Saturday, February 26, 2005

The Adventurer Makes His Culinary Debut

I decieded the other night, after cooking spaghetti in Spotswood in a fit of hunger-induced desperation, that it was time for me to learn how to cook pasta. Also, I wanted to cook pasta with a sauce that was something other than canned. So I asked Dymphna the best way to cook an alfredo sauce and got some high-quality intel.
So yesterday I went to Food Lion and got the following things:

-basil
-oregano
-italian seasoning
-rotini (12 oz)
-fettucine (16 oz)
-two pints of heavy whipping cream
-parmesan cheese
-a four cheese tomato sauce (hey, sometimes the canned stuff comes in handy)
-three broccoli crowns
-a bag of baby carrots
-butter
-garlic bread
-ginger ale
-seltzer

My surefire method for cooking vegetable alfredo rotini:

Put one pint of the cream on the stove at a fairly low temperature. It's really up to you...as long as you're whisking the stuff pretty well it won't burn. Put the rotini in a big pan and fill with water. I don't have any truck with the measurements of water they put on the pasta package, so I would recommend filling the pot up with water until it seems right to you. If you overfill--eh, it just takes a little longer to boil. Cook the rotini on HIGH. (Add a couple pinches of salt while it's cooking if you so desire.)

Get out the seltzer and a can of juice and mix self a drink. If one is living in somewhere other than a substance-free dorm, beer is also a good choice. I would recommend Heineken or Amstel.

Make sure the cream isn't getting too hot too quickly, then cut up a broccoli crown and some baby carrots. Again, it's up to you...I kind of guesstimated. One crown was enough for 12 oz of rotini--it's better to be generous with vegetables and meat, in my opinion. Fifteen baby carrots or so should be plenty, but it's really your call.

Put the vegetables in a pot of water and bring to a slow boil. Add basil and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese to the cream sauce and whisk vigorously. (I actually added more cheese to the sauce than was called for. If you like your sauce to have lots of body--and I do--then knock yourself out.) Check the rotini--if they're boiling, turn the knob to around MEDIUM or so. I'd suggest dipping into the pan and getting a few noodles out to test the texture.

When the rotini seem to be at a good texture, you can turn the knob to OFF. If the vegetables aren't boiling or don't seem soft enough, you can wait for them. Add a bit more basil to the cream sauce and keep whisking it. Once the vegetables are boiling, drain the rotini quickly and then put them back in the pan. Have butter and olive oil waiting. I would suggest two "chunks" of butter to the mix, a chunk being about a quarter of an inch in thickness. If you don't have a ruler, then use your own judgement. Same goes for the olive oil...I didn't even use a measuring device on this one. After adding your own personally preferred amounts of olive oil and butter, pour the cream sauce over it and stir it like crazy. I don't have a pasta fork so I made do with a mixing spoon. Toss the pasta until the sauce is spread evenly throughout.

Open ginger ale, apply liberally to tonsils and esophagus.

Add oregano/italian seasoning/salt/potrzebie to the pasta. If you're making a large batch (and you probably are, since these are directions for enough pasta to feed a family) then you will probably have to add a LOT of spices to make an overall difference to the flavor. If you're unsure, add a little at a time and keep taste-testing until it's a flavor you like.

Heat garlic bread in microwave or pan for a little while to get it nice and hot. Get another ginger ale. Collapse on futon to enjoy the triumph of one's culinations.

1 Comments:

Blogger Dymphna said...

You are on your way!

Most significant sign that you will achieve foodie stardom: confidnece enough not to measure and to trust you experience...

...Of course you have to learn from said experience, too. It helps to read cook books for fun and then try something on your own.

Cooking a good dish and sharing it with others is one of life's great joys and comforts. It never gets old since hunger always returns.

Glad you started Italian. Now there's the joy!

I'll dig you up some good cookbooks. Like the one by Father Capon who manages to make delicious food to suit the liturgical year and writes sooo well. Or MFK Fisher, who is a classic. Or the Gold Cookbook just for the funny stories. Avoid cookbooks that aren't written well. Even teh basics ought to be entertaining.

Mangiare bene!

3:27 PM  

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