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Weekend Project: Flour ... and eggs .... PASTA

Gather up the kids, or your sweetheart, or not .... and set to work making some yummy fresh pasta. All you need are flour and eggs. Betcha don't even have to run to the store for those!

Place 2 cups all purpose flour in a large bowl and make a hollow in the middle.

Crack 3 eggs into the hollow.

Mix lightly with a fork until it begins to come together.

And now my favorite part of every dough recipe .... using your hands!!

I like to start with one hand so I can hold the bowl steady with my other hand. Mix the dough by hand, adding a little water as necessary to get the dough to form a rough ball.

Continue working the dough until it begins to clean the sides of the well as your hand. By "working the dough" I mean add a little flour or a little water while you are kneading and turning the ball until it starts to feel like its holding together and all the sticky bits on your fingers and on the sides of the bowl start to "glom" (fancy word for "adhere") onto the dough ball.

Oh, wait, here's my even more favorite part....

Turn the dough out onto a very lightly floured surface and knead.

Kneading dough works like push into the ball with your palm and your fingers curve to the back of the ball and fold the dough forward, maintaining a roundish shape. Turn the dough at intervals and repeat. You keep kneading until the dough is soft, pliable, and smooth. It may be an ever so little bit tacky but it won't stick to your hands.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest on the counter for at least 20 minutes. If it's going to be a few hours until you are ready to finish up and roll out the pasta, you can chuck it in the refrigerator - just be sure to let it come back to room temp to roll. You can even freeze it to use another day.

Time to roll....

Cut off a chunk of the dough, rewrap the rest, and begin to form your pasta. NO, you do not NEED at pasta machine, but YES, a pasta machine is easier (not to mention fun).

If you are rolling by hand, just make sure you dust your surface with flour. Periodically lift up your dough and flip it over and flour the new top surface. Do this until it gets too big to flip -- then make sure your surface has enough flour to prevent sticking as you continue to roll to your desired thickness (think thickness of a penny). This will take patience. Once you are there, you can use a knife to cut strips of pasta the width you prefer. Then loosely gather the strips into piles, place on a baking sheet, and let dry. Or use a pasta drying rack.

If you are using a pasta machine....

Begin by squashing the dough into a rough rectangle that will fit through your widest setting on the pasta machine. Roll it through this setting once. Now fold the result into thirds and roll it through a few more times. Increase the setting on your machine by a notch and repeat this process until you reach the desired thickness. Periodically flour the dough before you feed it through. If your dough gets too long during the process, simply stop and cut it in half and work with one half at a time.

Once you get the right thickness, switch the pasta machine handle to the cutting attachment and cut your pasta. Let dry as already explained.

TaDa! Fresh pasta belongs to you!

To cook, bring a heavily salted stockpot of water to a boil and add the pasta. Let boil, stirring occasionally, until desired tooth-i-ness is reached. This is really dependent on the thickness of your pasta so there is no set time here. You have to be nearby and periodically fish out a noodle to test.

Once your pasta is done, dump it in a colander and rinse with cool water.

This would be a good time to use that marinara sauce I taught you to make a few blogs back. Or make up your own sauce!

Your fresh, uncooked pasta can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days or frozen for a few months until ready to use.

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