Pasta like my mamma does it

21 Nov

Well, not my mamma, but Italian mammas. Allegedly. Jane, who teaches English to a class of Italians, said one of her students told her she makes all her pasta by hand and that other students chorused that that’s how their mothers do it.

So for our Wednesday cooking gathering this week, we attempted lasagna made with homemade noodles. It was only Pei, Jane, and me, but even doing it on my big wooden table and fully-functioning stove, it would have been tight with another.

Pei and Jane made a bolognese sauce for their lasagne, complete with a combined four pounds of meat. Poor Colin would have to be satisfied with my glorified tomato sauce (sauteed onions and garlic + oregano + parsley + splash of wine + 700 gr tomato sauce + salt and pepper).

Then the main event, the noodles. Jane had learned how to make them in a recent cooking class, so once again she played instructor. We built our flour volcanoes and scrambled in our eggs. (Pasta ingredients are easy! For 1 serving, you need 100 grams of flour and 1 egg.)

I got a double yolk! It didn't affect my ratio too much, though.

It got messy fast. You’re supposed to contain your eggs to the flour bowl for as long as possible, but Pei’s broke through right away. Then it’s a race to incorporate the flour and eggs before everything runs off the cutting board.

Knead the dough until it’s quite stiff, then let it rest for about 15 minutes. When you come back to your dough, divide it by servings (I used three eggs, so I made three balls), knead a little more flour in, then go to work with your rolling pin or empty wine bottle.

Roll and fold, roll and fold, roll and fold, roll and fold, rest. Repeat. It’s a real workout! Meanwhile I’ve got a box of no-bake lasagna noodles in my pantry. When your dough gets to noodle thinness, slice it with a sharp knife into whatever width noodles you need.

At this point in the night, we’d been working for three and a half hours, our work areas were a mess, and only one of the three lasagne was built. I had noodles and sauce but no filling, and Pei was still working on her dough. Unfortunately, Colin and I had another cooking activity that we needed to get to, so everyone quickly cleaned up and hustled out the door with whatever lasagna pieces they had.

Colin and I were going to the SAIS cooking club’s brunch for dinner event, and I was bringing the fixings for Mommy’s Pull-Apart Sticky Buns. Mom was unfortunately out of town and unreachable by email, so I got a similar recipe from Grandma and just winged it.

Oh man, were they a hit. With Colin’s help, my dish was the first done, and everyone dug in while the buns were still mouth-burning hot.

The next day I finished building my lasagna with roasted eggplant and zucchini and a ricotta filling, and we shared it with another veggie friend. I used this recipe for pumpkin lasagna, just switching out eggplant for the pumpkin puree. It tasted great, but not because of the noodles.

Colin and I finished the leftover noodles for lunch on Friday, but that was an ordeal of its own—my uncooked noodles had reattached in the fridge after two nights there. With just a simple pasta sauce, it was a lot more noticeable that we were eating homemade noodles, but there was definitely the lingering taste of the hassle of the whole process.

Grandma’s Pull-Apart Sticky Buns
2 cans of biscuits, or 1 bag of premade pizza dough
1 C butter, melted
½ C sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
½ C nuts, optional

Toss the nuts in the bottom of a bundt pan. Separate dough into ~ping-pong-ball-sized clumps and roll in cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place in bundt pan. Pour melted butter over the whole mess. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes. Invert onto a plate and serve; do not serve as shown in my picture.

One Response to “Pasta like my mamma does it”

  1. Monique November 24, 2010 at 7:51 pm #

    I don’t think I ever cooked in grams or metric when I lived there. I seriously had my mom send me my measuring cups and tablespoons 🙂

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