No kitchen is complete without basic staple ingredients such as pasta, rice, flours, sugars, oils, and flavorings. These items provide the basis for almost every type of cooking and combine well with fresh ingredients.
There are more than one hundred different dishes, but many shapes were designed with pasta shapes. Most of them are versatile a particular sauce or type of food in mind. Dried and are suitable for serving with a wide variety of pasta keeps well in a pantry or cabinet.
Choosing and Using Pasta
Basic Shapes Examples Cooking Suggestions
Long, Round Pasta
Long, round pasta is available in many thicknesses and includes types such as spaghetti, long macaroni, and buccalini (a thick, hollow spaghetti). Vermicelli (little worms), capellini (fine hair), and capelli d’angelo (angel hair) are very fine kinds of pasta that are traditionally dried and packed in curls that resemble birds’ nests.
Use olive-oil-based sauces such as pesto to keep the strands slippery and separate. Use rich tomato, cheese, and meat sauces with spaghetti or buccatini. These are firm pastas that will not be weighed down by the sauce. Choose light tomato, butter, or cream sauces for serving with vermicelli-type pastas to keep the delicate strands intact.
Lasagne is a broad, flat pasta, and may be smooth, ridged, or wavy-edged. Lasagnette is a narrow type of lasagne. Tagliatelle and pappardelle are wide, flat kinds of pasta. Tagliarini, linguine (little tongues), and irenette are narrower versions. Fettuccine, traditionally made with egg, is narrower and thicker than tagliatelle. Use no-boil lasagne in baked lasagne recipes to shorten preparation time. You may need to increase the liquid content of the recipe; consult the package directions.
Choose thick, ribbon pastas for egg-based carbonara sauces, since the large surface area helps cook the sauce quickly. Toss cooked tagliatelle in a sauce or oil immediately after draining to separate the strands.
Short, Shaped Pasta
Fusilli There is a seemingly endless choice of short pasta shapes, the most popular being penne (pens or quills), faifalle (butterflies or bows), fusilli and fusilli bucatti (spirals or springs), conchiglie (shells), orichiette (ears), luinache (snails), and ditali (fingers of glove or thimbles). Pastina is a general term for tiny pasta shapes such as farfallini, lumachine, stelline, and ditalini. Use penne, fusilli, lumache, and conchiglie with chunky tomato or meat sauces, or with ragu, which will penetrate into the pasta hollows.
Make a pasta pie from leftover cooked short pasta. Layer with a savory sauce, top with cheese and bake. To make a soup more substantial, sprinkle in a handful of any type of pasta near the end of cooking.
Storing and Using Pasta
Pasta is available fresh or dried in a variety of shapes, and all types are an excellent source of fiber and carbohydrate. Dried pasta stores well and is a useful standby ingredient for everyday meals and last-minute entertaining. Whole-grain pasta is a healthy option.
Keeping long pasta: Keep several types of long pasta in one container, but tie each type into a bundle with raffia to avoid mixing them.
Drying a spaghetti tin: Always wash a spaghetti tin or jar with a mild detergent before refilling it. Dry with a cloth, and use a hair dryer to finish drying the inside thoroughly. Then fill with a fresh supply of pasta.
Using Leftover Pasta
Using up pasta: If just a small amount of pasta is left in the package, cook all the pasta, and use the leftovers in salads, soups, and omelet fillings.
Making a pasta mix:Keep leftover pasta shapes that have similar cooking times together in an airtight container. Farfalle, fusilli, and conchiglie can be mixed together and used in everyday pasta dishes.
Serving Pasta Shapes
Encouraging children: Make meals more fun for children by using the alphabet or animal shapes, or other pasta shapes in a variety of everyday meals.
Using whole-grain pasta: Choose whole-grain pasta for high-fiber, healthy pasta dishes. If you find that whole- grain pasta is too heavy to eat on its own, mix it half-and-half with refined pasta that is the same shape.
Types of Oriental Noodle
Rice noodles: Rice noodles, made from rice, are available in different thicknesses and shapes. They are usually dried and should be soaked in warm water for 15 minutes before cooking. Use in soups and stir-fries.
Cellophane noodles: Also called bean-thread or pea starch noodles, these are made from mung beans. They are fine and white and are available dried in neat bundles. Soak for five minutes before adding to soups or braised dishes.
Wheat and egg noodles: These noodles are usually made from wheat or buckwheat flour and egg. Choose flat noodles for use in soups and rounded noodles for stir-fries, or cook them on their own and serve as a side dish with vegetables.
• Bulking out salads: Keep some fine-thread Chinese or Japanese noodles in your pantry. Soak in hot water for 5-10 minutes, then drain and toss into salads to make them more substantial.
• Frying noodles: If you are frying cellophane noodles, there is no need to soak them first. Just add die noodles straight from the package to hot oil, and fry until crisp.
• Substituting in special diets: Many types of noodle, such as rice and cellophane noodles, are suitable for people on a wheat-free diet. Substitute these noodles in recipes that specify wheat pasta.
Choosing and Using Grains
Grains are one of the world’s most nutritious staple foods. They are a good source of protein and carbohydrate and contain valuable minerals. Whole grains are high in fiber. Keep a variety of whole and refined grains in your pantry to use in different dishes.
• Storing white rice: Keep white rice in an airtight container stored in a cool, dark place. Whole, polished rice will store well for about one year if kept at room temperature. Ground rice will keep for up to six months.
• Storing whole grains: Store whole grains for a maximum of six months before use. After this time, the oil content of unrefined grain turns rancid from exposure to heat, light, and moisture.
• Mixing grains: Brown rice and wild rice can be stored and cooked together. They require similar cooking times, and they look interesting when mixed together in risotto- and pilaf-style dishes.
Measuring & Storing Rice
Marking quantities: Store rice in a clear, straight-sided container that is marked off in Vi cup (125 g) measures. Use the measure as a guide to pour out the correct amount of rice. Cook white rice with twice its volume of water – 1 cup (250 ml) water for every % cup (125 g) rice.
Common Types of Grain
Grains form the basis of many main-course dishes, and can be served as a nutritious side dish. Check the instructions on the packet before cooking.
• Long-grain rice :This may be brown car white, and it has a slim, long grain.
• Short-grain rice: Short-grain rice is soft when cooked. It is ideal for rice pudding.
• Basmati rice: This is a very flavorful, long-grain rice.
• Glutinous rice Used mainly in Chinese dishes, this round-grain rice has a sticky texture.
• Arborio rice: This medium- grain rice absorbs more liquid than other types of rice.
• Wild rice: This grain is the seed of a wild aquatic grass.
• Cracked wheat: A processed wheat, this is also called bulgur.
• Couscous: This is a processed grain made from semolina.
Eggs are a versatile cooking ingredient that can be used to thicken, aerate, enrich, bind, coat, or glaze sweet and savory foods. They can be enjoyed as a complete food in themselves, whether fried, boiled, poached, or baked.
Fried eggs need not be unhealthy, especially has a nonstick surface, you will need only an if you choose a light, unsaturated oil for minimal amount of oil. To remove excess fat, frying. If your frying pan is of good quality or drains eggs on a paper towel before serving.
Enclosing a filling: To make a filled omelet, fold over one side to the middle using a spatula. Tip the frying pan, and slide the omelet down, then flip the other side over neatly to enclose the filling.
Preventing Eggs from Sticking: Start with a clean pan when frying eggs. If the pan has been used to cook other foods, such as bacon, the eggs may stick.
Shaping Fried Eggs
Using cookie cutters: Heat shaped cutters in a frying pan with oil. Pour an egg into each cutter, holding the cutter if necessary with a spatula, and fry. Run a knife around the inside of the cutter to remove the egg.
To “fry” an egg without fat, place a heatproof plate over a pan of boiling water. When the plate is very hot, break an egg onto it. The egg should set in about eight minutes.
Preventing Eggs from: Using a clean pan Start with a clean pan when frying eggs. If the pan has been used to cook other foods, such as bacon, the eggs may stick.
Choosing oil: Use a good-quality, light oil for frying eggs, such as sunflower or corn oil. Heat the oil, and cook the eggs over moderate heat.
Using a Microwave Frying: on a browning dish.Preheat a browning dish according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and lightly brush the surface with oil. Break an egg onto the browning dish; the heat will brown the base of the egg. Prick the yolk with a toothpick to prevent it from bursting, and cover with a paper towel. Cook on High for about one minute. Allowing standing time When cooking scrambled eggs in a microwave, remove them just before they set. Stir, and let stand for one minute. The eggs will finish cooking in the residual heat and have an even, creamy consistency.
• Lightening: For scrambled eggs that are light and fluffy, beat in some carbonated water just before cooking.
• Enriching Add: a dash of dry sherry to the beaten egg mixture before cooking to give a rich flavor to scrambled eggs.
• Extending: To make scrambled eggs go further, add 1 tbsp (15 nil) fresh whole-wheat or white bread crumbs to each egg.
• Adding extras: Stir finely sliced strips of smoked salmon or smoked ham into scrambled eggs as they cook. Alternatively, add finely chopped chervil or chives for a fresh, herby flavor.
• Making sandwich fillings: If you are short of time to hard- cook eggs for sandwich fillings, scramble the eggs instead, then cool, and mix with mayonnaise and seasoning to taste.
Boiling and Poaching Eggs
• Boiling and poaching are quick and simple methods of cooking eggs, requiring no extra fat. With careful timing, it is easy to cook eggs to perfection. Eggs should be at room temperature prior to boiling to avoid cracking, so remove them from the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking.
• Preventing black rings: To prevent dark rings from forming around the yolks of hard-cooked eggs, drain them as soon as they are cooked. Crack the shells, and run under cold water to cool quickly.
• Adding vinegar: If eggshells crack during boiling, add a tablespoonful of vinegar to the water to set the white.
Preventing cracking: Before boiling eggs, prick the rounded end with a pin to allow the expanding air to escape during cooking and thus reduce the risk of cracking. Lower into cold water, and bring to a boil.
Marbling Boiled Eggs
Using tea bags: Boil eggs for two minutes, remove each one, and tap with a spoon to crack the shell. Return to the pan with six tea bags, simmer for one minute, then cool. Remove shells, and eggs will be marbled.
Eggs can be baked simply in ramekins with nothing more than salt and pepper, or used in more elaborate baked dishes such as soufflés and custards. A moderate oven temperature, which will prevent egg whites from becoming tough, is best for most baked egg recipes.
When making a hot soufflé, use a sharp knife to cut the mixture around the edge just inside the dish before cooking. This will encourage the mixture to rise evenly, creating a “top-hat” effect when die soufflé is cooked.
Baking in Potatoes
Bake a large potato until tender, and cut a slice from the top. Scoop out the flesh from the center, and break an egg into it. Season with salt and pepper, cover with cheese, and continue baking until the egg is set.
• Preparing ahead: To prepare a hot soufflé in advance, make the mixture, and spoon it into a dish ready for baking. Cover with plastic wrap, and chill for two hours before baking.
• Ensuring even rising To dislodge any large air pockets in a soufflé mixture, give die dish a sharp tap on a counter before putting it into the oven.
• Adding breadcrumbs: For a good rise and a crisp, golden crust, sprinkle a greased soufflé dish with fine bread crumbs before adding the mixture.
• Making soufflé tomatoes For an unusual appetizer, slice the tops from large tomatoes, and scoop out the centers. Fill each with cheese soufflé mixture. Bake in a hot oven until risen.