Cooking made easy: recipes for students

It’s a Tuesday evening.  You finish your workday, come home and realize you don’t have any food in the house.  As you are on your way to the grocery store, you begin to think about what you are hungry for.  With time being at your disposal this evening, you decide you’d like to make something that you’ve never made before and you would like it to be different than your usual diet.

This being a situation that a self-sustaining adult might have the privilege of going through leads to questions like, “What should I eat?” and “How do I make it?”

If you are ever in this position and decide to venture into the making of Italian cuisine, then shrimp scampi or angel hair pasta with meat sauce are two options to consider.

The problem with cooking authentic tasting Italian cuisine is people do not know where to start, and what better place to start than with recipes from an Italian restaurant and an Italian family.

Anthony Glover, who has been working as a dinner cook at Valerio’s Italian Restaurant in Erie for six months, has become very familiar with the preparation, cooking and serving of multiple authentic Italian dishes, but the shrimp scampi is the dish he enjoys cooking and eating the most.

However, before any cooking gets done, Glover said it’s important to have all the necessary pots, pans and other cooking utensils out to save time.  For the shrimp scampi, you will need two stove pots, a stove pan, a pasta strainer, a plastic spatula, dry and liquid measuring cups, cutting knives and a plate for serving.

The first step to preparing a shrimp scampi is to first begin heating two pots of water to a boil.

“In order to save time, I like to start preparing the other ingredients while the water is coming to a boil,” Glover said.

The next ingredient Glover begins preparing is the Alfredo sauce.  The Alfredo sauce used at Valerio’s is prepared to make 12 servings and the excess servings that are not needed at the moment are stored in a cooler for a later meal.  According to Glover, the Alfredo sauce calls for 2 cups of melted butter and garlic, 1½ pints of heavy cream, salt and pepper to add flavor, 1½ cups of shredded Romano cheese, 1½ cups of powdered parmesan cheese and 1 teaspoon of chopped garlic.

The ingredients for the scampi sauce are then put on a heated stove pan, where the ingredients are mixed with a plastic spatula and heated until bubbling.  The total preparation time for the scampi sauce is 15 minutes if the stove temperature is at the highest capacity.  After explaining the process of preparing the Alfredo sauce, Glover had something to admit.

“Truth be told, a serving here is the equivalent of a 1½ servings because it is better to have more sauce than not enough, unless the customer says they specifically want a certain amount of sauce,” Glover said.

By this time, the water in the pot that will cook the pasta and shrimp has come to a boil.  Traditionally at Valerio’s, a fettuccini pasta is used and cooked in the boiling water for 8-12 minutes.

The second pot full of boiling water will be used to cook the shrimp.  At Valerio’s, one serving of shrimp for a shrimp scampi calls for eight to 12 pieces of average sized shrimp.  Because the water is already at a boil, the frozen shrimp should be cooked fully in 10-12 minutes.

Once the pasta is slightly undercooked and the shrimp is fully cooked, it is time to strain the water boiling the pasta and begin the serving process.  According to Glover, it is important to strain all of the water from the pasta noodles because if water is left, it will make the entire dish watery and lacking taste.

When the pasta is finally strained, place the noodles in the pan of scampi sauce.  Now that the scampi sauce and fettuccini pasta are prepared, it is time to mix the two together.  Depending on how comfortable you are with certain cooking techniques, there are different ways to go about mixing the sauce and pasta.

One way, Glover said, would be the flip the pasta and scampi sauce in the pan until they are mixed well. Or, one could use a plastic spatula to mix the ingredients.

“Either way,” Glover said, “will do the job

ust fine, though.”

After the mixing is complete and the scampi sauce is equally distributed through the fettuccini noodles, the contents of the pan are ready to be put on a plate.  Once you have slowly taken the pan’s contents and poured them on to a plate, the dish is complete and ready to be eaten.

Shrimp scampi falls under the category of white pasta sauce, meaning that the sauce used is Alfredo, as well as the combination with butter mixed with garlic in this specific case.  Similar to white sauce pasta meals, Elizabeth Strelecki has been working on a homemade family recipe for red meat sauce pasta meals since 1970. Strelecki is making a regular angel hair pasta with tomato sauce, her husband’s favorite. She said the first step is to dice the tomatoes and then crush them for the sauce.

According to Strelecki, the cooking utensils you will need in order to make an angel hair pasta dinner with red meat sauce are a stove pot with a diameter of at least 8 inches for the red sauce, a stove pan for the ingredients needing cooked before being added to the crushed tomatoes, a wooden spoon, a stove pot for the pasta, a pasta strainer, dry and liquid measuring cups, cutting knives and a container or plate for the end product.  For the meal itself, Strelecki uses a number of ingredients.

Strelecki said for the red meat sauce, you will need a 24-ounce can of crushed tomatoes.  You can prepare the crushed tomatoes yourself, but it is cheaper and less time-consuming to use a prepared can of crushed tomatoes.  You will also need 4 tablespoons of diced garlic, a red bell pepper, 2 tablespoons of basil, three diced onions, salt and pepper, dried red chili peppers, a pound of ground beef, one-fourth teaspoon of oregano, olive oil and one-fourth cup of red wine.

To start off, Strelecki fills the stove pot that will boil the pasta with water to about halfway, turns the stove to maximum heat and begins to bring the water to a boil.  While the water is coming to a boil, add olive oil to a heated pan, along with the pound of ground beef, diced onions, bell and chili peppers and 4 tablespoons of diced garlic.  Begin to cook the contents in the pan until the ground beef is cooked to your liking.

When the ground beef has been cooked, add the 24-ounce of crushed tomatoes to the contents of the pan.  Strelecki suggests placing the crushed tomatoes and ground beef mixture in a separate pot, rather than using the pan where the ground beef mixture was being prepared.

“Of course you will have to make another pot dirty, but you don’t want to add any charred pieces of meat to the sauce,” Strelecki said.  “The charred meat will throw off the taste of the sauce, but this should not be a problem if you put enough olive oil in the pan when you are cooking the ground beef.”

Once the ground beef mixture is combined with the crushed tomatoes, begin stirring the sauce while it is being heated at a low temperature.  After five minutes of stirring, add one-fourth teaspoon of oregano, as well as salt and pepper to your own discretion.

The sauce is now ready to sit, while still being heated at a low temperature, for 30 minutes to an hour.  Check the sauce every 10 minutes in order to make sure the sauce is not accidentally overcooked.  Strelecki said while the sauce is cooking, you can begin cooking the noodles so by time the sauce is done, the angel hair pasta is ready to be strained.

Place the pasta noodles in the pot half-full of water that has been coming to a boil.  Let the noodles cook for 8-12 minutes, depending on how well you would like your pasta cooked.  Because the red sauce takes longer to cook then the angel hair pasta, Strelecki suggests to not begin cooking the pasta until 15 minutes before the red sauce is done cooking.  As well as beginning the cooking of the pasta 15 minutes prior to the sauce being done, add one-fourth cup of red wine to the sauce.

“If the sauce seems too thick, you can add water or more wine to the sauce until the sauce is how you would like,” Strelecki said.  “After you’ve added the red wine and put the pasta in the boiling water, all there is to do is wait until each are cooked to your liking.  Once the pasta is strained, the meal is ready to be eaten.”

The next time you are in the mood to spend a little bit of extra time on a meal, the shrimp scampi or angel hair pasta with red meat sauce are two dishes you can attempt to make.  Not knowing how or what to make will no longer be an obstacle for making Italian cuisine.


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