23 March 2011

Noodle, noodle, every meal

I'm a little embarrassed to admit just how much pasta we eat around here. If I were Italian, I suppose I could blame it on my heritage, but nope, just a mama who grew up in Middle America charged with feeding a toddler three meals a day.

We switch it up, and instead of feeling guilty about all of the semolina flour headed down the gullet, I pat myself on the back that my kid will eat anything from orecchiette to orzo. Well, almost anything.

I've made homemade noodles for most of my adult life and before that I watched my mom make them for holidays, special dinners or when I was sick. My mother learned to make them by watching her grandmother, a rural Oklahoma farm girl named Lucille who went by the name "Peach."

In my family, it's tradition to make the egg noodles short, wide and fat. They're cooked in a creamy chicken soup we always called Chicken and Noodles. While I do still make the original dish from time to time, I enjoy making them longer and thinner and adding them to my Chicken Noodle Soup.

Anytime I dust the counter with flour, The Boy drags his kitchen stool over, shouting, "Let me bake with you!" And while he always winds up covered in flour helping me make the noodles, it wasn't until just recently that he had a bite of one. Then he wanted more. And the leftovers the next day. And the uncooked ones in the freezer. I don't blame him, I'm kind of addicted, too.

Don't pass this recipe by because making homemade pasta sounds too difficult. It's not. And I don't have a pasta machine or any special tools. A pizza cutter makes things go quickly, but even a paring knife will do the trick. The batch makes quite a few noodles, so I use half of it for that night's chicken soup and then I freeze the rest for later.

Grandma Peach's Homemade Noodles

3 eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 t baking soda
2 to 3 cups flour, plus more for dusting

Combine the salt, soda and 2 cups of flour in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, combine the milk and eggs, beating eggs slightly. Then add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix with a wooden spoon, adding enough of the remaining cup of flour to form a shaggy dough forms. Dump the dough onto a lightly-floured surface and knead just enough to make a ball. Pat down, add more flour to the surface and begin to roll, using a rolling pin. If the dough seems to tough, let it rest for about five minutes and return. Roll dough until it is slightly thinner than a chopstick (so a little thinner than pie dough), making sure that the surface is even. Then, dust the top of the dough with flour, and using a pizza cutter or small knife, cut the noodles to the size and shape you'd like. Next, transfer the cut noodles to a cookie sheet, laying them out in a single layer so they do not touch. (See note.) Place the cookie sheet in the refrigerator, uncovered, for at least two hours. If you want to freeze the batch, do the same process, but place in the freezer until completely frozen then transfer to an airtight bag.

To cook, add noodles, either directly from the refrigerator or freezer to a near-boiling pot of chicken stock or soup. When the noodles float to the surface, they are done, about two to three minutes. Remove from heat and either serve immediately or cool for later. These noodles are tasty when first cooked, but they benefit from a day in the broth as well.

NOTE: If you don't add enough flour, the noodles will be very sticky to work with. To help alleviate some trouble, you can place the dough on a well-floured cookie sheet and cut them directly on the cookie sheet, so there is no need to transfer them.


The Blue Suitcase said...

Making homemade noodles has always sounded so scary and impossible... thank you for encouraging me to try! These look unbelievably delicious!

The cook in her kitchen said...

Bonnie, they are. Make some NOW and freeze. Then, after baby is born, you'll be shocked how domestic you can be. (Note: It will be a farce, though, seeing as if you will then be the mom of two!)

Norma Parker Wilson said...

The photo of the egg noodles spread out on the board to dry reminded me of my mom. Homemade noodles were the only kind we ever had when I was growing up, and my mom was the Queen of Chicken & Noodles. That was her signature contribution for every bake sale for every organization I belonged to in high school. She'd cook up a big batch and send them in glass pint or quart jars. They were almost always sold before they got there with "reserved for" notes attached. I don't miss the chicken part of that, but I still long for the real deal noodles to add to my potato soup. Too lazy to make them and decent substitutes are hard to find.

The cook in her kitchen said...

Norma, your memories of them sound similar to my mom's, although I don't think her mom made them for bake sales! They'd be great in a veggie and noodle soup -- mushrooms, onions, carrots, celery, etc.

My mom always dried them on the counter, too. I sometimes, do as well. In the instructions I said to refrigerate them because that's the party line for safe food handling these days. Thanks for reading!