Before I talk at length about myself let me briefly draw attention to myself: uh, I am not thoroughly enjoying this eternal pattern of not having the energy to blog for what seems like ages and then writing long apologetic blog posts about it (I mean like maybe it happened one time but a week of inactivity On Here feels like seventeen dog years in my mind.) I'm going through a phase of Intense Career Busy-ness which is wild and fun and there's also just a lot of noise in my already noisy brain right now and let's not forget that the renowned jerk planet Mercury is in retrograde which at least means I can blame everything on it; also my tarot card was weird this month and the curve of the earth and the flapping of a butterfly's wings and so on.
It's just so boring and annoying though and it's something I'm going to work on! I need to be all like, more disciplined and better with my time but also nicer to myself! That is all.
You know what's very not boring and only moderately annoying though? Homemade pasta.
As with many recipes on here that appear vaguely complicated, I'm like, guys: if I can do this, you most definitely can. When I'm cooking for myself the odds are enormous that I'm half asleep, wearing clothes from the bottom of the laundry pile, face streaked in my own lipstick that has migrated from my mouth to my cheeks during the night, and have my hair tied up with a gstring because I can't find an elastic band despite buying packets and packets of them. If you're even somewhat upright, you're winning and you can do this. Not to glorify this whole "I'm so useless and can't take care of myself and it's hilarious" thing, it's just like, literally sometimes we're all kinda messy, and it's no reason to not make ourselves pasta using our own two hands. (Also: if you want a lipstick that you can really sleep in, let's just say there's a reason why Rimmel Provocalips rhymes with "will survive a nuclear apocalypse.")
I've got two recipes for ya: one is Matcha Spaghetti con Cacio e Pepe, which is pretty directly based on this recipe from the beautiful food blog Lady and Pups. From here I was inspired to make Turmeric Pappardelle and serve it with buttery, fried brioche crumbs; It's essentially one recipe two ways.
The first time I made this, with the matcha recipe, I accidentally used high grade flour, the kind you'd use to make bread. It still tasted really good although it was a little bit tough, and the rolling out process pretty much gave me carpal tunnel syndrome after three minutes. When I used regular plain flour, the pasta practically made itself. So uh, pay attention to your ingredients. The delightful thing about this recipe though is that the ingredients are almost nothing - a bit of flour, one stupid egg, a half-hearted dribble of water, and it comes together to make satiny, dense, perfect ribbons of pasta. You don't even need a pasta machine. Yes, you can use one, and my flatmate actually has one, but I decided to try using just a rolling pin so that as many people as possible could also try this recipe, and honestly it was easy and fine, and kind of fun - like playing with playdough.
And of course, you can make this just plain, without matcha or turmeric or any other flavourant! But if you happen to have these ingredients kicking about, you're in for a good time: the matcha tints the pasta a soft, dusky sage green and offers a mild background note of grassy bitterness which works beautifully with the rich blandness of the cheese and the throat-kicking pepper.
The turmeric, on the other hand, stains the wide ribbons of pasta a glowing, sunshine gold colour, and gives a more pronounced earthy flavour. The golden buttery crumbs pleasingly echo the colour, and also taste wonderful as they get wrapped up in the thick pappardelle strands - nutty crunch against soft bite. I mean, you could put fried brioche (or any kind of bread) crumbs on like, a sock, and it would probably taste good, but I do believe it works particularly nicely here.
matcha spaghetti con cacio e pepe
adapted from this recipe on Lady and Pups.
- one tablespoon (or more) matcha powder
- one egg
- two tablespoons water
- one and a half cups plain/all-purpose flour
- shaved parmesan cheese, other grated cheese if you like, butter, olive oil, freshly ground black pepper
Mix the matcha powder, water, and egg together in a large bowl with a fork or something, then throw in the flour. Knead it briefly till it forms an unpromising looking ball - it is entirely normal for it to be a little under-hydrated looking and crumbly, but it should come together easily enough still. Try to avoid adding extra water if you can help it - just keep pushing and kneading till it comes together. Nevertheless, the size of your egg and the curve of the earth and so on may affect things, so also don't feel too scared to add more water, just go really slowly, y'know?
Wrap the dough in clingfilm and leave to rest on the bench for an hour. Get a sheet of baking paper and divide the dough into four portions (or however many, four just seems to make things easy.) Roll each portion out as this as you can manage - a couple of millimetres is ideal. The thing with having four portions is that as you roll each one out it gives the previous ones times to rest, which means when you give them a second rolling out the dough will be more relaxed and be likely to roll further. Don't be afraid to rest it for a good ten minutes if it seems to be not yielding much. Use a pizza cutter to slice rough, thin ribbons from the sheets of pasta (or roll them up and take thin slices out if you don't have a pizza cutter) and cook in a large pan of boiling, salted water for about two minutes. Drain the pasta and stir in grated cheese, butter, olive oil and black pepper in quantities that suit you. Divide between two plates and eat immediately.
turmeric pappardelle with brioche crumbs fried in butter
a recipe by myself
- one tablespoon ground turmeric
- one egg
- two tablespoons of water
- one and a half cups plain, all-purpose flour
- a couple of slices of brioche, or one brioche bun, or any kind of bread at all, really
- 50g butter
- a little olive oil
In a large bowl, mix the turmeric, water and egg together using a fork or something. Add the flour and stir briefly with the same fork till it forms rough crumbs. Knead inside the bowl using your knuckles and the heel of your palm to fold and push it until it forms a roughly coherent ball of dough, a little dry and cracked maybe, but a ball nonetheless.
Wrap it in clingfilm and allow it to sit at room temperature on the bench somewhere for an hour.
Divide it into four and roll out each portion as thinly as you can on a sheet of baking paper. Feel free to let the dough rest for a bit after rolling it out, as this will allow the gluten to relax and let you roll it further. Using a pizza cutter or a very sharp knife, slice thick ribbons from the sheets of dough, and cook them in a large pan of boiling salted water until done - this will take a few minutes, tops. Meanwhile, heat the butter in a large frying pan and crumble in the bread (roughly chop it first if need be), stirring every now and then till the crumbs are golden and toasted. Drain the pasta, divide between two bowls and drizzle with a little olive oil, then evenly spoon the golden crumbs on top. Season with salt and pepper if you life and eat immediately.
I say it a lot, but pasta is one of my very favourite foods - the texture and simple, calm flavour is so comforting, and it acts as a conduit between yourself and the most delicious ingredients quite easily. I also love that you can put something so simple on it - like, just black pepper and cheese, or an old bun that I found in the freezer along with some butter - and it both looks and tastes spectacular and entirely complete. Any food can be comfort food, but pasta is my comfort food, which is why making it from scratch two days in a row feels like no big deal and a good time - especially when homemade pasta just has this particularly magical taste that bought stuff can't quite replicate.
If you, also, are on a pasta buzz, may I suggest checking out my recipes for Beetroot Baked with Cream, Balsamic Vinegar and Cumin with Spaghetti, Thyme and Pine Nuts; Pappardelle with Chili Butter, Chorizo and Feta; and from a week or two ago; Very Simple Tomato Spaghetti.
I also suggest checking out the most important thing that will ever happen to any of us: I dyed my hair again.
It has been a truly busy week, with events at work and lots of big nights, and my mum and her best friend in town for the first time in ages (which was lovely!) and seeing my awesome brother for the first time in ages; and the birthday of one of my beautiful best friends Kate; and so much going on! But as I said, I am enormously determined to not let this blog slide down the scale in terms of Things I Can Do. Can't wait.
title via: the deliciously overwrought song No More from the amazing and quite under-the-radar 2006 off-Broadway musical See What I Wanna See, sung by my hero Idina Menzel. It's not on YouTube, tragically, but you can definitely find it on Spotify. The title track is on YouTube though, so maybe just listen to that instead?
Red Sex, by Vessel. This track is so good, just such a persistent driving beat, it makes me want to run around the room.
Emily Edrosa, Corner of the Party. I am in love with this song, okay?
next time: no apologies for taking ages to blog, and also this amazing Crunchie Bar slice that I've been making a whole lot of.