For fun in cooking, find a friend or family, or both. Some meals are definitely labor intensive, so lend themselves to a group experience. Holiday tamales in great quantities, pans of baklava, bierocks, or cabbage rolls all come to mind with great memories. Now my daughter Kathy was excited that she could share the following experience, which she had learned by doing with her teaching friend, Kristi Vance Bell.
“Nothing beats fresh homemade noodles!” she announced.
So, on a lovely girls’ getaway weekend to Cambria, Kathy and another teaching friend, Jera Cantrell Stevens, and I donned our aprons and set to task. We developed this recipe from what we did, and from what other generations have done.
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4 cups all purpose or unbleached flour, divided use
4 large eggs, beaten lightly
4 eggshells of water — about 4 tablespoons
Ingredients should be at room temperature, and this works best when there is less humidity so dough can dry more readily. In a large mixing bowl, place 3 cups of flour and make a well to crack the four eggs in. Then, using the best eggshell half, pour in 4 shells of water — about 4 tablespoons. (Did I tell you this is a family recipe handed down from the czarist days of Russia?) Mix with a fork.
Scatter the reserved flour onto the tabletop, plop the dough on, and gently work in just enough flour to make a soft but not sticky ball. Form into golf-sized balls, and roll out one at a time with a floured rolling pin until it is thin enough to see through to the table. Incorporate flour as you go, and form a square shape rather than round so it will be easier to cut.
Place each square on a clean cotton tea towel (we used my grandmother’s embroidered ones) and place over the back of a chair (we used my leather sofa — this you had to see). Allow the first surface to set about 15 minutes, and then turn over to dry the second side about 15 minutes. Taking one piece at a time, fold into fourths and slice with a very sharp knife into thin ribbons — if these don’t unroll easily, allow to dry longer. Place them in a bowl, and fluff the noodles to separate.
Separate the new “ribbons” and lay them back on the tea towels to dry a little; you may pull slightly, or twist them a little for variation. Meanwhile, prepare well-salted boiling water for plain noodles, or your favorite chicken broth with the skin and bones and mirepoix removed. Add noodles to the pot, and cook seven to 10 minutes, taste testing each minute. You could now add fresh celery, onions and carrots, with shredded chicken, parsley, cilantro or whatever suits you.
You can imagine our giggles as we prepared, cooked and sampled some plain with butter, others with flavored salts and oils, and/or with freshly grated Parmesan stirred in.
This recipe can be halved or doubled, keeping the same ratios. If preparing ahead, lay the uncooked noodles flat on a paper towel in jumbo ziplock bags and store overnight in the fridge. If greenish oxidation appears, it is OK, but do cook them up within 24 hours. Any leftovers will keep … if you have any!
I have Kristi’s fascinating backstory of her great-great-great-grandparents’ travels from Germany to Russia, back to Germany after Catherine the Great’s era, and later generations emigrating to America via Ellis Island. The heritage of how they all worked and cooked adds flavor to the tale, and to the dish.
Consuelo Macedo’s column is special to The Cambrian. Submit recipes and ideas to her at The Cambrian, 2068 Main St., Cambria, CA 93428, or email her at cambrian@thetribune news.com.