The most frequent question we get about our kitchen is, “Where do you get the time to cook?” We don’t eat every meal at home but we do cook at home a lot and, like everyone else, have a lot of competing priorities – I am out of the house 12 hours a day (minimum) for work, we walk the dog after getting home and life is generally full of projects. But I do have two answers for that question though neither one is really what people want to hear:
- I once heard Mark Bittman say that having a home cooked meal was a matter of prioritization for many of us (of course that doesn’t apply to all; especially when the hindrance is economic). It really struck a chord with me – and the nights that we end up eating out are either due to pleasure (i.e. dining with friends) or out of priorities (like tonight when we are writing an exam at the same time). Cooking is not always the highest priority but it’s often one of the top 2 or 3 of the evening.
- It’s really not as much work as it seems. The more we cook, the more we learn how to make it easier. And the easier it is, the quicker it is. Our increasing skill makes cooking more pleasurable, easy and satisfying.
Last week I had a crazy travel schedule. In 72 hours I flew from Toronto to San Francisco and returned home again. I arrived around 7:30 at night and was exhausted and could feel a cold coming on. I knew I needed something nourishing and comforting. I’m a sucker for pasta and had the house to myself (with the company of the dog). In less than an hour I was eating homemade fresh noodles with an oven-roasted tomato sauce (featuring several of our preserves from the summer).
Homemade noodles used to take me 1.5-2.5 hours to make; the entire process now ends in less than an hour with 20-25 minutes of active work (and that includes the sauce).
And there’s nothing that I know of that tastes this good:
Ingredients (Can be scaled; enough for 2-3 dinner portions)
- 1.5 cups semolina flour
- 3 eggs
- Solid pinch of salt (0.25-0.5 teaspoons) – I used this pickled chili salt
- Pour flour into a ‘mountain’ on a large cutting board.
- Use fingers to create a crater in the middle of the mountain (it should look like a bowl).
- Crack the 3 eggs into the center of the crater.
- Toss salt into eggs.
- Use fingers (or the handle of a large spoon) to incorporate the flour into the eggs (I rotate them in a circular motion, bringing a small bit of flour into the egg mixture with each pass).
- Once the flour has incorporated all of the eggs, knead the mixture until it stretches (3-4 minutes). You may find the last bit of flour is difficult to incorporate – that’s a good thing. Be patient, it will come together.
- Cover the dough (I use a damp towel) and let it rest for 10 minutes.
- Roll the dough so that it’s thin enough to process in a pasta mill (or roll out with a rolling-pin). Roll to desired thickness and cut.
- Cook until al dente in a large pot of boiling, salted water. This should take 6-8 minutes, depending on the thickness you rolled your dough.
We’ll share a review of our pasta roller/ cutter tomorrow. It was $60 (Canadian) but well worth the investment.