My Attempt at Baked Ziti…

To overcome my biggest fear of failure, I have decided to cook! I rarely ever cook and since I have not been living with my mom since I was 18, she never really had a chance to teach me how to cook. I am such a terrible cook that I even once failed to even follow directions to bake brownies… Which made me really disappointed in myself and then I never had the desire to cook anything else.Image

But I will never learn unless I take chances and learn from my mistakes. So I have decided to try and cook one of my favorite dishes, baked ziti! Although it may be a foolproof dish, with my tendencies to make mistakes, I was extremely nervous to tackle this task. My boyfriend’s mother kept telling me it is going to be easy and simple since it is just making the pasta, sauce and just stirring it all together, but everything is unpredictable for me, so a mistake can definitely occur.

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I’ve tried to re-create two different types of dishes, one was predominately red sauce and the other one was red sauce and pesto, which I found extremely interesting. The first one that I attempted to cook was the red sauce recipe, although at times I was getting frustrated because chopping the onions was extremely difficult and not thinking of boiling water for the pasta while I did everything else, I did not want to ask anyone for help because I wanted to say I did it all on my own. Even though I did not want to fail, I had too much pride to ask anyone!

ImageSince I live with my boyfriend and his family, I had them be my guinea pigs to try what I have attempted to cook. Although they were hesitant, they agreed to eat it and let me know what I could improve for my second recipe. I was extremely nervous to let them try it because I did not want them having terrible stomach aches and spending the rest of the night constantly running to the bathroom.

 

ImageThey ate my first dish and surprisingly they really enjoyed it! A couple of things they mentioned that I could change were to not cook the pasta as long as I did and putting less salt into the sauce! After I seen them enjoy the dish, I was a lot more excited to try and cook my second dish the next day since it was different and it would be a new challenge.

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The second recipe was definitely the same concept, just called for different sauces, not as much meat and used different pasta. I also was a lot more comfortable to multi-task, which saved me a lot more time! They tried my second dish and enjoyed it a lot more than the first one because I didn’t season it as much as I did for the first one and the pasta was not over cooked.

I learnt a lot about myself after cooking two different dishes, which actually surprised me a lot. I’ve learnt that I do not give up easily and I have too much pride, my boyfriend kept teasing me that I’m going to fail and he is going to end up cooking it for me, but I was able to put it in his face that I was able to complete my tasks and at that, I did it on my own! After making 2 successful dishes, beside the fact that I never cook and I have no background experience in cooking, it made me want to try to cook more often and learn! I’m happy with both recipes and will keep them so I can cook it again in the future since we’re pretty pasta-ed out from eating it for a couple days straight…

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Baked Ziti #1 Recipe 

 

Baked Ziti #2 Recipe

History of Pasta

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Pasta is what defines Italian cuisine and Italians do get very upset when people claim their culinary pride as of Chinese origin.  But when you do go back into history, it is also said that there were flat noodles being made in China, which go far as back of 3,000 years ago.  Which they believe that’s what contributed into the creation of pasta, which leads to the idea that Marco Polo was the one who has brought pasta to Italy from his 13th century travels through China.  But at the same time, people say that Italians have been eating something that was a stringy, floury paste long before even Marco Polo brought pasta back to Italy.  And how did pasta eventually travel to the United States? Thomas Jefferson introduced pasta to the U.S. after returning from his late 18th century stay in Europe as a minister to France.  Photo from thenibble.com

So there are different stories and perspectives of how pasta was created and by whom, as well as people having their own stories and thoughts as to where it was first introduced. Then there are different ways that it was being used in dishes, whether it may be sweet or savory. 

Little do people know, pasta was once used to make sweet dishes, which some people actually still re-create to this day.  Italian, Indian and Jewish cuisines actually have traditional dessert pastas, which were a dessert with vermicelli, mixed fruits, nuts and sweetened condensed milk.  During the Renaissance, a lot of Italian pasta sauces were mainly created with sugar and honey, which is called pasticcio! Now a day, people make noodles layered with chocolate and fruits that has been sweetened with sugar. 

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Photo from judithgreenwood.com

Which brings us to savory pastas, which we are all more familiar with and probably have tried once before.  It is created with different pastas, sauces, vegetables and meat.  Which brings me to the dish I am going to re-create: baked ziti.  Baked ziti is basically pasta tossed in sauce and cheese and thrown into a baking dish to put in the oven to bake, which makes the top so crunchy and yummy.

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Baked ziti is supposedly an Americanized version of lasagna, it is definitely an easier way of making lasagna, which can be tedious since you have to put the noodle, sauce, cheese and keep layering.  But all in all, the origin of pasta is still up in the air because history is so easily arguable and people want to think what ever they want to believe. 

photo from redbookmag.com

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photo from canyoustayfordinner.com

How I learnt to love Italian cuisine..

When people ask me what my favorite food is, I am always quick to answer spaghetti!  People always wondered why spaghetti was my favorite food when I am Korean and I grew up to my mom cooking predominately Korean food for my sisters and I to eat. But when I think back on it, I fell in love with spaghetti when I was watching Lady and the Tramp.  I was only six years old and I have never even eaten spaghetti before but while I was watching the movie, I thought it was the most cutest scene ever when Lady and Tramp were sharing a plate of spaghetti with meat balls and they ended up kissing from eating one strand of noodle together. Image Image from beefeaters.com
And ever since I have watched that scene, even though I have never tried it before, my favorite food became spaghetti… I was desperate to know how spaghetti and meatballs tasted, what the sauce was made of, how meat could be formed into little balls.  So I begged my mom over and over again to find a recipe so she can cook it for me.  At first my mom was hesitant because all she has ever cooked was Korean food and that’s what she was good at making, so she did not want to fail me. But after countless times of nagging and begging for her to make spaghetti, she found a recipe in a magazine and decided to make some spaghetti for me to try.

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Image from makinglifedelicious.com
When my mom started to prep to make the spaghetti, I was just so excited with all the groceries laid out across our countertop, there were boxes of noodles, pounds and pounds of ground beef, jars of pasta sauce, many unusual spices, bread crumbs and a whole bunch of other ingredients waiting to be cooked.  My mom then started prepping the meatballs and mixed the ground beef with eggs, breadcrumbs, and spices.  She then started to roll the meatballs up into big round balls as I had seen them in the movie and placed them on a skillet to brown on each side. After that, she put them into the oven so that they cook fully on the inside as well! When she started to cook the pasta sauce that is when my mouth started to water, even though it was jars of spaghetti sauce, the smell of the sauce was something I was very unfamiliar with. I could not wait for everything to be done so I could finally try my first plate of spaghetti with meatballs!!

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Image from joyouslydomestic.com
My mom pulled the meatballs out of the oven and began to place some noodles on my favorite pink plate and poured the delicious smelling sauce all over it.  When all that was done, my mom gently placed three huge round meatballs on top of everything and it looked so scrumptious and much better than it had looked in the movie.  It was everything I dreamt of plus more! 

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Image from gourmet.com
When I twirled the noodles for the first time with my fork and the sauce was dripping down, I took one of the biggest bites I have ever taken of food. And might I say it was more delicious then I could have ever imagined it to be… Ever since then spaghetti has been my favorite food and I literally could eat spaghetti for breakfast, lunch and dinner for weeks on straight.  Then as I grew older, Italian food stuck to me and it became one of my most favorite cuisines to eat when I was out.  And because of that, I discovered baked ziti. When I first tried it, I was taken back with how delicious it was, the top of the slice being so crispy yet it was so gooey with cheese on the inside!  It is a cross between spaghetti and lasagna and it could not be any more amazing.   I love baked ziti because it is foolproof; a person like my mom who has only cooked Korean food was able to even make spaghetti successfully! So although I am not much of a cook and I do not like cooking at all, I am going to attempt and try to make baked ziti, even if it may be foolproof.

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Image from thepioneerwoman.com