Monday, July 18, 2011

The Daring Cooks July 2011 Challenge -Homemade Pasta

Steph from Stephfood was our Daring Cooks' July hostess. Steph challenged us to make homemade noodles without the help of a motorized pasta machine. She provided us with recipes for SpƤtzle and Fresh Egg Pasta as well as a few delicious sauces to pair our noodles with!

We were also encouraged to do a recipe from our own background so with mine I plan on to make Cavatelli or Gnocchi.

So I decided to do Cavatelli. It was so easy, just 3 ingredients. The most labor was when I had to form the pasta. I sat at my dining room table and rolled, pinched and floured all the noodles. It took me back to when I was a little girl and watched my mom make homemade noodles, whether it be fettuccine, lasagna or cavatelli. I have made potato gnocchi before so I decided to do cavatelli as it was the whole point to challenge myself.

Talking to my mom on the phone she told me to let the dough sit overnight. I don't know if it made much a difference but I was amazed at how delicate and soft the dough was. I was imagining how great and tender these morsels were going to be. The ricotta in the dough made it so beautiful. It was soft as a pillow. I cut the dough into quarters and worked each one individually. I pinched off dough and made them into ropes and pinch off pieces for the size of the cavatelli. I felt that it was easier to take each little piece roll them in a ball in my hand and then spin them off into little rolls, you'll see in the pictures. I would spin them off my hands and into a Tupperware container floured. When a next layer of noodles topped the others I would flour that layer to prevent sticking.

When I was finished which didn't seem to take as long, I seemed to of been in zone. I was ready get dinner ready. Dessert was in the fridge (see Daring Baker's blog). So a hot pot of water salted. Brought to a boil and in went the Cavatelli. They are done when the Cavatelli float to the top just like dumplings do. I strained them and in the mean time of the water comes to a boil, I prepared the sauce. I thought a Chicken Broccoli Alfredo was a good change to the typical red sauce. But I did take a short cut to the sauce, I bought Bertolli's Garlic Alfredo sauce. It's a great base that I use to add some other ingredients to the sauce like Parmesan, Cream Cheese, a tad bit of garlic and some pinches of Romana cheese. It's a cheese overload but it is soooo good. It gives it more of that homemade taste. I wish I had some mushrooms to add and I should of put some Marsala in but my husband hates mushrooms. I didn't want to put Marsala in without the mushrooms as they seem to best compliment each other.

Enticing Picture for You:

Now brings me to the recipe. Here is the step by step process in completing tonight's dinner for you to try out. I encourage you to make homemade pasta as it beats any box of pasta!

Here we go:

Chicken Broccoli Alfredo Pasta with Homemade Fresh Cavatelli

Adapted from the recipe of:
What's Cookin' Italian Style Cuisine!

8 ounces of whole milk Ricotta
2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
2 eggs
Pinch of Salt

Start off by washing your hands.

In a large bowl, place 2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour and make a well in the middle by pushing flour to the sides of the bowl.

Add the eggs, salt and ricotta into the well.

Start mixing ingredients with a spatula then with your CLEAN hands. Mix dough well and ingredients are well incorporated. Form into a circle or square.

Then wrap your dough with cling wrap. In this case I had red cling wrap for some reason. I think I got the one red left over cling wrap from the holidays and didn't notice. LOL!

Let dough rest by refrigerating for at least an hour or overnight like I did which was for my family's Sunday dinner.

Take out your rested dough and remove from cling wrap and cut dough into quarters. I think it's easier to gradually work the dough in increments. Also flour your surface to prevent sticking.

Pinch off pieces of the dough quarter and roll into a ball in your hand then shape ball into a tubular shape. When you finish making them into tubes, you then flour your index finger and press down in the middle of the noodle and you fling backwards with your finger. Gradually you'll fill the container, I recommend you flour between layers.

To cook the pasta bring water that has been lightly salted to a boil and drop in pasta. Pasta is done when pasta floats to the top.

Strain noodles in a colander and toss with your favorite sauce.

Broccoli Chicken Alfredo Sauce:

The ingredients here are pretty much to your eye sizing. I tried Tyson grilled cubed chicken which surprisingly was really good for frozen semi cooked chicken. It was really good meat pieces. Bertolli makes a great Alfredo sauce, I use it as a base and add ingredients to it. Also Knorr makes a great powdered mix to make Alfredo sauce by adding milk, and I also use this as a base.

Half a package of Tyson's frozen grilled diced chicken. (You can find this in the freezer section by the Tyson Products, it's a green bag)
1 Jar of Bertolli Garlic Alfredo Sauce
Frozen Broccoli Package
4 ounces Cream Cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
1/2 cup Romano Cheese

Take frozen chicken and place into a skillet and cook until browned and cooked thoroughly.

Add frozen broccoli or steamed broccoli into pan with chicken. If using frozen broccoli, steam in skillet until hot over light heat and place lid over skillet. Cook until broccoli is tender and hot.

Add the Bertolli Garlic Alfredo Sauce and Cream Cheese and mix everything in the pan and make sure the cream cheese is thoroughly mixed in. Add your Parmesan and Romano cheeses. Mix well.

I know you can't believe I didn't make my own Alfredo sauce but I also had to do a Baker's Challenge and it took me 2 days. So I think my legs, back and feet well appreciated the!

*Note: I know fresh cheese in your supermarket can be expensive. If you buy a big enough chunk, you can put half of it in a freezer ziploc bag and freeze it until you run out of your other chunk. I can't emphasize enough how a difference in taste it is to use freshly grated Parmesan and Romano Cheeses. Don't buy those cans of the grated cheeses. It's gross and have been sitting on those shelves and the cheese isn't fresh. Get the real chunks. If you have a food market, you may even be able to find it cheaper right from the Cheese Specialty Shops or Stands. It makes a world of a difference in your recipes and topping off your dishes.

Take your cooked pasta and toss with hot Chicken Broccoli Sauce in a large Pasta Serving bowl. Serve onto individual plates.

Grate fresh Parmesan Cheese on top of pasta. Most importantly.... Buon Appetito!

Finished Dish:

Wishing you Great Eats!

*If you do use this recipe, please let me know how you liked the dish or what you did to make it your own. =)

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