There are times when something just strikes my fancy and today marked one of those spells. Walking through the kitchen after straightening out the walk-in, I remembered my days in Baltimore. I cooked in some good restaurants and one such place was the Polo Grill by Johns Hopkins University.
The chef was very talented and the menu changed daily, a task that I personally would never undertake in an a la carte facility. We learned some great techniques at the Polo Grill and as I reminisced, I realized that I had not made squid ink pasta in years. Recalling that I now had the aforementioned cephalopod-goo on hand, it became a no-brainer. It was time to play.
So, grabbing the “00” flour and the squid ink, I headed for the nearest stand mixer. The flour is a special, finely ground product that lends itself well to pasta. If you make fresh pasta as much as I do, you will immediately tell the difference as the pasta from 00 flour will be tender and have a much smoother appearance.
This flour is just plain cool and it is the secret ingredient for many an Italian chef and pizza shop. You can buy it at a select few specialty markets, but more than likely you will have to buy it online when you buy the squid ink (chances are that the local stores will not carry this). There are plenty of sources available at the click of the finger.
I made the pasta while the students went through the process of creating different flavoring devices; dishes that you would add to other dishes to add immense flavor and little unhealthy factors. Good examples would be vegetable essences, tapenade, guacamole, baba ghanoush et al. Serving the pasta in a small pool of Kate’s celery-tomato essence was the perfect way to compliment the dish.
The fresh and vibrant flavors of the broth paired with the garlic and parmesan on the pasta, while the pasta itself was satisfying and full-flavored. It was an experience that I have waited way too long to re-experience.
And now that I have made this, I will continue to integrate it into our curriculum. Man, I love finding things in the fridge!
Squid Ink Pasta, Celery-Tomato Essence
1 pound Squid ink pasta (recipe follows)
2 Tbsp. Minced shallots
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
2 cups Tomato-Celery essence (recipe follows)
1 Tbsp. Diced fresh Italian parsley
1 Tbsp. Diced fresh basil
Parmesan cheese, shredded, as needed
1. When the past has rested and is ready to go, roll it through a pasta machine until it is nice and thin
2. Allow to air dry for about 45 minutes and then run through the Fettuccine setting
3. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta for 2-3 minutes
4. In a fry pan, heat some olive oil and cook the garlic and shallots, then add the cooked pasta
5. When everything is ready to go, place the pasta in a large bowl and surround with some of the celery essence
6. Top with the herbs and parmesan
Squid Ink Pasta
3 cups 00 Flour
4 Large eggs
Tbsp. Squid ink
1. I could be old fashioned and tell you to put the flour on a table, making a well and then slowly incorporating the remaining ingredients
2. Or, I can tell you to simply throw everything in a stand mixer with a dough hook and turn it on three until it is well combined and kneaded. I like this way myself. If the dough is too stiff, you can sprinkle a small touch of water to make sure that all of the flour is incorporated
3. Once the machine has run for 8-10 minutes, turn it off and cover the bowl with a kitchen towel
4. Let the dough sit for an hour and then it is ready to roll (see first recipe)
2 cups Celery juice
1 cup Tomato juice
1 sprig Fresh thyme
3 ounces Whole unsalted butter
Salt and Pepper, as needed
1. Take your juice and place it with the thyme in a saucepan
2. Bring to a simmer and reduce by half
3. Pull of the heat and whisk in the butter and season as desired
4. Keep warm until ready to serve