Stirring pasta can prevent sticky situation in the pot


September 14, 1994|By Rita Calvert | Rita Calvert,Special to The Sun

Q: I have a problem cooking pasta shells. They seem to want to nestle inside one another even though I use a large pot and lots of water so as not to crowd them. What can I do to prevent this?

A: To prevent pasta shells (large or small) from sticking together and nestling, make sure the water is vigorously boiling. When adding the shells, stir to keep the water moving. This is the most important time for stirring, because the shells are softening and are most likely to stick at this point. Continue stirring occasionally and keep a watchful eye on this pasta because it clumps easily.

Q: I would love a recipe for making kosher corned beef from beef brisket. Can you help?

A: Beef brisket works well in many beef recipes, such as Beef Barbecue as well as the classic Corned Beef brisket, because it is an economical cut of beef as well as flavorful. The cooking techniques usually require a spice blend for tenderizing and adding flavor and a long slow cooking period. Unfortunately, we don't have enough space here for a complete recipe, but you'll find several cookbooks have good recipes. One such book, "Better Than Store-Bought," by Helen Witty and Elizabeth Schneider Colchie (Harper and Row), supplies a recipe for homemade corned beef that will serve your purposes.

Q: What is couscous and where can I purchase it?

A: The authentic North African dish, couscous is made from a coarse grain that's made with hard durum semolina. The grain itself is also called couscous. There is an instant pre-cooked form of couscous found in supermarkets that cooks very quickly by simply plumping when covered with boiling water. Instant couscous is usually found in the rice and grain section of supermarkets.

Send your questions to: What's Cooking, c/o Food & Home, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278. Or leave your questions by phone by calling Sundial, The Sun's telephone information service, at (410) 783-1800 (268-7736 in Anne Arundel County, 836-5028 in Harford County, 848-0338 in Carroll County). Using a touch-tone phone, punch in the four-digit code 6180 after you hear the greeting. Questions of general interest will be answered in this column.

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