Friday, January 28, 2011

Yes It's True - Anybody Can Make This Pasta! Happy Eats!

This morning the Today Show had some happy news: making pasta is not as hard as you think. I found out, they were right! They made it look so easy! So in no time at all--especially for homemade pasta--I made this Cavatelli from scratch and added my own homemade mushroom and white wine sauce. But now, I'm going to share a few things they didn't have time to tell us. You can see their how-to video on the Today Show website.

The site of the classic flour well is what really got me going. It's been a few years since I've done this all by hand. For the pasta, you need:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup semolina flour
3/4 cup warm water
1 teaspoon salt

Make your flour well on a large board, or in a wide bowl, and slowly drizzle in the water and work it into the flour with a fork. Pretty soon you'll have a rough-looking ball of dough, which you will now have to knead for the next 5 to 8 minutes until it becomes smooth and elastic and beautiful. This is a good arm workout. Make sure your board stays floured so the dough doesn't stick--5 to 8 minutes of kneading can feel like a long time. Next, have two baking sheets, covered with clean towels dusted with flour, ready to go--this is where you will put your little Cavatelli pastas to dry for a bit. 

Now cut your ball of dough into 8 pieces, and take out one piece to work with, covering the rest over with a bowl so it doesn't dry out. Roll the piece into a long rope--it will be about 1/2-inch thick, and cut it into 1/2-inch lengths.  Now you can practice your Cavatelli-making technique. 

Take a round-tipped knife, press it down on the little piece of dough and roll, quickly squeezing over the tip of the knife and removing it and laying it in the pan. You just made a Cavatelli! At this point I was thinking that the Cavatelli sort of look like gnocchi. But the main difference is that gnocchi is made from a softer dough with potatoes. So, at first, it took me several times to really get the hang of this, in making them look like little shells--but pretty soon I was a wiz at it! Just get the press, roll, and pinch system going with the knife, and you've got it made.  

This recipe makes one pound of pasta, so pretty soon you will get this going faster and faster and you will have two baking sheets filled with these little guys. I felt just like an Italian woman in her kitchen under the Tuscan sun! All the little pastas are made! Now they can take a break and dry out a bit while you prepare this luscious sauce. 

First, add two tablespoons of unsalted butter to a large pan, and drizzle in some olive oil. 

Right when the butter melts, add three cloves chopped garlic, and half of a large onion, chopped. (I love onion and garlic...can't help it)

Let this saute for a minute or two, and then pour in about half a cup of white wine. This should all be on medium heat. It will sizzle and the wine will start to reduce. Then add a cup of fresh sliced mushrooms. Salt to taste, and let this continue to saute and reduce down, as your water boils for the Cavatelli. Dump the pasta into the boiling water all at once. Mine had to cook for a good four maybe almost five minutes. They started floating to the top, so then I knew they were ready to go into the sauce. Toss the cooked Cavatelli into your mushroom wine sauce, and let this cook around on low for a couple of minutes--this fresh, homemade pasta has a way of really soaking up the flavor of sauce, unlike packaged dry pasta. 

When it is ready, top with a good grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and chopped flat-leaf parsley (I keep a potted flat-leaf parsley plant in the winter). Now, here's another tidbit they didn't tell you this morning on the today show--this pasta is filling! No kidding. It is very dense and very hearty, which is good when paired with a good hearty sauce. But it really does not take much of this to fill you up. So enjoy! You can do it. Seriously, you can make homemade pasta. An air kiss to you!

 Eat, write, dream, and stitch your heart out.

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