Sunday, March 30, 2014

Homemade Pasta With Mushroom Bourguignon

I had always wanted to make my own noodles of some sort, but was also always too intimidated. But after the last several kitchen experiments (in previous posts about soft pretzels and turkey meatballs) turning out quite well, I had built enough confidence to consider perhaps trying to add "homemade pasta" to my list. (And then blogging it not to collect "hits" to any of my posts, but rather to document my own learning process and hopefully, my improvements).

I am in love with this cookbook. I've talked about it before with recipes I've tried in the past. I love that it's totally my style of foods that I'd want to try. I like that there's a good amount of choices yet also an exhaustive list... because the last thing I want is a book of 500 recipes, and all I do is spend time dog-earring every single page, but just spending time being overwhelmed by all the things I want to make, but not make any of it. Have any of you done that? Collect recipes that you'd one day like to try... but when it comes to actually trying them, there may be less than a handful? 

The recipe in the book was just for the mushroom bourguignon. But instead of buying a package of egg noodles, (as what the recipe called for), I decided to make my own pasta noodles. I used a combination of Jamie Oliver's recipe for simple homemade pasta and the recipe that came with the pasta machine. Why the combination of two recipes? Well, because I'm horribly indecisive like that. 

These pieces of dough certainly don't look pretty. I was playing with the sizes of dough to run through the pasta machine. If too much, it won't work. Or, I just don't have the hang of it yet. 

My new toy. Well, it's not new. We must have had this for some time now... years... but nobody has ever whipped it out to use it. I should have left my kitchen experiment as an experiment only, but instead, I decided that this would be my family's dinner. Cranking out enough pasta for five people on my first try became quite the feat. I watched a YouTube video beforehand that teaches you how to make pasta noodles in five minutes. By the time I finished making the noodles, two hours has passed. 

Now, thinking back to it, it wasn't hard. But because it was my first time, I had a lot of trial and error. First off, I almost threw the dough away and started over again, because it initially felt super lumpy. Even though every recipe I read had said it would be lumpy, and that you need to knead it to make it less so, I still had doubt in my mind and thought that I had screwed up already. Running the dough through the machine isn't hard, but it still required playing with to get it right. Always crank at a consistent speed. Don't let the dough run too close to the sides. Make sure everything is floured really well. 

But it all seemed to pay off because these gorgeous-lookin' pasta noodles fell out of the machine. And I was in total awe. Wow, I could make that! One proud moment. 

But it didn't last long... and I'll tell you why in a sec. 

This was one trick I learned from my Dirty Apron class last year. Don't wash mushrooms with water. They act like sponges and soak up the water, which in turn can change your dish. Instead, use a brush to brush off any dirt (which is a lot easier than peeling off the top layer of each mushroom). I do have to admit that some still seemed a little dirty, so I still ran some under water.

The combination of red wine, tomato paste, and beef stock gives such an amazing aroma. I couldn't wait to eat it. I did a couple taste tests before serving, and... oh man. This recipe from the Smitten Kitchen book did it again. It's simple, flavourful, and without stewing beef (like in a beef bourguignon), it was quick. This is definitely going on my "must make it again" list. 

Homemade pasta with mushroom bourguignon. Made it to the dinner table after THREE whole hours. 

It really shouldn't have taken that long, but first-time homemade pasta maker here had no clue what she was doing. Dinner was good, and everything turned out well, but it didn't come without frustration and maybe even a tiny bit of anger. It isn't always pretty every single time. The food. Or my temper. What happened after two hours of cranking out pasta noodles was my mistake in placing all the noodles in a pan (as shown in photo above). There was more humidity in the kitchen than I had thought, and sadly, most of the noodles ended up sticking together. I was able to pull apart some of it to boil for two out of five plates of pasta. (Hence how I was able to still take a few shots of my food for photos above). But, I had five people to feed in my family. I ended up smashing the dough back together into a ball, rolling it out with a rolling pin, and cutting it up with a knife.... which took all of five minutes versus my two-hour work of running it through the machine that had evidently all gone to waste. Now I know why people hang their pasta to dry after they have shaped them. I hate to admit that I cracked under the pressure I gave myself, from feeling horrible that it was 8pm and I wasn't about to serve a lump of boiled dough.

In the end, I learned something new (mission accomplished), and my family enjoyed dinner. Pasta turned out perfectly al dente. Paired with the mushroom bourguignon, it was super yummy.

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