Monday, August 10, 2009

Penne Pasta with Dubliner Cheese and Brown Butter Sauce

It had been a while since we had last used our pasta roller and we decided it was time. I remembered one of my mom's favorite dishes from The Old Spaghetti Factory: the famous spaghetti with mizithra cheese. If you search for it on the Internet (as I did) it turns out that everyone loves that dish and has tried to come up with their own version.

Well, the first thing to go wrong was that I couldn't find mizithra cheese. I went to four stores and had zero luck. I had read about someone using Dubliner cheese instead, so that's what I went with.

I got out the semolina flour and looked at the recipe. We wanted to use half semolina and half regular flour and we also wanted to half the recipe. Sound like an "oops" waiting to happen? Well it was. So I measured out one fourth of the semolina and then added another fourth of regular flour. But then I proceeded to fourth the rest of the recipe too when I was supposed to half it. I realized just in time for the last two ingredients, but didn't realize the biggest mistake of all.

I kneaded the dough like crazy, it was very elastic, like the recipe indicated. When it came time to roll it out it was an absolute disaster. It would not roll through! We had to push it between the rollers and when it finally came out the other side, it cracked and broke. The dough was just so dry! After the third time through the roller (you're supposed to do it ten times before you start thinning it) I started suggesting that we throw it away and use dried pasta. I'm way less stubborn than Brett (but still very stubborn.) Brett tried adding a little bit of water to his hands, but it did not help at all. Finally he asked, "Are you sure you halved everything correctly?"
"Yes, I halved everything correctly!" I said as I glanced over the recipe. And I wasn't lying, everything had been halved... and then some. Visions of the custard cup I had cracked the egg into danced in my head. I had halved that egg by eyeballing it... Brett had scrambled up the other half as an appetizer... oh no... the recipe calls for 2 eggs... so half of that would be one egg. I confessed my dinner ruining mistake and put a pot of water on to boil for the dried penned I had in the cupboard.

I was so mad at myself. We should know by now to write out the halved recipe, because we've messed up before. Brett threw the dough in the trash, I sulked and pouted for a few minutes, and then we got to work on the brown butter sauce. Melt butter, let it brown, slowly pour the liquid off over a seive (in case any solids get out.) It was very easy. Much easier than making pasta.

We coated the pasta in the brown butter sauce and tasted it before adding the cheese. "It reminds me of something," Brett said, trying to figure it out.
"Caramel!" I exclaimed, immediately recognizing the warm sweetness.
It was a little weird at first, but with the cheese on top, it was pretty delicious.

So our original plan totally went down the tubes, but it turned out to be a tasty dinner anyway.

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