Wednesday, June 25, 2008

How it all began




When I think back as far as I can remember to some of my first food memories my grandmother is always there. Well she was there all the time, she lived with us my whole life. She was a part of that house on East 22nd street. When I think of that home, I think of her. When I was just a child maybe around 7 years old, I can remember making pasta with nanny. She made manicotti, ravioli, cavatelli and taglioline all from the same dough. She didn't make crepes in a pan on the stove, her manicotti were rolled out so thin you could see through it...just as thin as a crepe. The dough was made with the well method. A big pile of flour, eggs and water. It amazed me how it all came together. She had a big wooden board which she layed out on her dining room table and a long skinny rolling pin. It's not like the ones that you see Chef's use on tv. She rolled that dough until it was paper thin. It seemed to take forever. She let me try to roll it out but I didn't have the strength to really push it hard. Instead I always got my own piece of dough to work with....most of it I ended up eating. You'd be amazed if you saw her work the dough, kneading and rolling and making it slap against the board when she rolled it out. Once it was time to cut the dough she always let me help. She had a ravioli cutter which she used to make the ravioli and manicotti. She let me help with this that was always the fun part. Any mistakes were forgiven and the strips were cut off and put aside for later. She also let me help with the ricotta filling...again, half the mozzarella ended up in my mouth! After they were made we put them in the freezer to harden and then put them in bags and went back in the freezer. The best part were the strips we put aside. Those were what she called Taglioline. With this she made us lunch. She used it as noodles for soup or she made a quick thin sauce and we ate it like fettucine. It was the greatest thing I ever ate. I could still taste it. It saddens me that I never really learned how to make Nanny's fresh pasta. She didn't measure and it was so hard to do. I've tried making pasta in my kitchen aid stand mixer. Not bad. Not like Nanny's but still I know she would be proud.






9 comments:

Julianna said...

what a wonderful memory! :)
try this ratio:

11 oz of flour
3 eggs
pinch of salt

mix the flour and salt, make a well, add the eggs one at a time, use a fork to gradually mix in each egg. when it starts to clump use a bench scraper to combine till it all hangs together. whatever doesn't naturally incorporate, sift and use to knead the dough for a few minutes. let the dough rest for about an hour. then go ahead and divide and roll as usual! see if that works. you can also add in other items when you combine the ingredients for flavor variations (lemon zest, other herbs, etc.)

ericmsdw2000 said...

Shels. The way you detailed this made me feel like i was in your childhood kitchen, with you and your nanny, stealing little tastes of the raw dough and, of course, THE MOZZ AND RICOTTA! I truly wish I had a memory such as this. I mean, mom cooked and cooked well and my grandmother up in Massachusetts did also but....

there was clearly not the connection you and your gram had. I am envious but happy you experienced what you did with your gram.

Sophie said...

This is really sweet! I'm adding your blog link to my blog :). Can't wait to see what recipes you post!

Di from SI said...

Michele...thanks for sharing such beautiful memories of you and Nanny...I now know where you get your great flare for cooking from...heres to keeping it ALIVE!!!!

Sara said...

I really liked the story, well written :)

Sara said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sophie said...

This is really sweet :). The photos capture all of the love and energy that went into making the pasta. (glad you were able to get the photos up!)

Proud Italian Cook said...

I'm loving your blog I just came across it by way of Dish N That, I'm going to pour a cup of coffee and start reading!

Shannalee said...

I loved this. The pictures are priceless, and your memories are touching. I am convinced, fully, that there is nothing better than giving your kids/grandkids something they can continue loving when you're gone. When I cook, I think of my grandma; it's like she's not so far away.