2019: Y… A to Z Italian Famiglia Foods and Memories: Yes we made Pasta
I’m back for “Year 4” of the A to Z… April Challenge!
My first year of this challenge had me racking my brain for a writing topic… especially as I didn’t quite understand the process. But finally I came up with 2016: Southern Foods and Memories. They said write what you know… and being a girl born in the South… well this was what I knew. 2017: Conversations with Mama was a somewhat easy one for me as I’d journaled our conversations for years so I researched some of my favorite topics to write on. 2018: All About Nancy Drew has been my favorite topic so far, and I don’t know if I’ll ever come up with another to equal it. It literally had me researching every day for over six months… researching, reading and perfecting every post. I was totally consumed with Nancy Drew for months… and still am! I didn’t want to “not” participate this year, but I was drawing a blank. Finally, mid February, I came up with writing on my husband’s Italian family foods and memories. I did my Southern foods the first year, so it was time to finally give his family their due! I’m also participating in the yearly 52 Ancestors 52 Stories this year… I am really feeling over-extended this month. April is a tough month for me, as we usually are traveling to my mother’s and my son in Florida… but somehow I’ll manage!
Yes we made Pasta!
I had such fun Saturday afternoons making pasta in my mother in law’s kitchen. That’s one recipe she must have had in her head, as I have found no written recipe in any of her recipe books. In searching and reading pasta recipes… I see why she had no written recipe… you really don’t need one.
Egg Pasta Dough
2 1/2 cups flour, plus extra for dusting
2 Tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Add 2 cups of your flour onto the table… and just like my mother in law did.. make a well in the center to add your eggs into. Crack eggs, one by one, into a large measuring cup with the oil, mixing well with a whisk. Pour into the center of your well… and get your hands busy breaking up the eggs and mixing into the flour. You can also begin with a fork and gently stir around, incorporating the flour into the eggs until it turns into a shaggy mix. P.S. Be sure and crack eggs in a cup and not your well… you want to make sure that no “shells” sneak past you!
Begin mixing the dough with your hands to form into a ball, as you add the extra 1/2 cup of reserved flour… that craggy mess will soon turn into a smooth ball. At that time, take your bench scraper and clean up your working area and dust working surface again with clean flour. Add dough and begin kneading until the dough begins to feel smooth and look satiny… usually about 7 – 10 minutes. Sprinkle more flour if you need more during the kneading to keep it from being sticky or too soft.
Now… Time to Rest the dough!
When your dough ball is ready for a rest… clean off your work area again, and shape your dough into a ball… tucking dough edges underneath to make the ball. Cover with a large “overturned” bowl and let it rest for about 30 minutes… then you’re ready to roll. This dough makes about 1 pound of pasta.
Divide dough into a couple of pieces and roll with either a rolling pin or pasta machine… as thin as possible, but never paper-thin. It depends on what type of pasta you are making as to the next step. The only pasta I ever saw my mother-in-law make was sheets for manicotti… so out would come her pasta roller and after she had rolled out pieces of dough, we’d feed small pieces through the machine… over and over until “she” told us it was the right size. I don’t remember the numbers she set on the machine, but she knew when it was the right size. You might need to add a little flour to the dough before rolling it through to keep it from sticking on the rollers. Nothing is worse than having to stop and pick out sticky dough on a clogged machine!
Before rolling the pasta through the machine, mom always covered her bed with a clean white sheet… that was the holding area for the rolled pasta before cooking. After the pasta was rolled and cut into lengths for the manicotti, it rested a bit on the bed to dry. Once all the pasta was made, rolled, and rested… the pots of water was brought to a boiling roll.
The famous pot which boiled all that pasta and water that dripped all over the floor… and we continue using it today!
Now for the fun part…
Fresh pasta doesn’t take long to cook, and once it’s ready… you best be ready… with all hands on deck! I remember those Saturday afternoons… the cooked pasta was dumped quickly on the table, water dripping off onto the flour… hands all around the table. The cooked pasta had to be quickly separated or it glued together faster than a speeding bullet.
As we separated the cooked pasta, we quickly added the ricotta filling and began layering the manicotti into waiting baking dishes. This is not a dish to prepare by yourself… or you’d even want to… but a dish made with fresh pasta is the best! This was a dish that my mother-in-law usually only made at holidays… as it is a lot of work!
The only regret I have on making pasta, was not having the incite to have taken photographs of all of us around that kitchen table… laughing and joking as water was dripping off the table… we were all a hot mess by the time we finished! Everyone that stood around that table, can still visualize those days… and remember those good times without a photograph… but that doesn’t stop me from wishing that I still had one!
Even though I don’t have the family pasta making photographs around the table… I have found several family pictures of my husband’s family around the table at other events!
Continue reading more of the A to Z… Cooking Famiglia Italian Foods and Memories
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