Somewhere on the map of attitudes toward cooking — someplace between the Land of Drudgery (“Ugh, I’ve got to make dinner again tonight?”) and the Sea of Mystery (“How in the world do you braise?”) — lies the under-explored region I call Culinary Alchemy. This is the place where magic happens in the kitchen.

You take a few raw ingredients – the edible equivalent of base metals – mix them up, add some heat, and abracadabra! presto-change-o! voila! you’ve got a miraculously delicious dish. Culinary gold. You step away with raised hands (like the contestants on “Chopped”) wondering, “Did I make that?” You can hardly believe your own eyes, nose, and mouth.

In this New Year of 2013, I would urge everyone to explore this land of Culinary Alchemy, or “magical cooking.” Enroll in a local cooking class, invest in a few new cookbooks (especially those that emphasize healthier cooking), learn to enjoy cooking again – or, okay, for the first time – and in the process produce dishes that are not only fun to make but also beautiful, healthful, and tasty; dishes that are not too difficult, not too pricey, and not too spicy. As Goldilocks would say, “Just right.”

For an example of this delicious alchemy, I’ve chosen homemade egg pasta, cut into what Northern Italians call tagliatelle — long, flat ribbons. Made of little more than eggs and flour, the end result is truly magical – golden, silk-like ribbons worthy of the chicest restaurant. In fact, in the early 1970s Bologna’s chapter of Italy’s gastronomic society standardized tagliatelle’s dimensions by casting them in solid gold. This “golden rule” – an actual ruler 5/16 inch wide and 1/32 inch thick – has since held a place of honor in Bologna’s city hall.

My own recipe for tagliatelle has some whole wheat flour added to it for extra goodness, flavor, and an earthy color. Serve it with your favorite ragu or, even better, mushroom-cream sauce. If you don’t have a food processor or pasta maker, not to worry; Italian home cooks have been mixing, rolling, and cutting pasta dough by hand for centuries. You can do the same.

Whole Wheat-Egg Tagliatelle Pasta (“Silk Ribbons”)

1 cup all-purpose flour

½ cup whole wheat flour

½ teaspoon salt

2 whole large eggs

2 egg yolks

1 tablespoon olive oil

Add dry ingredients to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until combined. Combine wet ingredients in a small pitcher and, with the processor’s motor running, pour them slowly into the dry ingredients. The dough should begin to form a ball. (If it doesn’t, add about 1 teaspoon of water.) Wrap dough in Saran and refrigerate 1 to 24 hours. Follow pasta maker’s directions for rolling and cutting the pasta. If cutting by hand, roll the dough in smallish portions on a floured board as thin as possible and cut the pasta ribbons roughly ½-inch wide. Cook in a large pot of boiling, salted water until soft, about 2 to 3 minutes. Serve with butter or your favorite tasty sauce. Makes 4 servings.