We eat pasta and cheese a lot. Probably more than we should, but it's easy. The kids eat it up with butter, the grown ups get a little bit of olive oil, some garlic and tomatoes. We throw a salad on the side, and dinner is ready.
In an effort to simplify, we have complicated things temporarily. We made our own mozzarella and our own pasta and learned a lot during the experiments. We traded the crying baby back and forth, managed the behavior of two very unruly little girls all while mixing, boiling, hovering over thermometers...but we did it.
For the mozzarella I used the recipe in the book Home Dairy. I am a little, um...unruly in the kitchen and I tend to ignore most directions and just kind of wing it and see what happens. This isn't a great idea when making cheese, apparently.
-My first attempt: I tried organic milk which, it turns out, is a bad idea because it's ultra-pasteurized. No curds, no cheese.
-My second attempt: I used the microwave to heat up the curds. I had no idea our microwave even had a high setting, so this took me forever because my curds didn't reach that shiny, melty texture until I doubled the time. It worked, but the flavor suffered.
-My third attempt: I used the heated whey method and a mesh strainer instead of a slotted spoon, and my yield was about half of what it should have been. My curds were all mashed together because of the strainer and super liquidy when I ladled in the heated whey.
So don't be a fool. Follow the directions...unlike me.
I guess making pasta is a pretty common thing, but we had never ever attempted it.There was a thing or two for us to learn along the way.
-Our first attempt was to roll out the dough and cut it with a knife. We ended up with big, fat noodles that the kids called 'snakes'. Whatever, it was good and we ate it.
-Our second attempt involved buying a magazine for a coupon, then going next door to buy a pasta maker with the coupon, followed by about an hour of cleaning the machine out. We learned that your dough cannot be sticky at all to use the pasta maker. Our original recipe was very sticky, and we ended up adding about twice as much flour, which yielded way too much pasta. But it worked and it was so great. I mean, greater than any pasta I've ever had ever.
Fresh pasta with homemade mozzarella, tossed with homemade butter, olive oil, a clove of crushed garlic, sliced tomato, dried basil, salt and pepper. And you know we ate more of those brownies immediately after scraping the bottom of this bowl, right? Yeah, we totally did.