Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Hazelnut Pasta -- WOW so time consuming

Holy hell! I can't believe it's been a month and a half since I last posted. A lot has happened in the last 6 weeks. We went on our honeymoon! We went to El Salvador, and I REALLY reccomend it to people. It is beautiful and the people are so nice and there's so much to do. Volcanoes to climb, forests, beaches and a vibrant culture. It was amazing. We even got to watch gold medal olympic hockey due to the kindness of the resort staff, a vacationer with a laptop, and a spotty WiFi feed. Check out the story over at the husband's blog Cowhide & Rubber.

Anyways, I tried to blog about pupusas (national dish of El Salvador), and I tried to write about my disdain for those who refuse to eat out of their comfort zones, but it didn't work out. And then I decided to make hazelnut pasta. Spurred on by finding that Bob's Red Mill offered a hazelnut flour, I scoured the western end of the island of Montreal and didn't find any. I did manage to find finely ground hazelnuts, not quite at the level of 'flour' but I thought it would be fine enough.... oh it worked... but it took SUCH a long time. As it turns out they weren't ground fine enough. But I'm getting ahead of myself. The pasta recipe was as follows:

1 cup semolina
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 cup finely ground hazelnuts, or hazelnut flour
1 tbsp oil (preferrably a nut oil like walnut or hazelnut)
1/4 tsp salt
3 eggs (whisked together)

Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and add the eggs and oil. Remove your rings and dig your hands in! Mix together the ingredients until it becomes a flexible cohesive dough. If it is too dry add a little bit of water at a time until you acheive a ductile consistency. Roll the dough into a ball and cover with a tea towel or plastic wrap. Refigerate for at least half an hour.

Once it has rested, remove from the refigerator and chop the dough into manageable pieces (below) and cover the pieces with plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out.

After meticulously passing the dough through the pasta maker and collecting the scrappy shreds, putting it back together and passing it through again, this ragged strip is what I got. As I passed it through the increasingly tighter settings of the pasta maker, the pieces of nuts that were too large for the opening ripped through the dough. IT TOOK FOREVER. After I picked out the nut pieces that were too large it went fairly smoothly. But up until that point, it was utterly tedious.

Eventually I was able to get decent pasta out of it. Sure there's little holes in it, but over all, it looks okay. At this point I was really regretting not finding that hazelnut flour...

For the sauce I combined 2 shallots, about 1/2 a container of mushrooms (sliced), About 4 slices of bacon, chopped finely, 1 1/2 tbsp butter, 1/2 cup of white wine, and 1 tbsp chopped fresh sage.

Frying up the bacon and shallots in the fat of the bacon as it renders out, I added the mushrooms and continued to sauté until the mushrooms had browned slightly. I deglazed w/ the white wine and then added the butter to melt, finally tossing in the sage. I left it to cook for another minute or two and then tossed it with the freshly cooked pasta.

The final touch was a handful of shredded Comté cheese. It was a nice touch, adding some salt and a subtle nutty taste that complements the nuts in the pasta. All in all it worked out. It was super tasty and a real learning experience, but I threw out a lot of dough because I didn't have until 1 am to be making pasta. I will search for the elusive hazelnut flour and report back with new pasta and new photos.

A slow reentry into the blogging world, but I have another one planned very soon. The next one will focus on the upcoming event benefitting Wine to Water. We've partnered with Barefoot wines to bring you the first event of its kind in Canada. We're changing the format of the event to be a pairing event. If anyone is interested in being a food sponsor for pairings with Pinot Grigio or Zinfandel contact me and I will jump up and down repeatedly shrieking with glee.
And if anyone has any suggestions as to how to make the hazelnut pasta a little more efficient, please leave a comment. My hand is now asleep so I will leave you with that. Thanks again for taking the time to read this! xoxoxoox