Fresh made pasta is truly magical. Eggs and flour become a swirled bowl of comfort in no time. It’s a canvas for any amalgamation of sauces, meats and veg. It’s the pantry staple that everyone has but doesn’t think about. This minimalistic dough brought my family together every single Sunday. For me, it’s so memorable. So simple. So magical.
Happy New Year! 2017 was truly was a magnificent year. It was a year of achievement, firsts, joy, excitement and celebration. I could not imagine ringing in the New Year with any old meal.
This holiday season was like any other, filled with indulgence and weight gain. Because of this, it’s clean eating time for the hubs and I. New Year’s day was our last hoorah, so to speak. The day was spent loafing and lounging, moving from the bed to the couch. I mean come on, it’s the last day of our vacation, we’ve earned it.
I had huge ambitions for this day. I was going to bake cinnamon rolls and then order our favorite naughty food in so that we could indulge one last time. I came to realize that we did not have any more butter because the last 4 sticks were used on a two layer birthday cake with chocolate buttercream frosting made by my sister-in-law. I’m not complaining, the cake was divine. But, I was in no mood to go to the grocery store, I had pajamas on and they weren’t coming off.
It was the gnocchi press, ravioli wheel and pasta cutter that our friends gave us for Christmas that soon inspired me. If I can’t tackle something with butter, I’ll make something with flour and eggs.
Homemade pasta is one of those easy meals that appear challenging because it involves a few extra steps. You can’t simply whip it up in a mixer, but it is significantly easier and less time consuming than bread and cinnamon rolls. No, it’s not as easy as opening a package of spaghetti, but when you slurp it up and feel it in your mouth, you’ll appreciate the difference.
Fresh pasta is a hands-on delicacy that gives a sense of pride when you finally twirl a handmade noodle around your fork. Once the perfect dough is formed, truly anyone, even a child, can create pasta. My grandma made fresh pasta every Sunday for our family gatherings. She used a silver hand crank pasta machine to flattened the dough into thin sheets. Then she would cut fettuccine sized noodles by hand. Each noodle was draped over a wooden broom stick that was suspended in the air between two dining room chairs. As they dried, she would make fresh tomato sauce and brown meatballs in the frying pan. She would smash one meatball so it would sizzle in its own grease. Chunks of garlic would stick out, turning golden. That was always my meatball. Grandma knew I wanted to eat one and could not stand the wait.
When it came down to New Year’s Day, I could not imagine eating any other indulgent meal before our January diet. All the ingredients were already home: flour, eggs, salt and olive oil. No trip to the store was needed and I had all day to bask in my Grandma’s memory.
2017. This was a year filled with opportunities that exceeded any expectations that I had for my food blog. What was once a blog created for my own home cooking, now has become a space to share restaurant reviews/features and food photography from shoots booked by local eateries. I would have never dreamed that I would play a role in the Savannah food scene and even more, get paid for it!
I call this indulgent pastime my “jobby” because it’s a hobby that takes as much time as a part time job. While I have many nights of exhaustion from a full day’s work followed by food writing, I can honestly say I wouldn’t change it for the world. This food blog and my work with the local newspaper has become a significant part of my life. Not only do I get to taste some of the best food in town, but I also meet some of the best people. Passionate and dedicated people. After meeting them I have such a sense of responsibility to share their story in the most beautiful light.
This compilation of my “2017 best nine” includes some home recipes that wowed me, some paid photography shoots that I am humbled to have booked, some special food from my hometown, some moments with my loved ones, and some restaurant features that served bright and bold plates. It’s hard to choose just nine, but they represent a taste of everything this year has brought me.
Here’s to 2018, I can’t even imagine what’s next.
3 large eggs, beaten to blend
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
- semolina or cornmeal, for dusting
- Mix eggs, flour, oil, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer with your hands until a shaggy dough forms.
- Knead with dough hook until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.
- Cover dough with plastic wrap and let rest at least 30 minutes.
Use a pasta machine or rolling pin to smooth the dough until sheets are thin enough to see through.
Pasta Machine Directions: Set pasta maker to thickest setting; dust lightly with cornmeal. Divide dough into 4 pieces. Working with 1 piece at a time and keeping remaining dough wrapped in plastic as you work, flatten dough into a narrow rectangle (no wider than mouth of machine); pass through rollers. Fold dough as needed to fit and roll again. Repeat without folding, adjusting machine to thinner settings after every pass and dusting with cornmeal if sticky.
- Lightly dust work surface with cornmeal. Cut the dough with a knife into 10 inch sheets.
- For noodles, stack three sheets on top of one another and fold over three times (see picture below).
- Cut the dough any preferred width. For pappardelle, I cut about 3/4 inch wide noodles (below).
- Separate the noodles and lay them out on the table or hang them over a broom stick to dry.
- Boil a pot of salted water. Gather noodles and toss into water, stir to avoid sticking. Boil until al dente, about 2-3 minutes. Taste test to check doneness.
- Toss with your favorite sauce.