Making Fresh Pasta at Home

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Sixteen years ago I designed a cooking school for kids with my then, 6 and 8-year-old daughters. They named it: Kids Culinary Adventures- where math, reading, science and art mix with kids. Although I’ve retired from teaching hands-on to children- and both my kids grew up and onto college. I do continue to food coach parents on picky eaters, on how to shop, and eat healthier.

Several classes at Kids Culinary Adventures were popular, many really stood out and we would need to continually teach them. The class I will be sharing with you today was always a success. It was called,”Have You Lost Your Noodle?”. KCA was popular for anchoring academic through the medium of cooking. This class was no expectation. Have you lost your noodle, was a vehicle to teach at home pasta making and an opportunity to discuss the beautiful history and geography of the noodle. As you might imagine it was a wonderful social studies course as a whole.

As the founder of KCA, my family and I have designed well over 400 culinary classes throughout the years. All  of those classes have been taught in our San Francisco, Bay Area location. Have you lost your Noodle, was no exception. The funny part was – THIS  was the class all the parents wanted to take. The demand was so high– we eventually designed an adult class that would also guide families away from fast, additive free, highly processed and pre- prepared foods. We named this class:”Cook Outside the Box”. Parents were learning how to and cook fresh– and, in as little time as possible.

Making pasta from scratch only seems like a huge undertaking. I’m here to tell you–making fresh homemade pasta can be done in under 30 minutes of hands on attention! (with the exception of the dough’s rest period.) It’s likely you will be spending more time reading about  pasta making— than you will be actually engaged hands-on.


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Before you approach the recipe– here are a few things I’d like to chat about before sending you off with a basic pasta dough recipe— here they are:

About the Flour :

The names, Doppio Zero ( double zero), 00 and 0 flour refer to specifically Italian milled flours used for pasta making.

The Italian grading system is used in many pasta making recipes—and is as follows: 2, 1, 0 or 00. These symbols indicate to how finely the flour is ground, and how much of the bran and germ has been removed in the process. American flour, on the other hand is graded by both– color included:  white, brown, whole meal and by gluten content, or strength. We read names such as:  all purpose, strong, extra strong or similar grammar. The basic rule rule of thumb among cooks is the stronger the flour, the better the bread. The less dense the flour is, the better the cake or pasta. All else being equal, stronger flour is good for stronger bread type textured items. We avoid these characteristics in our cakes and pastas.

If you are looking to make a better pasta, start with a finer flour– all purpose will work too, but 00 flour has been refined more so than the standard all purpose flour or bread flour– which is  higher in protein, and could result in your pasta tough to the bite and chewy.

The bottom line is : All this doesn’t refer to the flours ingredients, as much as it refers to how finely the flour has been ground down. Doppio- zero is great to work with — especially making pasta by hand. It is super-fine, like talcum-powder. Because it is so fine, the whole mixing, folding, rolling process is much easier, and result in a perfect textured product. Italian Grade 00 is a soft flour with around just 9% protein and best for cakes. I use it for pasta too.

Lower gluten = soft flour = cake, pasta, items soft and billowy baked goods
High gluten = hard flour = breads or yeasted items that expand with heat need to withstand the rise of the yeast without blowing the top off the loaves.

Variations: Some cooks like to add fresh chopped herbs. Fresh garlic, or powdered spices to the recipe before mixing and kneading — just make up for the variance of water content if there is one. Some people like to add liquified spinach, or other delicious vegetables. Experiment. The dough will tell you what it needs— by how sticky or dry it is. Listen to it. Start with a basic dough recipe below and gradually begin to add to your repertoire each time you make a new batch. Learn the basics first.

Making dough on a raining day is not for first time learners. The flour will absorb the moisture from the humid atmosphere and make things… well, a sticky situation. Making dough on these days become a bit more time-consuming, among other things. Stick to drier temperatures until you really have the pasta making method down.

Note of Filled Dough: Pasta can be filled with just about anything. The most important thing to remember is: How the dough is cooked and filled. Over-filled or under-fill can ruin your day. If you over-fill the dough, you risk the ravioli or the tortellini popping in the cooking liquid. If you under-fill the dough, you risk the mouth-feel at serving time will be just chewy gob of tasteless dough.

Chefs Secrets:
Adding any type of oil to the water is a no-no — this will stop the pasta from its absorption rate, and the sauce will run off of it instead of adhering the finished product.

Always add a touch of the pasta’s cooking liquid to the sauce. The starch in the water will combine with your other ingredients and become sticky insurance— the results will be a better marriage between your pasta and your sauce.

If making any type of creamy egg-based pan sauce; always add the sauce while the pasta pan is completely off the flame. This reduces your risk of scrambling the eggs in the recipe and instead will result in a beautiful decadent base to blanket your glorious work.

Always cook pasta in boiling salted water.


Basic Pasta Recipe

Ingredients:

3 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 Tablespoon good quality olive oil
Pinch of salt
2 cups of low protein flour, such as Italian grade Doppio-Zero flour or American grade AP or cake flour, sifted.

Method:

Whisk eggs and oil in a medium bowl or if you don’t want any clean up in a large plastic food storage bag– but begin on the table if you want the authentic feel. Combine with your finger, the salt and 2 cups flour in a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour, and pour the egg mixture into well.

Gradually incorporate flour mixture into egg mixture with a fork or your fingers– (shaped in a claw ) mix until a shaggy type dough forms.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it comes together as a smooth ball. About 5-8 minutes. If the dough is sticky, dust lightly with additional flour as needed. The dough will become family stiff because the protein in the dough is developing gluten strands. These strands are like rubber bands. If the dough becomes too difficult to knead cover it and give it a five-minute rest. This will relax the gluten strands and allow you to get back to work.

Once a smooth ball has been formed from your kneading efforts, shape the ball into a 1/2 inch disk. Wrap in plastic or in a gallon sized food storage bag. Allow to rest until the dough holds an indentation when pressed with your finger, minimum 30 minutes but up to 1–2 hours is fine.


When you are ready to roll—literally

Set a pasta maker to thickest setting. (If you do not have a pasta maker, skip this step and proceed to my notes below). Dust dough lightly with flour and divide into 4 pieces. Working with a single piece at a time and keeping remaining dough wrapped in plastic.

Flatten dough into a narrow rectangle no wider than mouth of machine and pass through the rollers on the highest setting. Alternatively, flatten the dough with a rolling pin.

Fold the outer most edges in from each side overlapping one another, then rotate the whole piece 90 degrees. Run through the rollers again and then repeat without folding or rotating , adjusting the machine to a thinner setting after each pass. Dust lightly with flour if the dough becomes sticky at any point. Continue until the pasta sheet is 1/16” thick— and you can almost see your hand through it, like a fine set of silky sheers, as in,“window treatment”. Usually about an #8 on the dial of most pasta making machines.

Place your newly formed sheets of pasta sheets on a lightly floured surface to dry. Or hang on a clean clothing hanger, covered with a clean lint free dishcloth. The dough can be rolled out into sheets 4 hours ahead. Stack on a baking sheet between pieces of parchment paper; covered. Cut into any shape or form.

Rolling the Dough by Hand
If you don’t have a machine, don’t worry. Use a rolling pin and your body weight to press the pasta as thin as possible. Just like described above—you need to build the pasta in layers, folding it back over itself, and flattening again and again, about 4-6 folds. You will know when its ready when it is very smooth to your sight and touch; and you can roll it out thin enough to see your hand on the other side of the sheet. This method will take a bit longer, but is very achievable. Now cut and shape the dough with a knife or a pizza fough cutter If you’re not making filled pasta. Or you can purchase a Eppicotispai “Chitarra” Pasta Cutter with 32cm/12.5-Inch Rolling Pin

Note: Below is a link to one of the best homemade pasta making website I think I’ve ever seen. Because I am not standing next to you and teaching you hands-on, take a good look at this website. If I was going to design a pasta making photo montage, this is exactly how it would look– scroll all the way through for the best benefit.

 Serious Eats Makes Pasta.

 

 

Traditional Vanilla Bean Pot De Crème

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Doesn’t come anymore traditional than this! Time consuming, but if you have the time to spare- you will learn why this recipe is a classic ! Deliciously rich, creamy and elegant.

 

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups whole milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

6 large egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar + 1 Tablespoon

1- vanilla bean

Pinch salt

1teaspoon good quality vanilla extract

1teaspoon good quality instant espresso powder

Unsweetened whipped cream,for serving

Method:

In a medium saucepan, combine the whole milk with the heavy cream and 1Tablespoon of the sugar and the pinch of salt. Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise, scrape the vanilla seeds into the cream, and drop in the empty pod. Bring to a simmer over moderately high heat. Set aside, and allow the vanilla to steep in the cream for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks with the remaining1/2 cup of sugar until thick and creamy, about 1 minute.

Re-heat the cream just until warm, and slowly whisk 1/2 – 1 cup of the hot milk, into egg yolks while whisking vigorously; do-not to curdle the eggs. Bring the egg yolks close to the same temperature as the milk. We call this stage: Tempering. Once the cream is tempered into the egg yolks, transfer the tepid egg mixture to the saucepan with the remaining flavored cream. Begin cooking to form a custard.

Over moderate heat, whisk constantly, until it is slightly thickened, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a large glass measuring cup or bowl to help you poor into smaller serving vessels or molds.

Preheat the oven to 300’F Degrees. Place rack in center of oven. Bring a teapot filled with water to a boil.

Place the serving molds in a large high-sided casserole baking dish. Place the baking dish onto two sheet pans line the top sheet pan with a non slip silicon baking sheet or parchment paper. (This will provide double the insulation so the custards can cook evenly and slowly and non slip surface when you remove it from the oven.) Place the sheet pans with the molds on the center rack in the pre heated oven.

Gently stir the custard on the stove, remove the vanilla bean pod and discard. Carefully fill each mold with the custard mixture while in the oven.

Once the molds are filled with the custard- carefully pour the hot water from the teapot around the molds. ( try not to splash) Bring the water level up halfway – two-thirds up the sides of the molds.

Bake for 30 to 55 minutes. The cooking time will vary depending on the size of the molds. To test for doneness, reach into the oven and using a tea towel to protect your hand, gently shake one of the molds. The custard should be set, but will still jiggle slightly, like gelatin.With tongs carefully remove the molds one at a time onto a tea towel and then onto a cooling rack. Allow to cool completely, then refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

Serve the pots de crème with lightly sweetened whipped cream and white chocolate shavings or a dusting of cinnamon sugar.

Makes approximately 8-10 servings depending on the size of your molds.

Note: If eggs begin to curdle in tempering stage immediately cool cream before and further additions and immediately run the mixture through a sieve before proceeding to the next step.

Loaded – Jalapeno Popper Potato Skins!

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Ingredients:

3-4 jalapeños

2 pounds small round baby potatoes, about 2 inches in size.

2 Tablespoons organic canola or vegetable oil, divided

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

1/2 pound pancetta or center cut strip bacon, cooked crisp, drained of excess fat, and crumbled

Garnish Toppings

1 cup sour cream

1 bunch chives, chopped fine

1 tomato, small diced

10 black olives, chopped fine

Lime wedges

Method:

1-Place oven rack to top position and preheat your broiler to high.

2-Place the jalapeños onto a foil-lined baking sheet and broil,turning occasionally. Broil until skins are black and blistered on all sides. Or place on your outdoor grill for the same affect. Once skins are blisters and blackened,remove peppers to a brown paper lunch bag, or a plastic gallon- sized food storage bag. Seal.

3-When peppers are cool enough to handle, peel away skin with the sharp part of a paring knife scraping away from you onto a paper towel. Slice open and remove seeds. Discard skin and seeds. ( I wear gloves when handling peppers and seeds- do not touch your face. If you get caption on your skin and it is burning, wash with whole milk or anything high in fat. )

4-Dice peppers fine, and add to a small mixing bowl. Add cream cheese and mix well. Set aside at room temperature.

5-Place an oven rack to center portion of your oven. Adjust temperature to 400′ F degrees.

6-While oven is warming. Wash and dry potatoes. Place into a large food storage bag or bowl and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the oil and the garlic salt. Toss to coat all sides.

7-Place potatoes on a foil lined, high-sided baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center goes in easily. Remove from the oven and set to cool.Turn oven heat up to 450’F degrees.

8-When potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut in half lengthwise. With a teaspoon gently scoop out warm potato flesh, leaving 1/8″ potato inside the skin — ( save potato flesh, and use for mashed potatoes  during another mealtime)

9-Brush the inside of each halved potato with remaining oil then sprinkle with salt and pepper and place facing up on the foiled lined high sided baking sheet again and place back into the hot over for an additional 10 minutes until dry and edges are getting crispy. Remove and cool slightly.

10- Fill each potato skin with 1 teaspoon roasted jalapeño cream cheese mixture, top with pancetta or bacon and grated cheddar cheese.

11-Broil for an additional 1-2 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

12-Remove from oven, and serve with sides of sour cream, chopped chives, diced tomatoes, black olives and lime wedges

Serve warm and crispy!

*Make variations by adding grilled and finely chopped, Carne Asade steak or ground taco seasoned cooked ground hamburger to the bottom of the potato skin before filing with cream cheese mixture.

The Faux-Re-O! Homemade Vegan Oreo Cookies. Clean ! No additives, preservatives or shelve-stabilizers! 

Aside from the slightly bizarre flavors of the past few years, Kraft Foods – the parent to the Oreo, a Nabisco brand; has a dynasty into the worlds best tasting cookie!  A large corporate box chain foods  company–but, this means highly processed, refined food ingredients. Also, foods contain additives; that might not be so healthy If you are feeding your family clean. Here is my adaption to the beloved, “Oreo” Cookie!

The Faux-Re-O!



Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups AP flour, Yucca flour or GF flour, sifted

1 cup unsweetened Dutch processed cocoa powder, sifted

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

12 ounces Vegan butter or extra virgin coconut oil, room temp, slightly softened ( extra virgin has minimal coconut flavor)

1 1/2 cups granulated cane sugar

4 Tablespoons of VeganEgg reconstituted in 1 cup water

2 teaspoons pure Madagascar vanilla extract

1/2 cup organic vegetable shortening

Non-stick cooking

Cream Filling ( recipe below)

Method:
1. In a small bowl combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk to incorporate ingredients well throughout the flour. Set aside.

 

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or a medium bowl–combine 10 ounces of the vegan butter with the 3/4 cup granulated sugar. Beat on medium-high until combined and pale in color. About two minutes. Scrape sides, add 1/2 the vanilla, and beat an additional 2 minutes.

 

3. Add the VeganEgg and flour mixture in alternate batches. Mix well to incorporate after each addition before adding an additional. Once all ingredients have been added mix until dough forms a ball.

 

4. With a sifter, lightly dust a clean work surface with cocoa powder.

 

5. Turn dough ball out onto the lightly dusted cocoa powered surface. Also dust the top of the dough lightly. Cut in 1/2.

 

6. With a cocoa dusted rolling pin, roll the dough pieces to flatten into 2 – 1/2 inch round disc. Wrap both discs individually in plastic wrap- sealing airtight. Refrigerate flat for a minimum of 1 hour.

 
5. After 1 hour has lapsed – remove a disc from plastic wrap and place on a clean, lightly cocoa dusted work surface. Working while dough remains cold, roll out to 1/4 inch thick. Run the back of a long knife or palate knife under the dough to make sure it is not sticking to the work surface.

 

6. Preheat oven 350’F Degrees. Prepare two high sided baking sheets with parchment sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.

 

7. With a 1 1/2 in round cocoa dusted cookie cutter begin cutting cutting 64 round 1/4 inch round cookies.

 

8. Using a metal spatula – place on prepared baking sheet with minimal movement protecting the integrity of its shape. Work quickly while cold. If dough begins to heat up, place back in the refrigerator to cool again.

 

9. Continue to ball up the cookie dough up and re-roll for more cookies until you’re completely out of dough. Repeat with the remaining disc.

 
10. Bake for 8-10 minutes until they are firm. Remove and allow to cool. Make cream filling.


Additional Cream Filling Ingredients:

4 cups powdered sugar sifted

2 Tablespoons nut milk

 
Method:

1. In a small bowl beat the remaining 2 ounces of the Vegan butter with the vegetable shortening until smooth. Add remaining vanilla extract. ( or cut and scrape one fresh vanilla bean pod * optional)

 

2. Once combine, add sifted powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon of the nut milk. Mix. Check constancy. If too dry, add the additional nut milk to form a thick cookie filling like paste. Set aside.

 
3. Once cookies are cooled, spread the filling on the bottom of half of the cookies and sandwich them with the other half. Slightly squeezing to completely sandwich.
Serve with ice cold nut milk. Or use to prepare Stephen Dimmicks ( from Glossie Girl ) Oreo Cookie Pancakes. Recipe here!

Variation to filling : For chocolate filling add 1/2 cup cocoa powder and 1 /2-2 Tablespoons of additional nut milk to the already blended creamed filling recipe.

Homemade Bacon-Maple Butter

Delicious on just about anything including a good grilled steak. Love this on my recipe for homemade pumpkin spiced flap-jacks, or extra toasty waffles. The best part about making this homemade bacon-maple butter, is that your entire house will smell like holiday ( Insert big, happy sigh.)

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Ingredients:

1/2 lb. unsalted butter, cut into approximately 1 inch pieces and frozen

4 strips of bacon, cooked crispy. (1 Tablespoon of fat reserved)

1 Tablespoon bacon fat ( optional )

1-1/2 cups grade A medium maple syrup

1/4 tsp. Kosher salt

Method: 

In a medium sized, 3-4 quart heavy bottomed,stainless-steel saucepan,rub the inside rim with 1/2 teaspoon of the butter. (This will help prevent the maple syrup from boiling over.) Add the Maple syrup to the sauce pan and cook without stirring on medium high heat until the syrup reaches 235”F Degrees on a candy thermometer. About 8 to 10 minutes. When the syrup begins to boil gently tilt the pan so the syrup covers the thermometer bulb to get an accurate reading.

Once syrup comes to temperature, remove from heat and add the frozen butter 1-2 pieces at a time. Make sure to stir constantly with a wooden spoon until each addition of butter has melted before incorporating more. Repeat until all the butter has been added.

Once all the butter has been incorporated, add the salt and the bacon fat.Stir to combine.

Pour the syrup into the bowl of a stand mixer, or use and electric hand mixer and beat with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until cooled and lighter in color and about 10-15 minutes. Gently crumble, and fold in bacon bits until just combine or add before pressing for a smoother bacon texture.

Pour the bacon maple butter into clean mason jars, recycled food safe jars, or BPF free plastic containers. Allow to cool to room temperature. Seal air-tight and refrigerate. Can be stored up to, two weeks in the refrigerator or 6 months in the freezer.

 

Makes approximately 1 pint.

Variation : Add 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and for a spicy finish– add 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Or both! You decide.

 

 

Pumpkin Spiced FlapJacks with Bacon Maple Butter

This recipe is best when made with fresh pumpkin puree. Pancakes won’t be so orange and the batter will result in a lighter, fluffier pancake. If pumpkins are not in season, or you are rushed for time– it’s fine to use canned pumpkin.

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Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour or, all purpose flour or gluten free flour

3 tablespoons brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup  fresh pumpkin puree or good quality canned pumpkin puree

3 large eggs, separated

1  cup whole milk or nut milk

1/4 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon cloves

1/4 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon good quality vanilla extract

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

Organic Canola for the cooking pan

Maple syrup or honey, warmed

My bacon maple butter recipe ( see my recipe here )

Preparation:

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda with the salt. Mix well to combine.

In a medium bowl whisk  the milk, pumpkin, egg yolks, melted butter and vanilla with an electric mixer beat on high speed two minutes to blend well.

Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin and egg mixture and beat on low speed until batter is smooth but thick. About 1 minute. Set aside. Wash beaters with soapy water and clean well of any remaining batter. In a large bowl using your electric mixer with clean beaters, beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry.

With a rubber spatular, gently fold the beaten egg whites into the pumpkin batter in 2- 3 additions.

Brush large nonstick skillet with oil; heat over medium heat.

Working in batches, with a large ladel pour batter by 1/3 cupfuls into skillet. Use the back of the ladle to make a circular motion in the batter and shape the pancake to about a 4-5 inch circle.

Cook until bubbles form on surface of pancakes and bottoms are brown, about 1 1/2 minutes per side. Repeat with remaining batter, brushing skillet with oil between batches.

Top with my recipe for, Bacon Maple Butter and serve with warm maple syrup or honey.

 

Drunken Bacon for that “Grown-up” Sunday Brunch you’ve been longing for ! (This Bacon is Hot, Sweet and Sticky, so be prepared to have   “Breakfast in Bed!” )


Clothing optional ! I’d serve these sexy bits of heaven with a side of warm melted chocolate – but that’s just me. #ParentsDayOff 

Ingredients:

1/4 cup good quality pure maple syrup

1/4 cup good quality Bourbon 

1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest

1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

2 pounds, 3/4-inch-thick slices of skinless slab bacon

Method:

Preheat oven to 350’F Degrees. 
In a large bowl, combine the brown sugar, maple syrup, bourbon and orange zest. Place bacon strips into the whisky marinade and toss until the bacon is evenly coated. Allow to rest a minimum of 20 minutes, up to one hour.

Line a 2 high sided baking sheets with foil and place a cookie cooling rack on top of each sheet. Spray cookie cooling racks with non-stick cooking spray.

Lay bacon on the racks in a flat even layer. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until crispy. 

Watch closely the last 5 minutes because the bacon will burn very quickly towards the end of the cooking process. 

Cool before serving.
Enjoy