Carbonara

Quick Look_______________



I post this with some reservations. Carbonara is cheap, quick, easy, and people enjoy it; however, it's not that healthy. The main ingredients are bacon, eggs, butter, and cheese. I guess it's not that bad if you don't make it too often. Use this recipe at your own risk! With that said...many people I know love carbonara and it really is quite delicious. This recipe comes from Tim So from Gracepoint Fellowship Church, Taiwan.
  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 20-30 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Labor Intensity: It would be good to have an extra hand - one watching the noodles/eggs mixture and the other making the bacon mixture.
  • 30 servings, adjust by 1.5x if your group tends to eat multiple servings.
  • *This recipe is enough for 1 serving per person, people may want seconds!

Ingredients_______________

  • 6lb pasta noodles (spaghetti, linguine, fettuchini) [4lbs for about $5 at smart and final, or about $1-$2/lb at safeway/lucky)
  • 18 eggs (about $3)
  • 2 sticks of butter
  • 1 cup good quality olive oil (Berkeley Bowl Organic Olive Oil is really good $10/3cup)
  • 2 pound bacon, cut into small strips (Bacon ends and pieces $1.69/lb @ Lucky at the end of the pork section)
  • 4 cup (1lb) sliced parmesan ($5 at safeway/lucky) [this isn't the grated kind you put on pizza, it's bagged with the other cheeses]
  • 3 bunches garlic (minced)
  • 2 tbs salt
  • 2 tbs pepper
  • 1 cup minced Italian parsley (not that important)
  • Total: under $30.00

Directions_______________

  • Mix eggs, salt, and parmesan in a bowl
  • Cook bacon until crispy, then reduce the heat and add the olive oil, butter, pepper, and garlic. Be careful not to actually cook the olive oil too hot or all of the flavors will get burnt off. Cook until the garlic looks tasty golden (about a minute or two)
  • Cook the pasta according to directions. When draining the pasta, save 1 cup of the pasta cooking liquid. Be careful not to overdrain the pasta: wash in a little bit of hot water, then return it to the cooking pot with just enough of the reserved water to keep it from clumping.
  • Wait about 60 more seconds to let the noodles cool a bit. Then add the egg mixture, tossing to coat all the noodles. Then add bacon mixture and stir. If cheese clumps up too much, or if it doesn't look creamy at all, add just enough pasta water to loosen stuff up.
  • Sprinkle parsley on top and serve.

Tom's Tips and Tricks_______________

Be careful not to cook the egg mixture. After you add the egg mix to the hot pasta, watch it carefully. If it starts clumping and looks like scrambled eggs, stop stirring and let it sit a little to cool down and then stir again.

[Possible side dish] salad and bread rolls

Dishgracepoint Poll - weekly specials

Every week I post specials from grocery stores in the Alameda - Berkeley area. In the beginning I wanted to focus on meat because it's the most effective way to reduce costs (for example, buying chicken from store X @ $1.99 instead of store Y @ 3.99 could save about $40 for a large group dinner) whereas other items would not be as dramatic (probably a couple dollars here and there).

So I'm left with a dilemma: should I post more (which could be useful, but would clutter up the blog and lead to long posts for items that wouldn't save as much) or keep it short with just meat (which I feel is the most bang for the buck in terms of posting space). Also I don't have as much experience with produce pricing so I don't really know what's a good deal for certain items and will just post what's advertised.

Anyways, you can vote to the column on the top right. If there is a majority, I'll start posting produce and whatever else you guys want. Also, if there's something else you'd like to see (desserts, drinks, snacks), you can leave a comment and I'll add it on to the options.

Food Safety pt2 - toxic foods

I wanted to write a little more about food safety and bring a little more clarity to the topic. There are 2 types of foodborne illness: food intoxication and food infection.

Food intoxication:
This is when the food is contaminated by toxins (usually a byproduct of bacteria). Bacterial count is not necessarily important because it is the toxins that cause the illness; however, bacterial count is usually a contributor.

Food infection:
This is when one consumes a large quantity of bacteria or microorganisms. In this case it is the bacteria and microorganisms themselves that multiply in the digestive tract and cause the illness.

The toxins in food intoxication are heat resistant (they aren't living organisms that could be killed by heat but toxic compounds that remain). Improper handling of raw food could allow bacteria to multiply and produce toxins. The food could be fully cooked (or well done) to kill all the bacteria, but the toxins remain. In addition, there needs to be proper handling after cooking. Warm food could become toxic if held at a warm temperature too long. The food could be reheated to kill all the bacteria, but still is unsafe to eat.There needs to be correct handling in terms of time/temperature at every stage of food prep/service.

Another thing to watch for is that food toxins could be undetectable. There may not be a funny smell or discoloration. The general rule of thumb is to keep potentially hazardous food in the temperature danger zone for no more than 4 hours before it should be discarded. To err on the safe side: if it's been out too long, I wouldn't put too much faith in it. Toxic food produces some really nasty symptoms.

What do you need to do to ensure safety?
  1. Use separate tools for meat and veggies to prevent cross contamination
  2. Keep raw food refrigerated and out only when necessary to prevent bacterial growth
  3. Fully cook the food (rare or medium rare is safe in certain conditions)
  4. Refrigerate leftovers within 4 hours if possible.
  5. Another simple tip: wash your hands before touching food! This is one easy way to prevent illness and unfortunately is often neglected,

Food Safety

There's nothing worse than giving foodborne illness to your ministry group. Most people think that once food is fully cooked the threat is gone; however, it is extremely important to correctly handle food after it is cooked. The nature of many of our events require that we often do food prep in the morning and let it sit for hours, but what's safe and acceptable?

What are the factors for controlling microorganism growth?

Temperature:
Disease causing microorganisms multiply between 41F and 135F (known as the temperature danger zone). Within that range, microorganisms grow most rapidly between 70F (room temp) and 125F.

Time:
Bacteria double every 20 minutes. The National Restaurant Association (NRA) set 4 hours as the limit for food in the temperature danger zone. At this point there are about 400,000% more bacteria and can potentially make someone ill. After 4 hours, restaurants are required by law to discard the food. These are strict standards to ensure safety, I wouldn't go much longer, but it is possible for food to still be safe after 4-5 hours if it isn't a potential hazardous food.

Acidity:
Microorganisms grow best at neutral or slightly acidic pH, which is most of what we eat.

Food:
Microorganisms need building blocks of proteins and carbs to grow. Once food is cooked, there is abundant access to these things. For example, potatoes can last for a long time when raw. But when cooked like in potato salad, the structure breaks down and bacteria now has access to broken down carbs and amino acids.

Moisture:
Microorganisms need water to grow. Unfortunately, most of the food we eat is moist and promote bacterial growth.

The 2 factors that people can control are time and temperature. One dangerous practice is to keep food warm by keeping it in a cooler for a long time. The food is kept within the danger zone for an extended time (warm means incubation temperature where bacteria thrive) and steam is trapped, keeping the environment humid and moist. This is fine if it is held for less than 4 hours; but beyond that, I would not recommend keeping food warm in a cooler.

For this reason, leftover food should be refridgerated immediately. If it has a funny smell, toss it! Depending on the food, it is possible to keep warm food safely beyond 4 hours; however, it's better to err on the safe side when planning your next event.