Sunday, May 2, 2010

Eat Yourself Pretty

Last Friday night Robb and I had sort of the perfect Friday night. I love it when that happens. I swear, a perfect Friday is not something that you can plan. It has to sort of evolve from a nap and end with a spontaneous bottle of champagne, which is exactly what happened.

After my early-evening nap, Robb asked what I wanted to do with my night. It was coming up on 8, we were both a little hungry, neither of us felt like going out. And then we remembered the pasta maker! About a month ago, we had gone to Bed, Bath, and Beyond to get ideas for our wedding registry, and when I saw the pasta maker I was ready to put it on our list. But Robb said, "no way! It's only thirty-five dollars...let's just get it now!" I believe I mumbled something about "but this is why you put things on the someone else can buy it for you." But it was too late. We were already at the register.

So fast forward to last Friday night, staying in with limitless time to experiment with a new culinary toy and 101.1 FM (the oldies/yacht rock station) playing all of our favorites. I rolled up my sleeves, took off my engagement ring, and tied on an apron, all set to make the dough. Robb pulled out the Cuisinart mini-prep and started into his pepper-pesto that is our new favorite thing (red peppers, hot peppers, garlic, onion, and lots of fresh basil and oregano, ground up in the Cuisinart and then fried in olive oil as the sauce base. Add kalamata olives and tomatoes once the puree is cooked through. We, I am proud to say, used tomatoes that we canned from our garden last year. [Insert smug self-congratulatory expression here.]).

The dough is pretty darn easy to make. It's literally just bread flour and egg yolks, with a couple of whole eggs thrown in for good measure. And you mix it and bash it up with your fingers and palms until it's formed a nice, elasticy ball, then cover it in saran wrap and plop it in the fridge until you're ready to roll it out. I let Robb have a go with the dough at this point as there is a certain magical play-dough-fun-factory feeling to all of it. I had made fresh pasta years ago in some failed experiments as a teenager, so I enjoyed seeing him at the wheel more than I would have enjoyed cranking it out myself. And good thing I did, because he totally ruled at it. In the photo above, Robb is rolling out one quarter of the original dough ball. You run it through on the "thickest" setting and then click down to thinner settings until you have a sheet of pasta approximately 1 or 2 millimeters thick. Crazy, right? Then we hung the pasta sheets on a damp towel on the back of a chair until we were ready to make ze pasta!

And really, making ze pasta is ze best part of it all. (OK, ok, I'm done with the "ze's." I hated it too.) Here is a little montage of the pasta sheets being rolled through the "linguine" setting.

And pretty quickly, a tiny little pasta ball turns into quite a lot of noodles!

Around this point in time we recalled a bottle of champagne that we had in the fridge. Red wine may have been preferable given the richness of the sauce, but we weren't going to complain.

It was probably around 10:30 when the noodles finally came out of their hot water bath, which we tossed directly into the simmering sauce. We then mixed a blend of ricotta and fresh basil into the noodles, which tempers the heat of the peppers, and loosened up the sauce with a little more pasta water. Here is the unattractive photo of the finished result...if only a photo could capture the texture of a homemade noodle. YUM. Oh, and did I mention that making fresh pasta is messy? Because wow, is it ever messy. Oh, and did I mention that we broke the pasta maker by the time it was all done? (Some gears on the "thick" setting are making some awfully ugly noises.) But oh my God, did it taste good.


  1. You two have done well. With all of the pasta I eat, I really should be making my own. One thing: is it cost effective?

  2. Why hello Jason! To answer your noodle-related question: No, it's not exactly cost effective. The flour doesn't cost much, but you do need about 8 eggs to make pasta for 4. So I'd say it's a smidge more costly than the boxed stuff, and maybe on par with store-bought fresh pasta. But oh jeez it tastes so freaking good. It's not an every day thing, but worth it now and then.

  3. Oh this does look yummy. Does this mean that a new pasta maker is now on the wedding registry? Miss you both!! Kaye (aka Mom)

  4. this looks amazing, Liana! Hope your pasta maker isn't really broken.