The Daring Cooks July Challenge: Handmade Noodles

Steph from Stephfood was our Daring Cooks’ July hostess.  Steph challenged us to make homemade noodles without the help of a motorized pasta machine.  She provided us with recipes for Spätzle and Fresh Egg Pasta as well as a few delicious sauces to pair our noodles with!

You can learn all about the Daring Kitchen here, but basically it is a group of bloggers who all make the same recipe and then post about it on a set “reveal date”.  It’s a lot of fun, and I’m really enjoying it, but this month’s task was quite a challenge for me.  I had already been in the kitchen all day, and I was getting frustrated with the lack of counter space, the dirty dishes, ect…it was just one of those days.  So when I started making my noodle dough, every little problem kind of stood out for me…and I also don’t have a pasta roller, which makes it really difficult to roll your pasta out at a consistent thickness.

I chose to make the egg fettucine recipe that was provided to us by the challenge host and it’s not very hard, and it really doesn’t take that long.  A pasta roller really helps, though.  So you start by making a dough with 2 cups of flour and 3 beaten eggs.  I made a well in the center of my flour, and slowly mixed the eggs in until they were all incorporated.  At this point you should  have a sort of dry crumbly dough that won’t quite come together.  I just ran my hands under the faucet and then worked the dough around a little until I got a cohesive mass.  The amount of water you add may vary, but be careful to do it in small amounts so you don’t have to add more flour as well.  Once you have your ball of dough, you knead it a few times until it becomes elastic, and then you should let it rest for between 15 min and a couple of hours.  I did a few dishes and came back after about 20 0r 30 minutes.

Now comes the fun part: rolling the dough.  As I said, this step frustrated me to no end, because while I could roll my dough out as thin as I wanted, as soon as I stopped rolling, it pulled back into itself and I ended up with giant thick noodles.  A pasta roller would have really come in handy here.  Anyway…you flatten your dough ball with your hand and then roll it out into a long sort of oval.  Then pull the two ends in and meet them in the middle:

See how thick my dough is?? It did not want to stay thin once picked up from the counter.  After this, you roll it out to the thickness of your desire.

Once you have it rolled out, you should lightly flour both sides so that when you roll it up it won’t stick to itself, but each time I lifted it from the counter it shrunk into itself, so I started flouring the counter too so I could just roll it up without having to pick it up again.  Then you just roll it up (like a yoga mat…I thought that was a great analogy from out hostess) and cut it into noodles – you can make them as thin or as thick as you want.

Once they’re cut, you just unroll them and drop them in boiling water and you’ve got handmade noodles.  Mine aren’t very pretty, but I’ll show you anyway:

I actually didn’t eat them the day I made them…I waited until the next day and had them with butter, salt, pepper, and chives.  Very simple, but not bad.  My noodles were inconsistent, some thin, some very thick, not all the same length, but they really didn’t taste bad…they just weren’t right.

This really was a great challenge, and I probably would have enjoyed it much more if I had come into it with a fresh mind (and a clean kitchen!).  So don’t let my un-enthusiasm for it stop you.  You can make your own pasta, and it could be lovely!

I took this recipe from our hostess’ instruction to us, changing only a few things since I did not use a pasta roller.

Preparation time: 

Egg Fettuccine – this takes about 2.5 – 3 hours total, in the following stages:

  • initial dough creation – about 10 minutes
  • dough resting – minimum 15 minutes to a maximum of 2 hours (I let it rest for 30 minutes and prepared the sauce during this time)
  • rolling and cutting of noodles – about 1.5 to 2 hours
  • boiling the noodle – about 5 minutes

Directions:

  1. Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Push the flour out of the very center of the bowl, to make a ‘well’. Pour the beaten egg into the ‘well’.
  3. Slowly incorporate the flour into the egg by mixing a small amount of flour into the “well” at a time and mixing until incorporated. Start by mixing in flour around the perimeter of the egg, and gradually widening the mixing to include more and more flour. Mix until all of the egg is mixed into the flour.
  4. At this stage, use your hands to try to form a rough ball. If the dough is too dry, add a few drops of water and incorporate. Be careful to not add too much liquid – it’s better to slowly add water as needed, as opposed to trying to add more flour to a sticky dough. My trick is to wet my fingers, instead of pouring water directly into the dough. This ensures a minimal amount of water is added, and is more evenly distributed.
  5. Knead the dough for a few minutes, until it is smooth.
  6. Roll the dough into a ball, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside to rest. It should be allowed to rest for at least 15 minutes, at most 2 hours. Take this time to set up your pasta roller, and/or to prepare the sauce.
  7. Divide dough into several equal pieces. Take one piece to start, and put the remaining back into the plastic wrap so that they don’t dry out.
  8. Form the piece of dough into a ball, and then flatten using the palm of your hand.
  9. Use a rolling pin to create a thin elongated oval.
  10. Place the dough horizontally on your work surface, and fold the long ends into the center, so that they meet. Press down on the edges to seal them. At this stage, you should have a rectangular shape.
  11. Roll into a long, thin rectangle. Carefully flip the thin dough over, and dust with flour on both sides.  Skip to step #15,
  12. Carefully roll the dough up (like rolling up a yoga mat). Choose how wide your noodle will be, and using a very sharp knife, cut through the rolled up dough. Unroll the noodles as you go, to prevent sticking.
  13. Repeat steps 8-15 for the remaining dough.
  14. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, gently drop in the freshly cut pasta, and cook for about 5 minutes. Drain and toss with sauce and enjoy immediately!

Daring Cook Challenge: Healthy Potato Salads From Around the World

Jami Sorrento was our June Daring Cooks hostess and she chose to challenge us to celebrate the humble spud by making a delicious and healthy potato salad. The Daring Cooks Potato Salad Challenge was sponsored by the nice people at the United States Potato Board, who awarded prizes to the top 3 most creative and healthy potato salads. A medium-size (5.3 ounce) potato has 110 calories, no fat, no cholesterol, no sodium and includes nearly half your daily value of vitamin C and has more potassium than a banana!

Now, who knew all that about the potato??  I must say that this was an excellent topic for my first Daring Cook challenge, since I love the idea of potato salad, but am very picky about what goes into it.  I chose to make Cajun Potato Salad; the recipe was a printout from a long-forgotten website that I modified to my taste.  As a southerner, the potato salad I am most familiar with is the mayo-heavy version found in the deli sections of countless supermarkets across our fair nation.  Most people here in the south stay fairly close to that classic recipe with the occasional addition of pickle relish or bacon.  I don’t care for pickles in my potato salad at all, and while I actually like the taste of the classic version, it’s so heavy that I find that I can only take a few bites before being overwhelmed by it.  My version is very light, with no mayo at all, and the addition of andouille sausage really adds a smoky-spicy note that I just love.

You start out by sautéing the sausage in a little olive oil just until they start to get all brown and crispy.  I boiled the water for my potatoes while the sausage was cooking, and then when the potatoes were boiling (just until tender! Not too long or they’ll get all mushy) I diced my vegetables.  Now my recipe called for a green bell pepper, celery, and green onions, but I only had a very small green bell (and from my own garden no less! I’m really excited about that, by the way.) so I added a cubanelle pepper(also from my garden!).  Also, I had  no green onions, so I just used the half of a vidalia that was in my fridge.  On the subject of the veggies – I actually sauteed them in the oil that was left over from cooking my sausage.  I’m not even sure I’d call it sautéing – I really just threw them in for a minute to soften up and soak up some more of the sausage flavor.  I really liked the texture I got – not super crunchy, but enough to let you know you’re eating something fresh.
After my potatoes were done, I drained them and let them sit for a minute to cool off. While they were sitting I whisked together the mustard, vinegar (I actually used white balsamic, which I really liked in this – it was just tangy enough and not too sweet) and hot pepper sauce.  I added my potatoes to this, and tossed them around to coat.  Then I added the veggies drizzled the whole mess with some EVOO.  I actually used a little less oil than called for, since I had just soaked my veggies in it, and I didn’t want to overdo it.  The amount of mustard called for was right on for me.  It added a little kick to the dish, and helped tie everything together.

I have to say that the end result was delicious.  By far my favorite potato salad to date, and my future go-to recipe.  I think it would be incredible easy to modify, both the ingredients and the heat level, to your own tastes, and it wasn’t that hard to make either.  Simple and delicious – my favorite.

 

Cajun Potato Salad:

serves 6-8

3 lbs red potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch pieces

1 tbsp, plus 1/4 cup olive oil

8 ounces andouille sausage, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

3 tbsp white wine vinegar

1 tbsp hot pepper sauce

1 tbsp whole grain dijon mustard

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1 cup chopped celery

2/3 cup sliced green onions

 

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add sausage and saute until brown, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to paper towels to drain.

Bring large pot of salted water to a boil and add potatoes.  Cook just until tender, stirring occasionally , about 8-9 minutes.  Drain well.

Whisk together vinegar, pepper sauce, and mustard in large bowl. Transfer warm potatoes to bowl and toss to coat.  Gently mix in sausage, bell pepper, celery, onions, and 1/4 cup olive oil.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve warm or at room temperature.