What is something that you crave for your birthday? Is it a big chocolate cake? Is it ice-cream? Me, I crave homemade fettuccine! Well, not every year. But this year...this year...I was craving fettuccine!
And so it happened, right when we were taking out the pasta machine, my mother-in-law Teresa (at the moment, she's in Italy in her hometown in Calabria)called to wish me a happy birthday and I told her my mom is over and we were making pasta. "La tua mamma sta facendo la passsstaaa? Ma quando mai?". Something to the effect of, "Since when does your mother make pasta?". So I explained to her that she was making pasta and I was helping her and that we make pasta together, even if she's never seen us do it. I can remember making pasta since I can remember eating pasta. I mean, I truly believe that strands of silky smooth fettuccine are literally running through my veins! It's that much a part of my life.
So I hung up the phone and mom and I were already busy with the pasta production. Mom says, "See! see how I do it with ease? I have experience making pasta and, unlike your mother-in-law, I don't make a mess." The conversation continued as each portion of pasta was rolled through the machine. This is my mom, "I still can't believe she was surprised we were making pasta for your birthday." Mom continues as the next portion of pasta is rolled through the machine, :I think she was a little bit jealous if you ask me. She thinks she's the only one that knows how to do every thing."
So there is a little bit of cooking rivalry going on. I was aware of some hints of its existence whenever she comes from Italy to visit us or when we've brought my mom there to visit them. But this one phone conversation on my birthday, through the thousands of miles of distance and a not so good cell connection, this one conversation revealed something that I think many women feel with food and their in-laws. Or at least with Italian women. A slight competition in the kitchen! How could you all cook something as good as I could for my son (even though this wasn't really made specifically for him, but for me and my birthday!)? A sort of disbelief, even though Teresa knows it is true and it does make her happy. But there still is that incredulous moment. That really explains why my mom steers clear from the kitchen when she is here visiting, which is why Teresa never saw my mom and I actually make pasta on our own.
In Italian, fettuccine means “little ribbons,” and the pasta does resemble a lovely pile of ribbons when you see it on the plate. The pasta has to be thin like this. If you hold it up, it's sort of transparent and that is just perfection for achieving the most delicate pasta. I recently shared my pappardelle, a little bit of a wider pasta shape.
What is the difference between fettuccine and linguine? It's just a little bit of a size difference. The fettuccine are a tad wider and also a little flatter than linguine. Fettuccine is a great pasta to serve with heavier sauces and especially cream sauces. But on this evening, we did serve them with gorgeous clams. Mom made her famous clam sauce (that's all I wanted for my birthday!).
Say you don't have a pasta machine and you want to make the pasta by hand? No problema! Here is how you do it:
Here are the easy steps: It starts with the eggs and the flour (follow the ingredients below). You first start by incorporating the salt into the flour. Make a well in the middle of the flour, add the eggs and olive oil and start to mix it together. Continue to stir together until you can gather it into a ball. Cut the pasta ball into four pieces and cover with a tea towel (or plastic wrap)and let it rest for an hour. Start with the first piece, roll out on a clean and floured work surface as thin as possible. Add flour as needed so the dough doesn’t stick. Cut the dough into the strips (1/4 inch strips if you are making fettuccine and 1/2 inch strips for pappardelle). Continue process with other portions of dough. Portion the strips out into nests and let them rest while you boil the water for the pasta. Cook the pasta in salted boiling water for about 3-4 minutes (until al dente). (Instructions on how to make with a machine are below in the recipe.)
Some notes on this recipe:
There are certain variables that can affect your homemade pasta dough such as temperature, humidity and the variations in flour, eggs and other ingredients. You may need to make slight adjustments to your ingredients every time you make pasta. And pasta dough is not like pastry dough, so this is ok. The first time you make the pasta, you may need more flour as you knead. It could be that the next time you make it the dough is too dry and you need to add a little more water. The end result should be a dough that is supple and smooth. The dough should feel silky to the touch and not sticky or wet.
Freezing the Pasta: You can freeze the noodles in an airtight container and be sure to use them in the next 3 months. Frozen noodles may take an extra couple of minutes to cook.
Need a great ragu’ (Bolognese sauce …AKA, meat sauce) to with it? Here is one to try, and you can also see my butternut squash gnocchi….so good!!
Are you craving pasta and are crunched for time? Here is an easy skillet lasagna recipe you will love!
Prep Time: 30 mintues
Cook Time: let dough rest in fridge for 3
Ingredients (1 pound of pasta)
- 2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
- 2 Cups 00 Flour (or just use 4 cups All-Purpose Flour)
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 large Eggs
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, more as needed
In a food processor, pulse together flour and salt. Add eggs, yolks and oil and run the machine until the dough holds together. If dough looks dry, add a teaspoon of water. If the dough seems too wet, add a little bit of flour.
Turn out the dough onto a clean counter (or whatever work surface you are using, I use my big board).
Hold the dough with one hand and fold over the other portion of dough with your other hand.
Flatten the dough with he palm of your hand. Keep doing this movement pushing the dough away from you.
Continue kneading until the dough is very smooth and supple. Add a little bit of flour if it is too sticky.
Wrap in plastic and let it rest at in the fridge for 30 minutes or even overnight.
Cut the dough into 4 pieces, keeping them covered with plastic wrap or a dish towel when not in use. (If you’re rolling the dough out by hand, rather than using a pasta machine, cut it into 2 pieces instead.) Set pasta machine to the widest setting, roll one piece of dough that is flattened into a 3-inch wide rectangle out into a sheet. Fold the sheet in thirds like a letter and pass it through the machine 4 more times on the same setting, making sure to dust lightly with flour if the dough is sticking. Continue to run piece through machine, adjusting to next-narrower setting after every 5 passes, until dough is about 26 inches long. Cut crosswise into 3 equal pieces. Run each piece through machine, adjusting to next-narrower setting, until strip is scant 1/16 inch thick and 14 to 16 inches long.
Continue same process with the next portions of the dough. Arrange strips in single layer on sheets of parchment.
To cut by hand:
Brush lightly with flour, roll up sheet, and, using a sharp knife, cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips; unroll.
To cut with machine:
Cut each piece of dough using the fettuccine cutter. Flour the cut pasta so that it does not stick together.
Place cut pasta on a flour-dusted sheet tray and cover with a dish towel while rolling and cutting the remaining dough. It is best to separate the piles of pasta. If you layer them on top, they will stick to each other. Cover with a tea towel while you finish prepping the other strips.Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil, add fresh pasta and boil for 3-4 minutes (depending on the thickness, it should be al dente), Drain well and serve with your sauce.