Friday, March 28, 2014

Pasta Dough No. 3

A recent profile of Oakland’s Ramen Shop in The Art of Eating (Issue No. 92) inspired the following dough recipe for a torchio pasta press. According to the article, Ramen Shop makes its noodle dough with a blend of Central Milling type 00 and malted all-purpose flour, gluten, and kansui, a mixture of sodium carbonate and potassium carbonate. The Art of Eating author pronounced Ramen Shop’s noodles “exceptional”; I agree, having slurped my fair share of the restaurant’s noodles. What would happen, I wondered, if I used a similar flour blend but replaced the gluten, kansui and water with an egg and water mixture tailored to a torchio pasta press? The results tasted amazing.

When you read the following recipe, you’ll see that I list precise weights for the flour and for each component of the egg mixture. I stumbled upon these weights when I used a 58-gram egg, which produced 52 grams of egg sans shell, and a 56-gram egg, which contained a 20-gram yolk. I liked the results so much that I stayed with these amounts. Using precise weights allows you to achieve extremely consistent dough from batch to batch. It also helps when scaling the recipe up or down. The following produces approximately 240 grams of dough.

110 grams Central Milling organic type 00 normal pizza flour (11.2%)
50 grams Central Milling organic Beehive malted all-purpose flour (10.5%)
2 grams kosher salt
82 grams of the following egg mixture: 52 grams whole egg, beaten; 20 grams egg yolk; and 10 grams cold water
 1. Sift the flours into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the salt. Using a paddle attachment, mix together the flours and salt. In a glass, beat the egg mixture.
 2. With the mixer running on low speed, slowly pour the egg mixture into the mixing bowl in small batches. Mix the dough for about 2 to 3 minutes. The dough should be clumpy and slightly damp but shouldn’t come together into a ball. It should, however, hold together if tightly squeezed.

 3. Remove the bowl from the mixer and add any dough on the paddle to the mixing bowl. Using your hand, bring the dough together into a large ball in the mixing bowl. Knead the dough in the bowl or on a work surface for approximately 30 seconds. Form the dough into a log that can slide into the torchio’s chamber. Tightly wrap the dough in plastic and leave it to rest at room temperature for 1 hour.
I tested the above recipe, which makes enough pasta to serve 2 to 3 people, using a Bottene No. 5 spaghetti (1.75mm) die from Emiliomiti. (I also ran the dough through a bronze bigoli die with excellent results.) Once extruded, I cut the spaghetti into approximately 12-inch long pieces that I lightly dusted with semolina flour and placed on a dishtowel-lined baking tray.

To cook the pasta, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the fresh spaghetti, stir the pasta and when the water returns to a boil, cook for approximately 1 to 1.5 minutes. Taste to determine if the pasta is ready. If so, drain and add the spaghetti to your ready sauce, mix the two together and cook the pasta and sauce for 1 to 2 minutes.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Americano Cocchi Classico

Any fan of the Spritz (here) must try an Americano Cocchi Classico. Here’s how to make one: take a small tumbler and fill it with 3 ice cubes; add 2 ounces of Americano Cocchi, a lovely aperitif wine from Italy’s Piedmonte region; splash in 1 ounce of soda water; gently stir. If you happen to have an orange lying about, slice it up and garnish your drink. If your fruit bowl is sans orange, don’t fret; the drink will taste fine without the garnish.

The star of this amazing aperitivo is Americano Cocchi, a Moscato-based wine infused with a secret blend of herbs, fruit and spices.  The wine tastes both pleasantly bitter and just a bit sweet. Its recipe dates back to 1891 when Giulio Cocchi began making aromatic-infused wine and bottle-fermented sparkling wines. If you poke around the Internet, you’ll come across numerous articles lamenting how difficult it is to find Americano Cocchi here in the United States. Well, no more it seems. Good wine shops such as K&L Wine Merchants will ship Americano Cocchi where the law permits. Even my local Whole Foods claims the aperitivo will soon arrive on its shelves. Hurray!

Let me close by sharing my own (Spritz-ish) variation of the Americano Cocchi Classico. After pouring the Americano Cocchi over the rocks and before adding the soda, I tip in a kiss of Aperol. Gently stir and smile at the beautiful, light salmon-colored beverage that you will soon enjoy.

Sunday, January 19, 2014


In the Glossary of Sauces & Shapes (here), Oretta Zanini De Vita and Maureen B. Fant describe fiorentini as a “short, squiggly factory-made pasta”. Based upon this brief description, one might not expect much from this noodle in the looks-department. Yet of all of the pastas featured in Sauces & Shapes, fiorentini rates, in my opinion, as one of the most handsome. It can also handle a broad range of sauces. Zanini De Vita and Fant pair the shape with a hearty ragù di carne. The Mozza Cookbook [2011] by Nancy Silverton with Matt Molina and Carolynn Carreño contains a recipe for fiorentini with a sauce of guanciale, tomato, and spicy pickled peppers.

Dry fiorentini rarely appears on grocers’ shelves here in the US, so if you want to try it, take to the web. As I write, Buon Italia (here) sells the shape. Emiliomiti (here) sells a bronze die for the torchio that produces twisting ribbons that look like fiorentiti to my eye. Ask for die 267 from the Blue Catalog.

I’ve made a lot of extruded pasta, including fiorentini, over the past few months. During this period, I used a 50-50 mixture of Central Milling Organic Type 00 flour and Giusto Extra Fancy Durum flour. I am experimenting with adding a touch more liquid to the flour. In the past, I used 75 grams of an egg mixture (typically a whole medium egg plus a medium egg yolk) for 150 grams of flour. (This produces enough pasta to serve 2 as a main course.) Of late, I’ve increased the amount of eggs for this flour blend from 75 to 77 grams. You need to make allowances for how your ingredients interact on any given day, but I have found that these extra grams of liquid produce a better-shaped noodle.

The other practice I now employ: after mixing the dough in a standing mixer with a paddle, I form the dough into a log rather than a disk. After an hour hydration period at room temperature, I simply pop the dough right into the torchio and start cranking.