Want a really easy way to impress guests with your skill in the kitchen? Serve them homemade noodles in beef, chicken or turkey soup. Jerri has been wowing me with her noodle-making ability for nearly five decades. Once she taught me how to make them, I was less awed by her skill but still impressed by how good they taste.
That’s because noodles are simple to make. They have only five ingredients, which may explain why people have been making noodles for over 4,000 years. As she was teaching me how to make them, she kept saying, “You can’t screw them up. If they’re too sticky, just sprinkle on more flour.” And she was right.
My mother made her noodles with just four ingredients– eggs, water, salt and all-purpose flour that we used to buy in 25-pound bags. My sister Patsy told me that when Mom taught one of her granddaughters to make noodles, she showed her how to measure the water with an eggshell. I don’t remember ever watching Mom make noodles, but she probably did it early in the day when I was at school. I sure ate a lot of them, however.
Jerri makes her noodles with semolina flour and uses milk rather than water for the liquid. Semolina is the high-gluten durum flour used by commercial pasta makers in Italy, and it makes delicious noodles. You can find it in the specialty foods section of many supermarkets today or at food co-ops. It has a slightly sandy texture that feels odd when you start to knead the dough, but it soon becomes smooth and elastic.
Jerri’s recipe makes about six cups of cooked noodles. Since you dry them before cooking, you can cook just the amount you need and store the rest. If you dry them completely you can put them in a plastic bag and keep them in a cabinet. We usually store them in the freezer. They seem a little tougher when we cook them after freezing, but we think that they are still good.
Here’s how to make a batch of noodles in no time at all:
2 cups semolina flour
1 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
All-purpose flour for kneading
Stir the salt into the flour in a mixing bowl. Beat the eggs until lemon colored, mix in the milk and stir the liquid into the flour and salt. Add a tiny bit more milk if necessary. Turn the dough out onto a bread board generously sprinkled with all-purpose flour and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, three or four minutes. The semolina will feel grainy as you start to knead the dough, but it will soon become smooth. Sprinkle more flour on the board if the dough is sticky.
Shape the dough into a ball and let it rest for five minutes or so. Cut the ball in half. Pat a half into a flat round, turning it on the floured board so both sides are well floured. Roll the dough very thin. We aim for noodles that are between 1/16 and 1/8 inch thick.
Using a pizza roller cutter, slice the dough into strips between 1/4 and 1/2 inch wide. Lay the strips on dish towels to dry for at least a couple of hours before cooking. Repeat for the second half. To make three cups of cooked noodles, bring three to four quarts of water to a boil, add two teaspoons of salt and half the dried noodles. Boil for 9 to 12 minutes.
If the noodles are very thin, test one for doneness after eight minutes, longer for thicker ones. Like all pasta, noodles should be cooked al dente, which means there should be a slight firmness when you bite through the noodle.
NOTES: If you are making the noodles for soup, just add the dried noodles to the soup and cook them until they have reached the al dente stage before serving. Taste and add a bit more salt if necessary. Homemade noodles are wonderful with goulash or pörkelt too.