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Sunday, 29 January 2012

MY BASIC HOMEMADE PASTA-THE EGG NOODLE

My favourite pasta dish is homemade egg noodle with ragu or meat sauce. Fortunately, the same dough can be used in several dishes- lasagna, fettuccine or spaghetti. It was a Sunday standard as my mother always had the time to make it for lunch. Italians liked to have their main meal at noon rather than later in the evening on Sundays so they could have la passeggiata- the leisurely walk- during the afternoon.

Weather always plays an important factor in making any homemade pasta. I do not recommend a hot, humid day as the dough has trouble drying properly. If made in the summer, using the basement with the cooler temperature would be advised or an air conditioned kitchen.

Serves 4
Preparation time- depends on experience. Can do the process in stages.
Cooking time- 3 minutes

INGREDIENTS

Flour- 1 lb (400-450 gms). I use All Purpose white flour but if you prefer, whole wheat flour can be used. Use your favourite brand of choice.

Eggs- 4 large eggs. Free range are best but regular commercial brands will do.

Pasta machine-I use the stainless steel one with three sections- flat, spaghetti, fettucine.

A counter top or table with clean tablecloths will be needed.

DIRECTIONS

Rub flour on the surface you will use. Keep the flour container handy.

Depending on how much pasta you want, determines how many eggs to use.

If you have not made fresh pasta previously start with 2-3 eggs. Normally, 1 egg per person will make fairly generous portions.

One cup (250 ml) of flour is needed for each egg used. This recipe calls for 4 eggs so 4 cups( 1000 ml) of flour.

By using a floured kitchen counter surface or in a large bowl, add your flour. Make a hole or well in the middle.

Add the eggs into the well.



Scramble the eggs in the middle with a fork. Start to toss the flour into the well with a fork, mixing the flour into the eggs. Toss the flour from the well walls into the middle.

As the mixture thickens, it comes time with very clean hands to start to knead the dough. The kneading process ensures all the flour and eggs are mixed together thoroughly.

Sometimes the dough is too sticky, so you may need to add more flour. Sometimes it is too dry and you may need another egg. Sometimes it is just right so you can proceed to the next step.

You want a ball of dough. You can continue making the egg noodle now. Usually I place the kneaded dough in a bowl, cover it and put it in the fridge to let it rest for awhile- 1 hour- before the shaping is started.

When ready to shape the dough, cut a section at a time from the big ball, making a small ball. Put the small ball in the flat section of your pasta machine. It needs to go through several times as you change the settings on the machine to bring it to the desired thickness.

If you are lucky, there may a little helper available!

When you have a long strip of dough, put it on a clean surface to dry. Continue to make the long strips of dough until all the original dough has been put through the machine.

Turn your strips as they dry to make sure both sides dry. When the strips are dry enough not to stick to the machine or too dry that they are brittle, it is time to shape into spaghetti or fettucine.

As the noodles come off the machine, place on a floured item such as a cookie sheet. I usually put waxed paper with some flour on top of the cookie sheet.
The pasta can be cooked immediately or put in the freezer to be used at another time. The pasta on top of the waxed paper can be rolled nicely and stored in bags in the freezer for use at a later date. It is work to prepare this item, so I usually make extra and love to give  some to my "Working Mom" daughters that they can cook at their convenience.

When you cook the noodles, put in a boiling pot with some salt added. Once the pasta rises to the top, it is done. It cooks very quickly unlike the packaged ones. Add your sauce of choice to the cooked pasta. The taste is so good. Molto buono!

I will be writing about my ragu or meat sauce in a future blog. If you have any questions, just write a comment or email me at abns@rogers.com.
#homemadeeggnoodle#homemadepasta#granpa'slittlehelper#homemadespaghetti#pastamachine#eggandflour#greatwithameatsauce#canbefrozen#freerangeeggsarethebest#noodles#kneadingthedough

Sunday, 22 January 2012

MY BASIC TOMATO SAUCE

I learned and began to enjoy  cooking when helping my Mother to prepare meals when I returned home from school and especially from university many moons ago. Most of the recipes that will be included in my weekly blogs will mainly consist of dishes she prepared and are representative of the regional fare from the Ciociaria region of Italy which is in the region of Lazio situated between Rome and Naples. This region of Italy is included in what is often referred as " Il Mezzo Giorno" or the middle section. From this area south and including Sicily, Olive Oil is always used for cooking. The Tomato is the "King" of produce and used in a great many of the recipes . Additionally, in North America we regard eating as a necessary ritual for survival, whereas in Italy it is considered a passion, held in the same esteem as the three Ss-Sex, Socceer, and Striking! So when cooking Italian, put a little heart in it.

I decided for my first recipe blog to feature one of my favourite dishes and probably one of the best known and also easiest to prepare.





SPAGHETTI WITH BASIC TOMATO SAUCE

Serves 4
Preparation time 5 minutes.
Cooking time 20 minutes

INGREDIENTS
1 lb (450 gms) Spaghetti
1 28 oz. canned whole plum tomatoes
or ripe peeled plum tomatoes( San Marzano if available or Roma) (pureed)
4 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 clove-finely minced garlic
1 medium cooking onion-diced
2 teaspoons- finely chopped parsley
3 or 4 leaves from fresh chopped basil (optional)
1 teaspoon- salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
Note: When I make it for just my wife and me, I like to bump it up a little by adding a teaspoon of dried hot chili pepper (pepperoncino) or a fresh one finely diced.

DIRECTIONS

Heat large sauce pan over medium heat.

Cover bottom with olive oil.

Add garlic and onion-saute for 4 to 5 minutes or when they just begin to turn brown.

Add parsley and basil.

Add the pureed tomatoes- Note you may puree the tomatoes by hand individually as you place them in the saucepan or you may puree them with a potato masher. Easiest yet is to place the whole tomatoes in a bowl and thoroughly puree or mash them before you start cooking your sauce.

Add the salt and pepper adjusting to your taste.

Stir all the ingredients and bring to a boil.

Turn the heat down to low and let simmer for 15-20 minutes.

While the sauce is simmering, place a large cooking pot containing 4-5 litres of water over high heat and bring to a rolling boil. Add a tablespoon of salt then add the pasta. Stir thoroughly to prevent it from sticking. Cook uncovered and adjust the heat to a medium boil stirring the pasta occasionally until the desired tenderness of the pasta is reached.

The cooking time may vary with the thickness of the spaghetti selected but the time which may range from 5 to 10 minutes is usually printed on the package of your choice. Note: However, the time listed on the package are times needed to cook the pasta " Al dente" which is how the majority of the people of Italy prefer their pasta. My family prefers the pasta more tender so we normally cook it for an extra one or two minutes.

Just take a couple of strands of the spaghetti with a fork and taste it.  Adjust the boiling time to your liking.

Drain the the pasta thoroughly and place it on a serving platter. Add the sauce and stir thoroughly. You are ready to eat-mangiare!

Note: I personally do not use any grated cheese to top off the pasta when cooked with this basic sauce or any sauce which contains any fish in the ingredients. But if it is to your preferred taste " Tu gusto preferito"- Go for it! The three most common cheeses Italians use on their pasta are Romano, Pecorino and my favourite- Parmiggiano!
                                                          
                                           

                                                             BUON APPETITO!

Sunday, 15 January 2012

THE BASICS IN MY CUPBOARD

Every kitchen contains similiar food items-
               Milk, bread, eggs etc.

Along with a well stocked kitchen, every Italian cook has a list of basics kept for meal preparation in his cupboard or elsewhere in the home.

Salt Pepper.

Bottles of Passata di Pomodoro/ Pureed-strained Tomatoes. Many Italians in Canada still make thier own passata. I used to help my mother make about 200 bottles annually. Now I have found the prepared ones to be just as tasty without the work.

Cans of Tomatoes- I like the whole plum ones.
Frozen whole tomatoes. It is easy to buy or grow your favourite tomatoe. In the Fall, when the growing season is over, use the ripe ones. Wash and bag, put in the freezer for use throught out the year.

Onion
Garlic
Vinegar- Red, White

Tins of Beans- Romano, White, Kidney, Brown, Ceci-Chick Peas

Variety of Pasta- To name a few- Spaghetti, Spaghettini, Linguine, Fetuccine, Penne-lisce, Rigatoni, Macroni Elbows, Tubetti, Bows, Stars, Alphabet

Olive Oil-Extra Virgin
Olive Oil-EVOO
Vegetable Oil
And of course the herbs! Basil, Rosemary, Oregano, Parsley

Hot Pepper- dried

Cheese as topping or in a Dish- Parmiagiano/ Parmesean
Mozzarella Cheese.

You will find these basics in many of my recipes.


So you can visit my blog weekly for tidbits, recipes and menu plans about my style of cooking. I welcome comments and ideas. If you have trouble commenting just email me at abns@rogers.com

Thursday, 12 January 2012

ITALIAN FOOD IS SIMPLE

The Italian dishes I make come from the Lazio region, province of Frosinone. The area is known as Ciociaria. The slang for the people who live there- ciociari. If from Rome- romani. Naples- napolitano. So I was ciociaro originally but really Canadian now.
Italian food is very simple- basic really. It varies from region to region. Whatever is abundant or in season is used in the cooking!  
My home town was Cassino. It is between Rome and Naples in Central Italy. Famous during World War Two for the battles for the Monastery on MonteCassino.  I wish I could say there is a Cassino dish. Ma non e vero! But there is not one.
So I am going to explore and present some of the dishes from this region as well as food I have adapted in my new home in Canada.
Just to let you my wife Barbara is always taking pictures when I cook. Annoying but will be helpful with this blog.

At age 9, just before our family left for Canada. July 1959
#italiancooking#lazio#cassinolazio#ciociaria#Ialianfoodissimple#lovetoeat#granplovestoeat#whatisgreataboutitaliancooking

Saturday, 7 January 2012

I LOVE TO COOK

My wife Barbara convinced me to blog about my cooking. I am not a chef. I just love to cook because I love to eat good food. There are several recipes I will share with you over the next few months. My cooking skills come from two main sources- the ciociaria area in Italy and the style adopted from my mother Concetta. There will be a Canadian slant to some dishes. I hope you are going to enjoy what I have to share with you.

#granpalovestocook#Barbmademedoit#goodfood#mymotherthecook#Concettaisagoodcook#ciociariaareainItaly#CanadianandItalianfood