Great Barrington — Like so many others in the southern Berkshires, Hank Ferlauto was a frequent visitor here before moving to Great Barrington. Ferlauto, who describes his youth as “a latchkey kid,” started cooking as a youngster. Today, he likes cooking for dinner parties that feature three or four courses. “It’s my favorite thing to do,” he says. Despite, or perhaps because of that, he enjoys browsing through cookbooks, and finding interesting recipes online.
Ferlauto not only cooks at home, but is a volunteer chef at the Monday night dinners at Berkshire South Regional Community Center. A regular at the Center’s aerobics classes, he learned about the dinners they provide, and promptly signed up to help out. On the Monday nights he volunteers, he cooks, plates, sets tables, readies the bread to put out, and the like. He also gives classes in his own incredibly well-equipped kitchen. Lately, he has taken some time off from teaching, but he plans to resume his classes at his home in the near future.
For general elucidation and helpful hints, he watches a variety of cooking shows hosted by such food titans as Lydia Bastianich, Nick Stellino, Herbert Keller and Jacques Pepin. Beginning in May, Berkshire South will provide monthly “hands on” classes. The space they are providing can accommodate up to 16 students who will be able to eat what they have just cooked in the class.
Cooking for Ferlauto and his wife can be challenging since she does not eat meat, and he does not like the taste of fish and seafood. But he is clever in the kitchen and can easily overcome the limitations of their individual taste. Given his talents, it is not surprising that he enjoys entertaining, and does so often.
When I visited Ferlauto at his home recently, he showed me how he makes his own pasta. The only implement you may not have is a pasta noodle roller that is listed at a local housewares store for under $30.
Dough for pasta
2 cups all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Put all ingredients in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Run until the dough comes to a “ball stage.” You may have to put a few drops of cold water into the dough while the processor is running until the dough comes together.
Remove the dough from the processor and knead for about a minute. If the dough is too sticky, you may need to roll it in a bit more flour. Shape the dough into a disk and wrap it in plastic wrap. Let it rest for a half hour.
Cut dough into four equal pieces. Take each piece of dough and flatten with your hands or a rolling pin so that it can fit into the pasta machine at its widest setting. Put each piece of dough through the pasta machine, repeatedly folding the dough in half each time until the pasta becomes smooth, about 7 or 8 times.
After you have done this to all four pieces, take each piece and run it through the machine, reducing the setting to the next lower setting until the pasta has gone through the low setting you like for the type of pasta you like. When the pasta sheets are all prepared, you can cut each of them into the pasta size you want.
Ferlauto made a simple “aglia e olio” to dress the pasta so I could taste it. This sauce could not be easier. Simply put a half cup of olive oil and 4 cloves thinly sliced garlic into a small saucepan, Slowly cook, and add about 2 Tablespoons drained and rinsed capers to taste. Just before serving, add some chopped parsley to the pasta and toss. Top it off with Romano or Parmesan cheese. Then eat.
The proportions in this recipe will serve 8 people for an appetizer course. And you’ll be very happy you did this because the pasta is delicious.