7 mistakes you are making when cooking pasta

 

It may appear simple to cook, but the end results always leaves you disappointed and ready to shed a tear, when you see how mashy it has turned out.

Here are some reasons the interwebs blames for your poor pasta:
1. Your pot is too small

Do you use a small sufuria to cook pasta?

It turns out that if you add pasta to the little water in the small sufuria, you lower the water temperature. This forces it to now take longer to boil again, meanwhile your pasta is lying in the cold water and getting mushy and clumpy.

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When you use a smaller sufuria, the pasta has less water to cook in. This results in a higher amount of starch in the pot, which will cause your pasta to come out sticky after you drain the water. To be safe, always go for a big pot, even if you’re only cooking a small amount of pasta.

2. You leave out the salt

You’re slimy pasta (yuck) is this way because you didn’t put salt like the instructions told you.

If you read the back of your box of pasta, it will tell you to boil the pasta in salted water. How many of us think that it’s just wrong for pasta to cook with salt? What salt does is roughen up the pasta so it doesn’t come out disgustingly slimy.

3. You forget to stir

Once your water is boiling, be sure to stir your pasta in, as opposed to just dumping it and waiting until it’s cooked, so it doesn’t all sink to the bottom of the pot, or they will stick to the bottom of the pot, where they start sticking together, resulting in mushy pasta. No thank you!

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4. You pour out the cooking water

Once your pasta is cooked, hang on to a cup or so of the cooking water.

This water is now starchy and full of pasta flavor, and it just might come in handy. It’s important to keep the water to add later when you add sauce especially when it appears it needs some ‘thufu’  to take clumpy and dry sauce to a new level.

The water helps loosen up the sauce so it can coat every noodle, while the starch in the water helps it cling to the pasta better.

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5. You rinse the pasta

Cooking pasta is one of the easiest ways to throw together a delicious, home-cooked meal, so don’t add any extra steps.

Rinsing strips your pasta of some of that starchiness that will cling to the sauce.

There’s no need to rinse your pasta with water once it’s cooked. Simply drain it and add your sauce.

6. You make way too much

Most of us have large families and cook an entire box of pasta right?

Judging how much dry pasta to cook is tricky especially in an African family setting. Trouble is, heating up leftover pasta usually results in a sticky, gummy mess. When it comes to pasta, fresh is best, to avoid wastage.

7. You leave your pasta waiting too long before serving

Pasta needs to be served as soon as it’s cooked. Never make it wait in the serving dish.

While your pasta cooks, make sure to have a sieve ready in the sink so you can drain it as soon as it’s cooked. Once it’s drained, place your pasta in a warmed bowl and toss with warm sauce.

Are there other tips you use to make your pasta worth eating? Share by dropping comments below.

 

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How to make a Banana Loaf Cake

When you think about bananas, what comes into your mind? For me what comes into my mind is the versatility that bananas have and the health benefits it adorns.

They are actually one of the best all round foods and packed full of goodness. I love them and it’s a bonus that they are so healthy!

Image result for banana cake recipe

 

Still not convinced?  Try this amazing banana loaf cake, it truly is delicious and if we can claim some health benefits from eating cake – what’s not to like?

To make it you will need the following:

Ingredients

 

  • 3 large ripe bananas(about 1 and 1/2 cups mashed)
  • 3 cups (375g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (360ml) buttermilk, at room temperature

Cream Cheese Frosting ( Optional )

  • 8 ounces (224g) full-fat block cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3 cups (360g) confectioners’ sugar, plus an extra 1/4 cup if needed
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C) and grease a 9×13 inch pan.
  2. Make the cake: Mash the bananas. I usually just use my mixer for this! Set mashed bananas aside.
  3. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt together. Set aside.
  4. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy – about 1 minute. Add both sugars and beat on high speed for 2 minutes until creamed together. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the eggs and the vanilla. Beat on medium-high speed until combined, then beat in the mashed bananas. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the buttermilk and mixing each addition just until incorporated. Do not over mix. The batter will be slightly thick and a few lumps is OK.
  5. Spread batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45-50 minutes. Baking times vary, so keep an eye on yours. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If you find the top of the cake is browning too quickly in the oven, loosely cover it with aluminum foil.
  6. Remove the cake from the oven and set on a wire rack. Allow to cool completely. After about 45 minutes, I usually place it in the refrigerator to speed things up.

Try this cake recipe for your family this weekend

Making the frosting

In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together on high speed until smooth and creamy. Add 3 cups confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and salt. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then switch to high speed and beat for 2 minutes. If you want the frosting a little thicker, add the extra 1/4 cup of confectioners sugar (I add it). Spread the frosting on the cooled cake. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving. This helps sets the frosting and makes cutting easier.

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The Perfect Cook’s Checklist: How many can you do?

 

How good are your culinary skills girls? Be honest.

A research sometime back suggested that women finally become perfect cooks at the grand old age of 55.

The said research showed that by the time they reach their mid-fifties, the female of the species has learned how to cater for parties of 12 or more, throw together random ingredients to make a decent meal, and rescue a dinner that has gone awry.

By 55 the typical women will also have the ability to produce 15 meals on a regular basis all cooked from scratch.

Take this checklist and see how good a cook you are:

  • Make gravy so that it is not runny
  • Can cook fried eggs without breaking the yolk
  • Can cook the perfect boiled egg
  • Cook beef until it’s not tender not tough
  • Cook carrots until they are aldente rather than soggy
  • Cook broccoli which isn’t mushy
  • Can rustle up more than 15 ‘regular’ dishes
  • Can throw random ingredients together to make something delicious
  • Is confident about throwing dinner parties for 12
  • Know what herbs compliment meat
  • Can differentiate between herbs
  • Can get all elements of a roast dinner ready at the same time
  • Can rescue a meal which looks like it is going wrong
  • Can cook bread from scratch
  • Cooks sauces from scratch rather than using jarred alternatives
  • Can make ice cream from scratch
  • Can make pasta from scratch
  • Happy to replicate celebrity recipes
  • Throw ingredients in without weighing when baking
  • Bake cakes such as Victoria sponge and lemon drizzle cake regularly

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6 cooking staples every woman should have in the kitchen

 

Jessica Sepel, who is based in Sydney, shared her top cooking essentials, explaining that they make a ‘dramatic difference to her motivation to cook’.

‘It also saves me so much time and means my meals are always bursting with flavour,’ Jessica wrote on JSHealth.

‘I usually have these ingredients laid out near my stove or on my kitchen bench. I highly recommend doing the same.’

So what are the things to keep in your kitchen?

CHILLI FLAKES

Commonly added to curries and on freshly seared fish, chilli flakes have the power to lift just about any dish.

Research has also revealed that red chilli flakes and other peppers help to stimulate metabolism and prevent fat storage.

‘A little spice makes everything nice! I love topping my meals with a pinch of chilli flakes to add an extra punch of flavour,’ Miss Sepel said.

LEMONS 

When it comes to cooking, we are always looking for a balance between core flavour profiles, the nutritionist explained.

‘Fresh lemon juice has an acidic flavour which is one of the key elements. I use lemon juice to make a simple dressing and add some freshness to my meals,’ Ms Sepel said.

‘I also like to use the whole fruit by zesting the lemon and using the zest as a garnish on my salad, to make my lemon and herb chicken or on top of my morning porridge.’

GARLIC

This is an easy one to add to the pan with a little bit of olive oil to deliciously flavour just about any home-cooked meal.

‘Garlic always lifts a meal to the next level,’ Miss Sepel commented.

‘I love to sauté my vegetables in some freshly crushed or sliced garlic. Simple and delicious.’

CURRY POWDER

For those who like their meals hot this additive is often used to flavour curries of all kinds.

But it can also be a wonderful additive to hummus, egg salad, popcorn and even dressings.

‘I add curry powder to my cauliflower rice, and use it to make a quick and easy curry with coconut milk or sprinkle it over my vegetables before roasting,’ Miss Sepel said.

SESAME SEEDS 

‘A sprinkle of sesame seeds on top of a nourish bowl, sautéed vegetables or roasted vegetables not only looks beautiful but adds a nutty flavour that I adore,’ she explained.

They are extremely good for your skin and hair, and packed with copper, magnesium and calcium.

Adding them to the top of your takeaway sushi will also work wonders to the quality of your meal.

SEA SALT 

The addition of salt to a meal adds depth and also enhances the natural flavours.

‘I use sea salt which has a stronger flavour which means you need to use less,’ Ms Sepel explained.

Salt is essential for sustaining the hydration levels in the body.

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