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How to Make Your own Pasta

There are few things more satisfying than to make your own pasta.  It is delicious, inexpensive, healthy (no additives) and looks like you went to a hell of a lot of trouble for your guests.  (but it is easy).  I’ve been making my own pasta and teaching others for close to 40 years.  The following video by Jamie Oliver is a good example of how easy and fast it is to make your own pasta.  You can even dry and freeze your fresh pasta for even quicker meals later.

Jamie Oliver

 

 

Recipe

The recipe I’m about to give you is different than Jamie’s but I’ve had good results over the years with it.

1 cup of all-purpose or whole wheat or semolina flour

1 T olive oil

1 1/8 tsp salt

1 whole egg

1/2 c water (only use as much of it as necessary)

This is enough for 2 normal servings.  For a dinner of two couples I would make at least 3 of these.  If you have leftovers, freeze them or refrigerate and use them tomorrow.

Method

Just as in Jamie’s video, I’d mix the dough in a food processor.  Put all of the ingredients in the processor except the water.

Turn on the processor and as it turns into a grainy texture, drizzle, very slowly, water in through the feed port.  Stop adding water just as the dough starts to ball up.  Continue to process for another 10 seconds until the dough sticks to the blade in a ball and spins around the processor.  Remove and rest the pasta ball under a clean towel for 5 minutes, or while you make the other servings you require.

By hand

To continue by hand, knead the dough  for 5 minutes or until it is elastic without cellulite like bumps in it.  Dust the rolling surface with flour and roll out your pasta into long thin sheets about a 1/16 of an inch thick.  Then dust the sheets again with flour and roll the sheets into loose rolls to slice with a knife to the thickness of pasta desired.

By Machine 

Using a pasta machine is by far the best way to make pasta.  You can find machines everywhere and for all prices.  My machine is a Pasta Queen and has 8 settings, allowing me to make very thin pasta.  Some machines are expense, electric machines that do almost everything for you.  You can get a decent machine for under $40.00

Knead the pasta on the thickess setting until it is smooth.  Then lower the setting one pass at a time until you reach the desired thickness.  Then turn the handle around to the cutting side and cut into noodles.
                                             

Cooking Fresh Pasta

Cooking fresh pasta couldn’t be easier or quicker.  Bring a large pot of water and 3 T of salt to a boil.  When you reach a rolling boil add your fresh pasta.  You’ll need to have your colander ready in the sink because the cooking should only take 45 to 90 seconds.  After the noodles are done transfer them into the colander and briefly run cold water on them to stop the cooking.  After draining the pasta, place the colander, pasta and all on top of or in the still warm (but not on) pot.  Stir in a little butter or olive oil.  Season and serve.

 

I hope you try this pasta making thing.  You can have fun with your guests or kids – jughandle

 

A Reversal on Carbs

Article from the LA Times:

A reversal on carbs

Fat was once the devil. Now more nutritionists are pointing accusingly at sugar and refined grains.

By Marni Jameson, Special to the Los Angeles Times

December 20, 2010

Most people can count calories. Many have a clue about where fat lurks in their diets. However, fewer give carbohydrates much thought, or know why they should.

But a growing number of top nutritional scientists blame excessive carbohydrates — not fat — for America’s ills. They say cutting carbohydrates is the key to reversing obesity, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and hypertension.

“Fat is not the problem,” says Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. “If Americans could eliminate sugary beverages, potatoes, white bread, pasta, white rice and sugary snacks, we would wipe out almost all the problems we have with weight and diabetes and other metabolic diseases.”

It’s a confusing message. For years we’ve been fed the line that eating fat would make us fat and lead to chronic illnesses. “Dietary fat used to be public enemy No. 1,” says Dr. Edward Saltzman, associate professor of nutrition and medicine at Tufts University. “Now a growing and convincing body of science is pointing the finger at carbs, especially those containing refined flour and sugar.”

Americans, on average, eat 250 to 300 grams of carbs a day, accounting for about 55% of their caloric intake. The most conservative recommendations say they should eat half that amount. Consumption of carbohydrates has increased over the years with the help of a 30-year-old, government-mandated message to cut fat.

And the nation’s levels of obesity, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease have risen. “The country’s big low-fat message backfired,” says Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health. “The overemphasis on reducing fat caused the consumption of carbohydrates and sugar in our diets to soar. That shift may be linked to the biggest health problems in America today.”

To understand what’s behind the upheaval takes some basic understanding of food and metabolism.

All carbohydrates (a category including sugars) convert to sugar in the blood, and the more refined the carbs are, the quicker the conversion goes. When you eat a glazed doughnut or a serving of mashed potatoes, it turns into blood sugar very quickly. To manage the blood sugar, the pancreas produces insulin, which moves sugar into cells, where it’s stored as fuel in the form of glycogen.

If you have a perfectly healthy metabolism, the system works beautifully, says Dr. Stephen Phinney, a nutritional biochemist and an emeritus professor of UC Davis who has studied carbohydrates for 30 years. “However, over time, as our bodies get tired of processing high loads of carbs, which evolution didn’t prepare us for … how the body responds to insulin can change,” he says.

When cells become more resistant to those insulin instructions, the pancreas needs to make more insulin to push the same amount of glucose into cells. As people become insulin resistant, carbs become a bigger challenge for the body. When the pancreas gets exhausted and can’t produce enough insulin to keep up with the glucose in the blood, diabetes develops.

The first sign of insulin resistance is a condition called metabolic syndrome — a red flag that diabetes, and possibly heart disease, is just around the corner. People are said to have the syndrome when they have three or more of the following: high blood triglycerides (more than 150 mg); high blood pressure (over 135/85); central obesity (a waist circumference in men of more than 40 inches and in women, more than 35 inches); low HDL cholesterol (under 40 in men, under 50 in women); or elevated fasting glucose.

About one-fourth of adults has three or more of these symptoms.

“Put these people on a low-carb diet and they’ll not only lose weight, which always helps these conditions, but their blood levels will improve,” Phinney says. In a 12-week study published in 2008, Phinney and his colleagues put 40 overweight or obese men and women with metabolic syndrome on a 1,500-calorie diet. Half went on a low-fat, high-carb diet. The others went on a low-carb, high-fat diet. The low-fat group consumed 12 grams of saturated fat a day out of a total of 40 grams of fat, while the low-carb group ate 36 grams of saturated fat a day — three times more — out of a total of 100 grams of fat.

Despite all the extra saturated fat the low-carb group was getting, at the end of the 12 weeks, levels of triglycerides (which are risk factors for heart disease) had dropped by 50% in this group. Levels of good HDL cholesterol increased by 15%.

In the low-fat, high-carb group, triglycerides dropped only 20% and there was no change in HDL.

The take-home message from this study and others like it is that — contrary to what many expect — dietary fat intake is not directly related to blood fat. Rather, the amount of carbohydrates in the diet appears to be a potent contributor.

“The good news,” adds Willett, “is that based on what we know, almost everyone can avoid Type 2 diabetes. Avoiding unhealthy carbohydrates is an important part of that solution.” For those who are newly diagnosed, he adds, a low-carb diet can take the load off the pancreas before it gets too damaged and improve the condition — reducing or averting the need for insulin or other diabetes meds.

Americans can also blame high-carb diets for why the population has gotten fatter over the last 30 years, says Phinney, who is co-author of “The New Atkins for a New You” (Simon & Schuster, 2010).

“Carbohydrates are a metabolic bully,” Phinney says. “They cut in front of fat as a fuel source and insist on being burned first. What isn’t burned gets stored as fat, and doesn’t come out of storage as long as carbs are available. And in the average American diet, they always are.”

Here’s how Phinney explains it: When you cut carbs, your body first uses available glycogen as fuel. When that’s gone, the body turns to fat and the pancreas gets a break. Blood sugar stabilizes, insulin levels drop, fat burns. That’s why the diet works for diabetics and for weight loss.

When the body switches to burning fat instead of glycogen, it goes into a process called nutritional ketosis. If a person eats 50 or fewer grams of carbs, his body will go there, Phinney says. (Nutritional ketosis isn’t to be confused with ketoacidosis, a dangerous condition that can occur in diabetics.)

Beyond the fat-burning effects of ketosis, people lose weight on low-carb diets because fat and protein increase satisfaction and reduce appetite. On the flip side, simple carbs cause an insulin surge, which triggers a blood sugar drop, which makes you hungry again.

“At my obesity clinic, my default diet for treating obesity, Type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome is a low-carb diet,” says Dr. Eric Westman, director of the Lifestyle Medicine Clinic at Duke University Medical Center, and co-author of the new Atkins book. “If you take carbohydrates away, all these things get better.”

Though the movement to cap carbs is growing, not all nutritional scientists have fully embraced it. Dr. Ronald Krauss, senior scientist at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute and founder and past chair of the American Heart Assn.’s Council on Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism, says that while he fundamentally agrees with those advocating fewer dietary carbs, he doesn’t like to demonize one food group.

That said, he adds, those who eat too many calories tend to overconsume carbohydrates, particularly refined carbohydrates and sugars. “It can be extremely valuable to limit carbohydrate intake and substitute protein and fat. I am glad to see so many people in the medical community getting on board. But in general I don’t recommend extreme dietary measures for promoting health.”

Joanne Slavin, professor of nutrition at the University of Minnesota and a member of the advisory committee for the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, is less inclined to support the movement. The committee, she says, “looked at carbohydrates and health outcomes and did not find a relationship between carbohydrate intake and increased disease risk.”

Most Americans need to reduce calories and increase activity, Slavin adds. Cutting down on carbs as a calorie source is a good strategy, “but making a hit list of carbohydrate-containing foods is shortsighted and doomed to fail, similar to the low-fat rules that started in the 1980s.”

As nutrition scientists try to find the ideal for the future, others look to history and evolution for answers. One way to put our diet in perspective is to imagine the face of a clock with 24 hours on it. Each hour represents 100,000 years that humans have been on the Earth.

On this clock, the advent of agriculture and refined grains would have appeared at about 11:54 p.m. (23 hours and 54 minutes into the day). Before that, humans were hunters and gatherers, eating animals and plants off the land. Agriculture allowed for the mass production of crops such as wheat and corn, and refineries transformed whole grains into refined flour and created processed sugar.

Some, like Phinney, would argue that we haven’t evolved to adapt to a diet of refined foods and mass agriculture — and that maybe we shouldn’t try.

health@latimes.com

 

 

 

 

Spaghetti with Egg and Pangritata

This recipe is borrowed from the Circle B Kitchen and is a great example of a filling delicious meal made very inexpensively.  Please check it out and follow Circle B Kitchen’s blog, it’s great! – Jug

Spaghetti with Egg and Pangritata
Recipe Type: Main
Author: Recipe adapted from Food52
Prep time: 30 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 1 hour
Serves: 4
As noted above, I found this recipe on the Food52 website and have switched up a couple of ingredients and adapted it for a whole pound of pasta. I’ve made this several times now, and each time I get better at timing when to add the pasta to the skillet. You really need to add it the minute that the egg whites are just barely cooked. You don’t want to let the yolks cook as they will get cooked when you add the hot pasta to the pan. We love the flavors and the crunch of the pangritata topping, which is also great on top of fish and veggies. Serves 4
Ingredients
  • For the Pangritata::
  • cup olive oil
  • 1 1/3 cups coarse breadcrumbs
  • 1 ½ tablespoons of minced fresh rosemary
  • zest of two lemons
  • Spaghetti and Eggs:
  • 1 lb spaghetti
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6-8 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Instructions
  1. Pangritata:
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. Add the breadcrumbs and sauté until golden and crispy, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  4. Add the rosemary, and immediately remove from heat and allow to cool.
  5. Mix in lemon zest and set aside.
  6. Spaghetti and Eggs:
  7. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil and cook pasta to al dente according to directions on box. (I usually undercook the pasta by about a minute.)
  8. Wipe out the skillet from the pangritata, add the olive oil and butter and melt together over medium heat.
  9. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and immediately break the eggs into the skillet.
  10. If need be, lower the heat a bit. You want the garlic to cook without burning and the egg whites to set, but the yolks to remain runny.
  11. Drain the pasta well, reserving 1 c of the cooking liquid.
  12. Add pasta back to the pot,
  13. pour over the eggs and all the fat from the skillet,
  14. add the parsley and toss well, breaking up the eggs as you do.
  15. If you prefer a wetter dish, you can add in some of the reserved cooking liquid.
  16. Plate the pasta and eggs, season well with freshly ground black pepper,
  17. sprinkle with the grated cheese and then top with the pangritata.