noodles and how good that would be? Some other time, for company, maybe….
We happened to have one last little leftover birthday steak in the freezer, so thin slices of steak (cooked rare ahead of time) joined onions and mushrooms, with sour cream stirred in at the end, all of it served atop the hearty homemade noodles.
It’s possible, of course, to increase the amounts of your ingredients to make more noodles at a time, but the amounts I’ve indicated make plenty of pasta for two people, and when you realize how much satisfaction there is in making noodles at home, you won’t want to make too many at once — because that would deprive you of another satisfying noodle-making day, and you want to leave plenty of those for days to come.
Comfort in the making and comfort in the eating -- just what we need these days at home, isn't it?