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Fresh pasta in less than an hour

October 20, 2008

After roughly two decades of teaching Americans how to cook Italian, Mary Ann Esposito still enjoys showing off the basics - a simple, egg-based, handmade pasta.

The host of Public Television's long-running "Ciao Italia" cooking show says that with just a few common ingredients and a bit of muscle, fresh pasta for four can be had in under an hour. No fancy equipment needed.

While pasta can be made on any surface, Esposito suggests a wooden counter or large cutting board. The texture of the wood provide traction when kneading and working with the dough.

HANDMADE EGG PASTA



Start to finish: 1 hour (30 minutes active)

Servings: 4

4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup semolina flour
1 teaspoon salt
5 eggs

Pour the all-purpose flour into a pile on the counter. Sprinkle the semolina flour and salt over it, then use your hand to mix them in. Create a deep well in the center of the pile of flours.

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Crack the eggs into the well, then use a fork to lightly beat them.

Working in a clockwise direction, use the fork to slowly move flour in from the edges of the well and incorporate it into the beaten eggs. Continue this process until nearly all the flour has been incorporated.

The dough should resemble a shaggy, moist mass. Use both hands to worth this mass together to form a rough ball of dough. Use a pastry scraper to clean the counter of any stuck bits and excess flour.

Begin kneading the dough, pushing the dough away from you and folding it over on itself, working in additional flour as needed until the dough ball is dry and soft, at least several minutes.

Overturn a large bowl over the dough ball and let it rest, covered, for 30 minutes.

Divide the dough into quarters. Dust three of the pieces with flour, then cover with the overturned bowl to prevent them from drying out.

Use your hands to flatten the dough on a lightly floured surface. Use a lightly floured rolling pin to roll out the dough until very thin. You should be able to nearly see your hand if you place it behind the dough.

Use a knife to trim the dough into a rectangle. Sprinkle the dough with flour, then fold the dough over on itself several times, as though you are folding a sheet of paper before placing it in an envelope.

Place the folded dough with a long side facing you. Starting at one short end, use a knife to cut the folded dough into thin strips, then unfold the resulting noodles.

The noodles should be cooked in lightly salted boiling water for 3 to 4 minutes.

(Recipe from Mary Ann Esposito, host of Public Television's "Ciao Italia" cooking show)

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