Friday, July 10, 2009

Straight from the heart of Italy- Fresh Figs

It has been a history since Italians have been consuming figs for a incredibly long time -- figs, in concert with cheese, bread, and olives, were amongst the fastener foods of the Roman Legions -- and numerous of the émigré who came to the Americas from the South, wherever they grow exceedingly well, sowed fig trees where they matured, yielding the bounty in the summer and covering the trees in the winter if it got cold. Certainly, for loads of a garden wasn't quite a garden except it had a fig tree.

Currently, most of us have to make do with what we can find in the markets. Opting out for fresh figs are painless, although one caveat does apply: They should come from where it's hot. South Italy is conspicuously hotter than Tuscany in the summer, and the figs Elisabetta and I harvested from the trees external the house we rented in Santa Maria di Leuca (on the very heel of the boot) were more affluent and more succulent than everything we have ever had in Tuscany. Inveterating to selecting, figs range from pale green though deeper blackish burgundy red, and should appear firm, with a rather voluptuous turgid roundness to them. There should be no whitish sap up-and-coming from the stems, though a drop or two of nectar from the gloominess at the bottom of the fig is OK, and trivial splits in the skin (not too deep) are also adequate. If they're overripe they become very sugary, but can also begin to ferment; some people like this amalgamation of flavors while others do not.

For the reason that they mess up quite effortlessly you should sketch on using your figs the day you buy them. Though allocating them at the end of the meal perceptibly comes to mind -- they are, after all, fruit -- they also go very agreeably with sparsely sliced prosciutto as an antipasto; I have observed a French way that involves wrapping the figs in prosciutto and grilling them, but Italians purely serve the cut figs with the prosciutto, much the way they serve melons with prosciutto. If the figs are good and the prosciutto their alike, the blend is perfect as it is.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Food preparation and rationing Pasta

Stimulation foundation can be strained from this feature from Italy, the reality about Pasta, an piece of writing Nancy Harmon Jenkins wrote for the New York Times a at the same time as back, and a strand on the newsgroup in which people said that they preferred their pasta be served with a spoonful of sauce on the top and more on the side so they could add it if they wanted to. When one lives in a country one tends to assume that the national dishes are served the same way beyond the national borders -- this is not necessarily the case when it comes to pasta.

Chief disparity stuck between pasta as it is served in Italy and pasta as it is served elsewhere is that for an Italian pasta is generally a first course, to be followed by a second course of some kind, be it meat, fish, vegetable, or even pizza (many elegant Italian pizzerie offer huge selections of pasta dishes for their guests to start off with). In other words, it is a part of a meal -- important, yes, but certainly not dominant.

Segment size replicate this: One generally figures a bit less than a quarter pound of uncooked dry pasta per person (i.e. 70-80 grams), which translates into a pleasantly full deep-dish plateful. A mound is too much, because it will leave no space for the rest of the meal.

Saucing is also quite important: Moderation is again the key. One to two tablespoons of a liquid sauce such as aglio e olio, and at the most a quarter cup of a thicker sauce such as sugo alla bolognese per person, stirred into the pasta in the serving bowl so as to thoroughly coat the pasta. The pasta should not be swimming in the sauce, nor should it be bone dry: The one complements the other. Grated cheese? Depends upon the sauce; tomato sauce and meat-based sauces generally call for it and cream sauces sometimes profit from it, whereas it can be distracting in vegetable or fish-based sauces. In any case, it is served at the table, and most people opt for one or two teaspoons, not a heavy dusting that overwhelms everything else.

We now come to a thorny issue: What kind of pasta? Though Italian cookbooks, like their English language counterparts, give detailed instructions for home-made pasta, few people here have the time to make it at home except on special occasions. Day-in-and-day-out it's commercially prepared dry pasta out of a box. Nor is this a fallback; properly cooked good quality commercially prepared pasta is just as good if not better than what most people can make at home.

Difference lies in the flour: Commercial producers use semolina, which produces a pasta that will bear up well to cooking, maintaining its pleasant al dente texture on the way to the table. Unfortunately, as a friend of mine who owned a pasta factory observes, preparing dough from semolina requires industrial mixers or several hours of kneading -- more than enough to burn out the motor of a home pasta machine. Because of this home cooks resort to soft wheat flour (grade 00, which has slightly less gluten than American cake flour). The results can be superb but require extreme care in the cooking because the pasta overcooks easily

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Walnuts: Fruits of Fall

This popular variety of dry fruit “Walnuts” are supposed to have instigated at someplace to the east -- perchance China or India, lots of millions of years ago (remnant structure has been found in Miocene sediments) -- although they have long subsisted accepted in Europe as well

They were liked to the maximum scale by the Romans, more than ever at the closing stages of the meal, and they have for eternity played an imperative position in desserts, moreover as toppings (chopped up or whole) or as key ingredients. They moreover arise in spicy dishes, nonetheless less often, and until the prepared accessibility of olive oil (after WW II) the
Piemontese measured walnut oil to be the finest oil for dressing salads.

Procurement and Stockpiling of walnuts

Walnuts nurture in loads of parts of Italy. The greatest are from Sorrento; they're rather shady than the California walnuts one in addition finds in Italian markets, and have a to some extent sharper, more walnutty flavor.

They are traded mutually shelled and unshelled. Shelled nuts are moderately helpful if you need the nutmeats for a recipe; should you buy more than you need store the remainder tightly sealed in the freezer, because the oils in the nutmeats rapidly become rancid when exposed to room-temperature air.

Unshelled walnuts will remain longer at room temperature, although they as well will worsen with time, so you are better off buying smaller amounts as you require them rather than a big bag on sale. Should you buy unshelled nuts for a recipe, outline that a pound of nuts will yield a half-pound of nutmeats.

Final fad:
Walnut meats comprise of a nutty brown skin that is somewhat bitter, and you will likely want to eradicate it before using the nuts in recipes. To do so you will have to blanch the nuts; pour boiling water over the nutmeats with their skins, let the nutmeats soak for a few seconds, and then drain them and rub them with a cloth to remove the skins.