Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Fresh pasta and 10 year olds

On Saturday afternoon, Daniela, my friend, colleague and cuisinière extraordinaire, and I helped out another colleague who just had a baby.  As a mom-to-be she offered an evening of pasta-making for kids as part of our school auction.  Well, when the parent who bought her offering called, she couldn't make it since she was about to go into labor at any minute.  And it is common knowledge that you cannot say no to a 9-month pregnant lady... at least I have trouble doing it.
So, we loaded up the car (ok, Dani loaded up hers) and off we went.  Dani is Italian.  She has her mom's pasta maker.  I have made fresh pasta before although I do not own this wonderful truc.  I am a great assistante, so apron on, I was ready to help.  We had five 10 year old girls for 2 hours.  We made fettucine and spaghetti and two sauces.  One of grape tomatoes, garlic and olive oil (pictured above) and one with meat.  The girls enjoyed the fruits of their labor tremendously.  We even had to cook up more (store bought) pasta so they would have enough for their sauces.  One of the girls stated, as she sat down to the beautifully set table, that she had never been to a birthday party that didn't have pizza and that she preferred the pasta!

If you've never made pasta, get out your food processor and get to business.  You don't have to have the machine that cuts it.  You can cut it with a knife, if you wish.  This summer, at Fearrington with Chef Colin, we made tortellini, stuffing it with a yummy crab/shrimp/cheese mixture.  Ah, memories of dishes past.

Fresh Pasta
Serves about 4 (less if you are really hungry!)

Made in the food processor...

2 cups flour
3 eggs
1 tsp. oil
Pinch of salt

Process until the dough rides up in the center and comes together into a ball.
Flatten a fourth of the dough and crank through the widest setting of the pasta machine.  (If you do not own a pasta machine, roll out with a well-floured rolling pin.)  Have plenty of flour on hand to flour the strips of pasta before you roll them through the machine.
Continue this process at each setting until the dough is paper thin.  Let it dry for 10 minutes before cranking it through the spaghetti or fetuccine slot.
Place the cut pasta on waxed paper sprinkled with flour to dry.  Let it stand for at least 10 minutes before boiling.
Bring salted water to boil and put in the pasta.  It will be done in much less time than store-bought, about 4-5 minutes.

Simple Tomato, Garlic and Basil Sauce

2 Tbsp of olive oil
3 cloves of garlic
1 pint of grape tomatoes, cut in half
4 or more basil leaves

Sauté the garlic in olive oil for 2-3 minutes.  Make sure it does not burn.  Add the tomatoes and cook on medium-high for a minute or two.  Lower to simmer and cook until done, about 10-15 minutes.  Add salt, pepper and the basil.  Turn off the heat and wait 2 minutes so the flavors blend.
Pour on top of cooked pasta and add Parmesan cheese.

Italian Tomato Sauce

1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 Tbsp of olive oil
A bunch of parsley (1/4 c), finely chopped
A sprig of rosemary, finely chopped (1 Tbsp dry)
1/2 c. red wine (can be omitted, but why??)
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano (more if fresh)
1 1/2 lbs ground turkey
1 large can of tomatoes  (pureed or crushed)
1 small can tomato paste
1 can tomato sauce
1 tsp each salt and pepper
1 Tbsp sugar

Sauté the onions and garlic; add ground turkey.  Brown well, as you add the chopped rosemary.  You can add wine now if you want.  Cook for 5 minutes.  When it is nicely browned, add the tomatoes, the sauce and the paste, fill the paste can with water and add it to the sauce.  Stir well, add teh parsely, oregano and basil, salt, pepper and sugar.  Let it come to a boil and then lower the heat.  Cover and simmer for 30-45 minutes.  Enjoy over pasta with Parmesan cheese.

Bon appétit, les spaghetti!

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