Unless you have some strange disease and live under a rock, you’ve had this popular accompaniment to any meal. In some respects, it is an integral part of the main dish. They can be spirals, elbow shaped, long and flat, thin as a hair or shaped into bowties, and they can be made from flour, rice, or anything that can be mixed into dough and blanched or even boiled for a few minutes. What am I rambling on about?
Noodles! Also known as pasta. Or, as my boys used to say it when they were little; noodoos. How cute is that? XD
Noodles can be dated back as far as 4000 BC. Can you believe that? They were found well preserved in a clay pot deep in China. There are even records noting noodles and their usage during the Han dynasty. It is no lie that Marco Polo (the Italian dude not the fun pool game) brought knowledge of noodles into Europe while on one of his many trips into the Asian continent.
Old news, I know. Who has not had that old history lesson over and over during their school days.
But, did you know the Arabs were playing with these fun pastas back in the 5th century. This I did not know until I started reading up for this post. What I find interesting comes from my family roots in Germany. Before Germany became the nation that it is, well back in the history of modern man, they made spãtzle. But, according to some medieval illustrations, it goes back even further. Possibly before Marco was alive.
What I already knew before writing this post were the different flours that noodles can be made from. Normally, region determines the shape as well as the base for the dough. For wheat noodles, we are looking at Asia primarily. Durum wheat is pretty much all Italian and has spread worldwide. Buckwheat is usually Korean style noodles though Italy has a variation that isn’t well known. Rice noodles tend to be Chinese innovation but Japan can claim a few there as well. Just bake your ‘noodle’ (I know, bad pun) there are some cultures who make their noodles out of acorn flour as well as corn, mung beans, and potato starch. Go figure!
Now, while I was doing my search on noodles, I found quite the listing of restaurants with Noodle in the name. One place, in Portland, Oregon, is named Noodles. I think I have a good reason for heading into the northwest. 🙂
Just so I don’t leave you hanging, I’ll link you to the wiki I found all this information. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noodle
On to the recipe!
Chef Anne’s All-Purpose Pasta Dough:
1 pound all-purpose flour
4 whole eggs, plus 1 egg yolk (all heirloom or organic eggs)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 to 2 tablespoons water or more if needed
Put the all-purpose flour on a clean, dry work surface. Make a hole (this is also called a well) in the center of the flour pile that is about 8 inches wide (bigger is definitely better here). Crack all of the eggs and the yolk into the hole and add the olive oil, water and salt.
Using a fork, beat the eggs together with the olive oil, water and salt. Using the fork, begin to incorporate the flour into the egg mixture; be careful not to break the sides of the well or the egg mixture will run all over your board and you will have a big mess! Also, don’t worry about the lumps. When enough flour has been incorporated into the egg mixture that it will not run all over the place when the sides of the well are broken, begin to use your hands to really get everything well combined. If the mixture is tight and dry, wet your hands and begin kneading with wet hands. When the mixture has really come together to a homogeneous mixture, THEN you can start kneading.
When kneading it is VERY important to put your body weight into it, get on top of the dough to really stretch it and not to tear the dough. Using the heels of your palms, roll the dough to create a very smooooooth, supple dough. When done the dough should look VERY smooth and feel almost velvety. Kneading will usually take from 8 to 10 minutes for an experienced kneader and 10 to 15 for an inexperienced kneader. Put your body weight into it, you need to knead! This is where the perfect, toothsome texture of your pasta is formed. Get in there and have fun!
When the pasta has been kneaded to the perfect consistency, wrap it in plastic and let rest for at least 1 hour. If using immediately do not refrigerate.
Roll and cut the pasta into desired shape.
How smooth and supple!