Sunday, January 17, 2016

Homemade Noodles and Meringues

Recently, I was making dinner for a friend and I really wanted to use what I had in the house, instead of making a special trip to the store.   We are still working our way through a side of beef we bought last summer; with the kids away at college it is lasting a lot longer.   I had some swiss steak that I knew I wanted to use, but I was out of noodles to serve it with.....could I make them from scratch?

I have made pasta from scratch exactly one time.   About 20 years ago, homemade pasta was a thing and my friend at work Maria ended up getting two pasta rollers for Christmas, so I took one off her hands.  I made pasta once with it, determined it was a giant hassle, and the pasta roller languished in the back of my cupboard for years until I sold it in a garage sale.    I googled around and found all sorts of recipes I decided I wanted to try one that used extra yolks.   Once I did that, however, I had extra egg whites.   When life gives you egg whites, make meringues!

Here's how I made both:

Homemade Noodles

4 to 4-1/1 c. all-purpose flour
1 t. salt
4 egg yolks and 2 whole eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 c. water
2 t. vegetable oil or

In a large bowl stir together 4 cups of the flour and the salt. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. In a small bowl combine egg yolks and whole eggs, the water, and oil. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture, stirring to combine. The dough will be sticky at this point. Sprinkle a clean kneading surface with the remaining flour. Turn dough out onto floured surface. Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic (8 to 10 minutes total). Cover the dough and let rest for 10 minutes.
(You can make the dough in advance to this point. Transfer the dough to an airtight container; freeze up to 3 months. Thaw completely in the refrigerator, then continue with the next step)

Divide the dough into 8 equal portions. On a lightly floured surface, roll each portion into a 12x9-inch rectangle. Dust both sides of the dough portions with additional flour. Let the dough stand, uncovered, about 20 minutes. Loosely roll the dough into a spiral. Cut the spiral crosswise into 1/4-inch-wide strips. Unroll the strips to separate.

You can cut them into smaller lengths; I left mine as they were.   Fill a large pot with 3 quarts water. Bring the water to boiling;  add 1 teaspoon salt. Add noodles a few at a time so the water does not stop boiling. (This also prevents the noodles from sticking together). Reduce the heat slightly and boil, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes or until the pasta is al dente (flexible but still slightly firm at the center). Tip: Be sure to test often for doneness near the end of cooking time -- fresh noodles can go from stiff to perfect to overly soft in a matter of seconds.  Drain the noodles in a colander, giving them a good shake to remove all the water.

I had 4 egg whites left, so I decided to make meringues.

Vanilla Meringues

4 large egg whites,
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Add cream of tartar to the whites and beat with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Use the whisk attachment if using a stand mixer. Slowly add sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time, until all the sugar has been added. Continue beating until the whites are stiff and glossy. Add vanilla and beat for 30 seconds more.  Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven; preheat to 200°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Place a small amount of the meringue under each corner of the paper to secure it to the pan. Fill a 1-quart sealable plastic bag (or pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip) with the meringue. Seal the bag almost completely, leaving a small opening for air to escape from the top as you squeeze. Snip off one corner of the bag with scissors, making a 3/4-inch-wide opening. Fold the top of the bag over a few times, then gently push the meringue down to the snipped corner. Working with the bag perpendicular to the baking sheet, pipe the meringue into 1 1/2-inch-diameter cookies, spacing them about 1/2 inch apart.
Bake the cookies until dry and crisp throughout, about 1 1/2 hours. Transfer the pans to wire racks and let the cookies cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes.

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