Sunday, September 15, 2013

Homemade Pasta: Egg Pasta with Tomato Sauce and Meatballs and Spinach Pasta Chicken Alfredo

A few weekends ago, Reid and I went to a techniques class at Williams-Sonoma.  Technique classes are basically free classes where they teach you...you guessed it...cooking or baking techniques.  You should check one out at your local store: Williams-Sonoma technique classes.  The one Reid and I attended was on how to make homemade pasta.  The pasta dough recipes I'm posting here are from the handout they gave us.  Williams-Sonoma Classic Fesh Egg Pasta Recipe and Williams-Sonoma Fresh Spinach Pasta.  The Alfredo sauce recipe is from Food.com. Better than Olive Garden Alfredo Sauce Recipe.  Did you know that Alfredo was a chef who created Alfredo sauce for his picky pregnant wife by tripling the butter and cream in a traditional pasta sauce? Thanks, Dinner Party Download! Dinner Party Download is an awesome Podcast, and I highly recommend it to everyone.  It starts with an ice breaker joke, has a drink inspired by history, dinner party topics, etiquette lessons, dinner party music lists by cool artists, a segment about food, and special guest countdowns.  I sometimes work out listening to it, which is a little ironic because I work out since I eat so much, and DPD is a lot about food.

I made a batch of egg pasta from beginning to end and made a batch of spinach pasta dough to freeze for later rolling/cutting.  Fresh pasta is so delicious.  It has a more vibrant flavor and a more substantial chew/bite.  I don't really know how to describe it.  Just try it yourself!

One thing I found out at the class: hand cranked pasta rollers and cutters need 2 people.  Or someone with 3 hands, since you need a hand to feed it through the machine, a hand to catch the dough, and a hand to crank the machine.  It seemed like a lot of work.  The Kitchen-Aid pasta attachment is MUCH EASIER.  I definitely recommend it if you think you'll be making any pasta.  I bought them after attending the demo.  I also found out the hard way that spinach pasta is a pain to make into spaghetti.  Because the spinach is pretty thick, you have to hand separate the pasta after you cut it with the spaghetti cutter.  That took forever.  Next time I will cut it into fettuccine.

Classic Egg Pasta
makes about 1 lb. dough
Ingredients:

  • 2 1/3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. semolina flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 Tbs. water, plus more as needed
Directions:

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater (don't use the dough hook), combine the all-purpose flour, semolina flour, salt and olive oil.   Beat on low speed just until just combined, about 30 seconds.
  2. In a measuring cup with spout, whisk together the eggs and 2 Tbs. water.  WIth the mixer on low speed, slowly drizzle in the egg mixture and beat until the flour has been absorbed into the egg mixutre, about 2 minutes.
  3. Stop the mixer and, using your hands, squeeze a small amount of dough into a ball.  It should be moist enough to hold together but not sticky; if it is too dry, add more water, 1 tsp. at a time.
  4. Transfer the dough to a work surface and shape into 2 balls.  Wrap separately with plastic wrap and then flatten each ball into a disk.  Let stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.  You'll know if the dough is ready because it will feel like leather and won't tear when it goes through the rollers.
  5. After the dough has rested and is no longer sticky, it is ready to be rolled out.  Divide the dough in quarters.  Cover three of the quarters with a kitchen towel.  Flatten the dough into a rectangle thin enough to go through a pasta machine at the widest setting.  Pass the dough through the rollers once, then fold the resulting strip into thirds.
  6. Flatten the dough until it is then enough to pass through the rollers again.  Flour, fold, flatten at the widest setting once or twice, then pass through rollers 6 times at the widest setting or until the dough is smooth and supple.
  7. Starting at the second-to-widest setting, pass the dough through the rollers again.  Continue making the rollers narrower each time, until the dough reaches the desired thickness.  Pass the dough through each setting once or twice.  Place the finished pasta sheets on baking sheets dusted with semolina flour.  Repeat the process with the rest of the dough.
  8. Cut fresh pasta into desired shapes.  Dust with flour andlowely fold them or form into small nests on a baking sheet, covered with kitchen towels.  You can cook them right away or wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days.
  9. Boil pasta in boiling salted water for 1-2 minutes.  Drain in colander.
Homemade Tomato Sauce with Italian Sausage
Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 6 Roma tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 c. fresh basil, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ~1/8-1/4 reserved pasta water
Directions:

  1. In a large skillet, brown Italian sausage.  Drain oil.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add olive oil.  Saute garlic and onion until softened, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add tomatoes and simmer until tomatoes have broken down, about 30 minutes.
  4. Add basil.  At this point, you can use an immersion blender to smooth out the sauce, or leave chunky, depending on preference.  I made it both ways and I like it smooth, Reid likes it chunky.
  5. Add Italian sausage, salt and pepper, and pasta water and stir to combine.
  6. Coat pasta with sauce and top with fresh shredded Parmesan cheese.  Enjoy!

"It's a waterfall of carbs!" Reid

Mmmmm, waterfall of carbs!

Yum

Eat up!
Spinach Pasta Chicken Alfredo

Spinach Pasta Dough
Ingredients:

  • 1 package frozen spinach, defrosted and excess water drained through wringing in a kitchen towel
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 c. unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
  • Semolina flour for dusting
Directions:

  1. Place the spinach in a food processor with 1 of the eggs.  Process to a smooth puree, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides of the work bowl.
  2. Place the 3 cups all-purpose flour in a mound on a work surface.  Make a well in the center large enough to hold the spinach mixture and the remaining egg, lightly beaten, and place the spinach mixture and egg into the well.  Using a fork, begin gradually incorporating some of the flour from the sides, taking care not to break the flour wall.  When the egg is no longer runny, you can stop worrying about the wall.  Continue working in more flour until the dough is no longer wet.  
  3. Begin kneading the dough by hand, adding as much additional all-purpose flour as needed until the dough is smooth and no longer sticky, 2-3 minutes.  Scoop up any remaining flour and pass it through a sieve to remove any large particles.  Set the sieved flour aside for dusting the dough when rolling and cutting.
  4. See above recipe for rolling and cutting.  Don't cut into spaghetti, unless you want to spend an hour hand separating like me!
Chicken Alfredo Sauce
Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. chicken breast, cut into 1" cubes
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil for sauteing chicken breast
  • 3 tbs. sweet cream butter
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 c. heavy cream
  • 1/4 tsp. white pepper
  • 1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
Directions:

  1. Season chicken breast with salt and pepper.  Saute in a large skillet in olive oil over medium heat until no longer pink in the middle, about 10 minutes.
  2. In a medium saucepan, melt butter and olive oil over medium-low heat.
  3. Add garlic, cream, and white pepper and simmer, stirring often.
  4. Add Parmesan cheese and simmer for 8-10 minutes or until sauce thickened and smooth.
  5. Add mozzarella cheese and stir until smooth.  STIR CONTINUOUSLY.  Otherwise, I'm sure you will get chunks of melted cheese.  I don't know, I stirred continuously.
  6. Add in chicken and spoon over pasta.

Kinda looks like seaweed, but much tastier

Who needs Olive Garden when you can have this at home!

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