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Old 08-06-2006, 10:58 PM   #1
Assistant Cook
Join Date: Aug 2006
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Asking for a bit of advice and an introduction

Hey guys! I'm new here (and to cooking, but we'll get to that later). Let's see here...a little about myself...I'm 18, and moving into my senior year of high school. I recently decided that I'd begin to teach myself how to cook (actually cook, not Hamburger Helper and frozen french fries and stuff like that). I don't really want to be one of those college kids that cant cook, I love to eat, it's a chick magnet, and...well...food is just a great way to have a good time with friends. My "taste for food" has been on the rise since I started working at Primo Resteraunt (the only real resteraunt around here, thank God I'm getting my influence there and not some crappy chain resteraunt or something) (I don't actually think Resteraunt is officially part of the name) here in Maine a couple years ago dishwashing, scraping food off pans (yes, I'm a peasant), getting food when they messed up plating it or heard the order wrong or what have you.

There you have my story. I just ordered a few books- some type of "college cookbook" (I'm hoping it'll teach me what to look for in fruits and veggies and herbs and stuff), The New Making of a Cook (recommended by the boss lady), Mediterran Women Stay Slim, Too (written by the boss lady, which is part of the reason I got it other than for the recipes- I'm not too concerned with staying slim [have that covered]), and Grub- Ideas for an Urban Organic Kitchen. Any questions I can't answer in these books (probably very few, judging by the size of The New Making of a Cook) I'll probably ask here, or ask someone at work. My mom doesn't have much time to teach me how to cook, she does a lot of the afforementioned frozen fries (not that I have a problem with that, but it can't be healthy to eat for your whole life). She doesn't have a whole lot of time on her hands.

In the short term, I plan on making fresh pasta with some type of a light oil based sauce and garlic. What type of flower do you guys suggest? I've heard semolina, but I've heard people denouncing that and saying to use 00 grade all purpose (not positive...at all on that one, just on the grade). I guess I'll need a pasta roller too. Any good brands or models to look at?

So far I've made fettuccini alfredo, a chocolate cake, quiche (sp?) a long time ago, and a family tomato based pasta sauce. I have a lot of Italian blood (however, I don't get the taste for the 'way of life' from that side of the family) and a lot of Italian cultural influence (which somehow skipped my mom) and trickled down to me...not sure how that worked out. Well that's why you'll see me here for a lot of Italian food questions.

That's a long one, sorry.


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Old 08-06-2006, 11:05 PM   #2
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Welcome aboard, Mike. I moved your intro to a more appropriate forum.

You picked a great place to hang and get advice and answers. There is a great group of knowledgeable people who are willing to offer help. You'll have a great time.

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Old 08-07-2006, 03:11 AM   #3
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How about a chicken tetrazzini over egg noodles?
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Old 08-07-2006, 05:44 AM   #4
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Hi and welcome. You'll get answers to any question you might have here. I think it's wonderful that you are taking such an interest at a time of you life when most young adults have such limited time. Good luck.

As for the pasta, I suggest you use semolina flour. There are alternatives but I've always felt the pasta comes out lighter and more flavourful when I use semolina.

For a nice sauce, toss some roasted red pepper strips into a pan that you've already browned some garlic and fresh mushrooms in. Add the cooked pasta and toss with olive oil and red pepper flakes. When you plate it, grate some cheese on top.

Again, good luck.
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Old 08-07-2006, 07:23 AM   #5
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Welcome to the site!
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Old 08-07-2006, 07:39 AM   #6
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Hi Mike - I have a feeling within the next six months you are really going to be hooked on cooking!!! One quick hint for cooking ideas is be sure to check your produce area and meat/seafood areas in the stores you frequent. Normally there are little cards stuck everywhere in those depts. with recipes. They are great ideas for you....and free!!

Have fun!
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Old 08-07-2006, 09:51 AM   #7
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Hey Mike, so glad you found this forum. These members seem to know everythng about everything and are so generous with their time and recipes.
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Old 08-07-2006, 10:13 AM   #8
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Welcome Mike. I was in your shoes many years ago, but not smart enough to learn to cook. Me and ole' Betty Crocker eventually met and I learned to cook. Might I suggest that you get a copy of "The New Food Lover's Companion" and "The New Food Lover's Tiptionary." The Companion explains a lot of terminology and the Tiptionary of course gives a lot of tips of how to do things, etc. You can get them on Ebay or Amazon used for next to nothing. It is a rare day that I do not open one or the other [frequently both] of them. As you mentioned, cooking well can be a great "chick" magnet and a relaxing pleasure.
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Old 08-07-2006, 11:20 AM   #9
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Don't get too hung up on the minutia of the debates over the best of this or that. You'll have plenty of time to refine your likes and dislikes, and when you're in college and for some time after, cost is going to be a bigger concern -- unless you picked your parents better than most of us.

The main thing is this: JUST DO IT! Along with a couple of other life skills that you've perhaps begun to master, cooking is one where practice makes perfect. Technique is far, far, far more important than the differences between one pasta and another. Experiment, but keep it simple in the beginning and work your way up to complex recipes. A properly cooked piece of fish or meat or chicken is much more enjoyable than a poorly made "gourmet" dish.
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Old 08-07-2006, 11:24 AM   #10
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Ciao from Rome and "benvenuto" to DC, Mikey!! And congratulations on your decision, you have a proper attitude of being an authentic foodie, so you will love hanging out here!! You will find so many great ideas just going through this forum, and if you ever have any questions, doubt, or need some inspiration, don't hesitate to ask, there will always be someone to offer a helping hand!!

Well, for a starter, to make a wonderful homemade pasta, here is my proven recipe... It shows you how to make it successfully even without a pasta making machine. This is written for ravioli, but after you stretch out the dough, you can cut into different shapes, larger squares to make either lasagne or cannelloni, or cut into thin strips for tagliatelle, to be enjoyed with your choice of sauce/condiment.

To cook fresh, homemade ravioli or tagliatelle, boil plenty of water, don't cook too much at a time (max. one portion at a time), and as soon as they float onto the surface, they are ready to be scooped out.
For lasagne and cannelloni, no precooking of the pasta is necessary, just arrange everything and bake directly. However make sure to use plenty of sauce, cover each pasta completely...

Hope this will help you for your pasta challenge... keep the questions coming!!

p.s. in Italian, type 00 flour is a regular all purpose flour, and that's what I usually use for regular pasta!

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