My man looked out the window at a gray, rainy world, and said “I really like this time of year, when it is so nice to stay inside”. Ah, yes. But lest you think he is a romantic who relishes the chance to put on an opera, light candles and sit in front of a crackling fire, I think he means “awesome, an excuse to glue myself to my Wii and shoot aliens”.
Me, I think this time of year is just right for baking bread and making pasta. A golden loaf in the oven, delicious scents wafting through the house. Pasta bubbling away for a home-made meal.
Well, that’s the idea. Recently I found reality is more like flour all over the counter, bowls piling up in the sink, tantrums over dough that won’t come together. Oh, and bits of flour paste scattered over the living room floor when I retrieved a cookbook and only noticed on my way back to the kitchen that I was shedding chunks of dough from the back of my hands. After which working the &*%^^%$ dough might have resembled the alien shooting just a little bit in its violence. Just a little bit, naturally.
But the angry pounding did convince the dough to form a more or less cohesive ball and after an hour’s rest it was stretchy enough to pass through the pasta machine with surprising ease. Turns out pasta is a bit like Play-Do once you get past the infuriating “I won’t form a ball and you can’t make me”-stage, and every bit as much fun. I don’t know why I waited three years to use my pasta machine, but will make this mistake no more. Never mind that the carefully cut tagliatelle strands had worked themselves back into a solid dough tangle by the time dinner came around because I skimped on the drying time before plopping them into a container. These are details and we must not get side-tracked. The giant tagliatelle monster was cut into chunks, dinner was had and bellies were full.
Full of Sicilian pizza bread roll as well, which was the other cause of dishes piling up in the sink The KitchenAid actually did most of the work on that one, and it was beautiful. Seven minutes of motorized action and I had a chunk of soft, smooth dough to wrap around a pile of broccoli with garlic and anchovy butter. Which I then baked for a little under an hour, into the first fully cooked loaf of bread of my life. Lovely, especially since it could deflect some of the attention from the tagliatelle clump. Now that’s what I call gray day success.
Recipe for Sicilian pizza bread roll from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Bread Bible