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Cranking it up a notch; fresh pasta at home

March 17, 2010

I received a hand-crank pasta maker for the holidays when I was about 10, and spent a certain amount of my pre-teens cranking lengths of linguine through said machine and draping them all over the house. The backs of basically all of our chairs were often covered with drying strands, and a petrified piece of pasta would often show up behind a seat cushion at inopportune times.

But it’s been a while, so at the end of last summer when our great friends Joe and Chris (also a Cookstr colleague) were coming for a visit, and Chris suggested he bring his pasta machine so that we could make pasta with the kids, I was absurdly happy at the thought.

When I was a kid, I taught myself to make homemade pasta while poring over the pages of Marcella Hazan’s The Essential Italian Cookbook. Tongue clenched between teeth, making a well of flour, stirring the eggs while incorporating small amounts of flour from the walls of the well, until that moment when the egg mixture was thick enough that you could allow the walls to collapse and begin kneading the dough. Then the cranking, getting the layers of pasta thin, thinner, but not too thin, silky and smooth, and then debating: fettuccine or spaghetti? Machine cut or by hand? What sauce???

Chris on the other hand was lucky enough to have learned pasta FROM MARCELLA HAZAN HERSELF, when he worked as a lad in the kitchens of Food & Wine Magazine. No joke. He then went on to work with Lidia (yes, Bastianich) on her books and television shows for many years. So, I bowed to the master and busied myself with the camera while he got to work with the boys.

Do not disturb. Men making pasta.

Teach your children well (ok, my children, but still).

Jack earning his dinner.

Joe contributing a different, but equally appreciated, skill set.

We decided to go for two different toppings for the pasta. One was a bunch of brilliant tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil, and bacon, splash of olive oil, salt, pepper:

Just gorgeous, right?

Very simple and very good.

And the other was goat cheese,and slivered chard, and freshly roasted beets, which turned the pasta a wild shade of pink when all was tossed together.

Neon pasta.

No question that packaged dried pasta is one of the best inventions of the past millennium, and that you can buy beautiful fresh pastas in all kinds of places. But that night, dining on the pillowy, silky noodles my kids had made, I was certain that I had never eaten better pasta in my life.  And Charlie felt the same way.

We love you, Joe.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. susan permalink
    March 18, 2010 11:01 am

    How much fun! What kind of pasta machine does Chris use?

  2. March 22, 2010 7:31 am

    How fun! I just love getting our kiddos into the kitchen and it looks like your whole family had fun! I have a pasta machine that I have been wanting to use but am too nervous. It says not to wash it? How can you not wash it when there might be dried egg bacteria on it? Anyway – if/when I do I would love to make pasta using Kamut Khorasan Wheat flour for sure. Thanks for this entertaining post 🙂

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