October 6, 2008
Natural Homemade Pumpkin Puree
What You Need:
1 large pumpkin
How to Make It:
Using a very sharp knife remove the stem from the pumpkin.
Cut the pumpkin into 8 wedges.
Remove the seeds and pulp making sure that the pumpkin is completely clean.
Place the pumpkin wedges into a large roasting pan.
Bring the oven temperature to 325 degrees.
Place the pumpkin wedges in the oven, uncovered and roast 60 minutes.
Reduce the heat to 300 degrees and continue baking 2 hours.
The pumpkin meat should be fork tender and no liquid should be visible under the skin that has formed.
Turn off the oven but leave the pumpkin wedges in the oven with the oven door slightly cracked to ventilate for 2 more hours.
Remove the wedges from the oven and cut away any skin or exceptionally dry pieces of meat.
Place the wedges into the blender or food processor.
Puree until you achieve the smooth texture you are looking for.
Use the puree in your favorite pumpkin dish or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Serving amount depends on the size of the pumpkin.
When removing the dry parts of the meat after roasting remember that even though it is dry it is still tender enough to use. The parts that may be too dry and not usable will be around the area of where the stem was cut away. Also when you puree the meat you will have to scrape and stir the pieces for a few minutes. They are too heavy to move on their own until they begin to liquefy and loose the heaviness.
June 15, 2008
Cooking The Perfect Pasta
Even though relatively easy to cook, many people still have a hard time cooking pasta to perfection. In some cases, the pasta may be overdone or not done enough, either way it makes it difficult to eat. However, we are here to the rescue, we have the perfect recommendations for cooking your pasta to perfection each and every time, no matter what type of noodles you are using, macaroni, egg noodles, spaghetti noodles, you name it.
The best way to measure your water is by the noodle pound. Sounds funny does it not? However, what we really mean is for every pound of pasta you are cooking, you want to have at least four to six quarters of water boiling. In other words, if you are cooking two pounds of pasta, you want eight to twelve quarts of boiled water and so on.
Do not add the pasta before the water has boiled. Many people think that this saves time, the reality is it does not save you any time and can lead to sticky, gooey noodles. Therefore, make sure you wait until the water has come to a complete boil before you start adding your noodles. When adding the noodles be sure you do so while stirring, then allow the water to return to its boiling state.
It is necessary to occasionally stir the noodles while you are cooking them, this keeps them from sticking to the bottom of the pan or sticking together. Whatever type of noodle you are using, it is likely that you took them out of a package. Each manufacturer provides you with specific directions on cooking their pasta, it is important to follow these directions as specified for the amount of time the noodles should be cooked.
If you are precooking noodles that are going to be included in a recipe that needs more baking or cooking, you should make sure to reduce the traditional cooking time by at least a third, so that the pasta does not become overcooked during the second process.
How can you tell if the noodles are done? It requires a taste test. You need to take one of the noodles and taste it. You want the noodle to be cooked through, but firm when you bite into it. Another important tip about noodles is to be sure that you do not allow the noodles to sit in the water after being cooked. They need to be immediately drained and the recipe followed from there. Many people believe that you need to rinse your noodles after cooking and draining, however, this is only true if you intend to make a cold dish or if you are not immediately serving the noodles.
June 15, 2008
Fresh Homemade Pasta, Part 2
In the previous article, we took a look at how Italy and pasta just fits hand in hand. We also got started on learning how to make fresh, homemade pasta on your own. We went through mixing the dough what ingredients and techniques are used, and then went on to forming the balls and letting them rest. Now it is time to finish up how to make fresh homemade pasta and start rolling the pasta getting it ready to go.
If you really want to go the easy route, invest in what is called a pasta machine. They are used to roll pasta in far less time than using a rolling pin, and makes it so much easier to make your fresh pasta. However, if a pasta machine is not something you have or want, pick up your trusty rolling pin and let’s get started.
Using your hands, flatting the first ball of dough in the palm. You want the finished thickness to be roughly half an inch. If you are using a slot machine, you want to be sure that the width is the same size or smaller than the width of the pasta machine slot. When feeding the pasta machine, make sure you keep hold of your pasta, but avoid pulling it as it goes through the machine. You usually want the setting of the machine to be at a one.
Now that you have gone through the first process, you now feed the pasta through the machine again, but on the next smaller setting. Keep this process going until you have fed the pasta through the machine right through to its last setting.
Through the process of rolling your dough, the pasta sheet will continue to grow, be careful so that you do not tear the pasta as you are rolling. The finished product, after rolling, will result in pasta dough that is roughly one sixteenth of an inch in thickness.
Now the fun really begins, making the actual noodles. It is highly likely that your pasta machine has some sort of cutting adapter. Place the adapter on the machine and start feeding your dough into your blades. It is generally a good idea to make sure you have one hand near the center to catch the dough as it is cut. Of course, if you are not using a machine, you can always use a pizza cutter or kitchen knives to do the job for you.
Now that you have done the hard work, you need to immediately place all cut dough on some sort of rack or dowel for drying. If this is not feasible, use a towel and lay the pasta flat on the towel. After drying, your pasta is ready to go.