Monday, February 28, 2011

How to make the PERFECT pasta meal

“It is so much more than just grabbing a jar of generic sauce at the store, boiling some water and mixing it all up in a bowl,” said Dave Hirschkop, the namesake of the Dave’s Gourmet ( line of sauces and veteran pasta and sauce aficionado. “There are subtle secrets in every step of the process, from choosing the sauce, boiling the water, and plating the finished meal that can take an everyday dull meal and turn it into a gourmet dining experience.

He should know. His sauces have been named tops in the industry by the Sofi Awards two years running, making him a recognized expert in designing the perfect bowl of pasta. His tips include:

* Choosing the Pasta -- If you want a great pasta experience, choose a variety of pasta that receives the sauce and spices well. Thinner more delicate shapes should pair with lighter thinner sauces. Pick pasta made from durum wheat and a slightly rougher pasta or shaped pasta holds the sauce better.

* Choosing the Sauce -- Good marinara is made primarily from tomatoes, not tomato paste. If your sauce ingredients list paste, water or sugar as the first ingredient, then you need to put the jar down slowly and back away from it. Some sauces make a better base so don’t be afraid to doctor it with meat, cheese, or fresh veggies. Also, to keep your pasta love life interesting, experiment with different flavors of sauce (tomato cream, butternut, wild mushroom, etc.).

* Boiling the Pasta -- Use plenty of water, add salt to it, and never put dry pasta in the water until it has reached a rolling boil. Stir occasionally and, once the pasta nears the minimum cooking time on the package start tasting it. Take the pasta out when it is al dente or a little firm. The pasta will continue to cook a little after you take it out.

* Heating the Sauce – For an even more flavorful pasta dish take the pasta out of the water a few minutes early and let it finish cooking in the sauce.

* Plating the Pasta -- When you strain the pasta, do not run water over the pasta unless you are making a cold pasta salad. Make sure to strain really well as nobody likes watery pasta. Place a ladle of sauce at the bottom of your serving bowl before dumping the cooked pasta in. Then, ladle generous amounts of sauce into the bowl, and toss the pasta so the sauce is evenly distributed. Then you can add extra sauce to each plate according to your dinner guests’ taste. You might want to garnish each plate with some fresh basil or even parsley. Freshly grated Parmesan or Parmesan Reggiano is a great touch and tasty

* Preparing the Bread -- The bread is important, because at the end of the meal, a good textured bread can be used to soak up the excess sauce in the plate. To make the most of the bread, bake it for 6-8 minutes at 350 degrees. This will make for toasty nooks and crannies that will capture the sauce in your plate without letting the bread go limp or soggy. Garlic bread can also be a delicious alternative.

“A great pasta meal is all about the details and the creative flair,” Dave added. “If you take care to pay attention to those details and put forth a tiny bit of extra effort, every pasta meal at home can be a gourmet meal you can be proud of.”


You pierced WHAT?

Amazingly, body trends are being followed by home and design trends, but it's not the little black dress that's being followed. Instead, you'll be seeing edgier trends including piercings, tattoo's and more. Check out these way's to pierce your home, without leaving a hole that won't close up!

Not ready to pierce your body? Check out atypyk for this pierced mug.

Belly button rings abound in Ron Gilad's lighting and wall fixtures.


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Royal Holiday gets an "A"

It's been a LONG time since I've seen a report card. Ben is an adult, and it's been a gazillion years since I was in a classroom, but I do recall the thrill of getting that piece of paper and seeing the first letter of the alphabet staring back at me.

It's no different when it's a company involved and they're getting that big "A" for doing things the RIGHT WAY. One of my favorite vacation companies "Royal Holiday" has just received that honor for their hard work of making guests and owners happy by the Better Business Bureau. If you're a long term reader, you know that Royal Holiday spoiled me in Cancun last year (and they can spoil you as well).

I'm thinking that an "A" is not enough...perhaps an A+?  With their 100% customer satisfaction rating, you  know that you're going to get the ULTIMATE experience.

To read more about how Royal Holiday measures up, just check out this recent article from CNBC

To celebrate their perfect score Royal Holiday is giving away a Sony Cybershot 12.1 Digital Camera to one of Champagne Living's readers!


Extra Entries

* Be sure to leave a comment letting me know if you've done any of these (if you already subscribe or have our badge - please note that in the comments as well).

* This giveaway is open to US residents, 18 and over and ends on March 11, 2011 11:59 EST.
* Good Luck

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