I LOVE Cooking.
For years and years I could not cook anything but eggs. Then, as I got bolder, I learned to cook meat, and then I mixed that cooked meat with eggs, and called it a meal. Nowadays, however, I'm getting rather bold, and I've added pasta to my repertoire. Imagine, if you will, my amazement and shock at finding that I could make some wonderful pasta dishes by merely knowing how to boil water, and operate a timer and a can opener! It's true! If I can do this, anyone can.
Now, you'll have to forgive me here if you are an Italian, and you REALLY know about pasta. I'm a Texan, and I know more about tacos than pasta, but pasta made by semi ignorant Texans can be rather tasty, and it's especially exciting when a young man has learned that he can take the odds and ends from his fridge, and make something out of it that he can actually brag about. That's what I'm doing here, bragging, and because I just improvised with this,and hit a bases clearing walk off home run. No, I shared none of it with anyone; so there's no secondary confirmation to verify the sheer awesomeness of my dish; so you'll have to try it yourself.
Boiling Water !01
"Now wait a second, bro, you said something about a low boil, and/or boiling intensity; wtf? Everyone knows that water boils at 212 Fahrenheit at sea level, so it's either boiling wateror it's not!."
Well, yes and no. Water begins to boil at 212 degrees Fahrenheit at sea level, and that would be a "low boil," because you see; if water is 252 degrees Fahrenheit, it's also boiling, it's only boiling a lot faster than it is at 212 degrees Fahrenheit. Water that is boiling at 252 degrees is water that is superheated by forty degrees. So if you're working with a gas oven, you could potentially get your pasta sufficiently done a whole lot quicker than it's usually done, but superheating your boiling water could also ruin your dish pretty quickly if you aren't paying enough attention.
Now, I guess I should confess that I really don't know what a standard pasta dish would be, and I suppose that that "standard" would be very different from region to region in the United States, and possibly even more so in historic Italy. I tend to frown on most things considered "traditional" when the consideration and emphasis are on preventing variations from occurring. I wonder if I do anything at all or ever in a "traditional" manner. Suffice it to say, however, that so fas as I can imagine, most pasta dishes don't include pasta that was made in Mexico. I used a seven ounce bag (two hundred grams) of La Moderna Macaroni
Another thing I do not like about recipes in a general sense is how people measure things so exactly. I don't think I need exact measurements, and I don't think you do either; at least not for a main course dish like this. How can I say how much salt to add? You know how much salt you like, I hope; and I don't know if you use salt at all. More salt can always be added; but once something is over salted; it's too late.
Also, any time you are dealing with a pasta recipes; I can't know how stiff or soft you want your noodles. My general rule is that I boil my pasta for ten minutes. A pasta boiled for eight minutes would be fine, twelve minutes would be fine too. I'd rather have the eight minute boil than the twelve though; I don't like an overly soggy noodle. Also, so far as salting the pasta goes, you can actually infuse some salt into the noodles if you add salt to your water when you first bring it to a boil, or as soon as you add the pasta to the boiling water. If you are completely new to making a pasta dish, then that is how it's done.
1. bring pot of water to boil,
2. add pasta, and salt (if so desired), and
3. after the pasta and water is brought to a boil, time it for seven to twelve minutes depending on the intensity of the boil, and how stiff or soggy you like your noodles.
Cheese: I have no idea if a traditional Italian Macaroni dish has cheese on it or not; but this isn't standard American "mac and cheese" either. Not that there's anything wrong with that though, whatever floats your boat. As soon as my noodles were where I considered them done, I turned my gas stove down to low, and used a strainer to dump the very hot water, and I then put my pasta back into the pot that it was in, and I then took a five ounce (141 gram) block of extra sharp Cheddar Cheese (mine was from Harry & David's), chopped it up, and put it into the pot, and then stirred it up until it was melted.
SAUCE: Okay, I'm truly interested in pasta sauce, without sauce you've really got to do a lot more work to make a great pasta dish, and really, once the noodles are done, you could just add sauce and have a great tasting meal, and several servings of it too. I like to go a little past that though, but for this one I "just" usedHunt's Traditional Spaghetti Sauce . Since I'm trying to be half way precise, insofar as amounts of ingredients are concerned, I'll say that I used about half of 26.5 ounce can of the sauce, which of course, left me with a half can for the next pasta thing I did.
Of course you can and should let the pasta sauce warm into the noodles and cheese with your heat on low, and you should stir it here and there. What I should have done, but didn't do, is add some Extra Virgin Olive Oil into the mix. EVOO is always good for flavoring things up, and making a pseudo Italian dish a bit less pseudo, if you know what I mean. Now, pasta is probably the main thing I would eat every single day if I were a vegetarian, and at some point in time I might just bite that bullet and edit meat out of my diet, but for this dish, I had 3.5 ounces (99 grams) of Hormel Pepperoni that I diced up, and stirred into my pasta sauce. I also diced up some garlic, and put that in there too. Because I'm a bit strange, I also added some powdered Cayenne Pepper I like spicy food, but when it comes to pasta dishes, I just always want them to have some mushrooms in them.
MUSHROOMS: Now,a lot of pasta sauces already have some mushrooms in them, but I prefer pasta sauce that doesn't because I want to add the shrooms myself. Canned, frozen, or fresh; heat them on low on a skillet in copious amounts of butter. I don't think that it matters so much what brand, kind, or amount of mushrooms that are used. The real question so far as salt, garlic, pepper, and shrooms would always be: How much do you like them?
CHERRY Tomatoes: Of course our pasta sauce has lots of tomato in it already, but I like fresh vegetables, and especially, cherry tomatoes so much that I add them to everything that I eat when possible. Try it.
I hope that this was all easily understandable for the beginning cooks out there. I know that before I ever got into trying to cook; cooking was just some sort of mystery, or something. It shouldn't be mysterious, it should be fun and easy. I'm always willing to answer any questions that anyone throws me about whatever I'm writing about. Thank you!