Saturday, April 30, 2011


If you get a chance go over to the site.  It's the National Pasta Association.  It's a great resource of information.  That's where I got this information. I wanted to show you different types of Pasta, there shapes and how they are used. 
This is just a few of the Dry pasta's that are available on the market. ( Fresh or homemade pasta is a totally different thing.  We'll cover Fresh pasta shortly.)

  Angel Hair, Capellini ("Fine Hairs")   These thin, delicate pasta strands are best if used with thinner, delicate sauces.  Other uses: break in half and put in soup, use in salads, or stir-fry meals.


Bow Ties, Farfalle (“Butterflies”) Bow Ties brighten any meal with their interesting shape. Thick enough for a variety of sauces, or a perfect addition to a number of  salad or soup recipes.

Farfalline Farfalline is s small version of the bow tie or butterfly shaped pasta. This versatile shape can be used as the base of any dish. Bake it, stir it into soups, or create great salads and stir-fry dishes.

Elbow Macaroni A highly versatile shape that can be topped with any sauce, baked, or put in soups, salads and stir-fry dishes. Elbow Macaroni is traditionally used to make Macaroni and Cheese. 

Linguine   (“Little Tongues”) - A great shape to compliment a variety of sauces. Also a good choice for salads and stir-fry dishes. 

Macaroni  (“Dumpling”) A highly versatile shape that can be topped with any sauce, baked, or put in soups, salads and stir-fry dishes.


Manicotti (“Small Muffs”) – Stuff Manicotti with a mixture of meat, cheese and vegetables, top with your favorite sauce, and bake. 

Orecchiette (“Little Ears”)These “little ears” are commonly served with thick, chunky sauces or in pasta salads. 

Rotini (“Spirals” or “Twists”) – Rotini’s twisted shape holds bits of meat, vegetables and cheese, so it works well with any sauce, or you can use it to create fun salads, baked casseroles, or stir-fry meals. 

Spaghetti – (“A length of Cord”) America’s favorite shape, Spaghetti is the perfect choice for nearly any sauce, or it can be used to make casseroles or stir-fry dishes. Go beyond tomato sauce and see what your favorite becomes. 

Tortellini Tortellini is a ring-shaped pasta typically stuffed with meat, cheese or vegetables. Tortellini is commonly served in a broth or cream sauce. 

Vermicelli – (“Little Worms”) Slightly thinner than Spaghetti, Vermicelli is good topped with any sauce, or as a salad or stir-fry ingredient. 
Wagon Wheels, Ruote (“Wheels”) – Wagon Wheels make interesting salads, casseroles and stir-fry dishes. Add to soups, or simply top with sauce and enjoy. 

Ziti (“Bridegrooms”) A medium-sized, tubular pasta shape, Ziti is perfect for chunky sauces and meat dishes. It also makes wonderful salads, baked dishes and stir-fry meals.

Several note about cooking pasta.   
  1. Use plenty of water.  Use at least an 8qt pot.  

  2. After the water is Boiling,  Add some salt to the water.  About 1 tablespoon or less.  It's the only chance you have to season the pasta. 

  3. Add your pasta only after the water is at a full boil. 

  4. Remember the Pasta waits for no one!!  Have your sauce ready before you cook your pasta.  Do Not throw out the pasta water, till you have completed the meal.  If you need to thin out your sauce use the pasta water.  Works fantastic.

  5. Cook your pasta till it is almost done.  Then drain your pasta and add to the sauce. Then do your plating... Works great everytime!!!


If you need more information about Pasta, Click on the logo below and it will take you right over to the National Pasta Association.

All the information and illustrations were provided by the National Pasta Association.

Friday, April 29, 2011


Here are some more hints that might help around the kitchen.  

Photography by Michael Long

To convert cake yeast to instant yeast:

For 1 packed tablespoon cake yeast use 2 teaspoons instant yeast or

2-1/2 teaspoons active dry


To convert recipes calling for instant yeast to active dry yeast: Use 1.25 times

the weight; or, for 1 teaspoon instant yeast, use about 1 1/4 teaspoons active dry


To convert recipes calling for active dry yeast to instant yeast: Use 0.67 times

the weight; or, for 1 teaspoons active dry yeast, use 3/4 teaspoon instant yeast

To convert recipes calling for fresh compressed yeast to instant yeast: Use 0.32

times the weight; or, for 1 packed Tablespoon (21 grams) fresh yeast, use 2

teaspoons instant yeast


Get some long Tweezers for the kitchen.  They are great for working with very small foods or objects. You can use them for plating, Getting that little bit of paper that stuck to the butter...That kind of thing.  A lot of hardware stores carry them.  I use mine for putting that little bit of garnishment on top of the plate. 

Funnels are always handy around the kitchen.  I have one for wide mouth canning that is used probably the most.  I also keep a bunch of plastic ones of different sizes, That I got from the hardware store. 

Probably the Best thermometer I've ever had is one put out my Polen.  It has a long cord for the probe, Has magnetic back,  Has a lot of features that you will find very helpful in the kitchen. 

Blue painters tape, and sharpie's,  You can label most anything you want, and date it right then.  The Blue tape doesn't leave a mess, peels off very easy.  Great for the left overs.  Leftover name, date. etc... 

A set of small cans, like the kind you would get creamed corn in.  Take the  ingredients out of the cans,  peel the paper off the can, cut the bottom out of the can, run through the dishwasher, and poof, you have plating molds, or baking molds, or what ever you want to use them for.  And if you bend one, eat more corn. 

Wire whips,  Try hanging them under your upper cabinets along the back on cup hooks.  They are handy, out of the way, easy to get to,  And make your kitchen look pretty cool.  I have about 8 whips hanging up ranging in size from a 12" on down. 
I put my recipes in plastic sleeves.  It protects the recipe, you can add notes to the recipe either with removing the recipe and writing on them direct. With a china marker you can check things off the recipe as you go along.  That way you won't forget anything ingredient or step.
Having problems with your cutting boards falling over,  Try using bookends. The metal ones,  works great.  I keep my boards in the cabinet above the frig.  And they are always standing up, just waiting for me to grab one and do my thing.  I also have the boards in different colors, one for Chicken, Vegs, Meats, Pork, CHOCOLATES, & Breads.
While your at the office supply house or store,  get some magazine holders.  They are just the right size to hold the rolls of wax paper, plastic wrap, that sort of thing.  And you can probably put 4 or 5 rolls in each one.  They also fit very nice next to the cutting boards. 
Remember the coldest part of the frig is at the bottom.. heat rises, cold sinks.  So I keep my thermometer at the top shelf.  That way I know the bottom will be cold. 
I hope that I've given you some ideas to make you kitchen easier to work in. I'm sure that a lot of you have already found and using some of these tricks and have more than the ones that I've talked about.  But what the heck.  If you have some ideas, or tricks that you use and want to share them, let me know and I will put them up here for all to enjoy.