In Case of Recession: Make This Pasta
Saturday, February 07, 2009 posted by Henri
Yeah so there's this thing called the recession. Times are tough and money's tight. Funny because growing up in my family no matter how much money was flowing into the family empire...times were ALWAYS considered tough and money was always tight. In a dramatic reenactment of a scene from the Cosby Show, one day my immigrant father sat me down to have a serious conversion about fiscal realities to hammer home the importance of cash flow and presumed volatilities and he threw in a sprinkling about swoptions and constructing derivatives....blah blah blah. Basically, the take home point was that, according to his financial analysis, a minimum family income to survive in 1980's America was $200,000.
Hey Dad I have my MBA now...I claim shenanigans. You know the funny thing is that his analysis was done in all seriousness. I am sure that there were some pretty big contingencies and assumed financial emergencies like ummm...accounting for a piano falling from the sky and knocking you out of work for a few decades or perhaps a Madoff or two in the mix. Basically I was raised in a home that never felt financially secure no matter how much money we had. I guess it's just the immigrant mentality.
Sometimes the best things in life are free....or at least inexpensive. And genetic spendthrift that I am...I'm always looking for value. In these tough times, it occurred to me that there is no better embodiment of value than making some homemade pasta. It combines entertainment for the kids with a cheap meal that just coincidentally tastes better than pretty much anything.
Yeah, make your own pasta. Make your family happy. Make your 200 large last longer.
Here's what's in it for dads: Gear. It's no Ferrari, heck it's not even a nice espresso maker, but I can afford an Italian pasta maker with multiple gears, a lot of chrome, and it's as heavy as a bench vise. It's still gear and gear is good.
For Kids: Play-Doh you can eat. Enough said.
For Moms: An afternoon your kids and husband are occupied and laughing and somehow in the end dinner is ready.
Ahhh the San Marzano tomato. It's 4 times the price of a normal tomato. But hell...a normal tomato is like a buck a can? You're worth it. Life's too short...you my friend, are absolutely worth 4 bucks. Buy San Marzano tomatoes and get all flossy.
(ummm...these tomatoes aren't real San Marzanos by the way...closest thing they had at the store today)
More Gear: Get a good food mill. Mill some San Marzanos. Get some garlic. A nice olive oil. Some good wine from the night before. Some fresh basil. Salt. That's it. Fry up some garlic in oil. Add the tomatoes and wine. Throw in half the basil now and half in the end. Fuggetaboutit.
Oh Meat? Oh yeah if you want to make a nice Sunday gravy then toss in a ton of meat and let it go all day. Pretty simple. But even without the meat, you've got all you need. Make sure you salt it enough. If it's lacking something....often it's a pinch more salt. Tomatoes are truly strange that way. Careful though because the San Marzanos usually come salted.
OK Pasta. Homemade pasta is really easy.
1 cup of flour
Seriously that's it. Don't mess around.
Make a little flour volcano. Put the egg in. Throw in a few pinches of salt into the egg. Stir it up. Slowly let the egg eat up more and more flour. Add a bit of water when you need it. You should end up with something that has a Play-Doh texture. Knead it a bit, fold, smash, fold. Throw some chunks to the kids and let them mash away. Get it all together again and let it sit while you wait for the sauce to cook down.
Ahhh I forgot the most important part. Listen to some Coletrane. Drink some wine. Kiss your kids and your wife. You're not going to have enough of these nights.
Throw some salted water on the stove to boil. Let your sauce cook down a bit. Break out the pasta maker to the raucous cheers from your kids. Mount it up, take out your sitting pasta dough ball. Rip the ball in half. Grab a piece and feed it to the machine. Fold it in half and feed it again. Repeat. Flour it up when it gets sticky so that it passes through the machine easily. The texture will get smooth and beautiful with each pass.
With fresh pasta I've found that I like it a bit thicker. Like a nickel thick. We usually cut it up into large squares rather than traditional pasta shapes. Like a giant pappardelle. If you don't have a pasta maker you can use a rolling pin. Just roll and fold and roll and fold and roll and fold etc etc. For fun you can cut shapes with a cookie cutter. Clean Play-Doh machines will technically work also.
Boil up your fresh pasta. Sauce it. Add some really nice parmigiano reggianno. You're worth it. Mangia. Mangia. You'll be amazed how much your kids eat.
You just fed your family for like 7 bucks (and the San Marzanos cost $4). Noice.