Making ‘hilopites’ (Greek egg noodles)

Every Saturday, Ergani, a weaving studio and store in Poros town that owner Eleni Pavlou is transforming into a ‘creativity center’ for crafts—artistic and culinary!

Katerina Sakelliou, who runs the Odyssey Cooking Center in Askeli, and her mother Theano (whose taverna has tantalized the tastebuds of everyone who has ever set foot on Poros) shared their family recipe and technique for making ‘hilopites’, the traditional Greek peasant pasta.

Sift the flour. Theano recommends using whole grain wheat flour (“starenio”) because it also contains the wheat semolina and a little all-purpose flour. Keep the two flours separate.

In a large mixing bowl or plastic tub, beat 5 eggs with a “pinch” of salt until pale and frothy. Beat in 5 “glasses” milk. (Greek cooks traditionally measure quantities in water glasses; the capacity is roughly 180 to 200 ml thus 5 glasses is roughly 1 liter.) Sheep’s or goat’s milk is traditionally used but because of their strong flavor most homemade noodles are now made with cow’s milk.

Stir in about 5 glasses of the whole grain wheat flour. When thoroughly combined add more flour.

As batter thickens into dough, begin kneading.

Gradually add more flour as the dough begins to form. You can also add a little all-purpose flour too. (For this batch, Theano used 6 eggs, 10 cups wheat flour, and 2 cups all-purpose flour.)

When the dough is firm enough to come away from the edges and can be shaped into a soft ball, turn out on a flat, clean surface lightly dusted with all-purpose flour and knead.

Keep kneading—and if needed add a little more flour. Dust surface with flour to keep dough from sticking.

Knead until the dough is firm and elastic. Katerina says that the warmth from your hands (or from the food processor if you opt to use one) helps release the flour’s gluten so that the dough becomes elastic.

Cut off a small piece and roll between your palms to shape into a small ball.

Pat and place on flat surface. Lightly dust with flour and roll out using rod-like rolling stick.

Pick up, dust surface with flour, turn, and roll out.

Roll out using the balls of your hands, using light but consistent pressure…

…until dough reaches noodle-thickness.

Kneel or bend to table level and gently blow on the dough from the side (as if blowing out birthday candles). It’s the right thickness when it lifts off the table.

Lift off table using the rolling stick…

…and set on a flat surface covered with a clean white cotton sheet. Leave in a cool dry place to dry; leave long enough so that it won’t stick to the knife.
Meantime, roll out remaining dough.

Pick up using rolling stick and unfold in layers. Cut off a piece, place on a wood cutting board and cut into noodles using a non-serrated knife.

Leave in strips if you prefer ‘lazania’ or cut into squares for ‘hilopites’.
Spread an old clean sheet over any large flat surface, like a guestroom bed or table. Place noodles on linen and leave for several days until completely dry. When hard, transfer to plastic bags, secure, and store until ready to use. (The ideal pasta bag is an old cotton pillowcase.)
D. Shugart