My first two posts in a long time are both gonna be about food. (Sorry Uncle Tom.)
Last weekend, having my first break from work since May, I wanted to make the most of my Saturday.
Since it was raining and gloomy, finally making fresh pasta and a bolognese sauce recipe I'd had my eye on sounded like the best way to alleviate my working woman blues. Armed with an idea, I called Andrea, who's always up for a new cooking challenge and set a menu.
Baked goat cheese with toasted garlic crostini, homemade pasta with bolognese and tiramisu (!!!) for dessert. (I told you she's always up for a challenge.)
I grabbed the America's Test Kitchen version for the pasta dough, mixed it up in the food processor, grabbed our ingredients, a couple bottles of wine and headed down to Lincoln Park for an afternoon and evening of cooking and eating.
Andrea had warned me that she didn't have any fancy pasta making equipment, but all we needed was a rolling pin and a knife.
Everyone helped unroll the pasta, though some of us had trouble seeing the pasta as anything other than facial hair.
I have to hide the dry pasta at home because it's one of Andy's favorite snacks. Yeah, really.
And now I apparently will have to hide any fresh pasta as well.
Because we were unsure how the pasta would react in boiling water, we used the biggest pot Andrea and Eric had in their kitchen, not thinking about how long it would take 4 gallons of water to come to a boil.
With some time to kill, the photo above spawned a photo contest which I still believe was rigged, but have to go with Eric's (below)as my favorite.
(Yes we still ate that basil, which was grown in our garden, even after it was up Andy's nose)
Once the water boiled, it was only minutes until the pasta was cooked, and I have now developed an apron obsession after Andrea introduced me to this.
Tossed with a little olive oil and fresh basil.
Now we're talkin'. I want to climb through my monitor and stick my face in that.
I think this more accurately represents my food photography skills as well. The pasta beard and basil 'stache is still hard to beat though.
We ate lots of pasta, drank lots of wine and had more tiramisu than is probably necessary. We even watched the naked bike ride from their balcony. (But not in a pervy way. The 21st floor is too high to see any naughty bits.)
The bolognese recipe we used was loosely based on this one, though I halved it, used half ground beef, half mild Italian sausage (because the grocery was out of ground pork) and used probably a little more wine than the average person since Andrea and I decided it needed more to "thin it out" before serving. Amazing taste, and not difficult though the 90 minutes or so we allowed it to simmer definitely helped.
Fresh Pasta Recipe from America's Test Kitchen
I want to stress that this was NOT hard. Especially for the amazing results that came of it, I think it's definitely worth a try if you've never made pasta from scratch. I used my food processor because I'm lazy, but you can mix the ingredients by hand if you need to. I don't imagine it's that hard since you have to knead it anyway.
2 cups all purpose flour
3 large eggs, beaten
(Yes, that's it. Really!)
1. Pulse the flour a few times in a food processor to aerate. Add the eggs and process until the dough forms a ball, about 30 seconds.
2. If the dough resembles small pebbles, add water, 1/2 teaspoon at a time. If the dough sticks to the sides, add flour 1 tablespoon at a time, and process until the dough forms a rough ball.
3. Turn out the dough ball and any small bits onto a clean counter. Knead the dough by hand until it is smooth, about 2 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes (or up to 2 hours) before rolling.
(To roll, if you can't tell from the photos, I just used a rolling pin to roll it out as thin as possible into an approximate rectangle. Then I cut the piece in half, rolled each half and cut slices to create pasta strands that can be unrolled individually.)