Friday, October 28, 2011

This picture has been downloaded from the internet.

A question I am asked fairly frequently, is 'How do you cook your pasta???' - because I do make pasta once a week. Mostly I use the very easy macaroni . But I do not use any precise measures for the pasta or the water. This is what I do..

Boil water with about a 1/2 tsp of salt in it.

Once boiled, add the pasta. The level of the pasta should be an inch at least, below the water level.

As soon as the water with the pasta STARTS to boil, I switch off the stove, add a 5 -6 drops of Olive oil and give it a good stir.

Then I put a lid on, and wait 5 minutes.

By now most of the small macaroni is cooked . Sometimes the shell type macaroni takes a about 2 - 3 more minutes.

The macaroni would slightly increase in size, would look mostly opaque, while a bit in the middle may still be translucent.

As soon as the pasta is cooked to my liking, I drain the water by pouring the entire thing through a big strainer and hold the pasta under running water to stop it cooking more. I pour 1 tsp (or more) of  olive oil over the pasta slowly, while tossing, to coat it evenly in the oil.

Pasta is ready !!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Chicken Lasagna

I made this for dinner yesterday. It was the first time I tried making it, thought it has been on my mind for quite some time... I had stocked the pasta sheets a while back and was reading a few recipes.. And as I mostly do, I did not follow any specific one, just made the mince and added things as I would want ..I would have loved some mushrooms, but we could not find any ...

For the mince-
Minced Chicken - freshly minced, 200 gms
Onion - 2 medium (diced)
Garlic - 4 to 5 cloves (chopped) [u can add ginger garlic paste - 1 tsp - or even both]
Paprika or red chilly powder - 1 tsp
Tomatoes - 5 fairly large ones (finely dice 3 of them and reserve 2 - or blanch 3, peel and then dice.)
Capsicum - 1 medium sized (diced)
Mushrooms - 1 cup chopped into bite sized pieces (optional)
Vinegar - 1 tsp
Tomato ketchup - 1 tbsp
Green peas - 1/2 cup frozen peas, lightly blanched
Dried oregano - 1/4 tsp or more
Freshly ground pepper - 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Cheese - 1/4 cup (i used a mix of cheddar and mozzarella)
Olive oil

In a thick bottomed vessel, heat the oilve oil, add the chopped onions, once they sweat, add the garlic and/ or ginger garlic paste and cook till the raw smell goes.

Add the minced chicken and the paprika or chilli powder and fry till the colour changes. Now add the 3 diced tomatoes, cover with a lid and cook till the tomatoes are soft and mushy.

 Add the mushrooms, the vinegar and tomato ketchup and salt to taste. Add the dried oregano and freshly ground pepper. The green peas added at last .

Finally, turn off the stove, add the grated cheese and stir through to mix everything evenly. The consistency should be such that it should be easy to spread , but not runny.

I chopped up the remaining 2 tomatoes and added it to this to add additional freshness. You can opt to slice the tomatoes thinly and wait till layering the pasta.

The white sauce
Flour - 3 tbsp
Olive oil - 1 tbsp
Butter - 1 tsp
Milk - 3 tp 4 tbs
salt, pepper and a hint of nutmeg to taste.

Heat a pan, add teh oil and butter, cook the flour till blonde, then slowly add the milk , STIRRING all teh while and the sauce coats the spoon, there are no lumps and is smooth, but not runny. add the salt , pepper and nutmeg powder. Do not add more than a tiny pinch of nutmeg.

Keep a 1/2 cup of grated cheese for topping the layers

Layering the pasta
Grease a baking dish, spoon in a layer of mince, add a layer of thinly sliced tomatoes and then the pasta sheet on top. add a layer of white sauce. Then some grated cheese. keep adding  layers till the last layer is white sauce and lots of grated cheese.

Cover the dish with aluminium foil.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes , at 180 degree C .Remove the foil, Insert a skewer and the pasta sheets should be cooked through. Now bake for 5 more minutes to brown the top layer.

Lasagna is ready to serve....!!