The invitation is still open--if you have a food term you wondered about, put it into the Comments below and I’ll attempt to de-mystify it. I have been getting such terrific feedback from readers about these posts. I am grateful you are reading, learning, and enjoying this month’s focus. There are way too many terms to deal with in a month, so I am going to do at least one post a month on some of the others.
Today is P Day. And P is for Parboil.
Parboil is not that hard to understand. It is harder in the execution, however. Parboil simply means to boil something (often a veggie) so it is partially cooked. Aye, there’s the rub.
How much cooking? What is “partially cooked”? For parboiled potatoes, for example, you want the fork to go into the outer edge easily but then hit the resistance of the raw potato. Rice should be firmer than al dente.
You kind of have to practice this so you don’t end up with mushy foods at the second cooking. Most of the time, we don’t parboil. We just cook the initial food longer. But it does speed up dinner prep if you have done some pre-cooking of the ingredients, so I’m more likely to parboil for a dinner party.
Did you know that “instant rice” is parboiled then dried out so it cooks faster? Instead of spending lots of money, make your own instant rice to store for quick dinners or backpacking meals. http://www.southernplate.com/2014/03/make-your-own-instant-rice-from-bulk-rice.html
Also, I discovered a recipe I just love for a quicker risotto that uses parboiling to cut the cooking time in half. This recipe is great for weeknight dinners, but I still do my normal 1-hour risotto for company. It is better when slow-cooked! https://www.yahoo.com/food/spring-risotto-with-peas-fava-beans-and-arugula-80007925396.html
P is for Pasta
You know I love pasta. When I wrote Mission Impastable, my culinary mystery, it allowed me to showcase some of my pasta recipes. (I use my punny titles to give the reader an idea of the focus for most of the recipes in that mystery.)
Oh, my! So many pastas, so little time. Contrary to urban myth, Marco Polo didn’t introduce pasta to the Italians after picking it up from the Chinese. Lots of cultures at that time (the ones who had wheat) had developed forms of pastas. He might have brought back a shape they didn’t know, but the Italians already had pasta invented. Pasta, is after all, just flour, eggs, salt, some oil, and water. The word pasta means “dough”!
Back in the day, I didn’t own a pasta maker. I rolled and cut my uneven noodles and draped them over kitchen chairs to dry. Ah, yes, those were the days, my friends. If you are into making your own, try this simple recipe. http://www.restlesschipotle.com/2012/03/best-homemade-pasta-dough-recipe-ever/
Pasta comes in many shapes. Pasta is either rolled and cut or extruded into a shape. Each shape is designed to highlight the use. Some pastas hold on better to thinner sauces and some onto thicker. Some shapes are meant to hold ingredients within the shape.
Clever folk, right, to take the same recipe and get so many variations and therefore different dishes and tastes.
Here are types of pastas and a couple of examples of each--there are MANY more:
long pasta (rolled/cut or extruded)--spaghetti; fusilli (corkscrew)
short-cut extruded--cannelloni; macaroni
decorative pasta--farfalle (bow tie); orecchiette (ear-shaped)
minute pasta--orzo (rice-shaped); alfabeto (alphabet letters)
stuffed pasta--ravioli; tortellini
irregular shapes--gnocchi; spaetzle
For a more complete listing: