Sunday, February 3, 2013

Using your noodle

I have made some pretty mediocre pasta from scratch in recent years, I'll admit it. No matter whether I used organic all-purpose flour or the fancy semolina I smuggled back in my hand luggage from Italy last summer, it never turned out right. Never mind if I used ice water or olive oil, kneaded it a lot or just until the ingredients came together. It was always a little too bumpy. Or tough. Or both. Until yesterday, when some of the most gorgeous egg noodles I've ever seen came out of a pot of boiling water in my kitchen, to be smothered in a makeshift stroganoff sauce and doused with beer-soaked mushrooms and tender chunks of venison for a dinner party I was hosting.

Turns out that I had simply been missing the two most important ingredients: Italian opera and an enthusiastic sous chef.

Things started out a little iffy, with some egg leakage and odd dough texture early on. Okay, so maybe I didn't have the standing mixer the recipe recommended. And I didn't have two large eggs so we used three small ones. And we were using white whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose. And I'd forgotten to sift it. But we were not to be deterred. We poured ourselves glasses of red wine and before my dough took its usual turn toward overkneaded mediocrity I stepped back for a moment to troubleshoot.

Kenton found a great website called How to Cook like your Grandmother with encouraging commentary and some instructive video clips on egg noodle making at home. And I began the search for appropriate music on Pandora. Nothing like opera to bring out the (genetically nonexistent) Italian in us.

Moments later, we were cranking. Literally. You are seeing important factor #2 in action here: teamwork. Why had I thought it was a good idea to try to do this all by myself before? This is so much more fun!

And, miracle of miracles, it turns out I have found someone as excited about fresh noodles, and cutting them just so, as I am. Amazing.

Tell me honestly, are these beautiful noodles, or what?

Not as difficult and so much more delicious than expected. If I have kids one day, I am totally going to make egg noodles with them. I'll even let them choose the operetta.

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