It is Thursday night, after work, and I am expecting company. My guests are arriving at 5:30, which means I have a tight timeline to prep, cook, and serve all after a day of work.
The plan tonight is simple: one dish, one cocktail. To make it a smashing success, both the dish and the cocktail have to shine. I like to make comforting classic dishes paired with delicious drinks that are soothing after a long day of work.
So on this particular night, I made pasta — simple, homemade egg-and-flour pasta, rolled and hand-cut into noodles just minutes before it hit the boiling water. There isn’t a lot of glitz in it, but the fresh, homemade pasta makes this meal fantastic. I made my pasta dough in the morning so all I had to do was run it through the pasta maker to form the sheets, then cut the noodles.
The cocktail for this meal gets an Italian twist from Aperol, a bitter orange aperitif, and the rum and lemon are perfect complements to the pasta.
2 ounces Aperol
1-1/2 ounces White Rum
1 tsp. Fresh Lemon Juice
1/2 to 1 tsp. Sugar
Fill an 8- to 10-ounce highball glass with crushed ice. Stir together Aperol, rum, lemon juice, and bitters in a glass or shaker, but don’t shake.
Add sugar to taste, stirring until sugar is dissolved, then pour over ice, and garnish with a lemon twist.
9 ounces Double Zero Flour
6.5 ounces Egg Yolk
0.5 ounces Egg White
0.5 ouncees Milk
0.15 ounces Olive Oil
Plus: 1/2 cup semolina flour at the end to keep the noodles from sticking; flat Italian parsley for serving.
[Note: I realize that exact measurements may seen obnoxious, but trust me on it. Use that scale, and if you don’t have one, this is your excuse to buy it.]
Put the flour in the bowl of your mixer, and outfit the mixer with the paddle attachment. Start the mixer on medium-low, and give the flour a few swirls in the bowl.
Gently whisk the wet ingredients together. Pour half of the wet mixture over the flour, and allow it to incorporate as the mixer runs on medium-low. This may take about a minute or two.
Add the rest of the wet mixture — every last drop, and continue to mix until it comes together on the paddle with nothing left in the bowl. If it is still crumbly, add one more tablespoon of egg yolk, and mix again. This dough should not be wet, but rather compact — not crumbly or dry, just saturated enough where it is elastic and forms in a ball. If it seems too sticky, add a couple of teaspoons of flour, one at a time.
Form a tight ball on a clean flat surface by kneading it with a pushing and squeezing motion — no air pockets should remain. Form a dough ball, flatten it, wrap in plastic tightly, and let it rest for at least an hour.
Divide the dough in half, and flatten with a rolling pin. And flatten. And flatten some more. Until it fits through the pasta maker. When it does, begin running it through the largest setting. After you run it two or three times, fold your sheet in two, and start over. Do that twice. Systematically, run the sheets through adjusting the thickness down until you reach your desired thickness.
Then change the pasta attachment to noodle-cutter, and run the sheets through. As the noodles come out, be sure to sprinkle them with semolina flour so they don’t stick.
Boil a pot of water with a little salt, throw the noodles in, and boil for about 5 minutes. Check it for doneness. Drain the water out of your pot, add a little dollop of butter, and blend the noodles. Serve topped with freshly chopped Italian parsley.