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  1. is there a better restaurant than Band B at the Venetian for upscale italian,?
  2. I am going to be able to attend again this year. We will be making side trips to Glorioso's Market and Sciortinos Bakery in Milwaukee. Has anyone ever attended?
  3. I have seen a few recipes.. Some use Lemons , some use Vinegars, some use buttermilk some used whole milk. So it appears that different ways exist? Yesterday i made some for the first time. 2C Heavy Cream 1C 0% Milk pinch of sugar pinch of salt zest of 1/2 lemon and juice ( about 2T ) Cooked to 175 and added acid, let set about 30 mins. drained in a tea cloth, over night. What I noticed, it didn't drain as well in the tea cloth, this seems more like a cream fresh? Really creamy ( not grainy but not the curds that i expected. Not hot enough before acid? would be better drained through a cheese cloth? Doesn't taste bad, maybe a bit lemony. So I'll have to watch where I use it. Help and what is your go to recipe?
  4. As much as I'd love this topic to consist of me teaching all of you how to do this, the sad truth is that it has to be the other way around. The science fair is coming up at my son PJ's school (he is in first grade) and we figured we'd try making mozzarella. The plan is to document the making of the cheese, do a display board about the science stuff involved, and bring in samples of our cheese for folks to try. We have two weeks to get it together. We are not off to an auspicious start. I found this video on YouTube and it made the process look so easy: Trouble is, our curds and whey wouldn't separate enough to produce mozzarella. The curds came together and could be removed from the whey, but they wouldn't release enough of their liquid to allow for kneading into mozzarella. We tried twice with milk from the local supermarket, the Farmland brand, and then thought maybe the milk was at fault -- perhaps it was heat treated at too high a temperature. So we got Tuscan milk from another local supermarket and had exactly the same problem. For dissolving the tap water, I used tap water filtered through the Brita so there shouldn't be a chlorine problem. What are other possible issues?
  5. I made ciabatta for the first time, and I think the holes in the baked loaf are a bit too big (see photo attached). What did I do wrong? I searched the internet quite a bit, and I found lots of people striving for ciabatta with big irregular holes, and not quite able to achieve it, but I found no one with the same problem as me. I followed Jeffrey Hamelman's recipe of Ciabatta with Poolish, which has 73% hydration, and calls for two folds during bulk fermentation. I followed the recipe as described in the book, to the best of my ability. The ciabatta tasted so good that I am eager to make it again. However, I'd like to know what I should do different to achieve a better texture. Thank you in advance for any replies!
  6. I would like to build up my cookbook collection on specific regions of Italy. I know of very few truly excellent English-language books in this vein. For Venitian cooking I know only Da Fiori For Calabria I use Arthur Schwartz's underrated but wonderful Naples at Home For the Garfagnana there is Cesare Casella's exceptional Diary of a Tuscan Chef For Sicily I use Anna Tasca Lanza's Heart of Sicily (though not as often as I should). What are essential books or lesser known gems that one will return to with something resembling frequency?
  7. Anyone else watch Alessandro's Italian Food Challenge? Big city chef Alessandro Borghese goes to various regional areas to learn how to make local specialities. He shows up in town and finds a housewife to stay with for a few days (and flirt with) as she teaches him how to make a particular dish. He makes a modernised version and they invite a small group for dinner. It's rather contrived, but good fun and has given me a few ideas. Today they were making stuffed eggplant. Coated them in egg white before cooking - to, which supposedly keeps them from splitting.
  8. I've been making a lot of fresh pasta recently and a lot of my recipes involve using pasta cooking water in the sauce. In restaurants, the same batch of water is used to make multiple batches of pasta, leading to full bodied pasta cooking water and superior sauces. I've taken to trying to replicate this effect at home by reusing pasta cooking water. I keep a half gallon tupperware container of pasta cooking water in my fridge. When it comes time to cook pasta, I'll add the water + another half gallon of fresh water to a large pot on the stove and bring it to the boil for at least a minute and use it to cook about a lb of fresh pasta. Instead of draining in a colander, I use a spider to scoop out the pasta and dump it directly in the sauce (bringing some cooking water along with it). I leave the water on the stove until it's cooled down to room temperature, then strain half a gallon of it back into the container, discarding the rest. I then add enough salt such that, when re-diluted, it'll be at the appropriate salinity to cook pasta next time. So far, I've been using the water at least once a week so I'm not too concerned about the food safety issues but I figure the excess salt buys some protection as well. Every time I've used it, I taste it beforehand and it's fresh and clean tasting but I assume if you're cooking pasta less than once a month, there may be issues with this approach. Also, now that I have it around, it's been occasionally useful as an all-purpose light thickener when I want to add just a bit of body to a dish. Because it's so heavily salted, it needs to go in before the final seasoning adjustment but I've found it's actually really great in soups where it adds just that hint of thickness that gives it the mouthfeel of a stock based soup (at the expense of cloudiness). Does anyone else regularly do this? What's been your experience?
  9. All, This cookbook is due out very soon. Mine is due Oct 10,'13 See the link below. Sauces & Shapes: Pasta the Italian Way: Oretta Zanini de Vita, Maureen B. Fant: 9780393082432: Amazon.com: Books
  10. I read somewhere that you could not get real fragolino anymore because the grape is American (oh no!) and the EU banned commercial production. Is this true?
  11. This has come up a couple of times in the Pennsylvania forum, but my suspicion is that there are a disproportionate number of new Italian restaurant openings in most major cities. Why? Two reasons come to mind. Italian cuisine is healthy and it tastes good, most people enjoy it. Has to be more than that. In Philadelphia it seems that every other new upscale restaurant is Italian. Maybe more. Are there that many Italian chefs looking for kitchens? Is there such a great consumer demand for Italian over all other cuisines? Is it that it is a relatively simple cuisine in which to excel?
  12. Hey i Just like to post some photos and stuff about this years Salone del Gusto, Well it was very interesting being there, lots of very lovely products and very good workshops but but not enough workshops almost everything was sold out in jun. I also had the thought that where more shows with chefs or demonstrations of different products. Most of all i enjoyed was the Terra Madre, it is super good to get the focus on how food is being handled and looked at around the world. I wanted to have posted some pictures but the internet here is very slow, so it will wait until iget home later.
  13. What's with all these new Italians? Pretty soon the city's going to be all trattorie and sushi bars. Riccardo Trattoria (Northern Italian from the longtime chef at Bice, opened February in Lincoln Park) Terragusto (BYOB with organic, fresh pastas, opened February in Roscoe Village) Spacca Napoli (Neapolitan pizzas, opened February in Ravenswood) Tony Rocco's (casual homestyle, with twists like Broasted chicken, opened February in River North) Jay's Amore on Madison Ristorante & Lounge (February in the West Loop) Timo (March Italian redo of Thyme on the Near West Side) Frasca (Pizzeria/wine bar from the cousins behind Dunlays on the Square and Dunlays on Clark, May in West Lake View) Rosebud Prime (Italian steakhouse at 1 S. Dearborn St., May) Cafe Bionda (South Loop, from an ex-Rosebud chef, May) Trattoria 31 (Bridgeport, May) Erba (Lincoln Square, from the people behind Brioso, May) Gruppo di Amici (Rogers Park, opening in June)
  14. Hi there I am doing some research into a new menu and have been unable to find any information on Copa Salami, well other than its Itailian. Can any one fill me on with more information, on taste, orgins, uses?
  15. Forgive me if there's already a topic devoted to this, I spent some time with Google and could not find one. I was intrigued by the statement below, posted by SobaAddict70 in this eGullet thread in General Food Topics: Is there any truth to this, that what I know as pasta "con aglio e olio" is, or once was, known as "marinara"? I haven't been to Italy in ten years and don't recall now in what contexts I may have seen "marinara" there. I do recall specifically seeing "spaghetti con aglio e olio" on several menus because it's one of my favorite dishes (I ordered it a couple of times). Is this terminology simply a concession to contemporary usage? In examining the Google search results, I found several comments to the effect that "alla marinara" originally denoted a seafood sauce with no tomatoes, but no citations to support that idea. I am simply curious about this, since I make pasta "con aglio e olio," or "alla marinara," as the case may be, several times a week at home, and I'd really like to know its proper name! Thanks.
  16. (N.B.: shamelessly cross-posted from my blog.) I've been thinking a lot about fish lately, prompted by a project I'm beginning on fish in Roman culture and literature. It's not a bad thing to work on here, since it gives me the excuse to do some research on fish in modern Italy. By "research", of course, I mean mostly "eating"-- but I've been looking into fish in other ways as well. You wouldn't think it from visiting coastal Italy (or, for that matter, an inland city like Rome), but the Mediterranean is actually relatively fish-poor, at least compared to the ocean. Modern fishing techniques mean that it's not too hard to get a variety of fish to market. But some parts of the peninsula have historically had better access to fish than others, and that access is reflected on a consumer level by the presence of large fish markets. I'm going to look at two of these, from opposite ends of Italy. The first of these is pretty famous, the Rialto fish market in Venice. Venice's lagoon, with its shallow, brackish water, is a great environment for attracting the wide variety of fish that are the hallmark of Venetian cuisine. The importance of fish for Venice is highlighted by the elegant architecture of the market. The structure, built in 1907, is a wide portico with room for two rows of stalls, facing onto the Grand Canal. It's easily the loveliest fish market I've ever seen (okay, not that much competition there...) The column capitals along the outside are all in the shape of different fish, boats, etc.: I didn't see any turtles for sale at the market! But these guys are pretty cute. The architect (whom my guidebook lists as the painter Cesare Laurenti) was clearly having some fun, while maintaining a traditional Venetian appearance. As the city of Venice has shrunk (there are about 60,000 people in central Venice, down from 200,000 a century ago), the importance of the market has decreased. Restaurants buy a lot of fish, of course, but they mostly get it from the wholesale market, and while tourists might buy an apple or cherries, a whole mackerel or bag o' shrimp doesn't tend to fit well into a suitcase! As a result, when I was there (late May), the market was only about half-occupied by stalls, and many of the people walking around were (like me) tourists with cameras, rather than shoppers. Too bad, because the seafood there is absolutely gorgeous. I'm pretty bad with seafood names (in English or Italian)- so please feel free to help me out in comments... Here's one I do know, some nice looking red mullets: They're particular favorites of mine, both because the Romans loved 'em (as pets and as food), and because, hey: "red mullet". hee! There's a lot of care put into displaying fish (it helps that I arrived at around 8 AM, when things were just starting to gear up): Here are some canocce: alien-looking crustaceans that are very characteristic of Venice. I don't know if they live elsewhere: I love those "eyes". This is a close-up, obviously, but lots of the vendors stack them up like so much fishy cordwood. We had canocce for dinner that night (at Alle Testiere); they're sweet and tender, sort of between really fresh Gulf shrimp and crab. Here's a bucket o' eels: Still alive: that one in the center was flapping its gills and glaring balefully at me. I have to admit something here and say that eels squick me out a little, and this guy didn't really change things for me... The fruit and vegetable market is right next to the fish market. There's a nice selection, but it didn't strike me as especially distinctive: Hey you! Get back to the piazza San Marco! (And memo to shoppers: be sure to wash that eggplant well! The other fish market I've visited that really impressed me was way at the other end of Italy, in Syracuse. Sicilian seafood is of course famous, and rightly so. Like Venice, Sicilians have been able to exploit their environment to get access to lots of different kinds of seafood. In this case, the straits of Messina provide naturally good fishing grounds. The small space creates a difference in temperature between the western and eastern Mediterranean, something that attracts fish. And the narrow straits funnel fish, making them easier to catch. The market in Syracuse is on the island of Ortygia, steps away from the temple of Apollo and next to the small harbor. It stretches for about two or three blocks on a small street. Not as picturesque as the Venice market, but with at least as good a selection of fish, and with a more vibrant atmosphere. Here are some anchovies. Or maybe sardines. I'm not really sure, actually: To misquote Maurice Chevalier, "thank heaven for leetle feesh!" I've really come to love the miniature members of the scaly tribe: alici sott'olio? Oh yeah. It's a real shame that Americans are so fixated on steak fish (salmon, tuna, etc.); I'm sure whether I'll be able to get them back in the US. Anyway, it's an excuse to eat as many as possible now... I don't know what this thing is. But it kind of scares me. Probably it's delicious, but I wouldn't have the faintest idea what to do with it. Other than back away slowly... Again, not really sure what these are. I just think they're really beautiful. As with these: Let's just call those last photos "two studies in stripes." Finally, the biggest fish in the market that day, a nice-looking tuna: Everybody is impressed (and rightly so), even that kid in the corner. Yum! I love Syracuse; it's a beautiful, friendly city with wonderful food and a fascinating history. One of my fantasies-- once I win the lottery, you know-- is to move there and just cook fish every single day. Someday, maybe...
  17. In June we will be covering the cooking of Sardinia. Some of the descriptions of the cooking utilize the word “archaic” and “Neolithic”; the native Sardinians here have ancestry on the island going back thousands of years. Throughout history, different nations have laid claim to the island and tried to establish footholds at various parts. Unlike Sicily, however, comparatively little intermingling of cooking styles, recipes, and ingredients have penetrated inland, where the Sardinians made their home over the centuries. Thus, the cooking style remains very simple, honest, and unadulterated: lots of hearth cooking, roasting on spits, or in pits dug into the ground, with the natural herbs, principally myrtle, used to flavor the meat. Like Liguria to the north, Sardinia does not have a rich tradition of seafood dishes until relatively recently. Unlike Liguria, however, it is not because the waters around Sardinia are poor in seafood but instead the natives have for generations lived inland amongst the hills and plateaus of the island. Supposedly, the purpose for this originally was to avoid the frequent pirate raids along the coast, but also because many of the beaches were havens for malaria. Two authors, Waverly Root and Claudia Roden, even go so far as to say Sardinians show an aversion to the water and an active disdain for fish! This would appear to be changing, and almost at an exponential rate. Root’s book The Foods of Italy, published in the early 70s, describes only one port city, really, and a paucity of seafood trattorie and ristorante there; Roden’s book, written in the early 90s, mentions that tourism, beachfront development, and a return to the shore have flooded the island’s industry in just 20 years. In Root’s rather good chapter on Sardinia, he mentions that the severe climate of the island makes it difficult to grow vegetables, and indeed, there aren't many recipes for vegetables that I’ve encountered in my research. Most often traditional dishes come with one of the many types of bread made all over the island. Root says that bread, in fact, plays an even larger role than pasta does in Sardinia. This may be a difficult month for references and resources for those of us in the U.S., at least. An Amazon book search for “Sardinia” and “Sardegna” only turns up one book: Guliano Bugiali’s Foods of Sicily and Sardinia and the Smaller Islands. So, we’ll need to cull together our resources and rely on writeups in regional surveys. Therefore, books that mention Sardinia that I have: The Regional Food of Southern Italy by Marleni di Blasi (recently reprinted and republished under a new name) Claudia Roden’s Foods of Italy Italian Regional Cooking by Ada Boni Culinaria: Italy Islands in the Sun by Marlena Spieler Again, I highly recommend Spieler’s Islands in the Sun. It’s an interesting book highlighting the cooking of many of the islands all over the peninsula: not just Sicily and Sardinia, but also Elba, Capri, Ischia, Pantelleria, the Aeolian Isles, etc. Many very vibrant, summery recipes and a perfect accompaniment to this time of year. Famous dishes: as mentioned, lots of spit and pit-roasted meat, including a variant on porchetta called porceddu; the famous pane carasau, aka carte musica bread, the crispy baked flatbread shepherds carry with them and then refresh in water before eating with grated cheese; malloredus, a type of gnocchi with saffron in the dough; Culingionis, a stuffed pasta, and carnaxiu, an item that puts the U.S. turducken to shame: A boned out calf, stuffed with a kid, stuffed with a suckling pig, stuffed with a hare, stuffed with a partride, stuffed with a quail. Who's volunteering for this one? Anyone have any luck finding Sardinian Maggot Cheese?
  18. Hey all, Thought I'd share a nice place with you all. The Italian. New up market restaraunt in the Melbourne CBD. (I think little collins, Can't remember) I think it had a nice balance between rustic and honest fare. Its seasonal, with its mainstays. Mind you, its only been open for seven months, So whose to know what a Mainstay is! The decor is tacky. bad and all thing crap. But last time a checked, I don't eat the surroundings. Don't get me wrong, were not talking grungey, dirty back bar. We are talking try hard, nouvelle, modern architure, with high ceilings and asian tastes. In a place with as authentic italian food as this, i think there is an identity crisis. Nonethelss, lets talk food. Nyway on to the food. For entree had soft polenta with trippa with a sweetish tomato sauce. It was great. I went to italy last year and really felt like a hit of tradition. The polenta was creamy without resembling a cup full of butter, and the trippa was amongst the most tender I've ever had. For main, gnocci with veal stew. Again, the sauce was quite sweet to taste, not dessert sweet but prob some sugar in there to deal with those out of season tomatoes. The veal was tender and the gnocci was fresh, as gnocci should be! For dessert, chocolate fondant. Not as oooozeing as anticpated, somewhat more cakey. But, it was a welcome twist, and still tasted fantastic with the vanilla icecream. John Lethlean (the agre head critic) wrote it up during the year as one of the best meals he had eaten during the year. (pan fired lambs brains). I must have lost it somewhere amidst the massive menu. In any case, I'm going this weekend! If any more q's about it. feel free to ask. Sorry got uni exams, otherwise, if i get a chance I'll add some more places. Cheers. J
  19. Hi all, I am new to the eGullet site and noticed that Ore's posts about his experiences in Jesi, Italy during the Slow Food Master Italian Cooking Program generated much interest and enthusiasm. I too have completed the program, and have just returned from Jesi. I kept a journal of my time there. Until I figure out how to transfer my livejournal to eGullet you may view my journal at: Slow Food Master Italian Cooking Journal Ciao!
  20. FESTA DI SAN GIOVANNI BATTISTA After dark on the 24th of June in Florence, fireworks puncture the moist, mosquito-filled air in celebration of the feast day of John the Baptist, the patron saint of the city whose baptistery served briefly as a cathedral, and surrounding piazza, a burial ground and site for wedding processions and civic ritual. In the late Middle Ages, when preachers were taught to deliver sermons in the vernacular, that is, Italian instead of Latin, embellished stories from the lives of the saints were one of their most popular sources for making the dusty bones in reliquaries come alive. Thus, they heard that the Baptist leapt in the womb of his mother when Mary told her of the impending birth of her own child, so eager was he to meet and play with his younger cousin. And in my favorite story from the Dominican Cavalca, Salome dutifully presented the severed head of the Baptist to her mother after his death. Herodotus, in evil delight, held it up to her face, and when just about to kiss its lifeless lips, the mouth of the Baptist formed an "O" and blew, knocking her down, dead. While Florentines may claim a special bond with the biblical martyr, Saint John the Baptist is popular throughout Italy where ecclesiastical tradition honors him on two separate dates in the liturgical calendar, marking his birth and his death. Evoking Christmas and Easter, this unusual practice signals the prominence of his cult. The most joyous of these two events occurs on June 24, a date that coincides with the beginning of summer, and thus, draws from traditions that date much earlier than the rise of Christianity. These annual feast days are another way to revitalize an early cult each year, and of course, food is involved. This makes sense in terms of the bounty of the season, the diet of locusts and honey that sustained the Voice Crying in the Wilderness, and the banquet where Salome danced, and thus, sealed the tragic fate of the saint. This thread is started several weeks before June 24 to invite you to plan ahead or offer what you know about Italian culinary traditions on this feast day. For those of you who own Molto Italiano, Mario Batali offers a recipe for pasta that is served in Puglia on the eve of the feast day, or June 23. And for those of you who are cooking the foods of Sardegna in June 2006, please note that there are at least two dishes you might wish to prepare. In Budoni, fried pastries called origliette are served on the feast day, of course, coated with honey. ORIGLIETTE Flour (1 Kg) Suet (strutto) (1.5 Kg) 3 eggs Oil for frying Honey (dark, such as chestnut or buckwheat) Combine the first three ingredients to form a dough, then cut into narrow strips slightly less than an inch (two centimeters) wide to form the traditional shape (neither specified nor pictured). Fry these in hot oil and dip them in honey that has been heated in a pan until it foams. N.B. This is my own rough translation a very imprecise recipe, so there may be errors. Cf. conversion charts such as one provided on Chocolate & Zucchini. Since this involves more than 7 cups of flour (2.2 pounds), you might wish to make a MUCH smaller batch. The Sardinian comune of Fonni honors John the Baptist as its patron saint and bakes a special bread called "cohone e vrores" on a day also known as the day of flowers. On the morning of June 24, the loaves are blessed at the high altar of the fifteenth-century titular church. In the evening, an image of the saint leads a procession "su cohone 'e vrores," or as one source notes, with "a crown of focaccia" decorated with the image of a flower, nests and birds which is believed to protect the town from illness.
  21. Have Italian restaurants in Philly started branching out and defining themselves more strictly by region yet? My impression is no, but I remember thinking (roughly around when fusion cuisines started emerging as the cool thing) that the next food trend (nationally) would be the emergence of regional ethnic cuisines. It's started earliest with Chinese restaurants, with Sichuan and Shanghaiese (also nationally), not suprisingly, but has it started yet with Italian restaurants in the US, the other main cuisine category, as far as sheer numbers (I presume, although sushi bars, restaurants, and joints do seem to be catching up)? I've heard randomly certain Italian restaurants' cuisines described as from Rome, Emilia-Romagna, etc. I have never used subsets of cuisines yet to distinguish the various restaurants in Philly, BYOB or not. Nor have I heard anyone else use regionality of cuisine to distinguish between XYZ restaurant and ABC restaurant. I suppose I'm interested in the issue both locally and nationally.
  22. A lot of people seemed to have trouble with the IMBC recipe recently published in Fine Cooking, so I thought a demo of a very popular recipe, the one from Rose Levy Beranbaum's Cake Bible ("Mousseline Buttercream"), might be helpful. Over the years I've tweaked my technique a bit, and it no longer truly mirrors Rose's instructions. Hope this helps! First, the formula: -- 5 egg whites (best at room temp) -- 1/2 tsp cream of tartar -- 1/4 cup sugar -- 3/4 cup sugar -- 1/4 cup water -- 1 lb. unsalted butter, softened but not warm or soupy (bringing to room temp and bashing with a rolling pin works well) -- 1 to 1.5 tsp vanilla extract or liquor for flavoring (** Ruth's note -- RLB suggests using as much as 3 oz. of liquor to flavor, but I find that the emulsion doesn't hold with this much liquid added. 1.5 tsp is even a bit of a stretch.) -- Equipment: a stand mixer works best, using the whip attachment for the eggs and switching to the paddle when you start adding the butter (to reduce unwanted air bubbles when icing the cake), and you'll need a candy thermometer. Okey doke. First pic -- nice soft butter: It doesn't *need* to be quite this soft, but it does need to be pretty soft in order to incorporate well with the meringue. But not so soft that it's melting. Okay, first you are going to get your egg whites whipping. You're going for stiff peaks. When they are foamy, add the cream of tartar. When you've got soft peaks, gradually add the 1/4 cup of sugar and whip to stiff peaks, as below: Now, while you're fussing with egg whites, you also want to get your sugar syrup going. Combine 3/4 cup sugar with 1/4 cup water (no need to mix it and risk crystalization) and set over med/high heat. It's going to come to a boil fairly quickly; when it does, pick up the saucepan by the handle and give it a little swirl to aid in dissolving all the sugar. You are going to get an all-over bubbly surface, and that's when you want to start checking the temp. When you've done this a few times, you will notice that when the bubbles get thicker-looking and the syrup takes on the palest of amber hues, you'll be right where you want to be (248*-250*F). Here's what it looks like at just about 246*. You can sort of see the more viscous quality of the bubbles, but it hasn't yet started to turn pale amber: At 248*, take this off the heat. If your egg whites are at stiff peak and you're feeling confident, you can leave the mixer running on high and start dribbling the sugar syrup into the bowl directly from the saucepan, aiming for the space in between the moving paddle and the edge of the bowl (if you hit the beater, you're going to lose a lot of your syrup to the side of the bowl, where it will stick and remain). If the egg whites aren't quite ready or you'd like a little safety net, lightly spray the interior of a Pyrex 2-cup measure with cooking spray *ahead of time*, and when you get to 248*, pour the syrup into the cup. This will slow down the carry-over cooking of the syrup and give you a cool handle to hold and a handy spout whilst pouring the syrup into the egg whites, as described above. After you've gradually poured all of the syrup into the whites, feel the side of your mixer bowl. It will feel HOT. You're going to let your mixer continue to run for several minutes while the mixture cools down -- keep the mixer on med/high for 2-3 minutes, then reduce to medium (but no lower). Keep feeling the side of the bowl to guage temp. Here's what the egg whites will look like after all the sugar syrup is incorporated -- this is an Italian meringue (which is useful for piped cookies and macarons, too, not just for buttercream!). The meringue is glossy, thick and dense, and very stiff. If for any reason you don't get a result that looks like this, stop and start over -- don't waste a pound of butter if your egg whites aren't right. Once the egg whites have cooled down (could take 5-10 minutes with the mixer running), you're ready to start adding the soft butter. With the mixer running on medium, plunk 1-2Tbs into the bowl at a time. After the first 1/4 pound or so goes in, the meringue is going to thin out considerbly and you'll be certain that you've made a mistake -- don't fret. This is what it looks like with a portion of the butter added: See how soft it is drooping off the paddle? No worries. Keep adding the butter, 1-2Tbs at a time. From time to time, feel the side of the bowl to keep an eye on the temp. If the bowl still feels hot, and/or the butter melts when you start to add it, stop adding butter and continue to beat on medium until the bowl cools down. If your bowl starts feeling cool (which is what happens to me more often than not), you may get something that looks like this: See how it looks lumpen and curdled on the beater? My butter, though soft, was a bit cool going into the bowl, and it started to sieze up a bit. At this point you're making an emulsion, just like mayo or ganache, and the mixture really wants to be watched closely. When I get this curdled effect and the bowl feels cold, here is my foolproof remedy: stop adding butter, soak a dish towel in hot water, wring it out and wrap it around the bowl while increasing beater speed to high. The gentle warming of the mixture plus the additional agitation will bring it into line pretty quickly, and you will see the emulsion coming together before your eyes: This is still not completely combined, but it's close. When you can see the emulsion coming back together and the bowl no longer feels cool to the touch, it's safe to start adding butter again. When all the butter plus vanilla or other flavorings are in, this is what you'll see: It's smooth and light, but able to hold peaks well, as you can see on the beater. You can incorporate melted cooled chocolate, lemon curd, raspberry puree, liqeurs (but only 1-2 tps to keep the emulsion intact), crushed nuts or nougatine -- sky's the limit. It holds up well enough to pipe roses and intricate borders. Everyone should try this buttercream at least once -- enjoy!
  23. I'm making some chestnut gnocchi. I've found a few recipes using chestnut flour and all-purpose flour and/or potato. I'm wondering whether these are also traditionally made by cooking whole fresh or dried chestnuts and grinding them and then kneading this into a dough with a little flour. Seems like a tastier option, but is it traditional? Also, any recommendations for sauces? Pesto? Cream Sauce? Cheese Sauce? Thanks.
  24. A close friend of mine who is not a contributor to eGullet was thinking out loud about birthday plans for her mom who lives in Philadelphia and I thought I would try and lend a hand. My friend has not lived in Philadelphia in many years and so is out of the loop on the dining scene. My only eating adventures in Philadelphia have been of the roast pork Italian kind (miss those). She is looking ideally for a an Italian space, south Philadelphia, great food, that would allow for a D.J. and accomodate between 100-120 people. She had tried Io E Tu, but they are closed in Sept. which is when she wanted to make this party. Thanks in advance for any advice.
  25. Hi, I bought a larger chunk of Italian Fontina Cheese than I needed for putting on some homemade pizza I made yesterday. What are some other good uses for this cheese? Thanks, Jeff
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