When I first arrived to Moldova in 2010, I lived with the most wonderful woman named Maria. I can’t wait for you to meet her when we discover her kitchen later. I remember one day walking home for lunch and eagerly sniffing the lavender scent of the freshly laundered clothes hanging on the line as I made my way to the kitchen table. Pants, shirts, towels… what in the world? Draped between a faded towel and an extra large cream-colored bra was what looked like a stiff, leathery rag, pale yellow in color with a fine white powder all over it.
There were a lot of things I didn’t understand having only lived there for a few weeks, so I shrugged my shoulders and enjoyed Maria’s chicken noodle soup for lunch. It wasn’t until a year later when I visited Maria again that I realized that “rag” ended up in my soup that day. That’s how Maria dries her noodles! She was the only woman I encountered who dried her noodles by the sheet before cutting them, and on the clothes line nonetheless. If you choose this method, let the sheet of pasta dry no more than 15 minutes, depending on your climate. They are less likely to stick together when you cut them, but if you dry them too long, they will become brittle.
At a different Maria’s house, I can remember tasting for the first time a dish of homemade egg noodles and just about dying. They were so savory and cooked perfectly. I always looked forward to celebrations at Maria’s house because I knew those buttery noodles would always be there. The noodle recipe below is from Liza’s kitchen, and the cooking instructions come from Maria’s kitchen.
Homemade Egg Noodles
Homemade Egg Noodles (Tăieței de Casă) can be served as its own dish, with meat or added to soups.
- 1 cup unbleached all purpose flour 125 grams
- 2 XL egg
- 1/2 tsp salt 2 grams
Cooking the Noodles
- 4 quarts chicken stock, see note 2 L
- 4 Tbs butter 55 grams
Add slightly less than a cup of the flour, eggs, and salt to a small bowl. Mix with one hand while holding the bowl steady with the other. You should turn the bowl as you knead the dough, grabbing it from the outer edge inward and punching it down. If the dough feels a little sticky, keep adding the rest of the flour slowly. If it feels dry, but just keep kneading. I like to squish it between my fingers to incorporate all the sticky dough from my hands. Your hand should be somewhat clean if the dough has enough flour. It's done when it feels smooth and somewhat firm, like a balloon filled with flour. Move the dough to a floured surface, flatten slightly, and let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
Begin to roll out the dough, turning and sprinkling with flour to prevent sticking. If your dough is very dry you won't need to add as much flour. Roll from the center to keep the thickness of the entire sheet as consistent as possible. The edges should be as thin as the center. Keep rolling until the dough is at least 1/16 inch (2mm) thin. Ideally you want it 1/32 inch thin. So keep going! Once you've reached the desired thickness, give the dough (and yourself!) a break for 5 minutes.
Roll out the dough a few more times and then cut it in half. Set aside one half and cut the other in 1 1/2 inch (4mm) strips. Stack the strips on top of each other. Place your thumb and ring finger on each side of the stacked dough and move them in until you touch the dough on each side. This will act as a gate so the dough doesn't move when you cut it. I think it's easiest to rest your wrist on the table. Start to cut the dough by lightly sawing thin slivers with a sharp knife, being sure not to apply too much pressure.
When you get a clump of noodles, gently pick them up and sprinkle them around to loosen them up. Repeat with the second half of dough. Once all the noodles are cut and sprinkled evenly, let the noodles dry for 10 - 20 minutes, depending on room temperature.
Meanwhile bring a medium pot (at least 5 qt capacity) of chicken stock to a boil. Once the noodles are dried, sprinkle them into the pot being careful not to add too much flour. Cook for 5 minutes or until the noodles raise to the top. Drain the noodles and stir in the butter. Serve immediately.
You can easily save the drained chicken stock and use it for another dish.