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Great Grandma’s Noodles and Perfect Peas

April 18, 2010
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In high school, I had an anthropology and history teacher who talked a lot about the value of women’s art and non-traditional family histories.  (This teacher, incidentally, also drove the same 1960’s VW Beetle she’d had since, well, the 1960s.  She rocked.)  During one class, she tried to convince us that a family cookbook, full of family recipes and stories, was the equivalent of buried treasure.

Which is all really a long way of saying that I do, in fact, have such a cookbook.  Years ago, my extended family on my mom’s side put together a fantastic collection of recipes, some new to the family, and some the stuff of family legend.  It’s complete with stories about the people who created and loved many of the recipes, and is illustrated with my Aunt Sandy’s cartoons.  It is, in short, awesome.

My great-grandmother’s noodles are one of the legendary recipes, and I’ve heard about them since childhood.  After my trip to Iowa last fall (and,um, a challenge issued by my mother), I was inspired to pull out my copy of the family cookbook and try my hand at making them.  They are pretty amazing, and we’re hooked.  Last weekend, I made a single recipe, and it was just enough for 2 of us for dinner.  This weekend, I was smart enough to quadruple it – we made enough for dinner tonight and lunch tomorrow, and have plenty in the fridge to cook later this week.  Paired with English peas fresh from the farmer’s market (and yes, we shelled them on the front porch, thank-you-very-much) cooked up a la Mark Bittman, I can’t think of a better spring meal.

Photo by Lily - thanks!

Aside: if you’ve never made pasta, this is really remarkably easy.  If your surface is floured enough, it shouldn’t be too hard to roll out, and slicing isn’t even very time-consuming.  A single recipe took maybe 15 minutes to roll and slice.

Great Grandma’s Noodles with Perfect Peas (adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian)

Noodles (makes enough for two comfortable servings)

– 1 egg, lightly beaten

– 2 Tbs milk

– 1/2 tsp salt

– 1 cup-ish flour

– Combine egg, milk, and salt, and stir in most of the flour.  When the dough becomes to stiff to stir, mix with your hands until the dough is thoroughly mixed up.  You’re looking for quite a stiff dough here (otherwise, as the original recipe says, the recipe “won’t turn out.”), so you’ll probably use most or all of the flour.

– Let the dough rest, covered, for about ten minutes.

– Roll out very thin on a well-floured surface.  Don’t be shy about thinness here.  I had much better results when I felt like the dough was almost dangerously thin.  (If you multiply the recipe, divide it into portions for rolling out – otherwise, you’ll have a sheet of pasta dough big enough to cover the whole kitchen floor.)

– Slice 1/8 inch thick.  I used a pizza cutter – mine is sort of wobbly and imprecise, so I stabilized it a bit with my fingers as I rolled it.  A knife works fine, too.

– Dry for about 2 hours.  I, um, used some wire coat hangers to hang the noodles to dry.  There’s probably some fancy gadget for this, but the coat hangers worked just fine.  Though they did look kind of funny.

– Drop into boiling salted water for 10 minutes.  Drain.

Perfect Peas

– 1 1/2 lbs English peas, in pods (maybe 3/4 cup shelled or frozen and thawed peas)

– 2 Tbs butter (salted or unsalted – pick your poison)

– 2 Tbs zest (we’ve used Meyer lemon and tangerine zest, and both have turned out wonderfully.  You can also try minced shallot or maybe a bit of garlic.)

– Salt, to taste

– Melt the butter over medium-low heat.

– Add zest, and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring.

– Add shelled peas, and cook for 7-8ish minutes, until the peas are hot and juicy.  Salt to taste.

– Toss to combine with pasta.

– Top with freshly-grated Parmesan, if you’re daring.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. May 6, 2010 7:18 pm

    Ashley, those peas sound delicious!!! I’m going to have to try that. And the noodles sound less scary to do but still you have to be a little bit ambitious for this, huh? :-D. They do have noodle hanging racks, but your system works remarkably well and can double as hangers while they’re not drying noodles (lol). I love the step-by-step with photos. Great post, Ash!!

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