Monday, December 6, 2010

Macaroni thinks you're just dandy

What is a Yankee Doodle Dandy and has it to do with Macaroni?

Perhaps I should start with the Macaroni which is not what we know as macaroni, which is to say, it is not pasta.

A macaroni was a style of wig worn in the 18th century.  You will recognize it as the poofy, white powdered hairpieces worn in that era.

A person who was referred too as a Macaroni was a foppish young chap who was well traveled and very much into the fashions, mannerisms and tastes of Europeans of the day.  Macaronis were prideful snobbish boors . . . yes they were quite dandy.  Though, we would probably have a different word (or two) for them these days.

The term Yankee Doodle Dandy(1) was a derogatory song used by dandified British macaronis to poke fun at the less than fashionable colonialists.  I mean really . . . who would think that sticking a feather in one’s cap could be considered stylish?  Such shoddy frumps these silly Americans.

The colonialists would not be mocked, they took the song and turned it around to use as a rallying cry for independence.  It is now considered a patriotic song and is the state anthem of Connecticut.

Sing it with me . . .

Yankee Doodle went to town
A-riding on a pony,
Stuck a feather in his cap
And called it macaroni'.

Yankee Doodle keep it up,
Yankee Doodle dandy,
Mind the music and the step,
And with the girls be handy.

Make it with me . . .

Making your own pasta dough is probably way easier than you might think it is.  The  basic recipe for one pound of pasta calls for 2 ¼ cups of unbleached all-purpose flour, 3 large eggs and a pinch of salt.

You can, of course, make the pasta dough by hand but, I will be using my electric mixer

1.    Add the flour and eggs to the mixing bowl.
2.    Begin to mix the flour and eggs together with the mixture set to a low to medium speed. Use your mixer's dough hook.

3.    Add a pinch of salt to help accentuate flavors; without it the pasta will taste flat.
4.    Knead the dough until it is smooth-textured, very firm, and dry. If the dough is even a little too wet, it will be sticky, which will cause problems when you run it through the pasta machine or roll it out. The dough should be able to stick to itself, but to nothing else.
5.    When you can set the dough on a clean countertop without sticking, the dough is ready to be shaped.

6.    Portion the dough into the amounts you will need to make sheets of pasta. If you're a beginner, keep the balls of dough relatively small for easier handling--about tennis ball-sized. As you become more comfortable with the dough, you can shape larger pieces of pasta.

7.    Tightly wrap the pasta dough in plastic and let it sit at room temperature for about an hour to give the gluten a chance to relax. This makes it easier to work with and will keep the dough from shrinking and snapping back as you stretch it.
I use the Marcato Atlas pasta machine.  I tried a cheaper look alike and it in NO way compared to the quality . . . the other model broke literally the first time I used it.  

Place the cut pasta on a table cloth or drying rack, and leave it to dry for at least an hour.  Fresh pasta will keep for 1-2 weeks if stored in a cool, dry place.  Bring a pan of salted water to a boil.  Fresh pasta cooks in just 2-5 minutes, depending on its thickness. Stir gently and then drain the pasta once it has finished cooking.  Serve with your favorite sauce.

(1) "Yankee" was a mispronunciation of the word "English" in the Dutch language, and "doodle" came from a German word meaning '”simpleton”

All of the eggs I used in this recipe were courtesy of my good friends Stephanie and Phil.  
If you live in or near Connecticut and want farm fresh eggs, contact Stephanie for pricing and availability.

1 comment:

  1. Just checking to see if I can post a comment.