On Tuesday we expected no guests and parents were gone to Istanbul. After my yoga session in front of the open window I ran out of the house wearing a t-shirt and crocs. What a difference from the past week when I still had the snow boots and a few layers of clothes on me. Since the spring showed up at our hilltop this Sunday it was making up for its delay with due diligence. More ground and even occasional flowers revealed after the snow melted and wild crying cats that have occupied our farmhouse.
After breakfast I sent everybody off and arranged a large wooden board on our long dining table – with the best view and natural light it is my most favorite part of the kitchen. You’d think that on a day-off I would stay away from the kitchen. Yet my idea of day-off is being at the kitchen. Alone without the helping crowds and guidance of my mother-in-law – however much I appreciate them on any other day. And making something I have not tried before. Such as fresh pasta. Very much like making bread it’s a venture I had been considering for a while. Maybe slightly a long while. But since I started learning how to make bread nothing flour-related has seemed too much.
I find comfort in working with dough. It keeps me right in the moment and gives me opportunity to focus on one thing only: the perfection of my dough. I meditated over making fresh pasta to the Turkish folk songs playing on the background and connecting me with generations of those labored in their houses, gardens and fields.
The most rewarding things you can do are those done by your hands. And this is another reason to my dough-derived comfort. Cooking food or making dolls give me such a feeling of self-worth that some of my mind-blowing achievements failed to. I feel I stand strong on my feet and whatever comes have I have everything I need literally in my hands.
Also every time I get messy with flour I recall my grandma. I could watch her for hours making that volcano of flour and breaking eggs into its crater, kneading dough and then rolling it into the dumplings. Now when I was repeating her movements I traveled to my childhood for a bit. And realized how much I had grown up and for long we had not seen my grandma.
I started worrying about other things two. I worried a lot whether I rolled the dough thin enough. Whether I boiled the pasta brief enough so it does not become a mess but long enough that my Turks-in-love-with-overcooked-pasta would eat it. I worried whether my sauce of garlic, cottage cheese, cream, fresh parsley and red pepper flakes would be appreciated.
But just like with most things in life none of the worries really mattered. Adem Abi did not refuse a second serving. Our helper, a seasoned home cook herself, said, “Twice a month we would not mind this pasta. With our help, if needed”. Özgür announced to the parents who returned in the evening, “Olga has made fresh pasta”. Anne who was not going to eat had two servings. My strictest judge she said, “This is my daughter-in-law”. And this is my idea of the perfect day off.
How to Make Fresh Pasta
Perfect idea for a day at the kitchen and making a meal your family would never forget
Source: Adapted from David Lebovitz
Prep Time: 2 Hr
- 300 g g all-purpose flour or 3 cups
- 300 g g semolina or 2 cups
- 6 large eggs
1. Make the pasta dough: Combine all-purpose flour and semolina in a large wide bowl. I like using the same bowl for mixing and kneading the dough for convenience. Form a pile – your flour volcano, and then make a crater in the middle. Break the eggs into the crater; expand your crater if needed by pushing the flour further with your fingers.
Then I use the technique from my grandma: with my fingers I first “whisk” the eggs in the middle to arrive to the mix you would use for omelet. I simply make circular movements with my fingers moving them further from the center as I go to get more flour into the mixture.
As you will include all the flour into the mixture and form the dough (I know that many would use pastry scraper or bench knife but I am just fine with my fingers) you can start kneading it. Because of semolina this dough is not so easy to knead so be prepared to put some work in to it.
Dust the bottom of the bowl you use with flour and knead the dough inside for 5 or so minutes – to get a neat non-sticky ball of dough. Cover with cling stretch film and leave to rest for an hour. No need to put it in the fridge – just let it come together and it will be easier to work with then.
2. Roll the dough: You can use a pasta machine to roll the dough but because we don’t have one here I went ahead with rolling by hand which is very easy with this dough. Prepare the working surface and dust with flour.
I work on a large wooden board / table traditionally used in Turkish house to roll the dough. Another tool you would need is a long rolling pin (a regular one will be too short) – in Turkey they call it oklava (matterello in Italy for somewhat similar concept). When I lived outside of Turkey I bought a thin shovel handle at a DIY store to use for rolling thin dough.
Once you rolled to about 1 cm you can start stretching the dough. Dust it well with flour. Start with the left bottom corner and “wrap” the dough tightly over the rolling pin as you move the pen towards the right upper corner. Place your palms in the middle and slightly shaking the rolling pin make the outward movements to the ends of the rolling pin and then back to the center.
Unroll the dough and release the pin. Rotate the dough sheet and repeat the procedure. Continue until you will end up with rather thin dough. Here is the video that gives you an idea of what you should be doing.
3. Form pasta: Dust the rolled sheet of dough with flour well, fold twice and cut with a sharp knife into thin strips to make tagliatelle. Mind you that when cooked the pasta will expand 1.5-2 times so you don’t want to cut your dough into very wide stripes. Unfold each piece and arrange on a large / a few kitchen towel(s) and dust with flour again.
You are ready to boil your fresh pasta in the large quantity of salty water and serve with the sauce of your choice or dry and use later in the week. In Turkey the pasta are shorter, dusted with more flour and stored covered in cool dry place for months.