Isn’t it everyone’s big dream? Leave the rat race behind and open up a charming little shop that sells high-end pies/candy/salsas/cheese/whatever. Two area men are chasing that dream, and staff writer Maura Judkis has been shadowing them since March, during the final push as they planned, developed, help build and finally opened Compass Coffee in the District. She tells their story here.
Also in Food this week, Bonnie S. Benwick casts a critical eye on those drab, dried things we occasionally pull out of a small jar on the spice rack. Bay leaves: Do we really need them? The consensus is — well, see for yourself.
Unearthed columnist Tamar Haspel explains why some of us dislike the idea that companies have the right to patent living things, including the food we eat, and she assesses the risks involved. And Canning Class columnist Cathy Barrow concocts a surprising, guilt-free version of Nutella using chocolate, hazelnuts — and apples.
Cathy will be on hand today for the weekly Free Range chat, as will two other special guests: Michael Haft, one of the Compass Coffee co-founders, and herb expert Susan Belsinger, who can weigh in on bay leaves or any other herb-related topic. Do drop in — it starts at noon sharp — and don’t forget to bring questions about coffee and all things culinary. Like this leftover from a previous chat:
Occasionally I cook too much pasta. I don’t like to throw it away, so I generally put it in a resealable bag in the refrigerator, but could I freeze it? I’m talking about plain, from-the-strainer, no-olive-oil, cooked pasta: spaghetti, macaroni, whatever.
You can freeze cooked pasta — frozen-dinner manufacturers do it all the time, right? — but there are caveats.
1. Gluten-free pasta isn’t the best candidate. You can try it, but you might have to do some experimenting.
2. The pasta should have been cooked just up to al dente and not beyond. If it’s too soft, it’s likely to turn mushy or disintegrate when you reheat it after freezing.
3. I know you mentioned “no-olive-oil,” but depending on the shape of your pasta, that might not always work. More on that in a sec.
What I do: For long noodles like spaghetti, linguine or bucatini, I toss a little oil into the drained pasta while it’s still hot, before it has a chance to coalesce into one big doughy lump. Then I let the pasta cool completely and transfer it to resealable bags. To reheat, I defrost the pasta in the refrigerator — sometimes not all the way — then take it out of the bag and drop it into boiling water just until it heats up, which is not very long, though I admit I’ve never timed it. Probably less than a minute. Or if it’s going into soup, I add it at the very end of cooking: soon enough so it can get warm, but late enough so it doesn’t get mushy.
You can use the same method with shaped pastas — macaroni, rotini, shells, etc. — or you can take a different tack that will allow you to omit oil. Cook them to al dente, drain well, then spread them out on baking sheets to freeze in a single layer. Once they’re hard, transfer the frozen pasta to resealable bags for freezer storage.
I recently saw some slightly different advice online. The recommendation was that you should lay out long noodles flat on a baking sheet, straightening them as best you can; then freeze until solid; then package in resealable bags for freezing. I don’t know about you, but I lack the patience (and the time) to arrange noodles in straight lines on baking sheets. Plus, I’d have to buy longer freezer bags for storing them.
So I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing. Try it, and see whether it works for you.