Cooking Rice and Pasta
There are many types of rice available in supermarkets these days from easy cook white rice to brown rice, basmati and boil in the bag. My advice after cooking all the different types for serving with meals like chilli and curries is to stick with the cheapest basic rice, this is the easiest to cook successfully and also tastes great. Obviously for making risottos, paellas and rice puddings then specialist rice is required for the job, but for everyday keep it cheap and simple.
How to cook rice.
To serve 2 hungry people.
1.Place the rice in a lidded saucepan and sprinkle over the salt.
2.Cover with sufficient hot, not boiling water to cover with about 3cm above the rice. Don’t stir with a spoon use a knife to move the rice around a bit to stop it from clumping together.
3.Bring to the boil then turn the heat down so it is barely bubbling.
4.Cover with a lid and leave for 15-20 minutes. Remove the lid and all the water should have been soaked up into the rice.
5.Use a fork to separate the rice and fluff up slightly.
It is now ready to serve.
This can also be made into savoury fried rice and Chinese style fried rice.
Savoury fried rice
50g frozen peas,
3 tablespoons sunflower oil
2 level teaspoons jerk seasoning
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 small onion, chopped finely
1 clove garlic, grated
1 red pepper, chopped
Cooked rice as above
1.Cook the peas in boiling water and a pinch salt for 5 minutes and drain.
2.Heat the oil in a frying pan and the jerk seasoning, turmeric, onion and garlic. Stir well and fry gently for 4 minutes or until the onion is soft.
3.Add the pepper and fry for 2 minutes.
4.Add the peas and cooked rice and stir well frying everything gently together until the rice is piping hot.
This great served with grilled pork sausages or chops.
Chinese style fried rice
50g frozen peas
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
Cooked rice as above
2 eggs, beaten lightly
50g chopped cooked ham
Soy sauce to taste
1.Boil the peas as before in the savoury rice recipe.
2.Heat the two oils in a wok or frying pan and add the cooked rice. Stir fry for 2-3 minutes.
3.Add the peas and stir in well.
4.Add the eggs and stir in lightly allow the eggs to set before stirring in the ham.
5.Sprinkl e with soy sauce before serving.
This is very easy to cook if you follow the instructions on the pack, both dry and fresh pasta have excellent stepped instructions.
Tips to remember
125g of pasta person is a hearty portion for hungry people
Always remember to cook it in plenty of water as it will soak up lots as it cooks and if any is peeping above the water line it won’t cook evenly.
Add 1 level teaspoon of salt to 250g pasta.
Time the cooking of the pasta so as not to overcook. To test if the pasta is cooked , remove a piece and taste it when cool enough. It should not be sloppy as this is overcooked it should be slightly chewy.
Never leave it in the cooking water once cooked, even if you turn the heat off it will continue to cook. Drain well as soon as you have cooked it.
Fresh pasta takes much less time to cook than dried, always read the packet instructions.
If you like filled pasta, such tortellini or ravioli, place in hot water not boiling to begin with or the outside will cook too quickly for the filling and will overcook. Bring to the boil slowly.
Easy Cheese Sauce for Pasta
Use this as a quick sauce for your favourite pasta.
For 2 people
1 250g tub mascarpone cheese or soft cream cheese
4 tablespoons single cream or milk if you prefer
Black pepper to taste
2-3 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
1.Heat the cheese in a small saucepan over a low heat and stir in the cream or milk.
2.Season with salt and pepper and add the parmesan.
Serve with the cooked pasta.
• Fry 2 rashers of chopped bacon and 1 chopped clove garlic in the pan before adding the soft cheese or mascarpone.
• Add 2 tablespoons tomato puree to the cheese as it heats in the pan and serve with torn basil leaves
• Fry 4 or 5 chopped mushrooms in a knob of butter then add the soft cheese or mascarpone.