How to Make Sauce Cling to Your Pasta

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Cooking pasta with the  emulsion method.
Cooking pasta with the emulsion method

Who doesn’t like pasta? Spaghetti Carbonara, ravioli, elbow, penne, and so much more. It’s comfort food, just like tater tots and cheeseburgers. But have you ever wondered why the sauce clings so well to restaurant pasta but when you make it at home it slides right off and puddles on you plate? The secret is the concept of emulsion. The good news is that you can easily make it happen in your own kitchen!

What is this emulsion anyway? In a nutshell, it’s when two or more liquids that normally won’t mix are forced to come together. For example, mayonnaise is an oil in water emulsion that is stabilized by the lecithin in egg yolk. That’s why you don’t have to stir it up. Peanut butter is another good example (except for the kind that you do need to stir). Now let’s learn how to apply emulsion to home-cooked pasta.

Easy Steps to Making Sauce-Clinging Pasta

  • Bring heavily salted water to a boil in an appropriately-sized pot. I like using “pink” or “Himalayan” salt. Regular table salt has all the minerals stripped out of it.
  • Add the pasta.
  • Do not cook it to the al dente stage; leave it a bit under cooked because it will finish in the sauce.
  • When you go to drain the pasta, reserve a cup of the water. Set the pasta aside.
  • Add your sauce to the now-empty pot. For every 3 ounces of dry pasta that you cooked, use 1/2 cup of sauce.
  • Heat the sauce to a simmer.
  • Add in any extra vegetables that you enjoy.
  • Toss in 1/2 tablespoon of butter (I like Kerrygold Irish butter but it’s your call). Stir in in until it melts. Repeat until you can run a spoon through it and see all the way to the bottom of the pot without the sauce quickly seeping back to fill the gap.
  • Add the drained pasta directly to the pot. Mix vigorously. This will further emulsify and thicken your sauce by grabbing bits of starch from the pasta; mixing your pasta and sauce directly in your pot instead of pouring sauce over a the pasta is the key finishing step to achieve that restaurant quality. Different kinds of pasta interact with different sauces differently. Some soak up more liquid than others. If your sauce is too thick, this is where you can mix some of your reserved pasta water back in, just a wee bit at a time.
  • Serve and enjoy!

I like to serve it with a side of Tuscan kale salad. Go ahead and experiment with making sauce cling to your pasta. Different kinds of pasta, different kinds of sauce; it’s an adventure.


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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation and financial and energy trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.


Enjoying Cold Brew Coffee Makers

Soulhand Cold Brew Coffee Maker
Soulhand Cold Brew Coffee Maker
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“Cold brew coffee” is a trendy item nowadays but the term itself is different from what it was back in the day. My mother used to drink it, but back then it was percolator-brewed coffee that had gone cool and then had ice added.

It’s something quite different today. It’s trendy and gourmet, in other words, pricey. Since it has been going mainstream in local grocery stores in the refrigerated section, and was so expensive, I had to try it. I mean, I’m a coffee fiend, right? Just see my post on making the perfect cup of coffee.

How Cold Brew Coffee Differs from Hot Brew

The first observable difference is that cold brew takes so much longer to make. It’s slow but if you are going to enjoy it on the drive to work, or sitting around in the home office, just start it before you go to bed the night before.

The next thing to note is that it can be strong and caffeine-heavy without the bitterness of a hot brew. This is because the grounds haven’t been hot-water “burned” which results in a cuppa where you can really get the true taste of the beans. It’s slow but the drip is just about one per second so the ice water really does have time to extract all the goodness.

How Much Does Cold Brew Coffee Cost?

The short answer is: whatever you want it to. What I mean to say is that if you have a quality burr-grinder and use whole beans anyway, your day-to-day expense is going to be the same. You should always grind whole beans as you need them because the essential oils that yield the flavor begin to degrade as soon as the grinding is done. This is why commercial ground coffee is vacuum-sealed. But, how long ago? How long has it sat on the grocery store shelf?

As far as the cold brew coffee maker is concerned, the cost is all over the place. The functional parts are negligent price-wise but it goes up from there. I suppose some people like to showcase their brewer as a work of kitchen art (and I can appreciate that as a woodworker) but I just want a good cup of Joe. So as a reference, the one I use (pictured above) is thirty-some-odd dollars, but the fancy tall wooden-frame ones with artistic looking flasks get into the hundreds of dollars.

What Coffee Blend to Use?

That’s up to individual taste and I would suggest experimenting. For myself, I use dark or espresso beans and set the coffee grinder to fine. I have experimented with pre-flavored beans. I have also added ground cinnamon and/or chocolate extract. I commonly add some fresh mint from my herb garden which is the perennial part of my raised bed garden.

Keep in mind that additives don’t always have to be just for flavor. Many also offer health benefits. The cinnamon and mint are good examples but I am planning to try some fresh-grated ginger in the near future.

The bottom line is that if you enjoy your coffee, a cold brew coffee maker could be just the thing during the hot summer months. For my experience, buying it off the shelf at the grocers is just wrong, financially. And doing it myself I can customize it as I like.


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About the author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation and financial and energy trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.


Tater Tots Cheeseburger Casserole Recipe

Tater Tots Cheeseburger Casserole
Tater Tots Cheeseburger Casserole
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There’s something to be said for All-American comfort food. What could be more representative of that culinary niche than the humble cheeseburger? Well, this recipe for Tater Tot Cheeseburger Casserole fits the bill nicely, especially on those summer days when it is raining to much to go out on the backyard deck and fire up the grill. One thing it is not is low-carb.

You’ll notice that this recipe doesn’t really go into all the possible condiments and spices that you may prefer. That is because we believe that burgers should be individually tailored; make this meal your own by throwing in what you are craving. There are things you can add after the fact as well. For example, I’m fond of shaking on some homemade habanero hot sauce.

Ingredients

  • 2 lb. lean (at least 80%) ground beef
  • 1 3/4 cups chopped onion (1 1/2 medium)
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • 3 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (12 oz)
  • 1 cup Original Bisquick™ mix
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 bag (32 oz) Ore-Ida™ Tater Tots™ frozen potatoes

Meal Preparation Steps

  • Pre-heat your oven to 400°F. Spray 13×9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish with your favorite cooking spray.
  • Use a 12-inch nonstick skillet to cook beef and onion over medium-high heat for 8 to 10 minutes. Stir the mixture frequently until beef is brown. Drain. Stir in salt and pepper and spread the mixture in the dish. Sprinkle mixture evenly with 2 cups of the cheese.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, stir Bisquick™ mix, milk, and eggs using a whisk until well-blended. Pour over the cheese layer in the baking dish. Arrange the frozen Tater Tot potatoes on top of casserole.
  • Put dish in oven and bake 40 to 45 minutes or until the potatoes begin to brown. Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of cheese evenly on top of the casserole. Bake 3 to 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Finally, remove the pan from the oven and let it rest 10 minutes before serving.

Recipe Modifications

As I mentioned above, this is a bare-bones recipe yearning for your modifications. Although this is great for kids that are finicky diners, adults are more likely to tweak the basic. Here are some of the possibilities.

  • A layer of tomato slices between the cheese layer and the Bisquick™ mixture.
  • Jalapeno or Serrano peppers anywhere.
  • Powdered ranch dressing mixed into the hamburger meat.
  • Bacon (of course!).
  • And the list goes on…

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation and financial and energy trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.


Habanero Hot Sauce Recipe

Habanero Pepper Plant
Habanero Pepper Plant
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This article was updated on 03/04/19.

I don’t make any bones about it; I like hot sauce and spicy food. I’m not sure if this is something masochistic or not–I try not to overthink it. We have a lot of hot sauce choices here in South Texas; we are not limited to the ubiquitous “Tabasco” brand. But I wanted something different. So here is what I came up with and I think you’ll like it too.

I have to tell you in advance that I am, as much as possible, a stickler for homegrown and organic ingredients (the photo above is one of the habanero pepper bushes I have been cultivating for the past year).

To be honest, I’m not sure about the name of the pepper. It depends. The one I bought called it habanero but they are also called Scotch Bonnet. Back home in Panama we called them Aji Chombo which is likely not a politically-correct term anymore so if you do not want to be called racist do not use it. Whatever you call them, they register, on the Scoville heat unit (SHU) rating, 350,000, which is 100 times hotter than a 3,500 SHU jalapeño. Hungry yet?

I am always looking for more seasoning and sauce recipes for dishes like low-carb egg noodles so here we go.

The Hot Sauce Ingredient List

I did a lot of research and took what I considered to be the best ideas for the ingredients. This is not to say that I plagiarized any other cook’s recipe. I simply developed my own and is quite simple.

  • 6 habanero peppers
  • 6 oz. balsamic vinegar (other recipes favored regular but I just prefer the flavor of balsamic)
  • Juice of 3 limes
  • (optional) 1/4 cup ground flaxseed. High levels of Omega-3 fatty acids is great for cardiovascular health.

Making the Hot Sauce

This is easy as well. Simply whip up all the ingredients in your food processor or juicer. I used my Ninja Bullet that I use to make spaghetti sauce, pesto, and smoothies.

To store the sauce I used one of those glass salad dressing carafes that you can find on the grocery store shelf. I haven’t researched it but I know that when I make hot pepper dishes like Panamanian ceviche I always have to use either glass or metal. It has to do with the acidity, hotness, etc. In any event, I don’t want to be melting a plastic container.


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About the author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation and financial and energy trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.


10 Common Turkey Cooking Mistakes

Turkey for Thanksgiving Dinner
Turkey for Thanksgiving Dinner; YUM!
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It’s fair to say that there is nothing quite as emblematic of Thanksgiving as that prince of birds — the turkey. It didn’t make it to be the national bird as Ben Franklin lobbied for, but it did make it to being the savory symbol of one of our favorite national holidays.

That said, the preparation can cause severe anxiety. It’s far too easy to get it wrong; too dry, undercooked, or overcooked. Let’s look at 10 common turkey cooking mistakes.

Not Thawing the Turkey Long Enough

This is a very common mistake, especially for those first-timers. This mistake will lead to forehead slapping and a mad attempt to finish the thawing process in a sink full of warm water.

As a rule of thumb, allow one day in the refrigerator for each 4 pounds of turkey. Using this rule it is easy to determine approximately how long you need to let it defrost before getting busy cooking your turkey.

Over-Brining the Bird

Many recipes call for brining — soaking in a solution of salt and spice. However, many of the most available commercially-produced turkeys, such as frozen Butterball birds, have already been pre-treated with a solution of salt and spices. This is done in order to stretch out the shelf life, not necessarily to please your palate.

If you do this again (just because the recipe says so), you will end up with a salty bird indeed. Just check the label before you proceed. On the one hand, if the producers have already done it, you have less work to do. On the other hand, you can’t hand-pick your favorite spices. Keep this in mind when you are shopping.

Not Drying the Turkey Sufficiently

If your aim is a crispier skin on the outside you’ll want to thoroughly pat the bird down using paper towels before it goes in the oven. Drying the inside cavity of the turkey is also important but not doing so is also a common mistake. Generally speaking, having a well dried turkey inside and outside will yield a more evenly cooked and flavorful bird.

Cooking the Stuffing Inside the Cavity

Whatever Grandma told you, this is not the best of ideas. The main problem here is that to cook the stuffing through fully and guarantee that all of the bacteria inside the raw bird has been eliminated, you will need to cook the turkey for a longer period of time. The result? Dry, overcooked meat. Embarrassing, chef.

The obvious answer is to make the stuffing from scratch or use one of those basic boxed delicacies. I like to bake a loaf using my oatmeal flax seed bread recipe ahead of time and make it from that. Super healthy. Either way, cook it outside the bird. We won’t tell if you don’t.

Trussing the Legs too Tightly

It makes sense when you think about it; closing off the cavity means longer roasting time and possibly uneven cooking. Your only real limitation is the width of your roasting pan.

Not Investing in a Real Meat Thermometer

Sure, it’s tempting to rely on that little pop-up button thingamajiggy, but these are notoriously unreliable. These may be faulty and pop up when the meat is already overcooked. Since you’ve only got one shot at this, go ahead and invest in a real thermometer. You will get more accurate results and as a bonus, you dinner guests will regard you as a professional. 

Cooking at the Wrong Oven Temperature

We all know some cooks that recommend blasting the turkey at high heat (425°F) for about 30 minutes first and then lower the temperature. However, a low, steady temperature of  325°F from beginning to end is preferable.

Certainly, the initially high-heat method may take 30 to 90 minutes off your total cooking time, but remembering to reduce the temperature  is just one more thing to remember on what is already very busy day.

Not Allowing Your Bird to Rest

No, we’re not talking about letting the turkey take a break. Resting simply means taking it out of the oven when it’s done and simply letting it sit there. This should be done with all meats actually. With a turkey the recommended resting time is 15 minutes.

Why do we do this you might ask? Resting time allows the juices inside the turkey to soak back into the meat, instead of dripping out as soon as you you slice into it. This results in a moister bird. It’s still important to keep the turkey warm so tent it with foil until carving time arrives.

Not Preparing the Surface of the Turkey Properly

It’s not clear whether the Pilgrims did this step or not but things have changed since then. It’s not a difficult step; just rub the turkey all over with olive oil or melted clarified butter. The main reason for this is to ensure that the turkey browns evenly. Aesthetics is important; just ask any chef.

Not Inserting the Thermometer in the Correct Spot

You can’t just spear the bird willy-nilly and expect to get the result that you want. Your target is in the thickest part of the thigh, right smack-dab in the crease where it meets the breast. If your bird weighs in at 18 pounds or less, monitor the temperature beginning at 2.5 hours and every 15 minutes following that. For a turkey above 18 pounds, start checking at 3 hours.

Avoid these 10 common turkey cooking mistakes and you and your guests won’t have to be confronted with a foul fowl.

It’s true that stuffing is the most traditional side dish and that’s fine. But if you like to step out of the box and add a very non-traditional dish, you won’t go wrong with Spaghetti Carbonara.

If you are worried that your guests are getting too hungry due to the extra preparation time it takes to do it just right, why not put out an appetizer? I’ve found that Panamanian-Style Ceviche hits the mark rather well.


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Don’t Make These Mistakes Brewing the Perfect Cup of Coffee

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Cup of coffee and coffee beans
Love a hot cup of coffee!

Coffee; there’s nothing like it, whether when waking up to a breakfast of toast made with homemade bread, taking a social break, of settling a satisfying dinner. It seems so easy but many people make these following mistakes when brewing the perfect cup of coffee.

Using Water from the Faucet

Tap water can be full of impurities and various minerals. This is not to say that it will make you sick, but there is a strong possibility that it will throw the flavor of your java off and deposit scale in your coffee pot. Instead of using tap water, use bottled spring water or filtered water.

Purchasing Pre-Ground Beans

OK, in today’s busy world, you might not want to take the time to grind up some beans in the morning. Just grind it before you go to bed the night before. It will still be great in the morning. Why is this important? Many of the aromas contained in coffee are volatiles. This means they are in a gas form and they are imprisoned in the cells of the beans. But when you grind the beans, these gasses are liberated. Ground coffee from the store, whether it is Free Trade or not, has lost aromas 40 times faster than whole beans by the time you see it. This is why a home grinder is a must-have.

What Kind of Grinder? I’m Confused.

There are basically two kinds of coffee grinders, blade grinders and burr grinders. The blade models have just that–blades, similar to your blender. Of course they are the less expensive of the two.  

Burr grinders utilize two revolving abrasive surfaces (the burrs), in between which the coffee is ground, a few beans at a time. Coffee aficionados will pick burr grinders over blades every time. The reason is that that the beans are ground in a uniform size, the machine is sturdier and will last longer, and you have more control over your grind than you do with a blade. I use the Capresso 560.01 Infinity. It has commercial-grade solid conical steel burrs with advanced cutting design. And the price is reasonable.

Using a Cold Coffee Cup/Mug

This one is a no-brainer, right? There is no sense in having a hot beverage if you are just going to pour it into a container that is going to cool it off. So pre-heat your cup!

You can either pour boiling water into it or pour cold water into it and microzap it for 45 seconds or so. Either way you will be off to a good start. I once worked with a fellow who had a small heated coaster on his desk to keep his brew hot since he drank it sloooowly.

Not Using the Correct Sugar and Milk

OK, if you’ve made it this far in the article, you are serious about your cuppa Joe. There’s no point in not doing it right all the way. Now, I am a stickler about drinking mine black and strong but I realize that many of you like the milk and sugar thing. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that, as Seinfeld would say.)

As far as the sugar goes, raw sugar (turbinado sugar) simply tastes better than white sugar. As for milk, put away the skim, nonfat, or 2% stuff; it will just water down your brew. Instead opt for whole milk or half-and-half. It won’t add that much cholesterol to your diet. If that’s a concern, ask your doctor about statins. A good cup is worth it.

Storing Coffee Beans in the Wrong Place

A popular misconception is that the freezer is a good place to store your coffee beans and grounds. That might sound logical but it doesn’t work that way, no matter what Grandma said.

Ideally they should be stored in a cool, dry place. They will remain in tip-top shape for 1-3 weeks in your pantry if you should store them in an airtight opaque container. They degrade quickly in the presence of light, heat, or oxygen.

So there you have it. Following these tips will ensure that you don’t make the most common mistakes brewing the perfect cup of coffee. And it never hurts to buy organic coffee beans.


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Low-Carb Spaghetti Carbonara Recipe

Carbonara spaghetti may sound exotic but it is really a simple dish. This recipe is a variation on the typical one as it is made with a low-carb diet in mind. One of the things I like about this recipe is that it is open to modification if you feel like adding more spices, using a different species of cheese, etc.

Low-carb black bean spaghetti carbonara
Low-carb black bean spaghetti carbonara

I for one love Italian food. Homemade pizza always goes over big here and one of our favorites is Pizza Margherita. Of course there is always that debate over crispy or thick crust. That’s a battle I have yet to win, yet in the pursuit of domestic tranquility…

Speaking of low-carb Italian dishes, have you tried your hand at making egg noodles? Zero carbs with plenty of nutritional value is a good thing.

Ingredient List

  • 16 oz black bean spaghetti (this is what makes the dish low-carb; if that is not important to you use any kind of past you prefer)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup onions, chopped
  • 10 slices chopped bacon (nitrate free if possible)
  • 1 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 30 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 16 oz black bean spaghetti
  • Chopped parsley (you decide how much)
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Directions

  • Whisk the eggs thoroughly in a large mixing bowl.
  • Whisk in the basil.
  • Whisk in the cheese.
  • Put the spaghetti in a large pan, cover with water, and bring to a boil; stir occasionally.
  • Start cooking the bacon in a skillet or sauce pan; add the onion when the bacon is half-way done; set the pan aside when the bacon is done. There is no need to drain it.
  • When the spaghetti is al dente begin adding it to the egg mixture. Add a bit at a time while mixing.
  • Mix in the bacon/onion mixture.
  • Serve and top with more cheese and parsley if desired.

Did you make any interesting and tasty tweaks to this low-carb spaghetti carbonara recipe? If so, share with our fellow foodies in the comment section below.


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Low Carb Egg Noodles Pasta Recipe



Low carb egg noodles with basil
Low carb egg noodles with basil

Low Carb diets are very popular these days. The main problem is that they can be quite restrictive. People love their pasta; it seems like we are hard-wired for carbohydrates. Pasta is very high in carbohydrates so even one “cheat meal” can set a weight loss program way back. Oh, the guilt! But thanks to this low carb egg noodles pasta recipe, all is not lost.

Note that this recipe is not gluten-free but it boasts 0 carbs per serving (unless you add something else. And with just three basic ingredients it is not a very difficult dish to prepare.

Egg Noodles Pasta Ingredient List (2 smallish servings)

  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • 1 ounce cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon wheat gluten; this is optional but it creates a better texture
  • A dozen or so fresh basil leaves or spice/herb of your choice (basil adds only about 1 carb but 6% RDA of vitamin A)
  • Broth of your choice

Gluten is not the villain it is made out to be. In reality it is a protein and it is the “glue” that holds bread together, especially homemade bread. But if you are sensitive to it just leave it out of the recipe.



Preparation Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Add the cream cheese, eggs, and gluten to a  blender jar.
  3. Blend on high until smooth, about 1 minute.
  4. Pour the mixture out onto a silicone mat that has been placed on top of a heavy baking pan.
  5. Smooth mixture out into a rectangle shape while keeping the mixture very thin.
  6. Bake at 325 degrees F until set; about 15 minutes but your time may vary.
  7. Remove from oven and let it set and cool for a few minutes prior to cutting into strips.
  8. Next,  gently simmer in the broth for about 6 minutes minutes. The broth can be retained for soup or another use. Waste not, want not.

Low carb noodles with Pace Picante Sauce
Low carb noodles with Pace Picante Sauce

Enjoy your low carb egg noodles with the topping of your choice. I enjoy it with Panamanian style ceviche once in a while but each to his own I always say. In the photo above the noodles are slathered with Pace Picante Sauce (hot).

I suppose that makes it like a breakfast burrito minus the tortilla.

 


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Panamanian-Style Ceviche Recipe



Panamanian-style ceviche and tortilla chips
Panamanian-style ceviche and tortilla chips

Ceviche (alternatively known to a lesser extent as cebiche, seviche or sebiche) is a seafood dish popular in most Latin American countries. The exact preparation location dictates the exact ingredient list but the one we will consider here is the Panamanian-style ceviche recipe since that’s what I grew up on.

This dish can be eaten as an appetizer before your homemade pizza or other main dish although I don’t see any reason not to just go ahead and make a meal of it. Although some people have have characterized it as raw fish like sushi, nothing could be further from the truth. The fish undergoes chemical cooking (from the acid in the lime juice) rather than thermal cooking.

For the purpose of this article I’ll give the ingredients for a small batch, as pictured above. If you’re making more just keep the ratios the same, to your liking. Try to use organic ingredients where possible.

Ceviche Ingredient List

  • 1 filet of fish, approximately 8″ long, cut in 1/4″ – 1/2″ cubes. Use any white-flesh, non-oily species. In Panama corvina is used but I can’t get it here so this time I used cod. I used shark once. Only the hot pepper bit back.
  • 1/2 large onion, diced. Any type will do; I use red onions because they taste superior and they add color to the dish.
  • 3 sticks of celery, sliced about 1/4″.
  • Kosher salt as desired; I leave it out because of blood pressure.
  • 2 carrots, cubed or sliced.
  • 1/2 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/2″ chunks.
  • 1 large tomato, diced.
  • 2 large serrano or jalapeno peppers, finely diced. Habanero pepper is traditional if you dare.
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro.
  • Sufficient lime juice to cover ingredients. (Lemon juice can be used in a pinch.) Save yourself some work by buying a bottle at the store rather than squeezing them yourself.

Ceviche Preparation

Panamanian-style ceviche ingredients
Panamanian-style ceviche ingredients

Cut up all ingredients and combine in a glass container. Never metal! Keep in mind that the fish is much easier to work with if it is frozen. Add the lime juice until it just covers the mixture.

Cover the container and store it in the refrigerator for a minimum of 24 hours. This will give the fish and vegetables in the ceviche time to cook and combine flavors.

One of the best things about Panamanian-style ceviche is that it is so versatile. The list of vegetables is up to your taste and imagination.  Some areas of Mexico substitute scallops for the fish; Colombians prefer shrimp.

Enjoy it with a spoon or over homemade oatmeal flax seed bread or scoop it with tortilla chips! Have you experimented with any interesting twists to this recipe? Share them with our readers in the comment section below.


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Delicious Pizza Margherita Recipe

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This article was updated on 8/10/18.

The pizza Margherita is something of a minimalist pizza pie (in my opinion). That doesn’t mean you can’t tweak it by adding anything that floats your boat.  Word has it that in June of 1889 Neapolitan pizzamaker Raffaele Esposito created it to honor the Queen consort of Italy, Margherita of Savoy. He garnished it with tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil to represent Italy’s national colors as they are on the Italian flag.

Despite the simplicity of the recipe, there are a number of variations. For example, some recipes call for the basil to be added after the pie is done. I prefer to put it under the cheese before baking so the herbs flavor cooks into the cheese and sauce.

Optional Pizza Making Equipment

If you really get into making your own pizzas, I recommend:

  • A pizza stone. This is essential if you want top-notch pizza. A good pizza stone does wonders for your crust development because, unlike a baking sheet, it’s completely heated before the pizza is placed upon it. and that, my friend, is how you achieve a crisp and chewy crust that you can’t get out of a box. As you can see above, mine has some serious mileage on it.
  • A pizza peal. This is one of your best friends when using a stone. The one in the image below is typical. You build the pie on it, you transport the pie on it, and you can cut the pie on it. No muss, no fuss.

Pizza Crust Considerations

You basically have two choices. If you have the time and inclination, make your own. Check out this pizza crust recipe. If you are pressed for time, simply buy a crust in the grocery store. Don’t go for the really cheap ones.

The good thing about making your own crust is that you can add in just about anything—herbs, flax seeds, you name it. Use organic ingredients whenever possible. If you don’t have issues with glutin, toss in a teaspoon. Glutin is a wheat protein that holds breads together.

Pizza Topping Ingredients

  • 7 roma tomatoes. You can use the big slicers but the romas are much more economical. Cut up the tomatoes and chop them up in the blender.
  • Mozzarella cheese. How much you use is up to you. Slice it about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick and place it randomly (see the video in the link below under Preparation to see what I like).
  • 1/2 cup chopped basil.

That’s pretty much it for the basic ingredient list. Have fun with it and throw on anything that suits your fancy.

Preparation

This is very easy. Spread the tomatoes out evenly leaving about 1/2 inch around the edge “naked.” Add the basil. Add the cheese randomly. Watch the video. Have patience; it takes a while to load.

Bake that Baby

Preheat your oven (with the pizza stone on an oven rack) to 500 degrees. Bake it until the dough is crisp and browned and the cheese is golden and bubbling in spots. This will usually be from 13 to 16 minutes; just keep an eye on it.  Slide your pie off the peal onto the stone.

Let it rest about 5 minutes and then slice and enjoy!
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