Cooking Italian Pastes

Italian Pastes
To produce the Italian pastes, the wheat, from which the bran hasbeen removed, is ground into flour. This flour is made into a stiff dough, which is rolled into sheets and forced over rods, usually of metal, or made into a mass and forced over rods, and allowed to dry in the air. When sufficiently dry, the rods are removed, leaving slender tubes, or sticks, that have holes through the center. Because of the manufacturing processes involved in the production of these foods for market, they are higher in price than some cereals, but their value lies in the fact that they are practically imperishable and are easily prepared and digested.
Italian pastes are of several varieties, chief among which aremacaroni, spaghetti, and vermicelli. Macaroni is the largest in circumference; spaghetti, a trifle smaller; and vermicelli, very small and without a hole through the center. These pastes and variations of them are made from the same dough; therefore, the tests for determining the quality of one applies to all of them. These tests pertain to their color, the way in which they break, and the manner in which they cook. To be right, they should be of an even, creamy color; if they look gray or are white or streaked with white, they are of inferior quality. When they are broken into pieces, they should break off perfectly straight; if they split up lengthwise, they contain weak places due to streaks. All the varieties should, upon boiling, hold their shape and double in size; in case they break into pieces and flatten, they are of poor quality.
Since the Italian pastes are made from wheat, their food substancesare similar to those of wheat. As in other wheat products, protein is found in them in the form of gluten, but, owing to the variety of wheat used for them, it occurs in greater proportion in these foods than in most wheat products. In fact, the Italian pastes are so high in protein, or tissue-building material, that they very readily take the place of meat. Unlike meat, however, they contain carbohydrates in the form of wheat starch. They do not contain much fat or mineral salts, though, being lower in these food substances than many of the other foods made from wheat.
RECIPES FOR ITALIAN PASTES
In nearly all recipes for macaroni, spaghetti, and vermicelli, aswell as the numerous varieties of these foods, the first steps in their preparation for the table are practically the same, for all of these foods must be cooked to a certain point and in a certain way before they can be used in the numerous ways possible to prepare them. Therefore, in order that success may be met in the preparation of the dishes that are made from these foods, these underlying principles should be thoroughly understood.
In the first place, it should be borne in mind that while the time required to cook the Italian pastes depends on their composition and dryness, the average length of time is about 30 minutes. Another important thing to remember is that they should always be put to cook in boiling water that contains 2 teaspoonfuls of salt to each cupful of macaroni, spaghetti, or vermicelli, and that they should be kept boiling until the cooking is done, for if the pieces are not in constant motion they will settle and burn. Tests may be applied to determine whether these foods have been cooked sufficiently. Thus, if a fork passes through them easily or they crush readily on being pressed between the fingers and the thumb, they are done, but as long as they feel hard and elastic they have not cooked enough.
In the majority of recipes here given, macaroni is specified, but spaghetti, vermicelli, or any of the fancy Italian pastes may be substituted for the macaroni if one of them is preferred. It should also be remembered that any of these, when cut into small pieces, may be used in soups or served with sauce or gravy.
MACARONI WITH CREAM SAUCE
(Sufficient to Serve Six)
1-1/2 c. macaroni
3 qt. boiling water
3 tsp. salt
1/4 c. crumbs
CREAM SAUCE
2 Tb. butter
2 Tb. flour
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 1/2 c. milk
Break the macaroni into inch lengths, add it to the salted boiling water, and cook it until it is tender. To prepare the sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan, add the flour, salt, and pepper, stir until smooth, and gradually add the milk, which must be hot, stirring rapidly so that no lumps form. Cook the cream sauce until it thickens and then add it to the macaroni. Pour all into a baking dish, sprinkle the bread or cracker crumbs over the top, dot with butter, and bake until the crumbs are brown. Serve hot.
MACARONI WITH EGGS
(Sufficient to Serve Six)
1 c. macaroni
2 qt. boiling water
2 tsp. salt
1-1/2 c. milk
2 Tb. butter
2 Tb. flour
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
4 hard-boiled eggs
1/4 c. crumbs
Break the macaroni into inch lengths, add it to the boiling salted water, and cook it until tender. Make a cream, or white, sauce of the milk, butter, flour, salt, and pepper as explained in the recipe given in Art. 90. When the macaroni is tender, drain it and arrange a layer on the bottom of a baking dish, with a layer of sliced, hard-boiled eggs on top. Fill the dish with alternate layers of macaroni and eggs, pour the sauce over all, and sprinkle the crumbs over the top. Then place the dish in the oven and bake the food until the crumbs are brown. Serve hot.
MACARONI WITH TOMATO AND BACON
(Sufficient to Serve Six)
1 c. macaroni
2 qt. boiling water
2 tsp. salt
2 c. canned tomatoes
8 thin slices bacon
Break the macaroni into inch lengths and cook it in the boiling salted water until it is tender. Place a layer of the cooked macaroni on the bottom of a baking dish; over this layer put 1 cupful of the tomatoes, and on top of them spread four slices of bacon. Then add another layer of the macaroni, the other cupful of tomatoes, and a third layer of macaroni. On top of this layer, place the remaining four slices of bacon, and then bake the food for one half hour in a slow oven. Serve hot.
MACARONI WITH CHEESE
(Sufficient to Serve Six)
1-1/2 c. macaroni
3 qt. boiling water
3 tsp. salt
1-1/2 Tb. butter
1-1/2 Tb. flour
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. paprika
1-1/2 c. milk
1 c. grated or finely cut cheese
1/4 c. crumbs
Break the macaroni into inch lengths and cook it until it is tender in the 3 quarts of boiling water to which 3 teaspoonfuls of salt has been added. Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the flour, the 1 teaspoonful of salt, the pepper, and the paprika, stir until smooth, and then gradually add the milk, which should be hot. Allow to cook until it thickens. Arrange the cooked macaroni in layers, pouring the sauce and sprinkling salt and cheese over each layer. Then cover the top layer with the crumbs and bake the food in a moderate oven for one half hour. Serve hot.
MACARONI ITALIAN STYLE
(Sufficient to Serve Six)
1 c. macaroni
2 qt. boiling water
2 tsp. salt
2 Tb. butter
2 Tb. flour
1-1/2 c. scalded milk
2/3 c. grated cheese
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 c. finely chopped, cold boiled ham
1/4 c. crumbs
Break the macaroni into inch lengths and cook it in the boiling water to which has been added 2 teaspoonfuls of salt. Drain, and then reheat it in a white sauce made of the butter, flour, and milk. Add the cheese and season with salt and paprika. Arrange in layers in a baking dish, placing the cold ham between each two layers of macaroni and having the top layer of macaroni, sprinkle the crumbs on top of the upper layer, and bake the food until the crumbs are brown. Garnish with parsley and serve.
SPAGHETTI WITH CHEESE AND TOMATO SAUCE
(Sufficient to Serve Six)
1 c. spaghetti
2 Tb. butter
2 qt. boiling water
2 Tb. flour
2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. grated cheese
1 can tomatoes
1 tsp. salt
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 c. water
Boil the spaghetti in the 2 quarts of boiling water to which has been added 2 teaspoonfuls of salt, and after it is tender drain off the water. Then proceed to make the sauce. Boil the tomatoes and the chopped onion in the 1/2 cupful of water for 10 minutes. Strain this mixture and to it add the butter and the flour, which should first be mixed with a little cold water. Cook this until it thickens and then add the cheese, 1 teaspoonful of salt, and the pepper. Pour the entire mixture over the cooked spaghetti, reheat, and serve.

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.



Would you like to build a website Site Build It!










Enter your E-mail Address
Enter your First Name (optional)
Then

Don't worry — your e-mail address is totally secure.
I promise to use it only to send you Cooking,Food,WineLovers.