Fresh Paint
Monday, October 27, 2008
Mrs. Maleska's Homemade Egg Noodles
When I was growing up outside NYC, Mrs. Maleska lived next door to us with husband, 2 young sons and a daughter about my age. She was one of the young moms in the neighborhood -- wore lipstick and had a decent haircut and shoes and listened to rock and roll on the kitchen radio. If I remember, Mr. Maleska was a civil engineer.

When I was no more than seven or eight, she showed me how to make egg noodles from scratch. It was so easy and casual, I immediately made up a batch at home for my grandma, and have made them ever since.

She didn't have any complicated equipment -- just a formica countertop (I seem to remember it being kind of old and a reddish color), a rolling pin, and a knife. I'm sure having a pasta machine would be great, but then you'd have to clean it and find someplace to set it up and store it (and if you're me, you'd be using it to print up etchings or linoleum blocks).

This is all you have to do:

Measure a cup of flour, stir in a half tsp of salt, then invert the cup measure onto the counter. Take away a little of the flour (a few spoonfuls) to add later if needed. Also have ready a small quantity of water that may or may not be used.

You can do it in a bowl if you prefer. I remember Mrs. Maleska doing on the counter top, so that's how I do it.

Make an indentation in the mound of flour, break an egg into it. Break the yoke and start pushing the flour toward the center. It will become a crummy looking mess, but be patient. It's very sensitive to humidity, dryness, etc., which is why I suggested reserving a little flour and water on the side, to be added judiciously to help create the dough.

Work it in your hands like a ball of silly putty (did I mention you should have washed your hands really well first?) back and forth, kneading it until all the ingredients are gone and the ball is fairly compact and smooth. You can let it rest at this point while you clean up a bit, if you want.

Pat the ball as flat as you can, then flour the rolling pin a little, and the counter too, and roll the dough as thin as you can, in all directions, flipping it over from time to time. You may find it easier to roll it in sections. Don't get crazy if you can't get it as thin as the noodles you buy at the store. These are homemade noodles and should look the part.

Cut the dough into thin strips with an ordinary sharp knife. An easy way to do it is to roll the dough up and cut through the roll, then unravel the strips.

You don't have to dry the noodles before cooking them, but if you want, you can dry them by spreading them out on the counter or a rack for an hour or so. When they're bone-dry, just stick them in a jar or plastic bag. You can probably freeze them too, but I never have.

To cook, drop into a pot of boiling water just like store-bought noodles, and make sure it stays at a rolling boil. They may be heavier than you're used to, so dig them off the bottom if they want to stay down there. How long it takes to cook them depends on how thick (not wide) they are -- maybe 10 minutes, maybe longer.

That's it. Since you went to all the work, you deserve to eat them with real butter, or put them in real, from scratch chicken soup.

You have been asking for my chicken soup secret and I will tell you just a hint today: think onion.

Here endeth today's cooking lesson.


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