whole wheat pasta

Division of labor is an efficient method of production but it can also lead to extreme wealth disparities in an advanced (read "not really") industrial society. In the kitchen this is less serious, but can leave cooking partners with big holes in their skill set. Ms-ani is the undisputed dough queen in the dr bob cooking team, and dr bob is guilty of deferring to her in this area, which means fresh pasta from scratch expects her loving care to produce. Which is why dr bob waited for her to disappear to early evening fitness class to challenge himself with this experience. The only way to overcome the fear of failure threshold is to jump right in and go for it.

We had seen Ina Garten (the Barefoot Contessa) make a simple truffle butter noodle dish  that afternoon on the Food Network. The semester had just ended, grades were in, and it was time to produce the annual Christmas card days before the big event, so there may have been a bit of procrastination hidden in this sudden desire to master a new technique without any guidance from the expert, who if present, would probably not have let bob do it all himself anyway. Sometimes the sink or swim approach works best. Of course it could have been a disaster too, but in fact while fearing screwing up this seemingly simple process at every step, it turned out to be a breeze.

While Ina had used a wider pasta noodle that she badly mispronounced, our KitchenAid pasta rollers only do lasagna (uncut), spaghetti or fettuccine, so bob went for fettuccine. Whole wheat because of our 21st century obsession with trying our best to eat nutritiously so our increasingly near future years as part of Americas aging population would have some better chance of being less painful healthwise. No guarantees of course. We had already canceled our long term care insurance, hoping that we don't linger. One of the many adaptations made to accommodate our unchosen state as a single income couple, not quite reduced to road kill on the side of the global financial highway like many others much less fortunate.

We went with the tried and true Lidia recipe from Lidia's Family Table, but bob had to fake it with the loose approach he took, the KitchenAid method instead of using our lower power and quantity food processor that we had bought in our early years when we had not felt wealthy enough to go for the standard model. Since Lidia's instructions were based on the food processor, this gave bob the freedom to do his own thing.

This does not really require as big a time investment as one might think. The payoff is a delicious result that makes a great foundation for a pasta dish, and you know exactly what is in the product. You can do it before dinner just for two, freezing half for a future meal, or impress a few friends with a minimum of effort, relatively speaking.

ingredients

1 c all-purpose flour (we used Italian type 00 flour, available in Italian food stores)
1 c whole-wheat flour (King Arthur from my baby brother's town in VT)
2 whole large eggs (from happy chickens if possible)
1/4 c extra-virgin olive oil
3 T water, maybe 4

instructions

  1. Dump the flour in the KitchenAid and give it a whirl using the normal mixer attachment.
  2. Break the eggs into a bowl, add the oil and 2 T of the water and beat up the eggs with a fork or whatever.
  3. Slowly poor the eggs into the flour with the mixer running, and let it go a minute or two until it breaks up into little clumps of dough, adding 1 T of water and then maybe another to remove the dryness without making it too wet.
  4. Then gather the stuff in your hands into a ball, press together and try to do your best imitation of kneeding that you can muster. bob pressed on it with the palms of his hand, flattening it, then folding over and repeating a few times. Not very elegant and certainly not resembling the rhythmic motion of the pasta queen, but it got the job done.
  5. Flatten it a bit and wrap in plastic wrap to let rest for 30 minutes. bob did not read very carefully so he put it in the fridge as a result of residual pie dough memories. Lidia says rest it at room temperature, and roll it out at room temperature, but bob yanked it from the fridge and charged ahead with the rolling, no problem.
  6. First he scattered some flour out on our plastic dough matt, cut off about an eighth of the dough, and pressed it flat with the palms of his hands so it would feed through the KitchenAid pasta rollers (open as wide as possible) with a little coaxing. bob folded it over and repassed it through 4 to 6 times, folding each time but not always, then right to the 1-2-3-4-5 successive thickness passages. [We do notch 6 for lasagna noodles—so that we can do many layers of paper thin pasta leading to a delicate result.]
  7. Each maxi-noodle is laid out on a kitchen towel and covered with another towel as we go along.
  8. Once all the pasta is rolled, move right onto the pasta cutting. Put a little flour under the cutters and dance the cut noodles around a bit in the flour and then set aside with a little corn meal toss for good measure. We got about 9 noodles from our inexpert first time division of dough, each resulting in a little clump of fettuccine.

notes

  1. Lidia's Family Table, whole wheat pasta p.171, then pp.158-164 for detailed instructions with photos.
  2. We served half this bob pasta with the Barefoot Contessa's Tagliarelle with Truffle Butter.
    Ina's truffle butter pasta sauce, reworked by ms_ani: 6 T unsalted butter, 2 T of white truffle oil, some few pinches of truffle salt to taste, 1/2 c heavy cream, 1/2 t salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, 3 T fresh chopped chives, 3 oz thinly shaved parmigiano (use a veggie peeler). Mash the room temperature butter, truffle oil and truffle salt together to make your own truffle butter. Heat up the cream in a nonstick chef's pan and melt in the butter, add in the salt and pepper and the chives if you have them, we tossed in an insufficient amount of leftover chopped green onions for a flash of color at least. Drain the pasta al dente and dump into the pan, we added a few T of finely grated parmigiano, then a hit of freshly grated pepper on each serving with the parmigiano flakes. [This is as dangerous as Fettuccine Alfredo. Don't repeat often.]
  3. If bob could manage this whole grain fresh pasta thing, so can you. Give it a try.
  4. Illustrations available.
wholewheatpasta.htm: 21-jan-2012 [what, ME cook? 1984 dr bob enterprises]