Valentine’s Day can be an annoying time in the city. Restaurants that usually don’t do so suddenly parade out prix fixe menus and you’re forced to either opt in or out. And restaurants that already operate under such options on a regular basis take it up a notch – adding in something extra. And things book so far in advance that if you don’t plan way in advance, forget about it.
My boyfriend and I were planning on doing something. In fact, if you looked in my calendar in my phone, you’d have found “something” starting promptly at 6pm. When he told me the day before he’d gotten us tickets to a pasta cooking class with Red Hook Hospitality with Nikki Cascone, I was excited. The only time I’ve ever tried pasta was with my family back at Christmas. We did ours with a Kitchenaid attachment, and for the class, we were instead going to be using a traditional style pasta machine. This involved hand cranking and was on a this machine Red Hook Hospitality actually sells through their site.
I don’t really have a recipe. We began with a mixture of flour on the table, which we formed into a mound, almost like you used to begin to build sand castles. Then you carved out an opening in the middle with your hand. First you add one egg, whipping it in a firm circular motion with a regular fork. You want to stir quickly until the yolk is no longer solid. Then add the second egg, and do the same.
Slowly you begin to add in flour (I almost wrote sand just now!) from the sides, mixing it into the eggs. You will eventually have a doughy egg ball that you’ll work with. You don’t want it to be too wet, or it’ll never make it through all of the repetitions on the different settings in the pasta maker. It should be floury enough that you can scrape it up into a ball and that it doesn’t really stick to your hands when you pick it up. We made two balls – which I’d suggest the first time you make pasta. My first batch? Ended up in the trash… Wrap them each in plastic wrap until you’re ready to put it through the machine.
Next you dust your pasta machine with flour – otherwise your dough won’t go through. Dust your countertop with flour. Half one of the dough balls. You’ll want to work with it and spread it out into a rectangular shape. Look at the width of the pasta maker, since that’s where it’ll be fed next. Keep that in mind.
As you push the dough out into a nice thin rectangle, lightly dust flour and smooth it across the dough. Flip it over and repeat. It should be elastic with a bit of give to it. You’ll be repeating the dusting/smoothing after each round. No pressure. It just kind of needs to be perfect. Too wet? It’ll get stuck in the machine. Too dry? It’ll tear and shred, meaning you’ll never get to the point of ever turning your fabulous dough into final noodle form.
Our machine had several settings that corresponded to the thickness to which it would work your dough. We started with ours set on 7 and did multiple repetitions on each level as we worked our way down to 2. Once it looked good at that level, we went on to cut the dough into noodles. It was quite a long process, but one that definitely got easier with repetition. This is the first event of Red Hook Hospitality’s I’ve been to, but I really enjoyed the class and how it was structured. I also really like that you have access to videos of the class online if you want to pull it back up as you go back through the process the first time on your own. I also really enjoyed the drinks served during the event – especially the champagne from Nicolas Feuillatte!
It was quite a fun event to do as a couple. Next up they have a sausage making class with a beer tasting, if that’s your thing!
Hope you all had a wonderful Valentine’s Day, however you celebrated!