You ever meet someone who was a legend? I’m not talking like David Bowie or Oprah (though it’d be cool to meet them as well) but someone who was legendary within your group of people. My friend, Francine, is one of those people. We both attended the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem, Israel during different years. She became very close with one of my most favorite people, Annie. So, when we were living in Ann Arbor, around the corner from aforementioned favorite person, Annie, and decided to move to Miami to further my husband’s Marine Biology career, Annie suggested we contact Francine and her hubby, Adam, who were already living here. I was a little nervous. I’d heard so much good stuff about Francine (and some about Adam . . . I guess. Haha, just kidding buddy. There was some actual good stuff about you too. For real!) that I was a bit intimidated. She’s smart, funny, very kind and, a great cook. I was just dabbling in cooking. She sounded perfect. I had a lady-crush on her from afar and I hadn’t even met her yet! I eventually called them but spoke with Adam instead. So, she remained a mystery until we moved here. Then finally, FINALLY, someone invited the other to the other’s house and we got to meet and seriously, all the stuff was true. She actually was funny, kind, smart but still, I hadn’t eaten the food yet. THE FOOD! Eventually, we scored a highly coveted invite to their place for shabbat dinner and that didn’t disappoint either. All this awesomeness took place within the first 3 months of moving to Miami and 2 and a half years later, Francine and Adam (and now Matan, their 2 year-old), remain our closest friends in town.
There have been so many meals-shared since plus a few camping trips, farm-outtings, and beach-visits in between but we had NEVER cooked together. So one day, I suggested that we get together for a day of epic cooking proportions. Why had we not thought of this sooner? Coming up for a theme of what to cook was a little difficult but I have a “Cooking Bucket List” for the summer and on it was making my own pasta. Francine was game, thank heavens (I’m telling ya, she’s super nice). I consulted a beautiful Kosher Italian cookbook my husband and I received as a wedding gift and decided upon a pasta recipe. The sauce was made up on the fly after a bit of trial and error. Unfortunately, I didn’t write down the EXACT measurements so I’m going on memory. It was a hectic but awesome day. See below. And even if you don’t end up making your own pasta, I HIGHLY recommend the sauce and the dessert, both of which are pretty versatile. Bitayavon!
Because I am sharing this post with Francine, you can find the delicious recipe for the dessert, Florentine with Nutella and Powdered Sugar, can be found on her blog, Feta and Arepa.
Homemade Fettuccine with Pesto Cream Sauce
(Pasta recipe from Edda Servi Machlin’s Classic Italian Jewish Cooking)
2 1/2 to 3 Cups of Unbleached Flour
4 Egg, Slightly Beaten
1 1/2 Cups of Fresh Basil, Tightly Packed
3 Cloves of Garlic
1/3 Cup of Parmesan
1/2 Cups of Walnuts
1/4 Cup of Olive Oil
For Cream Sauce:
4 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
4 Tbsp Unbleached Flour
1 Cup Heavy Cream
For Pasta with Hand Operated Machine:
Mound part of the flour on a large board or other working surface and make a well at the corner. Pour in the eggs. With the aid of a fork, mix the eggs and flour very gradually until a soft paste is formed. With your fingers mix in enough additional flour to make a firm, but not too hard, dough. Knead for about 5 minutes, or until the dough is smooth. Place in an unfloured dish; cover with an inverted dish and let rest in the refrigerator for about 1/2 hour.
Take one-quarter of the dough at a time and begin the thinning. With the rollers set at the first slot (farthest apart), feed the dough between the rollers or to the machine, that means the dough is too soft and more flour must be added. Fold and feed with the rollers set at the same slot 3 to 4 times, until the sheet comes out in one piece (but not too smooth). Move on to the second slot and feed the sheet only once. For fettuccine, you will stop at the next to the last slot. Keep on moving until the desired thinness is obtained. Repeat with the remaining pasta, using one-quarter of the original quantity each time. Use as directed in each individual recipe. (Pasta made with only eggs and flour is very elastic and tends to shrink. However, the second time through it keeps its shape better).
Once pasta is finished, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the pasta and stir. Bring to another boil and reduce heat to medium and let cook for roughly 7 minutes. Drain and place in a bowl.
Sauce “How To”:
Place the basil in the processor together with the garlic, nuts, parmesan and a dash of salt and pepper. DO NOT ADD THE OLIVE OIL YET. Process the ingredients while slowly adding in the olive oil during the pulsing process. Taste. Add more salt if necessary (Be careful my kosher brethren. That kosher parmesan can be salty). Transfer the sauce to another bowl.
Meanwhile, prepare the cream base by melting the butter on medium heat in a large saucepan. Once melted, add the flour one tablespoon at a time, whisking in between each addition of flour so that it’s smooth. Turn the heat down to a simmer and add the heavy whipping cream. Cook over simmer for another 3 – 5 minutes, stirring frequently until the sauce thickens a bit. Turn the heat off and stir in the pesto. Add the mixed sauce to the bowl of cooked pasta and stir to incorporate. Top with some shredded parmesan and fresh basil.