If you are just now following my blog or currently reading this post because it sounds amazing, then you should know that not only do I cook at home but I indeed cook for a living. One of the leading reasons I went into cooking to become a Chef was the enjoyment for being in a “hands on” career.
I love getting my hands dirty and many times at work I have to do just that, especially when handling raw meat and fish. Growing up my parents weren’t much of gourmet cooks. My father worked 2 jobs and raised 2 daughters on his own so he never had time to prepare anything fancy. Living off of hamburger helper, Kraft mac and cheese, cereal and T.V dinners were good enough for me. I never got to know food outside of the box until I started working in restaurants. Reading and following a recipe was like trying to read and write Chinese. I had no idea where to begin and how many ounces were in 1 cup or how to even cook. I never even wanted to go into cooking it just happened. I had applied at a restaurant in town that was soon to open. I was aiming for the hostess job when out of the middle of nowhere the manager asked if I would rather work in the kitchen. I thought to myself “Why would any 17 year old girl want to work in the kitchen? Am I even old enough? I don’t have any experience.” They were willing to pay me very well for a senior in high school, so I took the job, fell in love with the kitchen and the rest is history. Over the past 6 years of working in several kitchens, I’ve learned A lot and still continue to grow. Making recipes from scratch or as the menu reads “in house” has made me appreciate cooking beyond what I could’ve ever imagined.
If I can afford it, If I have the resources and equipment and If I have the time you bet your ass I will be making it from scratch. In my opinion a meal from scratch is healthier, and requires a technique with plenty of passion and love that has been put into cooking to make the experience of that meal fantastic in many ways. The first time I ever made pasta dough was in culinary school. I couldn’t believe how easy it is to make. Flour and egg is all you need. Obviously a pasta machine is needed but If you don’t have one use what you do have around your house to make the shape of pasta (See end note). Pasta made at home has a different texture to it compared to the store bought, its a little chewier and this recipe only yields enough for 2 people. Personally that doesn’t bother me because I’m going for quality over quantity. Marinara is very simple to make as well. This recipe is taken from the Italian restaurant I worked at called the Forum that was located inside The Greenbrier in West Virginia. Hands down the best recipe. The olive oil in the end adds a beautiful orange tint and the balsamic vinegar a nice acidic note in the end. This is honestly one of my favorite recipes to make. Plus this makes a great hands on project for kids if your looking for something fun to do on a rainy day. This recipe does take time, 2 1/2 hours to be exact. If you don’t want to do the pasta at least make the marinara its delicious and makes great leftovers!
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Actual Time: 1.5 Hours
-2 Cups AP Flour
-Pasta Attachments for a 600 Series kitchen mixer
-1 Pot salted water, at a boil
-Marinara sauce (See above recipe)
-Grated Parmesan Cheese (optional)
Method of Prep:
-Using a clean and sanitized work surface place 1 cup of flour on counter and form a circle creating a well in the center using your fingers.
-Start by cracking 1 egg into the center. Push flour from the edges to the center mixing with the egg using your fingers.
-Dough will begin to crumble. Add in second egg and extra flour until you can form a nice dough ball.
-If too dry add a little bit of water. If dough is too wet add in more flour.
-Once ball is formed, pour 1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil over the top and rub all over.
-Place in a bowl or leave on counter top. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 1 hour.
-After 1 hour, cut the dough in half. Press the dough until is flat enough to fit through the dough press.
-Using the flat dough press, push dough through, pulling at the top to stretch the dough until you can’t push though anymore without ripping it, about 3 times through the machine. Sprinkle a tiny bit of flour on top to keep from sticking to machine. Continue same step for the other half of the dough.
-Place stretched dough through the top of the pasta machine on the setting of noodle you want (mine has either the spaghetti or fettuccine attachment.)
-Once water is at a boil, cook the way you would regular pasta until al dente. Approximately 12 minutes.
-Drain pasta from water add your favorite sauce and other pasta fixens.
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Actual Time: 1 Hour
-1 ½ Yellow onion, julienne
-6 Garlic cloves, sliced thin
-1 28 oz can Peeled Plum Tomatoes, whole
-Dry Oregano, TT
-Salt and pepper, TT
-1 Handful Fresh Basil leaves
-1 Tablespoon Xantham Gum
-1/2 Cup Dry white wine
-1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
-1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Method of Prep:
–Sauté onions and garlic over medium heat until translucent, about 3 minutes.
-Add a thin layer of oregano, salt and pepper, stir.
-Deglaze with wine until reduced, about 2 minutes.
-Pour in tomatoes and juice from can, season with salt and pepper, taste.
– Reduce heat to medium low and let simmer for about an hour uncovered.
-After 1 hour Add in fresh basil leaves, Olive oil, balsamic vinegar and xantham gum.
-Using a hand blender, puree sauce until smooth.
-Season if needed.
**Note If you don’t have a pasta machine or attachment, You can use a rolling pin to thin out the dough as you would if you were making a pie. Once dough is thin enough, take a pairing knife and cut strips about 1/4 inch in size for spaghetti or 1 inch for fettuccine. From here follow the 10 bullet down on pasta recipe. 🙂 Also if you have a second hand around the house, it will be needed in the pasta process to help catch the pasta as its coming through the machine while the other feeds the dough through the top.