White Wine Pasta ’cause it’s not Prohibition

“Then you pour rum on top while the cake is still warm,” Anna, my co-worker, instructs. We are eating her tres leches cake — the cake that caused a conference room to smell like rum during a meeting years past.

“Well, yes, because everything is better with alcohol,” I reason and pause. “I’d be so dead if I had to live during Prohibition.”

“No, we’d just be down in the speakeasy sipping on the cocktails,” Anna laughs.

“Yeah, and be dead from that. That was some bad alcohol back then.” I know because I’m in the middle of a book that tells me just how bad that alcohol was…poisonous even. Though, more about this next week.

Somehow it never occurred to me, before reading this book, that Prohibition meant no beers grabbed in the neighborhood bar after work nor wine sipped during a dinner party. No coq au vin or beer battered onion rings. At that moment, while eating my large slice of rum glazed cake, I start to feel very thankful for alcohol in the year 2010. Since it is the season for being thankful for what we’ve got, I decided this week should be a toast to this tasty elixir.

Before anyone’s judgment is solidified I am, of course, thankful for many other and less superficial things. However, when making a list of things you don’t want to be without you might as well include everything.

Over a year ago this pasta recipe was mentally filed into the To Make Someday folder. It sat there for a while because I’m not always convinced that homemade pasta makes it into the correct side of the time vs pleasure graph. I do not know what I am doing when making pasta. Multiple batches have been eaten only by my open trash can. Plus, all that rolling is extremely time-consuming and often the taste isn’t worth it.  Yet, for those specialty doughs you can’t find in the stores and can’t afford if you did the pasta machine is released from time out. While dusting a layer of flour over everything I make a wish that this will be one of the good times and hope that I am not foolishly expecting different results.

Which I guess means that I am also thankful for my pasta maker but, all the same, it will stay packed in the cupboard for many months at a time.  This time around wasn’t so bad. I made (and included the instructions for) a half batch. About a quarter turned out perfect as I can get, another quarter wasn’t bad and the last half was completed. None was thrown out. I’ll drink to that.

As for the sauce — spicy, buttery and delicious. It really was a shrimp scampi recipe (though nothing like how I remember scampi), but I really just didn’t feel like buying shrimp. The mushrooms were so simply packaged and offered so little choice and no de-veining, I couldn’t resist. I used the same wine for the pasta, the sauce and drinking. To keep things easy, you know.

White wine pasta dough
(from Cooking with Wine by Anne Willan)

1 ½ cups flour
1 egg
¼ cup dry white wine
½ teaspoon salt

Put flour in large bowl. Make a well in the middle of the flour. Lightly beat the egg then pour it, the wine and salt into the well. Using a fork gradually incorporate the flour into the egg and wine. Knead by hand for a minute. (I wasn’t able to mix in all the flour so don’t worry if you don’t either.) Divide into two sections, wrap loosely and refrigerate while getting your pasta maker out and set up.   Take out one section. Roll it out flat, let it sit while rolling out the other section. Then roll them through the fettuccine cutter. Though nothing says you have to make fettuccine out of the dough.

Cook pasta a few minutes (until the noodles start to float) in a large pot of boiling water. Drain and rinse with cool water.

White wine pasta sauce
(adapted from Shrimp Scampi found on cooks.com)

8 ounces mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
large drizzle olive oil
½ cup white wine
3 teaspoons Dijon mustard
3 teaspoons Worcestershire
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons lemon juice
large pinch salt

In a skillet, saute garlic and chipotle peppers in olive oil. Add in mushrooms and cook until done – a few minutes. Remove mushrooms. Add wine, mustard and Worcestershire to skillet. Cook on high about 3 minutes. Add in butter, lemon juice and salt and cook until butter is melted. Add in mushrooms.

Add pasta to skillet and toss. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and shredded asiago.

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