My brother Jimmy recently moved back in to my mom’s house and has been trying his hand at cooking dinner. He made fettuccine alfredo for dinner one night. Dried noodles, jarred alfredo sauce, and sautéed asparagus. He loved, Mom loved, Ray loved it, but of course I couldn’t let that slide! A few years ago we were having something similar for family dinner. He called it “bootleg alfredo” because the sauce came from a jar. It wasn’t homemade so it was bootleg. Yeah, your guess is as good as mine! Even though none of us fully understood his use of this term, we started called everything “bootleg” if it wasn’t completely homemade. Since he has become more interested in cooking I have been getting him to help me in the kitchen on Sundays for family dinner. A few weeks ago we made Pappardelle Bolognese from scratch and Jimmy made the noodles. Once I learned of his Fettuccine Alfredo adventure I told him that I could teach him a very simple recipe for the sauce. He said that for our Fettuccine Alfredo to not be bootleg everything had to be from scratch so we also made the fettuccine noodles. Really, once you start eating freshly made noodles you can’t really go back. Don’t get me wrong, dried pasta is perfectly acceptable. I always have several boxes in my cupboard. There is just something so much better about homemade pasta, and it only has four ingredients. I have a different pasta recipe that only uses two ingredients. Maybe I’ll share that one soon.
Jimmy and I got started on dinner. I had him mix the pasta dough. It taakes some time and some muscle, but as you can see in the photo above, there is no shortage of muscle on my brother. Right, ladies? When we were making dinner we joked that we would set up a Facebook Page for Jimmy’s muscles. So we took several photos that didn’t include his face! Although, we took plenty of his face because look how precious! I was instructing Jimmy on the pasta making, but he really did it all himself. He measure out the flours, mixed in the egg and water and then got to kneading. As he was kneading he asked how long it would take. I told him about 10 minutes of kneading. I know this sounds like a long time, but it. is. worth. the. effort. Besides, it’s therapeutic. For me anyway. I love the mindless, repetitive motion of kneading and rolling out dough. It’s soothing in a way. I told him, “The dough should be very smooth. Come here and wash your hands. Okay now take your thumb and index fingers and rub your earlobe.” He gave me the strangest look! You’re probably giving your computer the same look, but trust me, it isn’t a joke. He thought I was just trying to make him look funny. Really, feel your earlobe. The smoothness. Now press it between your fingers. That amount of give is what your pasta dough should feel like. “Now wash your hands again and keep kneading!” Being in the kitchen is always a joy, but teaching people in the kitchen is a different sort of joy. I get so excited when people start taking an interest in cooking. I’m not always the best teacher. Sometimes my instruction is, “Just pour it in there until I tell you to stop”. Working in the kitchen with Jimmy was a lot of fun and I’m glad we have a new set of memories to share.
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup semolina flour
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup cold water
- Alfredo Sauce:
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 quart heavy cream
- 2 cups grated parmesan cheese
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flours. Make a well in the center of the flours (this can be done in the bowl or on a wooden surface.
- Crack the egg into the flours and mix together to combine. Add the cold water 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough holds together. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour. If it is too dry, add more water.
- Working in batches, roll the dough very thin following your pasta machine instructions and then pass through the fettuccine attachment.
- Toss the pasta with flour to prevent it from sticking. Cover with a slightly damp towel and/or plastic wrap until ready to use.
- To cook the pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta for three minutes. Drain and immediately mix with the Alfredo sauce.
- To make the Alfredo Sauce: Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the cream and bring to a boil. Stir the cream often so that it doesn't burn to the pan.
- Add 1 cup of cheese, salt and pepper and taste. This recipe is what Jimmy preferred, but you may want more or less of any one of the flavors. This Alfredo sauce came out pretty cheesy so you might want to stick with just the one cup of cheese.
- Continue to cook the sauce until it reduces and thickens slightly, about five minutes.
- Mix the sauce into the cooked noodles and top with chicken, shrimp, broccoli, sautéed mushrooms and asparagus, or any accompaniments you prefer.
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