The Perils Of Home Cooking (aka Flour + Water rocks!)

I love cookbooks. My bookshelves sag with the evidence. Alas cookbooks can only go so far. They cannot convey feel. They cannot convey smell. They have no way to teach intuition. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you can try to follow a recipe and just be wrong. I have made pasta many times from many different cookbooks and based on these attempts I have developed a technique. It turns out my technique was wrong.

Flour + Water offers pasta courses. I found out about an upcoming series on sf.eater.com. Much to my dismay the beginner class had sold out before I got to the website. With some encouragement from my wife I decided to start with the intermediate course. The chance to go to a restaurant of this quality and learn technique was just too good an opportunity to pass up.

My daughter is the best cranker in the world!

I really didn’t know what I was getting into but the class ended with dinner so I figured I had nothing to lose. In short the course is fantastic. They have constructed it to allow people of all levels to get what they want out of the class, have a great time, and meet interesting people and none other than Chef McNaughton teaches the class which pretty much floored me. Oh yeah, did I mention they serve dinner and keep your wine glass full?! Suffice it to say I will be returning for the other courses.

“Make a well… lightly flour board… elastic… little sticky… smooth as baby skin” If you’ve ever made pasta from a cookbook these are familiar refrains. They are trying but until you’ve seen what it is supposed to look like and until you’ve felt what it is supposed to feel like it is hard to know what you are looking for. The single most important thing I learned in the class was to use as little moisture as possible to form a ball. Chef McNaughton recommends adding water with a spray bottle very slowly until you reach this point. When done right, no flour is needed for the board and no flour is needed later on in the process either and yes, after you are done it feels like baby skin ;).

I simply could not wait to try it at home so Saturday my daughter and I rolled up our sleeves and made ricotta agnolotti.  Actually I kind of made a beurre blanc with some shallots and added ricotta, parmesan, fontina, parsley and egg and seasoned until it tasted great. I won’t lie, making two half sheet pans of agnolotti took some time, actually quite a bit of time, but I could tell while I was working that it was turning out better than ever before.

I made them a day ahead so I froze them and stored them in some bags until boiling them for a few minutes in well salted water. I made a quick sauce with more shallots, dried porcini, my homemade tomato sauce, and some red wine. The results were amazing.  Finally, I had made pasta!!

P.S. All of the action photos were taken by my daughter! Thank You!
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15 Comments

Filed under Cookbooks, Cooking, Family, Food, Tips

15 responses to “The Perils Of Home Cooking (aka Flour + Water rocks!)

  1. Sounds a wonderful course and your final picture shows that it was a total success. The final dish looks absolutely delicious.

  2. I’m impressed at all of your hard work. I would love to take a class like you did. You really learn so much. Take care and hope to see more posts soon.

  3. Thanks for the write up – and great photos. I think this class is a must-try.

  4. I love your step by step photos! Very well taken by your daughter! The dish looks delicious!

  5. Hello! This is fantastic. I’m communications manager for flour + water and with your permission I’d love to share this post on our blog.

  6. That dish looks simply amazing-bravo!

  7. Your daughter did a great job. So did you. Looks amazing.

  8. It looks like you and your daughter did a great job.

  9. Pingback: Low and Slow (aka an Atypical Bolognese) | joshuafagans

  10. Pingback: Back to School (aka The Nasturtium Conundrum) | joshuafagans

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