Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Rolling Out the Dough

Much of this past weekends activities revolved around food. So much for this blog being about woodworking...

And speaking of food blogs, my friend Jake is working on his own food blog, which you can find at http://jakesbbqandfood.blogspot.com/. I'm really looking forward to seeing what he's going to cook up this Summer with his new smoker/grill!

So Sunday morning, I made a large batch of waffles. This is another recipe that I use our ground wheat for, and the resulting waffles have a absolutely delicious "earthy" flavor. Since I have yet to modify this recipe and make my own version, I am willing to share this one! (Alton Brown Basic Waffle Recipe)

Sunday evening, I went forward with my plan to make homemade pasta. When going into this, I actually was pretty excited, as it always seems that freshly made pasta is the best thing since sliced bread when watching cooking shows. So with enthusiasm brimming, I set forth, again following the sage advice of Mr. Brown.

With six kids to feed, I made two batches of dough. For the first batch, I tried to use the method of mixing the egg/water mixture with the flour as I'd seen on those TV cooking shows. Where you create a 'volcano' shape with the flour, pour in the egg/water mix, and combine the two with your fingers. Well, let's just say I have a bit of practice to do on that method. My volcano erupted onto the counter, beginning my first round of frustration. I was able to take all the flour and soak up the liquids that were spreading, and created a very homely looking ball of dough-like substance. I put the ball of whatever into a plastic bag and into the fridge.

For the second batch, I decided to follow the advice my wife had given me on the first batch, by putting the ingredients in a large bowl. After my volcanic eruption, I decided to not be so stubborn in trying to mimic the professional chefs on TV. The results were much cleaner! And I think I got the dough ball to form in a much more correct way, as my fingers wound up the egg/water and flour mixture into a yellow dough. However, I did not incorporate anywhere near enough flour, which became an issue later. This dough ball also went into a plastic bag and into the refrigerator.

Later in the afternoon, I began prepping for supper. The rest of the menu included a garlic tomato sauce for the pasta, asparagus and elk steak. The steak was marinated in a balsamic vinegar and Worcestershire sauce mixture for a couple of hours. The asparagus was snapped in preparation for being sauteed in butter. The garlic was peeled, and the onions sweated. Next, I needed to make some noodles.

Okay, so already being a bit frustrated with my dough making performance, I was hoping to make up for that with the dough rolling. We have a pasta maker, so I figured this would go pretty smoothly. Well, to make a long story a little longer, you run it through pasta rollers. Sorry, had to do it. Anyway, I started with the first batch of dough. You know, the dough like substance. Well, after sitting in the chill box for a while, the dough actually looked pretty good. And it rolled out through the pasta machine decently as well! Sweet! But I will say this. This is not a task for those in a hurry. It is a tedious, time consuming, messy task. And the noodle cutting portion of the pasta roller did not function as well as expected, making the task of creating strands of pasta dough take even longer.

After enlisting the help of my lovely wife, so we would be able to eat sometime this week, I started rolling out the second batch of dough, while she cooked the first, and kept an eye on all the other items. As we were doing this, Kristen noted that we should have thought through the menu a bit more, as the there was absolutely no room on our stove due to three sauce pans and a large pot of water all competing for space. But now on to the issues with the second batch of pasta dough.

Remember how I said I didn't incorporate nearly enough flour into the dough? Well, yeah, that was a problem. The dough may have looked prettier to begin with, but it was an absolutely sticky ball of goo later when I was trying to roll it out. So, lots of flour was brought into play, creating a huge mess, and getting me even more frustrated. Eventually, all the dough was flattened, sliced, and boiled. Ugh!

It was so good I had to eat some before taking a picture!
So how did it all taste? Well, the pasta was very good. Much more tender than your standard dry pasta in a box. I was really loving my garlic tomato sauce, but most of the kids complained about it being to 'spicy' from the garlic. I only used two whole cloves. I mean gee wiz, how else do we keep the vampires away. The steak had a great flavor to it, but for some reason was a little tough. The asparagus was very good, and with it being available is another sign that Spring is here!

I'll definitely be trying the pasta again some day. The dough making process is much more finicky than I expected, so it will take some time to figure out the texture I need to look for. But it will come to me at some point, and I may have to look into making whole wheat pasta as well.