Fresh Pasta

Fresh pasta in under 10 minutes!

20160914_175534Pasta has always been a staple in my home. Since childhood, I have always loved eating pasta with red sauce. It was always a treat if my mother made fresh sauce but the pasta was always out of a box or a bag. I never thought about making fresh pasta or even that it was possible. It was always something that came out of a package.

I want to share with you a very simple all purpose pasta recipe that will be an easy, go to recipe forever. There is a very easy method to double or triple the amount. The most important piece of equipment here will be a scale that displays grams, preferably a digital scale for ease of use. With only three or four ingredients, it is a very simple recipe. The rule of thumb for this recipe is one egg for every 100 grams of flour, and one part semolina flour to three parts bread flour, that’s it! You can make as much pasta as you want with that simple rule. Now lets get to it.


150 g Bread flour

50 g Semolina flour

2 eggs

1 tsp olive oil (optional) (evoo or whatever)

Weigh and blend the flours by pulsing it in your food processor a couple of times.

Pulse to blend flours
Pulse to blend flours

crack the eggs into a measuring cup and add the oil.

add oil to eggs
Add oil to eggs (I doubled the recipe to 4 eggs and 400 g flour)

while pulsing the food processor on high (if that is an option), add the eggs one at a time and pulse until incorporated. Once all eggs are added turn the food processor to low and continue to pulse until the dough comes together or forms lumps and no egg is left.pulse until the dough comes together

Pulse until the dough comes together

Turn the dough out onto a dry board and push it together. Kneed for one to two minutes. The dough is done when you push your finger into it and it springs back about 3/4 of the way but still leaves a little impression.

to check dough, press your finger into the ball
To check dough, press your finger into the ball
It will spring back slowly
It will spring back slowly
But not all the way back
But not all the way back

Roll into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Let rest for twenty minutes and it’s ready to roll out.

Now you can hand roll it or use a pasta machine. I have done it both ways. The hand rolling is so gratifying, that I do it once in a while just because I love the feel of it and the way it responds to the rolling pin. I know that sounds weird, but I guess I am a little weird when it comes to food. It will be ready to cut when you can read the paper through it. No kidding, you can actually do that! Check out these videos on pasta making for great references. Gennaro Pasta rolling

Hope you found this helpful.


Gone Crackers!

I love cheese and crackers, who doesn’t, right? I have been making homemade pasta quite a bit lately because my daughter No. 1 told me she never wants box pasta again, just my homemade stuff. That’s just fine by me because I love to make it. I have read about doing crackers with sourdough and wanted to try it for some time now. I pulled about 1 cup from my active starter and proceeded to experiment and these were the outcome.

I enjoyed these with sharp cheddar cheese, thin sliced ham, and spicy mustard. They are crispy and full of flavor. I will definitely be making these often. My kids love chicken salad with crackers and these are way better than any Ritz I have tasted. I’ll get to making chicken salad this week so they can have them for lunch in school. I am using the artsy filters again, hehe.

Here is the recipe for these crackers. It wasn’t an exact recipe, I was shooting from the hip with this one.

1 cup active starter (Rye / Whole wheat)

2 cups bread flour

1/4 cup wheat germ

1/2 cup Red Mill 5 grain oat cereal blend

1/2 cup water

Kosher salt for coating


Pile dry ingredients on a board or in a bowl and make a well in the middle. Add the starter and the water. Mix the wet ingredients with your hand until all the starter is dissolved. start pulling in the dry ingredients and working it into a dough. The dough needs to be tight so if is tacky, add more flour. You can add whole wheat or rye flour as well, this is a preference thing. We are not making bread, we are making crackers You want to go with flavor here so you can play with it a bit. Add anything you want, garlic, rosemary, basil, parsley, hot pepper, salt, pepper, honey, etc. Just whatever you add, use flour to bring it back to a nice dry dough.

I used a pasta machine to roll it out. i started on the widest setting as I folded it twice over, then moved it down to a medium setting to finish it. I floured the pieces before putting them through the rollers to make it go through smooth. I moved them to a cookie sheet, cut them with a pizza cutter and bench scraper, poked them full of holes with a fork to keep them from puffing up, then sprinkled them with kosher salt.

Baked in a 425 degree F. oven for 10 minutes, then opened the door a crack and shut the oven off. I left them in there for about five more minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.

They came out light and crispy, but strong. They will cut through a nice hot brie with ease and they handled the ham and cheese just fine.

If I was to do anything different, I may brush them lightly with water or butter before baking to help the salt adhere to the cracker better. Next time I will add more flavor to the dough, maybe Parmigiano-Reggiano…. hmmm…..crackers

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Morning Bread

I sit here waiting for one of two loaves of sourdough I prepared last night to come out of the oven. Actually, I am waiting to uncover the loaf, reduce the heat, and let the loaf brown before removing it to the cooling rack. I am an avid fan of sourdough bread. I cannot buy real sourdough anywhere near my home here in Avoca, PA. so I have taken it upon myself to grow my own starter, nurture him and create delicious breads from him. I call my starter “him” because it is a living, breathing organism that needs love and attention to thrive. Much like a child or a pet that we hold dear to our hearts, the starter will spoil with neglect. I have named him “Mordecai”. Not for any other reason than he just reminds me of a  Mordecai, and I have four teenage children and we all love the name.

I have been on this journey of bread baking for a few years now. It started with basic whites, then moved to enriched dough’s. I continued my research into finding more recipes and techniques when I came across a website run by Chef Jacob Burton. Chef Burton inspired me to create sourdough bread from scratch. I listened to his podcasts and watched his videos with new eyes for baking. Creating my own yeast? I don’t have to purchase anything but flour? this is fantastic! Thank’s Chef!

I know that sounds like I am cheap and don’t want to buy anything, but I did mention I had four teenage children. I love my children dearly, but they can suck the life right out of a wallet :-). All kidding aside, I was moved by Chef Burton’s teachings and was hungry for more. I had already enrolled in culinary school at the young age of forty seven after about thirty years of driving a tractor trailer. I loved the schooling and was learning the classic techniques as taught by Escoffier. I was well on my way to creating a full meal instead of a loaf of bread, and possibly an actual job in “The Industry”.

The timer’s going off and it’s time to pull the bread from the oven. Looks awesome! If I use thebread1a right filters on my phone I can make it look like a real artisan loaf. This is just one of my culinary passions. I love to smoke food, all kinds. I do not limit myself to pulling pork, slapping it on a hamburger bun, and chucking it into my mouth. I would rather take that succulent smoked pork, break it up and mix it with some drippings. Create a fluffy, rich brioche bun, pickled cabbage, and a tangy mustard sauce. build it up and savor every bite and thinking that it took a week to get to this point and it was totally worth it. This loaf of bread took months to prepare and every bite will remind me of the love and passion that was put into it.

I just came back from walking the dogs with my beautiful wife of nineteen years and took the other loaf20160907_183849 out of the oven. Here is a picture of them side by side. Now please be aware that the second loaf had eight more hours to mature in the fridge while I was at work, also I didn’t use those cool filters. I will definitely use the filters from now on, they just make the food look antique and more artisan like. I am going to prepare dinner and cut into some amazing bread.


Here is the recipe for an 80% hydration sourdough boule:

375 g Sourdough starter @ 25%/25% whole wheat flour/Rye flour + 50% purified water

813 g Bread flour

612 g water

30 g Sea salt

Once your starter is strong enough to bake with, put starter in a non reactive plastic container. Add water holding back 50 grams to use to mix in the salt. Mix with your hand or wooden spoon until starter is fully dissolved. Add flour and mix with a wet hand until the flour and water are combined and no dry flour remains. It will be a lumpy mass of rough dough. Cover with lid or plastic wrap and let autolyse for 30 minutes. (This allows the flour to fully hydrate)

Sprinkle salt over dough and incorporate the remaining water or mix it in with the remaining 50 grams of water and mix into the dough with a wet hand. you are now ready to start the stretching process. reach down the side of the dough and pull it straight up and over the top. rotate the container 1/4 turn and repeat until all four sides have been pulled over. Reach under, pick up the dough and flip it. Cover for another 1/2 hour. repeat the stretching process for 2 hours.his will cover the bulk rise process.

Next you can do whatever you want with the dough.. I chose to make two round loaves called boules (French for ball).

To create a boule, divide the dough in half and drag one side over a lightly floured surface. pull one side to you while stretching it over the top. Repeat by stretching the opposite side over the top. Rotate the dough 90 degrees and repeat stretching over the top. When you do the last stretch, roll the dough over and spin it to close the seam and pull the dough tight. You can do tightening pulls by cupping your hands behind the dough and rolling your hand under while pulling it towards you. The stickiness of the dough grabbing the surface will pull the top tighter. rotate 1/4 turn and repeat.

dust the top with flour and turn it seam side up into a proofing basket, cover with plastic wrap or a towel and let proof for at least 1 hour. You can also put it in the fridge overnight.

Preheat oven with a cast iron  dutch oven inside to 500 degrees F. for 40 minutes. Flip the boule into the dutch oven seam side down and score the top using scissors, a knife, or razor blade. This will help the bread rise in the direction you want it too, up.

Cook for 20 minutes, remove the lid to the dutch oven, lower the temp to 450 degrees F. and cook for an additional 20 minutes or until the internal temp is 200 degrees F.

Let rest for at least an hour before cutting into it.

I hope this helps and I’ll work on a video for better clarity on the whole process.