For my boyfriend’s birthday, I wanted to make him something special. He often jokes that I haven’t made him homemade pasta since our third date. He is half Italian, so I was totally trying to impress him, and I guess it worked! In any case, I decided to bring out the pasta maker for his birthday. My go-to recipe is Martha Stewart’s spinach pasta, which I turn into linguine. The dough is very easy to make, the pasta is a bit time consuming but it’s SO worth it. The difference between box pasta and fresh pasta is like night and day. Make sure you have a lot of baking sheets, wire racks and wax paper handy – you need plenty of space to lay out and dry the sheets of pasta in between each stage. Be careful not to over boil fresh pasta, it only needs a few minutes before the noodles starts to float to surface.
Martha Stewart's Fresh Spinach Pasta Dough
- 1 block of frozen spinach defrosted
- 2 large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk
- 2.5 cups all purpose flour plus more for dusting
- coarse salt
Squeeze out excess liquid from spinach using a clean kitchen towel or paper towels. Puree with hand blender or food processor.
Add eggs and yolk to puree in food processor and process until combined. Or us a mixer on the lowest setting. Add flour and 1 heaping teaspoon salt, and process until dough just comes together, about 20 seconds (10 seconds in the mixer).
Transfer dough to a well-floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, 5 to 10 minutes, adding up to 2 tablespoons flour if dough is too sticky, or a tablespoon water if dough is too dry. Place on a piece of parchment, and cover with an inverted bowl, or wrap tightly in plastic; let rest for 1 to 2 hours.
Cut dough into 8 pieces. Working with 1 piece at a time (keep the remaining pieces covered with the inverted bowl), flatten dough into an oblong shape slightly thinner than the pasta machine's widest setting (number 1). Dust dough very lightly with flour, and feed through machine. Fold lengthwise into thirds and rotate 90 degrees. Repeat twice on same setting to smooth dough and increase its elasticity.
Turn the dial to next narrower setting. Pass dough through twice, gently supporting it with your palm. Continue to press dough, passing it through ever-finer settings, two passes on each setting, until sheet is almost translucent and very thin but still intact (number 5 of 8 on a KitchenAid pasta roller). The dough will stretch to about 16 inches long. If dough bubbles or tears, pass it through again, and dust with flour if the dough is sticking.
Place dough on a drying rack until slightly tacky, 10 to 15 minutes, and then use a pasta machine or cutting attachment to cut into strands. Drape over rack until strands are semi-dry and won't stick together, about 20 minutes.
Bring 4 quarts of water and 1 tablespoon salt to a boil.
Shake pasta loose and gently place in boiling water using tongs. Cook approximately 1.5-2 minutes or until pasta floats to surface.
Remove from water and drain immediately. Toss pasta with some olive oil.
My boyfriend is a big horror fan, but had never seen Phantasm, a must-see horror cult classic. So I added the film to the menu. When Phantasm was released in 1979, the film was ahead of it’s time in terms of how bizarre and surreal the premise was. Two orphaned brothers live in a small town in Oregon that is plagued by mysterious deaths. The local ice cream vendor Reggie, teams up with the brothers to pursue their suspicions that the local mortician, nicknamed the Tall Man is the one responsible for the unexplained deaths, including the deaths of their parents. Throughout their investigation they are pursued by shrunken dwarf-like minions, discover a gateway to another planet and try to take down the Tall Man without getting killed by flying Sentinel Spheres. These flying, metallic spheres contain the shrunken brains of the Tall Man’s victims that allow them to be controlled with his mind, and kill whomever is in their path with any number of drills, blades and lasers.
The film was a labour of love for the director, Don Coscarelli who also wrote, shot and edited the film. The budget was estimated at $300,000 and was filmed over weekends for a year, with the script changing frequently or being re-written on set. The process was as indie as you can get with even Coscarelli’s mother helping out with costumes, special effects and makeup. Despite the film’s many flaws, Phantasm became a cult film because of the way it dealt with the themes of death and mourning, themes that were unexplored in horror at the time, and for the use of iconic imagery from Angus Scrimm’s haunting portrayal of the Tall Man to his uniquely deadly Sentinel Spheres.
For appetizers I drizzled some olive oil over a toasted French baguette and topped it with duck terrine and a tomato, lemon, basil & olive oil mixture. I served the spinach linguine with a tomato based sauce that included broccoli, sausage and basil. I paired our dinner with a Hillier Creek Estates 2012 Gamay Noir – a bottle I had been saving for a special occasion. This slightly sweet Gamay paired well with the bruschetta, and the ripe acidity cut through the richness of the pasta sauce with hints of black pepper and blackberry tying the whole meal together.
We had a fun, relaxing evening and my boyfriend loved his special birthday dinner. One can never go wrong with homemade pasta, the Tall Man, flying hooded dwarves and deadly drilling spheres!