My husband's grandparents owned an Italian restaurant. I've never met his grandparents and the restaurant was sold a long time ago, but the memory of the restaurant is a relatively big deal in his family. His father would talk about working there. The recipes have been handed down and being able to replicate the sauce or meatballs is considered a feat.
For once we had an un-busy weekend, so we decided to fill it with making big batches of the sauce and meatballs. I've recently gotten into freezing food. Rather than buying things at the store that likely have preservatives, I like to make big batches and either store in a cupboard (for dry goods) or freeze. For example, I've started making my own muffin mix, taco seasoning, and bisquick. I also buy berries in bulk and freeze them because we make a lot of berry smoothies.
So this weekend we made his family restaurant sauce and meatballs. For good measure we decided to make our pasta as well. His family never made their own pasta, but we thought it would be fun and figured that was something we are supposed to do as yuppie urban intellectuals.
You know how your spouse can always surprise you no matter how long you've been married? Well, that happened. I mean, I always knew he was a direction-follower, but I never realized before how important some directions were. As we were putting together our shopping list, he mentioned that he doesn't want to get some ingredients at our neighborhood grocery store. He had to get special tomatoes that they only sold at Whole Foods. No problem, I thought. Then I saw his shopping list.
Canned tomatoes. He had to make a special trip to Whole Foods for canned tomatoes? It's not like he's getting specialty organic-grown tomatoes. They are canned!
Once we opened up the cans, his direction-following continued. See, he bought whole, peeled canned tomatoes. And then proceeded to crush them. Now, I wondered, if you are buying canned tomatoes anyway, why not buy crushed canned tomatoes? That is not what the recipe calls for at all.
The sauce and meatballs turned out great. Just like his family makes. The pasta was a different story. Since we wanted enough to freeze, we decided to make four batches. We measured out four times the flour and four times the eggs and tried to make the dough.
Emphasis on tried.
We were not getting anything remotely looking like a dough we could roll out. We added another egg. I re-read the directions. I searched for another pasta recipe to see if some people added water. This recipe had more elaborate directions and read them out loud.
Me: "Knead the dough until smooth, firm, and elastic."
DH: "You mean it's not supposed to be dry and crumbly?"
We added some water and another egg. Finally it started turning into something we could call smooth and elastic. We have made pasta before, a few years ago, and seem to remember having this much trouble making it then as well. After our last fiasco (where we tried to roll out the dough with only a rolling pin and ended up with VERY thick ravioli) we bought a manual pasta maker. Once we got the hang of it, it was pretty easy, although repetitive.
For future reference: making four batches of pasta can be tedious. We had fun making the first half. But we had to keep going and keep rolling. By the end we just wanted to throw the rest of the pasta in the trash.
The ravioli turned out great (we used a spinach-cheese filling). Let's hope the linguine turned out well.
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