Friday, August 10, 2012

Reb's Noodles

Dear Lauren,

I poked a little fun at synchronized swimming. Later that day we had a broken water pipe that produced a geyser in the front yard.

I burned the hazelnuts while trying to toast them and then set the pan on a silicone oven mitt and the oven mitt melted. The pan and the oven mitt got married, two became one.

I walked in the pantry and the light bulb popped. Total blackness.

These are signs.

So I decided to take the day off. No cooking. No poking fun at Olympic sports.

What did I do with all my free time?

I wrote Julia Child 100th Birthday cards to several cooking friends.

I got a manicure. It's an $11 splurge on the tips of my fingers that makes me feel like every other part of me is pretty. So worth it.

And I made noodles.

Oops. That's cooking.

I cheated.

You see, while I wasn't cooking,  I read about homemade noodles.

Every single time I see a recipe or a blog post about homemade noodles, I think about Gramma Grace. She was the best gramma ever! My great-grandmother. Your great-great-grandmother. She made the best "noodles" I ever had. They were more like a tiny dumpling than a noodle but we all called them noodles and she was known for them. I wonder if she would've been a food blogger if there'd been blogs back in her day? She was born in 1900. It was always easy to remember how old she was.

She didn't have a recipe. She just made noodles.

The fact that I lack her recipe for those noodles and none of us have been able to duplicate them is part of the reason I'm writing to you about the food I make.

Food makes memories.

(You can quote me on that. Haha!)

So today when I was "not cooking", I read a blog post by my friend Reb about the noodles she made and that was that. I just up and made noodles! It took less than 20 minutes to make the dough, roll it out, cut them up, cook them, and eat them.

Gramma Grace used to cook her noodles in chicken broth. Reb made hers in water. But I made a huge batch of vegetable stock yesterday so I thought why not use some for noodles?

I made two batches of noodle dough. I lightly whisked the eggs in the first batch. It's completely unnecessary and I just cracked them right in the well on the second batch. I was just rebelling against the recipe. 
This isn't quite kneaded enough. The texture is not yet smooth and it's still a bit sticky. But I see Barney in this noodle dough! Do you?
The texture here is just right. Do you see the difference between this and Barney? Smooth and not a bit sticky.
I cut the dough in half and then rolled it out. The directions said paper thin. Roll it as thinly as you can, spreading a little flour on top and rubbing it around and flipping the dough and rubbing a little flour on that side too. When it's the right thinness, you will be able to see through it slightly.
Cut the noodles with a pizza wheel. I think they look better imperfect anyway!

So glad I made noodles today.
adapted from...Just Read this Post!
serves 2

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs

How I dressed them (the possibilities are endless):
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup Gorgonzola crumbles (buy a block, it's cheaper and it crumbles just like that)
Parmesan, grated (buy a block and use this to grate it, best tool I own!)
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
pinch of Kosher salt
1 tomato, chopped and homegrown if you have them!
black pepper (I usually grind it myself, but I bought the fine shaker grind at Penzey's recently and it's a nice change)

Measure the flour and make a well on your kitchen counter like Reb does or on a Silpat like me. Crack the eggs in the well. Take a fork and just start flipping the flour on the outside of the well into the eggs til the ingredients are well incorporated.

It helps to have a pastry scraper like this one but you can use a clean ruler if you don't have one. Scrape up the dough that is sticking to your counter or Silpat and make one ball of dough. Sprinkle 1/4 to 1/2 of all-purpose flour on the Silpat (or counter but I'm going to say Silpat from now on but you know what I mean, right?) and then knead the dough. Look at my pictures. You might think you're done when you get to Barney but if there's any stickiness, keep kneading. And if you haven't kneaded before, all that means is pushing around the dough, manipulating it with your hands, kind of like you did when you were a kid with Play-Doh. Look at the picture of my finished dough, you can see a difference. Don't overwork it or it will start to crack and get dry.

Get out your rolling pin and put more flour on your Silpat. Just spread it around. At this point, I took my pastry scraper and I cut my disc of dough in half because I found it easier to work with it and get it paper thin that way. Cover the other half with a little plastic wrap. Use your rolling pin and roll back and forth until you have a long, narrow strip of dough. then switch directions and roll the other direction to widen it. If your dough sticks to the rolling pin or if you can tell it's sticking to your Silpat at all, and it will, here is what I want you to do:

Rub flour all over the surface of the dough and then flip the dough and rub flour all over that surface too. Then keep on rolling.

I roll from the center of the dough all the way past the edge. It works for me. Then I change directions and again roll from the center of the dough past the edge. This whole process does not take a long time. I think from start to finish (making the dough, rolling, and cutting) took me about 10 minutes. Longer than it took to boil the vegetable stock (again, you can use water, no problem).

At this point you can get out a large pot and bring 3 quarts of water or stock to a rapid boil over high heat.

Once the dough is completely rolled out and paper thin (you want it to be thin because the noodles will swell when you cook them), it's time to cut them. I used a pizza wheel and cut them between 1/4 and 1/2 inch thick. They weren't perfect and that's fine. At this point I picked up sections of the dough and pulled the noodles apart. The pizza wheel perforated my dough enough and my dough was not sticky in the least so they pulled apart very cleanly which I was worried about. It wasn't an issue at all.

Drop the noodles one by one in the water/stock, very quickly and then set the timer for 2 minutes and then either remove the noodles from the water with tongs or dump the contents of the large pot into a mesh strainer (this will depend on if you cook all your noodles at once or in batches. I chose two batches and used tongs.). Place the noodles into a serving bowl or platter and add 1-2 tablespoons olive oil, about 1/4 cup of Gorgonzola crumbles, 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, a pinch of Kosher salt, and toss the pasta. Sprinkle the top with chopped tomatoes and a few sprinkles of black pepper and eat and be happy.


P.S. You were tiny when Gramma Grace passed away. It's a shame. She loved you to pieces! She knew all the words and hand movements to Here's the Church, Here's the Steeple! She was a fan of professional wrestling, like the kind Hulk Hogan did! She loved word search puzzles and she loved people more and better than anyone I have ever known! And in case you didn't know it, her name is pronounced Gram-uh, not GRAM-aw.

I love the Mellow Mushroom pizza wheel you gave me. It's amazing for pizza. But for noodles, try this one.
P.P.S Boiling water takes a long time. So you need something to do during that time, right? If you make dried noodles, you have nothing to do while you wait on the water. Make fresh ones.

P.P.S. Confession. I ended up making two batches of noodles today. The first batch was too thick and they were tough. The second batch I used a lot more flour as I was rolling out the dough, I rolled the dough quite a bit thinner and they were tender and light after I cooked them. If at first you don't succeed...





  1. Such a wonderful post! I have a daughter who is nine. There is something so sweet about passing on recipes to people you love!

    1. Elizabeth, I read your post from my phone while at the grocery store. The first thing I thought about was how many times since I started this blog that I wished I'd started it a long time ago. And then as I was walking through produce looking for Golden Delicious apples, I thought, wouldn't it be so cool if other moms Dear Daughter, Love Mom blogs for their kids! If you ever do one, please send me the link and I'll start a new tab! I think that would be incredible!

    2. Sandra, I love your idea! I have a blog and it will be fun to figure out how to work in some Dear Daughter, Love Mom posts. (I have a son too, so I will make sure he is not left out.)
      I will send you a link when I post. It may be a few weeks--they are still out of school and we are enjoying the last days of summer!
      Thanks for your encouragement!

    3. I love it! Can't wait to see what you come up with!!!!!

    4. The more I think about this, the more I like it! I have had quite a bit of feedback on my facebook page about loving this concept of writing a letter to your child as a legacy. How amazing it would be to have a collection of letters from a mom or dad or every another relative to a child, all posted on a blog! If you decide to write a letter to your children, either separately or together, definitely do send the post. I am going to set up a link for letters like this. I think it would be nice for parents to do and way less of a commitment than an entire blog!

    5. I've got lots of ideas floating around. My children love my mom's lemon pound cake. I'm not sure if she will let her famous pound cake recipe out of the family:) I'll see if I can talk her into it!

    6. Trying to decide how and when to invite people to send letters in. I did post a link on my blog and still just love the idea! Don't get in trouble with your mama!!! On the other hand, you can tell her to write a letter to you too!

  2. Replies
    1. You know what I forgot to do?! Find a photo of Gramma Grace to include! I will work on it this weekend!

  3. Seriously.
    Don't. Stop. Writing. Gramma Grace would be proud!

    1. That was the think about Gramma Grace. No matter what, she was always proud of us. I was so glad this noodle post of yours came up! It gave me a whole day to think just about her...and noodles. My memories of her gave me some great parenting advice that I really needed!

  4. Love love love this!! Grandma Grace was the best ever!!! So miss her and loved reading this post! I feel all warm and fuzzy now!!!!!

    1. I miss her too! Hate it that our kids never got to experience her and Gramma Darlene! xoxoxoxox!! Miss you Beth!

  5. I just inherited a pasta machine from my gramps, so I'll definitely be giving this a try. Looks super easy!

    1. How wonderful to have a pasta machine! And one from your grandfather! What wonderful memories! This pasta is easy. I've never made noodles before and I whipped them out in 20 minutes. You'll have to let me know how much faster the pasta machine is!! Have fun!

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