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  1. I guess the title says it all. Does anybody have a good recipe that uses a bottled variety?
  2. I'm only asking because I haven't done it before and I'd like to avoid wasting a bunch of time, eggwhites and butter if it's a bad idea. I have a cupcake job coming up. 1/3 will be covered with Italian Meringue and left, 1/3 Italian Meringue and torched, 1/3 IMBC. Is there any reason I can't just make up a big bowl of IM, take out what I need to use plain and add butter to the remainder? It makes sense to me but I may have overlooked something.
  3. I keep finding that I need candied melon for Italian pastry recipes. Is there anyway to recreate this with US produce?
  4. Recently I read that pasta cooked al dente, or slightly underdone, has less of an effect on blood sugar levels than pasta that is fully cooked, or cooked to be soft. The reason given for this is that it takes longer to digest the al dente pasta and break it down, therefore the sugars are released more slowly into the blood stream. I can't find the citation now - anybody know if this is true, or have any comments on the subject? scb
  5. I visited the Venice fish market in August and posted some pictures and impressions in my panathinaeos weblog. I do not think there is any other market that gives me this sense of freshness and immediacy. The only other one I can think of is in Syracuse, Sicily, on the little island of Ortygia.
  6. Probably like many people, I assumed (apparently incorrectly) that insalata caprese originated on Capri, or at least nearby in Campania, since the ingredients- tomatoes, mozzarella di bufala and basilico are so good there. In the latest issue of Gambero Rosso magazine, there is a little piece about the origins of the salad whereby a native of Capri, Constantino Moffa, who worked as a maitre d' in a Swiss hotel had it for himself so often, and people took to it asking for what the person from Capri had. It made itself to the menu, and the rest is history. Interesting story. Anyone ever hear this bit of food lore before? Always interesting how certain dishes, especially Italian ones, get their names.
  7. i have yet to find an Italian restaurant that makes me want to return to, looking for any suggestions for my next trip, fresh pasta is one of my favorites.local places can be included . help
  8. This is a weird one. Does anyone know what edible wild root vegetable, or wild plant, would be picked at snowline in the late spring/early summer. It must be an alpine/mountain plant, since we saw people picking it in late May in teh western Alps at altitude. It seemed they were digging right at the edge, where the snow had melted in recent days. This was on the Colle di Fauniera, west of Cuneo in Piemonte, but the plant certainly could grow elsewhere. Sorry, I can't remember even what it looked like. We tried to talk to the people (an older couple -- rough and tough folks!) but they were speaking some kind of dialect and I had no idea what they were telling me. Any ideas? I've always wanted to know, and we're going back in early June. Thanks.
  9. On a recent visit to Toronto I had for the first time Italian bread and it was the best bread I have ever tasted. I would love the recipe for this bread or does it use ingredients only obtained commercially? Any information on this would be very gratefully received. Thanks norm
  10. Do you always torch Italian meringue or can you use it much like a 7-minute frosting? I made some great cupcakes this past weekend, vanilla filled with PH's lemon cream and chocolate filled with one of PH's ganaches, and I topped them with Italian meringue which turned out to be a good compliment to both. I torched them all because I thought, "that's just what you do". When I do them again it would be nice to have them look different so I'd like to leave the chocolate ones not torched. Will they hold up as well?
  11. Hello All, We will shortly be visiting Germany and Italy and of course will be looking for interesting bottles to add to our bar. We'd love to hear any recommendations for things we can't get in America. (Maybe we'll have to get a bottle of the Cocchi Americano now that our government is holding that up.) We hear the Ziegler eaux-de-vie are really good--if anyone has a specific rec from their line that'd be great. Thanks in advance for your suggestions!
  12. Would some one in the forum know of any classes(in Europe) ,where the secrets of making traditional panettone are taught. having searched the net,I could not come up with any professional classes . Many thanks in advance for answering this query. This has eluded me for long,and I wish to devote this year learning it from masters
  13. Yesterday I had a chance to visit a new hot dog restaurant. Dino's Italian Hot Dogs opened about 2 weeks ago on Rt 46W in the Franklin Plaza in Rockaway. http://dinositalianhotdogs.com/index.htm I called last week to ask a few questions about the place and it's product before deciding on whether to take the ride there. I wanted to know if they made what I consider an authentic "Newark Style" Italian Hot Dog. Meaning that it is made the traditional way with pizza bread rather than a sub or hoagie roll, beef hot dogs (preferably Best's) fried in oil (rather than grilled or boiled) along with potatoes, peppers, and onions. Yes on all counts. Not only that, but one of the owners I spoke with had experience working for years at a popular Italian Hot Dog restaurant. She knows the business and the history of the Italian Hot Dog. I figured it would be worth the somewhat long ride and I was right. The place looks like a small pizzeria on the inside. I didn't ask what it was previously, but it's located in a small strip mall. The store is clean and cozy. The owner I spoke with on the phone wasn't there yesterday, but I got to speak with the 2 guys who were working. One guy was named Danny, and for a young guy, he knew a lot about Italian Hot Dogs, including their history and the places in Jersey that serve them. The people here definitely know the business and how to prepare a first rate Italian Hot Dog. Though only open 2 weeks, there have been a lot of customers who have heard about Dino's and came to check it out and to see how it compares to the Italian Hot Dog they are used to eating. One thing I've noticed before and that Danny mentioned is that people are partial to what they grew up with. The new customers, most of which are hard core Italian Hot Dog fans, were not shy about declaring their loyalties and describing how Dino's compared to their favorite place. Although a traditional Italian Hot Dog is made with basically the same ingredients and prepared the same way, there are some differences from place to place. Some sandwiches have more oils in them. Think Jimmy Buffs in Scotch Plains. Those customers might consider Dino's sandwich to be dry in comparison. Those who frequent the East Hanover or West Orange Buffs like the drier sandwich at Dino's. Another big difference is how the potatoes are cut. Some are in chunks, like Dickie Dees. Some are sliced thinner. Tommy's is sliced real thin. There really is no right way. People have different tastes when it comes to the potatoes, the amount of oils in the sandwich, and the softness or crunchiness of the peppers. As I mentioned, Danny said (and I agree) that most of the time, people grew up with a certain style and prefer that. He's had customers so far who are regulars at Jimmy Buffs, Tommy's, Charlies, and Dickie Dees. Two other factors that makes a difference apart from the variations in potatoes, oils, etc. is the freshness and quality of the ingredients and consistency. For example, Charlies in Kenilworth for a long time made a great Italian Hot Dog. The last couple of years they have been inconsistent. Sometimes the bread they use is stale from being frozen, other times the potatoes are over or under cooked and don't seem fresh. What makes a great Italian Hot Dog is a combination of good fresh ingredients prepared consistenly well by people who care. Dino's fits the bill. As for comparison, I'd say that their take on an Italian Hot Dog is closest to Jimmy Buff's in East Hanover, which is high praise indeed. They use fresh pizza bread from JC's bakery in Parsippany. This is good, sturdy bread. The same was used at Attilio's Kitchen which is now gone. The dogs are 8 to a pound Best's which is ideal. The onions and peppers are prepared together. I hate onions, but I was told that they would separate them upon request. The green peppers were plentiful, tasty, and soft like I prefer. The potatoes are sliced fairly thin rather than in chunks. Similar in shape to Buffs. Dino's has a tilted steel pan specially made (no one place sells them) where everything is fried in soybean oil. The potatoes are fried in a deep fryer and put in the oil as needed. Danny mentioned that the bread is never frozen and that the ingredients are always fresh. Peppers, onions, and potatoes are cut every day , sometimes every few hours. Nothing is kept overnight. Stuff that's been sitting around awhile is discarded. The result is an excellent, authentic, Newark Style Italian Hot Dog. Everything blended together well. The sandwich was tasty and fresh. All of the ingredients were very good. I would describe it as dry rather than oily. Despite being new Dino's has their act together. The product is excellent, as is the service. The people working there are experienced, having worked at Italian Hot Dog restaurants before, and extremley knowledgeable about the sandwich, it's history, and the places that serve them. I would definitely put Dino's in the top tier of Italian Hot Dog restaurants along with Jimmy Buff's and Tommy's. It's that good. My wife had a cheesesteak served Italian style which she proclaimed excellent. I didn't sample it because of the onions. I wish Dino's success. They are located in an area where people for the most part aren't familiar with Italian Hot Dogs. But according to Danny, there are a lot of transplants from Essex and Union Counties as well as Italian Hot Dog lovers who are willing to travel for an exceptional one.
  14. Fried baby calamari is my first choice (Italian style beach food), but kitchen facilities won't accommodate it (fridge, bbq, microwave, induction burner) and squid supply stock could be iffy at best. Casual outdoor Italian themed dinner party. Creative input is greatly appreciated.
  15. I'm on parole for four days in Rome. I'll try to cadge restaurant names off the boards and rely on pluck for the rest. I am looking for exceptional food locations in the area-I even have two days entirely to myself. Whether it be bread, charcuterie, supplies, etc., I'd love to have some addresses that inspire. Thank you.
  16. Last fall, on a trip to Italy we bought this Italian condiment. It turned out to be highly addictive and useful in many dishes. It has hot peppers, mushrooms, eggplant, olives and is great on pasta and crusty bread. We have been looking for it ever since. This is what it looks like. (I have come to understand that there are a few companies that make it.) We have searched Manhattan high and low for this item without success.We will be back again on Saturday. If anyone has seen it in Manhattan, please speak up. We would love to hear about it!! Many Thanks, HC edited: I noticed that I misspelled condiment in the subject line, but am unable to correct it. Oh, well.
  17. A friend told me that clams are never served with cheese in traditional Italian cuisine. Is this true?
  18. If you noticed the trend on my posts, you can see that my family is kinda partial to carbs. Really, we don't eat that many carbs....really.... I went back home for a weekend one day and as I was trying to decide what to make for dinner for the entire family, my cousin insisted on fried noodles instead. Apparently, the other dishes I was calling out to make wasn’t very appealing to her. So we decided on fried noodles. And since I didn’t feel like going to Chinatown (even though it’s like a 5 min drive) to get fresh noodles, we decided on Italian thin spaghetti. (I just got back from a 3 hr drive!! Okay, fine, so I'm lazy.) Now, this isn’t the first time we’ve done this and quite frankly, I find using Italian pasta easier to move around the wok than the fresh ones I get in Chinatown. Plus it gives more of a chew and bite. *Please don’t hate me* After adding a whole bunch of ingredients, that includes Chinese sausage, egg, carrots, celery, cabbage, spam (yes, I said SPAM, the other white meat), etc. I quickly fried everything together with great wok hei. The results were very tasty and cousins approved. Even my Dad said “Hey! Your noodles are better than your Mom’s!” Funny he should take the opportunity to say that when the woman is thousands of miles away in China. Here’s my finished product: Here’s her close up: Now, here’s my question. What do YOU do with your Italian pasta? Any other ideas? I have another plan for Italian pasta that I will be trying out soon, so I will keep you guys posted.
  19. Tela T

    Fresh Pasta

    Saveur's recent issue - fresh pasta and bolognese - great issue - and love the bolognese - but a question - how do I freeze the freshly made pasta -- or can I? Lots of flour - partially drying - help?
  20. Hi everyone - I am doing research for an upcoming television show, one episode of which will be focusing on Sardinia. I do not know much about Sardinia other than the basics I have come across in my internet research, so I was hoping people here might be able to help... I'm looking for interesting/unusual Sardinian foods/restaurants/food customs, off-beat local growers/farmers, tiny towns/villages that specialize in something. I'd also welcome non food-related suggestions as well - things to do/see that are NOT a typical tourist destination, best scenic places, 'off the beaten path' activities, etc. All of your suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!
  21. Years ago in Varenna, Italy on Lake Como, I had a wonderful version of eggplant parmigiano. The eggplant had been either fried in olive oil (not breaded) or roasted, and then layed with cheese and tomato sauce. I loved this version as it seemed lighter than the breaded version seen so often. Do any of you have a recipe for this other version? Is it a Northern Italian thing?
  22. One of my quests this summer is to find a good wood-burning oven pizza, so I'll be visiting Italian restaurants to find it. First stop, Pizzeria Gusto. Nice space, but very similar to other spaces done by the same design team (I assume it's the same design team as Siam and Ivory, because there are many similar elements--meant to make each place distinct, but really creating something more like a housing development effect). We went for a late lunch, so the space was maybe 1/4 full, but I can imagine the place being quite loud when more people are around. The lunch menu is quite limited--a few salads, appetizers, several pizzas, some panini, and desserts. There's certainly enough variety at lunch without overwhelming the diner. I ordered my favourite--Pizza Napoletana--pizza with tomoatoes, mozzarella, basil, anchovies and capers. I think it had dollops of ricotta on it, too. I was hoping for some good olives, but no such luck. My mother had the lamb panino--lamb, arugula (?) and thinly sliced cheese (provolone?). When the server took our order, she also poured water, but there was only enough in the jug for one glass. She said she'd be back shortly with more, but we waited, and waited, and waited. Since it was past the lunch rush, being busy with other customers could not be used as an excuse. Another staff member was pouring water for another table, so I assumed he would come over and poor water for us, as well. No such luck. I guess they work in stations at this restaurant. I tried to catch our server's eye more than once (as she cleared and set tables that were maybe 10 feet from us, or as she was doing stuff at the bar maybe 20 feet from us), but she wasn't very aware of what was happening at the tables in her station (like me caressing my empty water glass). I was finally able to ask for water when she brought us our orders, but it pissed me off that I should have had to have asked at all. Now the food. My mother's panino looked filling. There was a substantial amount of lamb (possibly sliced from a roast) that looked moist, though rather plain (I didn’t notice any ground pepper or herbs on it), and there was a good amount of arugula, as well. The bread was lightly toasted, but I couldn't tell if the sandwich had been grilled. The cheese wasn't melted, so I would assume the bread was grilled separately rather than as part of the sandwich. I didn't try it, but my mother said the lamb was, in fact, moist, but not flavourful. It didn't have a bad flavour, it just didn't have any flavour. She really liked the bread, though, and said it was even better than the Italian bread we usually buy (I think they use ciabatta, but I don’t know if it’s house-made or not). I was a little disappointed with the looks of my pizza. The toppings looked right—light tomato sauce with chunks of (canned) roma tomatoes, blobs of melted mozzarella (as opposed to the even spreading of North American-style pizza). But the crust, which is most important to me, looked like a regular North American-style thin pizza crust. The rim of the crust was perfectly formed, and it didn’t have those bubbles and crusty bits that I come to expect from Neapolitan wood-burning oven pizza (like the picture here). The texture also was not quite what I expected—a bit of crisp when you bite into it, but with some chewiness (not to be confused with toughness) is what I like. This almost had it, but was a little too much like NA-style pizza. I liked the flavour of the pizza, though. The tomatoes are most important, in my opinion, and if the sauce had been cooked, it had only been slightly cooked, which left a very fresh flavour. The anchovies could have been distributed a bit better, but I was happy to be able to taste them, and there was a good amount of fried capers. The ricotta was fine—I would have been OK without it, and it made the pizza a bit soggy by the time I started eating the second half. I asked for chile-infused olive oil, which I love with Neapoletan-style pizza. They didn’t have that exactly, but I was given some olive oil that had been infused with cloves of garlic, some chile, and I think sun-dried tomatoes. It wasn’t really spicy, but my mother also added some to her lamb panino, and she said it made the sandwich much better. With my pizza, by the way, came a fork/pizza cutter. It was a waste of space. The cutter was sharp enough, but the fork sometimes got in the way of cutting, and the fork was pretty much useless on its own unless you always eat with your fork facing downwards. Verdict? Service was friendly, but it definitely could improve in terms of the actual service. I’d go back for the food, but I think it’s a bit of a waste (or gimmick) to have a wood-burning oven, but to not produce a good Neapolitan-style pizza crust.
  23. Notes of my favorites from a trade tasting of over 100 Italian wines in Portland Oregon hosted by Columbia Wine Company. As usual, all are recommended. Admiralty Imports Barolo Canubi, Brezza, 2001 - A classic beauty that is nowhere near ready to drink. Big time tar and roses in this wine. Barolo Chiniera, Elio Grasso, 2004 - All you could want from one of Barolo's greats. Rich, powerful and structured. Barbaresco Riserva, Gallina, Ugo Lequio, 2001 - Another elegant classic with great balance. An excellent nebbiolo. Sagrantino Montefalco, Antonelli, 2004 - Deep, rich and powerful with substantial tannins. Needs age or some wild boar right now. Brunello di Montalcino, Caprili, 2003 - Finally Brunello that tastes like Brunello instead of barrique. Earthy, structured and complex. Toscana VDT, La Gioia, Riecine, 2004 - Yet another lovely wine from one of my favorite estates in Tuscany. As always with Riecine, the balance of this wine is impeccable. This is their Super Tuscan. Neil Empson Selections Franciacorta Cuvee Brut, Bellavista, NV - Consistently my favorite Champagne method sparking wine producer from Italy. This wine did not disappoint with its creamy, frothy texture and toasty fruit. Pinot Grigio, Bortoluzzi, 2006 - A big step up from industrial pinot grigio. Bright and citrusy with ripe, fresh apply fruit and good depth. Soave Classico, Pieropan, 2006 - As always, just a stunning value in a crisp white that offers real complexity beyond its bright, refreshing character. A great white wine producer. Kobrand Isola dei Nuraghi I.G.T., Sardegna, Barrua, Agricola Punica, 2004 - A dead ringer for Spain's Priorat wines from an old carignane vineyard on Sardegna. Deep, rich and powerful with a touch of porty ripeness. Bolgheri Sassicaia, Sassicaia, 2004 - A perfectly politically correct wine with just the right amount of everything. Svelte and stylish. Their website is just terrible. Toscana IGT, Crognolo, Tenuta Sette Ponte, 2005 - Deeply colored, powerful, rich and velvety with big, sweet oak highlights. A modern Italian wine of the first degree. Not for traditionalists. Wilson Daniels Castello di Volpaia: Chianti, Borgianni, 2005 - This is a very, very nice Chianti for the price. Real character and personality. Best of all it tastes like sangiovese, not merlot. Chianti Classico, 2005 - You can see what a great estate this is by its straight Chianti Classico, which is a structured beauty with touches of black truffle and porcini mixed in with the ripe clean fruit. Chianti Classico Riserva, 2004 - A potentially exceptional wine with a few more years in bottle. Great character and complexity in a balanced wine of great length. Coltasalla, 2004 - Always outstanding, Coltasalla is a single vineyard wine produced from sangiovese and mammolo only. Happily there's not a French variety to be found in the blend. A wine of great depth, complexity and personality that needs to be aged. Winebow Prosecco, Zardetto, NV - I've been seduced by this charmer for years. A delightful little pleasure. Roero Arneis, Bruno Giacosa, 2007 - As with everything Giacosa produces, their Arneis is a perfect example of this variety. IGT Veronese, Palazzo della Torre, Allegrini, 2005 - Smooth and velvety with a richness without heaviness. A good reminder how much I love wines from Valpolicella. This is a ripasso, which adds the extra texture on the palate. Delle Venezie IGT, Pinot Noir, Kris, 2007 - This is just a pretty little pinot noir. Serve lightly chilled at summer picnics, with Asian food or pizza. Light, fruity and delicious, it's almost more like a dark rose than a red wine. Totally charming. It's a little sad to see it called pinot noir instead of the Italian pinot nero, but I understand the marketing decision. Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Valdipiatta, 2004 - A blend of 85% prugnolo gentile (sangiovese) and 15% canaiolo that fortunately is not overwhelmed by a brief voyage in barrique before going into large casks. The angular, rustic character of Vino Nobile is preserved in this interesting wine. The edgy character makes this a great steak wine.
  24. Over the years I've been collecting and using some less well-know Italian pasta sauces which have come to me from various sources - from restaurants, from friends, on line, from books, and other sources. So, if you know of, or have, any interesting recipes, especially those that might be a local specialty, a local version of a more well known dish, or something that a particular restaurant might be noted for, I'd sure like to see them. Thanks! shel
  25. I've had a request to imitate the Pepperoncini Chocolate truffles that someone had at Cafe Gilli in Florence. Of course I've never tasted them, and that makes this an interesting challenge. She said they were dark chocolate with a bit of a bite when they hit the back of your throat. Anyone tasted them? Are there any other spices in there? Would you assume they have just used the dried peppers or the peppers preserved in vinegar? Any thoughts about what chocolate has been used?
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