For me, cooking is a process that not only takes me away from the computer to a relaxed space, but also brings out my most creative self; I find that getting out of the studio and using my hands to make meals inevitable leads me to be a better, if not well-fed, designer. This past weekend, team Needmore headed to the Oregon coast and spent some time in the kitchen with our dear friend Jesse who schooled us in the art of hand-crafting something decidedly delicious: fresh pasta.
We started with top-notch ingredients: farm-fresh eggs and Farina di Maccheroni ‘oo’ Crema flour by Anson Mills. This flour, which is hand-scrubbed and hand-bolted in the manner and style of 17th century Italian flour, is a real treat to work with. (After trying a number of recipes and product from Anson Mills over our years of working with them, we have come to know them for their craft, quality, and taste.)
To make our fresh pasta, we started with around a pound of flour poured on a platter. We beat 3 eggs, in a separate bowl, with a fork until smooth. We then poured the eggs into a crater in the top of the flour. We used the tips of our fingers to slowly incorporate the flour into the egg mix, a little bit at a time, making sure not to allow lumps to form in the dough. (Our dough-making process was fairly simple and needed to be served that night, but if you have an evening to let the dough sit, you’ll want to take a look at the sheet pasta recipe at Anson Mills.)
Once the dough was made, we worked it with our hands to develop the gluten. (Jami Oliver describes this process quite well.) We knew we were through when the dough was no longer wet and sticky and would bounce back when poked. We then set our dough in bowls, covered it with towels, and let it rest a half hour or so while prepping our other ingredients.
Our effort was quickly rewarded with supple pasta dough that would roll out nicely. We then cut our dough balls in sixths and began the processing of rolling it out. We used a solid french rolling pin for this process, which put traditional rolling pins to shame.
When rolling out our pasta in the machine, we started with the largest setting and slowly worked our way down. Then, we rolled again to cut. We then created lovely pasta nests (some to eat right away, some to squirrel away for later).
Finally, late into the evening, we enjoyed a pasta feast that was as rewarding as it was delicious. (Our meal was based loosely on a crab and mint linguine recipe).