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Old 01-11-2009, 07:07 PM   #31
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Don't get me started GB - lol!!!

Why the heck do I need to salt the h**l out of my pasta cooking water if the resulting pasta is going to be tossed
with a very flavorful sauce that most likely has more than enough salt added to it?????

If you're planning on eating your pasta buck-naked plain without any sauce - go ahead, salt the h**l out of the water. If not, you're just adding way too unnecessarily to your sodium count. And, by the way, not adding ANYTHING to the flavor.

(Oh - & I don't normally run around worrying about my sodium intake. I just don't bother with salt where it's definitely NOT needed.....)
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Old 01-11-2009, 07:11 PM   #32
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I see what you are saying Breezy and with some sauces I will agree with you, but only the heaviest sauces. With most sauces I find that I can tell a difference. It is not a huge difference, but it is enough that I am willing to spend the $.15 in salt that it costs me to get that little added boost in flavor.
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Old 01-11-2009, 07:27 PM   #33
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"Results: ABSOLUTELY NO FRIGGIN DIFFERENCE IN TASTE, TEXTURE, OR ANYTHING ELSE."

I disagree.
And maybe some palates are more fine tuned than others. Or use more salt. My pots or pasta don't taste salty, but are definately inhanced by using salt in the water.
Just as I put sugar in the water while making corn on the cob.
Or check any cake, cookie or pastry or bread recipe, the amounts most times seem neglegible, but leave it out, and it makes a huge difference.
Try not adding salt or any spice or herb to stock for instance, not much of anything. So if one values the other spices, why diss salt?
Everything in moderation, I say. Unless you have health issues.

As for having stock, nope. Wouldn't be a bad idea though, considering all the different kinds of salt from all over the world.
And it's the cheapest "spice" of them all, if that's what you want to call it, and oldest preservative.

I'll take my salt and like it.
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Old 01-11-2009, 07:31 PM   #34
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We seem to be straying from the original topic a bit so lets just agree that for some salting pasta and/or potatoes is a good thing and for others it is unnecessary.

Now back to why the OP's potatoes were bland.
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Old 01-13-2009, 09:49 AM   #35
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thanks everybody for the suggestions and the salt thing!! It'll help me a lot. I'll try cooking the mashed potatos again!

by the way, I've to do a project for a life coach course. (and my life coach will mentor me on how i handle a project) my project is to successfully cook 6 healthy and delicious (and not too difficult) recipes within 6 weeks.

So I guess i'll hang out here regularly for the next 6 weeks! so you'll be seeing me!!!

now i'll start searching for recipes.
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Old 02-06-2009, 05:51 PM   #36
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Not trying to hijack the thread or start an off-topic debate but I too am trying to master this feat. My first attempt in the kitchen was real mashed potatoes. I figured it seems simple and mashed potatoes can go well with alot of things.

First attempt I got a very bland taste. Even with butter, salt, pepper. was also lumpy and some lumps seemed undercooked. So I thought the bland taste came from undercooking the potatoes.

Second attempt I cooked the potatoes to a point where they seem to start falling apart, is that over cooking them? This time though I added too much cream and basically had a potato soup. So I peeled and microwave some more potatoes quickly and added them to the pot. The mashed potatoes felt a little gluey, could that come from over-cooking? However the taste was very enjoyable but still looking for a more creamy texture.

I read the difference preferences when it comes to mashed potatoes. I am currently working with Yukon Golds (will try other types later, working on a budget here). Since new in the kitchen I am just trying to get a feel of how to cook a potato. First attempt I cut them in quarters and did not cover the sauce pan. Second time I cut them in halves and covered them slightly to let some steam escape.

So I am not quite familiar with my stove top and something simple as boiling water with potatoes in them. Should I cut smaller or larger pieces? Covered or uncovered? Any tips before my last attempt tonight would be great.
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Old 02-06-2009, 05:59 PM   #37
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The taste & the gluey texture have nothing to do with undercooking or overcooking the potatoes. Taste has to do with the variety of potato plus whatever you add in. Texture has to do with how you mash them; gluey potatoes usually mean you've over-processed them.

Cut your potatoes into quarters & cook them in boiling water to cover until a knife easily pierces them. Drain well, place back in the hot pan, & toss around until the extra moisture dries off. Then add whatever you like - butter, cream, seasonings, & lightly mash to your desired texture.
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Old 02-06-2009, 10:48 PM   #38
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I have definitely learned that if you don't salt the water while boiling you can never add enough salt while mashing. Make sure to add a couple palmfuls of salt per gallon of water that you boil your potatoes in. Without salt in the water, your potatoes will always be bland.,
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Old 02-07-2009, 07:00 AM   #39
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Salt, pepper, butter, milk and some grated cheese really makes it tasty.
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Old 02-07-2009, 03:20 PM   #40
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Imho, I get the best results when I use Idahos (bakers) for mashed potatoes. Peel, cut into chunks and put into COLD salted water. Bring to a boil and cook until a paring knife comes out clean and quickly from the largest chunks.

Idahos are driest and mealy, and they lap up whatever liquids you add to them. i have used with equal success combos of many of the following: cream, milk, crème fraîche, stock - both beef and chicken, the water from boiling the potatoes, along with butter. Sometimes grated fresh horseradish, sometimes roasted garlic, mashed. Could use a couple of teaspoons of finely chopped fresh herb of your choice. Potatoes especially like sage and tarragon, I like marjoram.
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