1. 4 ounces of dry pasta per person is a normal serving.
2. Use at least 4 quarts of water per pound to cook your pasta.
3. Add approximately 1 tablespoon of salt per pound of pasta just before you add the pasta.
4. Stir the pasta often to prevent sticking. Never add oil in the water. This avoids the pasta sticking together when it cooks but also prevents your sauce to cling to the pasta.
5. One pound of spaghetti takes approximately 8 to 10 minutes to cook but check it frequently until it’s “al dente”.
6. As soon as the pasta is done, drain it in a colander. Do not run your pasta under cold water.
7. Return your pasta to the hot pot and mix in your sauce well.
8. Add your mixed pasta to a bowl and serve.
Live Clams Or Mussels
1. Never buy a clam that’s open or cracked.
2. Never eat a clam that won’t open after cooking.
3. Cook clams within 24 hours of purchasing.
4. You can soak your clams in salted water in the refrigerator for several hours; during this time they will purge themselves of sand and grit, which will be left behind when you remove them from the container.
5. Always brush clams clean before cooking.
6. If you’re preparing mussels, scrape away their beards with a knife and scrub them.
7. Use a stainless pot when cooking, covered. The hard shells will scratch a non-stick surface.
8. Don’t turn the heat too high or they will dry out. Very shortly you’ll hear popping sounds; the clams are opening.
9. The clams will be cooked in about 5 minutes. Don’t overcook, because that will toughen the clams.
10. Again, if any are not opened after cooking, discard them!!! Throw those out. Do not eat them.
Choosing The Right Olive Oil
In general, the better extra virgin olive oils come in glass bottles, and their labels will say where and when they were pressed. Be careful of oils that simply say “estate bottled”. Don’t worry if the oil is opaque, because it often is, nor should a bit of sediment upset you. Be wary, on the other hand, of overly green oil – that green could be from the olives, or it could be from leaves that got pressed with them. Also, be wary of an oil that is either extremely light colored, or far into the yellow (towards gold). The former could be tasteless, while the latter is almost certainly old.
- Extra-virgin olive oil comes from virgin oil production only, contains no more than 0.8% acidity, and is judged to have a superior taste. Extra Virgin olive oil accounts for less than 10% of oil in many producing countries. It is used on salads, added at the table to soups and stews and for dipping.
- Virgin olive oil comes from virgin oil production only, has an acidity less than 2%, and is judged to have a good taste.
- Pure olive oil. Oils labeled as Pure olive oil or Olive oil are usually a blend of refined and virgin production oil.
- Olive oil is a blend of virgin and refined production oil, of no more than 1.5% acidity. It commonly lacks a strong flavor.
- Olive pomace oil is refined pomace olive oil often blended with some virgin oil. It is fit for consumption, but may not be described simply as olive oil. It has a more neutral flavor than pure or virgin olive oil, making it unfashionable among connoisseurs; however, it has the same fat composition as regular olive oil, rendering it the same health benefits. It also has a high smoke point, and thus is widely used in restaurants as well as home cooking in some countries.
Olive oil has been used for thousands of years in cooking and is one of the cornerstones of the healthy Mediterranean diet. It is very versatile and, with its unique flavor and aroma, has become a must-have in the American kitchen. Different olive oils complement different foods and uses. Olive oil can be used for sautéing, browning, stir-frying, deep frying, as an ingredient in marinades and sauces such as mayonnaise, pesto, or romesco, and as a condiment, drizzled over various dishes. It is of course always appreciated as a bread dipper or simply dabbed on a toasted piece of country bread that has been scratched with a clove of garlic.
Think about olive oil as you would of wine. Use different olive oils for different purposes. Strong and robust extra virgin olive oils can be used for cooking fish, meat, to make marinades, or to drizzle on strongly flavored ingredients like peppers or garlic. A medium intensity, well-rounded extra virgin olive oil is great on mozzarella or for bread dipping. We love it in vinaigrette or sprinkled on various steamed vegetables and on baked potatoes. A mellow late harvest oil could be used in baking a cake or to make mayonnaise. Olive oil or virgin olive oil are good for frying and sautéing.
Excessively heating olive oil will evaporate the alcohols and esters that make up its delicate taste and fragrance. Use a less expensive olive oil that doesn’t have much flavor to begin with if you want to fry with it, add a more flavorful olive oil after cooking or at the table.
Oven Roasted Garlic
If there’s any ingredient that is both cheap quick and easy yet adds enormous amounts of flavor to your food, its garlic, and roasting it in the oven makes it irresistibly tasty. Preparing Oven Roasted Garlic:
1. Slice off the top of the garlic.
2. Drizzle 2 teaspoons of olive oil over the garlic, wrap it loosely in aluminum foil, and roast at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 40 minutes.
3. Remove the pulp from the garlic by squeezing it once it cools. You can spread oven-roasted garlic on bread or blend it in a food processor and add it to fish, steak, hamburgers, soups, or even throw it in a risotto.
The oven-roasted garlic can be kept in the fridge for up to a week.
The two most important elements of cutting tomatoes are the tomato itself and the knife. The tomato should be ripe, but not overly ripe. Make sure the skin is not wrinkled and that the texture is firm but not hard. The knife should be twice as big as the tomato and as sharp as possibly may be.
To use as much of the tomato as possible, use a small paring knife to cut out the root from the top. Do this in a V shape cutting and discard.
For slicing: Place the tomato so that the core is parallel to the cutting board. Slice the tomato into 1 inch slices, making sure the knife cleanly cuts through the entire tomato.
For quarters: Place the tomato so that the core is perpendicular to the cutting board, parallel with the knife. Slice the tomato in half. Slice each half down the middle in the same direction. You may need to do once more depending on the size of the tomato.
For dicing: Follow instructions for slicing, then quarter each slice. Tomatoes are messy. When dicing fresh tomatoes you will loose some of the seeds and insides. Let the seeds and insides separate and use the firm part of the tomato to cut into squares.
More to come…