Fresh, Homemade Pasta

The fresh pasta recipe is hopefully like my time between blogs, worth the wait.  I have been making this recipe since my days at Tomasso Trattoria with Chef Tony when I was fresh out of culinary school.  It is fairly time consuming, but there is really nothing quite like the process of seeing a pile of flour and eggs turn into silky smooth noodles.  Still kind of amazes me every time.  So here’s the deal with the flours:  ’00’ flour refers to how finely it is ground.  ’00’ is the finest, so we combine the ’00’ with semolina (durum wheat flour) which gives it some structure and helps to make it ‘al dente’


The recipe (cut down by 4 times from the original) is:

2 1/2 cups ’00’ flour

1/2 cup semolina flour

4 large eggs

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

Water if necessary


Dump the Flours directly onto your work surface in a mound

With the back of your hand, make a well large enough to hold the wet ingredients (this is always the first mistake made by first-timers, make it wide enough to hold the eggs!)

Drop your eggs into the well and add olive oil

Start scrambling the eggs with a fork while slowly incorporating some of the flour

As soon as you are able to knead by hand, get rid of the fork

Knead the dough by folding it into itself, this is the most difficult part of the process, all of the flour should get absorbed by the end

Continue to knead until the dough ball forms, and has some bounce back when you press it with your finger (you can do this in a mixer if you can’t handle it! I just can’t give you any tips on that, because I have never really done it that way)

Once the ball is formed, has some bounce back, and all flour is absorbed, wrap in plastic or cover with an upside down bowl and let it rest for a solid 10-15 minutes.  You will notice the gluten structure relaxed during this step

Depending on the size of your pasta roller, you may have to cut the dough in half and roll out 2 separate times.  My home roller is MUCH smaller than ones we’ve used over the years at restaurants, make sure to keep the other half wrapped while it waits it’s turn.  Using a rolling pin, roll the dough until it is thin enough to roll through the widest setting in your machine.

Once you roll it through the widest setting, adjust to the next size down and repeat 2-3 more times, making the roller slightly thinner each time through

Make sure you have a long table!

The next step may seem redundant, but it is extremely important in developing the gluten structure and creating the ‘al dente’ touch you are looking for.  You are going to fold the dough in half.

And Half AGAIN!

And Half AGAIN!

And Half AGAIN!

Until it is thin enough width wise to roll through the machine again

Get your rolling pin out and roll until it is thin enough to roll through the widest setting again.  This is going to develop the structure (the more you work with the dough the more the gluten activates and strengthens) and it will also make the outside edges nice and uniform

Gradually roll through the machine as you did the first time, incrementally reducing the width each time through, run it through 2-3 times in this manner

Now you see the edges are nice and uniform, but the ends are jagged and rough looking, so we will do another fold…

Fold one end 2/3 of the way

And the other end 1/3 of the way, meeting in the middle

Get your pin out, roll slightly (you won’t have to work to hard here, we are not folding it multiple times, so just make sure it sticks together and can fit through the widest setting again. Now the sides and each end should be more uniform as we roll the final time.

Incrementally reduce the thickness each step along the way once again, until you get to the final desired thickness, roll through the last setting twice and you will have a clean slate to work with.  From here, you can cut into any shapes, strands, sizes, etc. that you want.  Can be used for ravioli, lasagna, cannelloni, tagliatelle, fettuccini, agnolotti, tortellini, etc. etc. etc.  Possibilities are endless.  I rolled this batch into Tagliatelle, to go with the bolognese sauce I had prepared (that’s another blog at another time!)

Cut, portion, store in freezer for later use, use immediately, dry on a rack, whatever you prefer to do.  From this state, the pasta only needs to cook in boiling water for 30 seconds to one minute before it can be finished in a sauce.  buon appetito!

Chicken Melnick’s and Fries

My niece, Natalia, coined the phrase chicken Melnick’s and it caught on with Amelia.  Although her nuggets weren’t originally homemade, this is a recipe we put together.  The nuggets and the fries are both baked, so no deep fryer needed.  We may have had better luck with a deep fryer, cause after all this work, neither one of them would eat the damn fries.  Too crispy for one and too soggy for the other, go figure.  I enjoyed them though! The fries take a little longer in the oven than the nuggets do, so better to start them first, knock out the cutting and get them cooking in the water before dealing with the chicken.  We used russet potatoes, a little goes a long way, we only did 2 potatoes and it was plenty (considering they didn’t eat them, any amount would have been plenty)

For the Fries:

3 Russet Potatoes (peeled or not, your call)

Olive oil


Step 1: Cut the potatoes to desired thickness and place into a pot.

(she’s posing for this and trying to look like she isn’t, hence the smirk)

Step 2: Fill with cold, salted water and put on the stove on high heat until it begins to bubble (don’t let it fully boil, you are just par cooking the potatoes and getting some of the starch cooked out)

Step 3: Strain par-cooked potatoes and place in a single layer on a sheet pan with some olive oil, salt and pepper.  Place in 450 degree oven

Step 4: Keep an eye one them, one they start to turn golden brown, flip and return to the oven.  We cooked them for about 30 minutes total, turned them half way through.  If you mess with them too early or too often, they will break apart, just be patient here.

***Now during this whole cooking process, you have been preparing the chicken in between each step, so everything cooks for the right amount of time and comes out of the oven simultaneously, cause that always happens…

For the Chicken:

3 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts cut into nugget sized cubes (trust whatever that means to you and go for it)

Olive Oil

Salt & Pepper

Panko Bread Crumbs

We threw in some seasoned garlic salt as well, she loves that stuff


Step 1: Place the cubed chicken into a bowl, coat with olive oil, season with salt, pepper, and garlic salt.

Step 2: One at a time, coat the nuggets in panko and place on a sheet pan.

Step 3: Place in the oven with your already baking fries that are about half way done, remember those fries and how perfectly you timed everything? Good work! 

***OK, clearly my fries were not timed well as pictures don’t lie, just make it work, pull them when they are done, put them back in before serving, just get off my case!

Step 3: About 10-12 minutes, flip and back into the oven for another 5 minutes or so

***And voila, Chicken Melnick’s and Fries that you will love, and your kids will maybe like them, maybe not, depends on who knows what, Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches are always the back up plan, but make your own, I already made you one meal tonight!!! Enjoy…

Soergel Orchards

Took a nice little trip to Soergel Orchards last weekend for some apple picking.  No recipe to share, just some pictures of our day.  It was perfect weather, they were picking granny smith apples that Emily turned into an apple cake and some apple crisp (you’ll have to track her down for recipes)  I was the designated wagon puller, lots of hills in Pennsylvania, boy am I out of shape!

I was pretty sure this pig was no longer living, but finally got a tail wag

Honey Bees hard at work!

Couple of 1/2 Pecks

Was no Mack’s Apples, but we had a great day (and face it, nothing can beat Mack’s)

Pancakes – Breakfast Discussion Over

Q: What do you want for breakfast?

A: I don’t know

The same usually goes for lunch and dinner as well.  This pancake recipe is almost always a good answer (maybe not the healthiest one, but it gets us to the table quicker than most other options).  The great part of pancakes is that the girls can easily get involved in helping.  There are plenty of easy measuring steps and pouring into a bowl to go around.  The difficult part, trying to come up with reasons why we can’t always put chocolate chips inside.

Dry Ingredients

1 1/2 Cups AP Flour

1 T + 1 t. Baking Powder

1 T + 1 t. Granulated Sugar

pinch of salt

*chocolate chips, sometimes optional


Wet Ingredients

2 oz. Melted Butter (or canola/vegetable oil)

1 egg

Milk or Buttermilk


  1. As you can see from the following photos, we sort of wing-it as far as measurements go.  It’s a ‘close enough’ type recipe, but a couple important technique steps involved.  Measure and pour all dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl. (multiple pictures of Amelia doing so, keep scrolling)

2. Add egg  (slightly crack egg on side of bowl, crush with tiny fingers until egg product spills mostly into bowl)

3. Pick out pieces of shell that will end up in there with said method.  We’ll get there!

4. Add exact amount of butter/oil.  The most accurate measuring device shown, directly from bottle (again, wing-it)

5. Pour in ‘pre-measured’ amount of milk/buttermilk directly from jug while gently whisking.  This is where the flour and milk now spill over edges of bowl and create a series of gloppy puddles and cover jammies, but it’s almost time to get dressed anyway, so it’s the washing machines problem soon.

6. This is the technique part that is important, DO NOT OVER MIX.  The small lumps of flour are the most important parts of FLUFFY pancakes.  The heat from the pan/griddle shoots these bad boys through the batter as they cook, which makes those air pockets causing the light and fluffy texture you are looking for.  If you overmix the batter, your pancakes will fall flatter than most of my dad jokes (including that gem)

7. We forgot the salt….

8. Spray cooking surface, should be heated to a medium high temperature. If using a griddle or flat top, I usually heat to 400 degrees.

9. Make sure to leave enough space in between each pancakes, ladle to desired size and WAIT for the flipping spots to show.

10. When you see the air pockets doing their thing (thanks to the flying flour bits) and the edges start to become dry, time to flip

*Managed to get them to eat this batch with no chocolate chips, but simply add to batter before ladling onto cooking surface. Now the fight over how much Maple Syrup is too much can begin! ENJOY, please share

Amelia vs. Gracie (round one, hard-cooked eggs)

Getting things started with an easy but important ‘recipe’.  My daughter, Gracie, loves hard-boiled eggs (when she is in the mood for them).  Amelia hates them, of course, which is par for the course.  They are both very opinionated, and rarely agree on much as far as food goes.  Basically the only things they both with eat without one of them whining about it are ice cream, chocolate anything, pepperoni pizza with banana peppers, and bleu cheese crumbles (weird, right).  Gracie will eat mashed potatoes, Amelia will gag at the thought of them.  As mentioned above, Gracie & Eggs work, Amelia won’t even entertain the idea of eating them.  Tacos: Soft-shell vs. Crunchy (dorito flavor). Doughnuts: Boston Creme vs. Pink Frosted. OJ: Pulp vs. No Pulp. Yogurt: Drinkable vs. Regular (with M&Ms or other junk in it, maybe that one doesn’t count!) You get the idea, total pain in the ass.  From meats to vegetables, starches, etc etc etc, the list goes on and on.  That being said, we sometimes have to make multiple items to please their irritating developing palates.  This ‘recipe’ is more of a basic technique.  The two most important aspects of cooking to me are simple, get the best ingredients, and use proper technique, that’s it! Cooking should be an enjoyable experience and does not need to be overly complicated.  The perfect hard-cooked eggs, will work out everytime if you follow these steps:

  1. Get some eggs (simple, right!) Find a great local farm, or a neighbor with chickens, or go to Giant Eagle or Stop & Shop because we all want to make time to source eggs from Bud down the way, but we need to be realistic here too!


2. Put the eggs in a small sauce pot, fill with COLD, SALTED waterimg_3469


3. Bring water to a simmer (notice I didn’t call them hard-boiled eggs, not looking for a hard rolling boil, but a fairly aggressive simmer).  When the water comes up to temp., set a timer for 9 minutes.img_3467


4. When your timer goes off, the eggs are done.  Remove from heat and place them in the sink, run cold water over them for a solid 2 minutes or so, you can add ice to the pot as well to speed up time for peeling.  Bang the cooked eggs on the table and roll to crack up the shell (if you want to mess with your kids, throw a raw egg in there and wait and see!)img_3487

PEEL & EAT (or store in an airtight container for 4-5 days after Gracie changes her mind and throw them away once you realize she didn’t eat any of them, which was the case here for sure)