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  1. What would a typical dish be with fregola sarda? Thanks!
  2. I've just made my first few batches of risotto recently using some white wine which the recipe's had called for. I've seen recipes substituing wine with vermouth (I beleive it was vermouth) and I've seen a recipe without wine or any alcohol. My reason to not bother with wine is mainly $$. I am not a fan of white wine at all, so I have to buy a bottle every time I make risotto, of which only a small portion of the bottle is used for cooking, then I have to drink the wine relatively shortly after it's been opened even though I don't really enjoy it, just not wanting to waste it. So I'm curious if some experienced risotto fans can comment how important white wine is to risotto, if it can be substituted (vermouth?) or dropped all-together. The reason I ask here as opposed to experimenting for myself, is that I when I cook risotto it will be for few people at a time and I would not want them to be dissapointed. Thanks in advance.
  3. Okay, apparently my mother's "only wish" for her sixtieth birthday is to spend it with her children. Since my brother and his very pregnant wife are out in Montana...hubby and I are "the children." Honestly I think it's all a ruse to make us clean our house. Since I'm adopted, she was unable to pass on the Martha neat-freak gene to me! She did manage to pass along her love of good food though. Anywho, she loves all things Italian so I'm using this as an excuse to try a recipe from Jamie Oliver's Italy that I've been drooling over - "sugo di cinghiale di mercatello." (Also known as wild boar sauce from mercatello.) We'll be doing a test run of the meal this week as I never serve something to guests for the first time. Since it's just four of us (and one hyper puppy) I'm not planning a huge menu, but I do need to fill in a few blanks. --- Appetizer - The easiest would be some bruschetta with a couple of nice toppings, any ideas other than the standard tomato and basil? Salad - Panzanella maybe? Too summery? Or some simple greens with a homemade vinaigrette - any ideas for a salad addition to make it pop? She loves caprese but we do it a lot. Main - Wild boar sauce over homemade pappardelle Dessert - Leaning towards a vanilla panna cotta with a strawberry/balsamic sauce. --- Does this sound like a well balanced menu? The only thing I'm really dead set on is the boar. I found a great local butcher who gets everything locally and he special ordered a boar shoulder for me. On the big day I hope to use as many local and fresh ingredients as I can find. While I love to cook, I tend to keep things pretty simple for friends. I have a desire to truly wow my parents on this very special occasion. Please give me some feedback as this is my first real "dinner party" and I'm nervous! Thank you thank you! -Kate
  4. For February we'll be covering the region of the Veneto. As when we covered Lazio and Campania, most cookbook literature available in the U.S. at least is dominated by its best-known city, Venice. A number of the eating guides to Italy I've read lament at how hard it is to find truly Venetian food anymore as the city has become more and more dominated by tourist-friendly locales. And that's too bad, since Venetian food certainly has an appeal to it. We went there for our honeymoon and I spent most of my efforts researching ideal places. We went to al Covo, which judging by the Venice thread stickied at the top of the Italy page isn't too well thought of, but it was everything I find appealing about Venetian food. We started with a platter of steamed shellfish, continued with a pasta with cannocce (mantis shrimp) and gnocchi with baby mullets, and finished with fried fish. The next night we wandered into the far eastern section of the city (if you go into the peripheries of the city the restaraunts seems to get more strictly local) and ate at some humble trattoria, again serving good, honest seafood dishes. There's a strange interplay of elegance and yet simplicity to Venetian food that I really enjoy. And of course, one great food tradition in Venice is cicchetti(sp?); snack type food usually eaten standing up with a small glass of wine (ombra). One great place to experience this is at Cantina do Mori, a 500 year old wine bar near the Rialto market, but numerous bars all over the city specialize in them. I particularly enjoy the seafood versions. Another fun place was Bar da Fiore (no relation to the famous Osteria da Fiore that I know of) where we had a platter of shrimp the size of your thumbnail, tossed in hot oil, shell, head and all, that you then ate whole. But outside Venice there's alot of great eating to be had in the Veneto. Once you get inland, away from the sea, the food of the hill and mountain towns becomes more hearty and rib-sticking again, with polenta and gnocchi playing a key staple. Verona is known for its gnocchi, as well as a vast repetoire of dishes based on horsemeat. Wild fowl, particularly duck, plays a role in a number of dishes in the region. Bigoli are a rough, thick homemade spaghetti, usually made from wheat flour, that are laboriously extruded through a special tool used only for that purpose (although Mario Batali has made them with the meat grinder attachment of the KitchenAid mixer, which I may give a try). Radicchio is eaten with relish here, with varieties all named after cities they are grown in or near: Treviso, Verona, etc. Cookbook resources are not terribly plentiful. A search for "Veneto" on Amazon only turns up one book, but a search for Venice yields more, usually with other regions of the Veneto thrown in. Chow Venice: Savoring the Food and Wine of La Serenissima, by Shannon Essa and Ruth Edenbaum Food of Venice, The: Authentic Recipes from the City of Romance by Luigi Veronelli and Luca Invernizzi Tettoni Veneto : Authentic Recipes from Venice and the Italian Northeast by Julia della Croce The Da Fiore Cookbook: Recipes from Venice's Best Restaurant by Damiano Martin The Cooking of Venice and the North-East The Cuisine of Venice and Surrounding Northern Regions by Hedy Giusti-Lanham LA Cucina Veneziana: The Food and Cooking of Venice by Gino Santin and Anthony Blake Harry's Bar Cookbook by Harry Cipriani I have the Veneto book by della Croce, the food of Venice by Veronelli, and the da Fiore cookbook. I really enjoy the da Fiore book; it is beautiful to look at and has a number of enticing recipes. The Food of Venice presents a nice survey of the best dishes of its local restaurants. Della Croce's book is notable since it does span the other cities of the Veneto beyond just Venice, although a couple other books I listed above look like they do the same. I really like the cooking of this region; it frequently gets unfairly overlooked or underestimated. Hope we all have fun this month.
  5. I recently saw an episode of Iron Chef America where one of the chefs used a manual pasta extruder. He called it a Torchio I think. It piqued my interest in home-extruded pasta. Does anyone have a manual pasta extruder that they like? I am looking for one that can stand up to semolina and other semi-whole grains. Brass dies would also be good. recommendations?
  6. Daniel

    Rye Pasta

    I was wondering if it was possible to make a rye pasta.. Or maybe like a rye spaetzle.. So you can do a rye pasta with pastrami and a mustard sauce.. It might be disgusting tomorrow, but I think I would eat it in a few beers from now. Maybe a cold herring salad with rye noodles. Or how about like a rye lasagna where you have deli things in between.. A turkey and cheese rye lasagna? Stop me when you start to feel sick..
  7. I recently got hold of some citric acid and rennet tablets to try my hand at making fresh mozzarella cheese at home. I followed the internet posted intructions and was able to get the curd set. I followed the instructions to microwave the curd for 30 seconds and knead it and microwave it again and knead it until the cheese starts to stretch. However, the cheese never stretched and broke off after just stretching a little bit. The texture was grainy and not pliant. Is the microwaving technique the culprit here? Am I better off using the standard hot salt water bath in melting the curds until they start stretching? Also, what do I do with the whey in order to make ricotta? Thanks!
  8. sorry, my Italian is abysmal--is the singular gnoccho? anyway, the hub was watching Lidia's Family Table and called me to see this--Lidia made roast turkey with what I think was a a giant gnoccho--I didn't catch what she called it--the hub said it was wrapped in cheesecloth and simmered--it was served sliced--looked like it had golden raisins in it--it would serve the same function as stuffing, I imagine--and it did look good--have spent some time hunting for this, but no luck--any advice? Zoe
  9. wich is the best way to make a good tomatoe allround sauce for an italian restaurant kitchen,now we use peeled mutti tomatoes mixed with olive oil,basilico and sea salt without boiling it. any suggestions?
  10. Yesterday I made a batch of pasta. Two batches, really. Using Hazan's recipe of approximately 1 cup of flour to two large eggs, I made two cups worth, with four eggs. This I divided in half, then divided each half in thirds, and ran through the pasta machine to make my sheets. So far, so good. I then further processed the sheets into fettucine. This is where I need some help. The handling of the noodles was a problem for me. As they came out of the machine, I wrapped each bunch around my hand into a nest, and placed on towels to dry. When it came time to cook them (about 6 hours later) some of the nests didn't untangle in the water - so nesting is probably not the way to go for me. This was a dry run for an upcoming white truffle dinner, for which I have been elected to provide the fresh fettucine for six diners, so I can't afford to foul up the next run. Anyone have a suggestion? Should I just hang the individual strands over a clothesline like contraption? Or what?
  11. I hate to cop out here or revel in my own past glories(?), but every intro I've tinkered with writing for my favorite cooking region wound up sounding like last year's intro or trying to hard not to sound like last year's intro. So, with minor tinkering, I'm just putting up last year's: This is my favorite regional cuisine of Italy. The sheer volume and depth of artisanal food products and that so many “classic” recipes originated or are perfected here is simply staggering. Parmigiano Reggiano, Aceto Balsamico, Prosciutto di Parma, lasagna Bolognese, tortellini, cotechino, zampone, rich, luscious egg pastas . . . need I go on? It is a cuisine unto itself. Just about any introduction to this region in Italian cookbooks points out everything I noted above, mentions that Italians from all over the peninsula regularly hold it in the highest regard--second only to their mothers’ cooking of course--and then the author themselves adds a testament to the greatness of this cuisine. Waverly Root devotes 103 pages of Foods of Italy just to Emilia-Romagna, most of it just listing the unique dishes in each province and capital or twists on the traditional dishes (frankly, it gets tedious). Only Fred Plotkin, who, while acknowledging it is one of the best cuisines of Italy, offers a complaint: that what keeps it from truly rising above the rest is having great wine to match the food (a fair point, but not enough to hold it back in my opinion, especially when you have Tuscany just to the south, the Veneto just to the north). Then there’s the fact that Marcella Hazan, and, to a lesser extent, Mario Batali, really carved out my understanding of Italian cooking during my formative period of learning, and both are extensively influenced by Emilia-Romagna. As if I need any greater authority than Marcella Hazan for reference for this month, but really, we can’t talk about this region without mentioning the very best Italian regional cookbook out there, Lynne Rosetto Kasper’s The Splendid Table: The Cooking of Emilia Romagna. This has it all: regional histories, folklore, stories about dishes, profiles of notable restaurants and chefs in the region, personal anecdotes, and a bewildering volume of recipes. There’s a whole chapter just on variations of ragu, and many recipes of the Renaissance, which profited Emilia-Romagna greatly and lay the foundation for its elaborate cooking traditions. And yet, for as good as I say this book is, it’s that much better. Every time I read it I find all sorts of things I’d forgotten. I’d need one month just to make my way through all the standards of the cuisine and then another to do more unknown, interesting-sounding dishes. Nobody who likes Italian cooking should be without this book. This, then, was the region I first chose when we decided to go to Italy for our honeymoon. Though, after our planning, we had the Veneto and Tuscany in there as well, so I didn’t get to spend as much time as I’d have liked there. Our stay was pretty much restricted to Bologna, the epicenter of Emilia-Romagna cuisine. Here’s what I wrote about Bologna when we came back from the trip: The first night there we played “restaurant lottery” and just wandered into the first place that looked good (and it was a tough choice!). Just some anonymous trattoria-style place with the hostess/waitress/owner sitting in a corner peeling chestnuts and popping them in her mouth (we compared chestnut peeling scars!). Every table had “riservado” on it, but we were eating at the Americano hour of 8 and when we left at 10, the first few Italians had just come in. How do you guys do it? Food was great, simple, honest, straightforward, right out of any Bolognese cookbook. Ate lunch at Tamburini, ate crepes with nutella for a snack, went to a piadineria, ate another lunch at Diana (we weren’t dressed for it and the service responded accordingly), and out last dinner there was at Montegrappa DaNello, fantastic. Our one foray outside of Bologna was to Villa Gaidello, a farmstead halfway between Bologna and Modena, for a night’s stay and a seven-course meal of E-R standards that still makes me misty-eyed just thinking about it. Emilia-Romagna is a cooking and feasting with a passion for the very best way to do a dish, no matter what the cost, wallet or waistline.
  12. While eating at the now defunct Mangere Italian Restaurant in Dorado, Puerto Rico, I asked for the ingredients for an Italian penne dish made with bacon and prosciutto. One of the ingredients that the waiter could not translate was something like "albaca". None of my Puerto Rican friends know what this is. Does anyone out there have an idea? Am not sure the spelling is correct, I wrote this stuff down as fast as the waiter was naming off the ingredients. My assumption at the time was it was "bacon" but I know now that isn't what it is. Thanks! doc
  13. I am thinking of getting a pasta maker but need to make my pasta egg free. Are there any worthwhile recipes for egg free pasta? I just don't know the answer, I am new to the homemade pasta world... Thanks!
  14. The Holidays and New Year caused me to lapse in my planning for this thread, hence the delay and subsequently shoddy initial post. Trentino Alto Adige is one of the Northernmost regions of Italy, above the Veneto and bordering Friuli Venezia Giulia. The cuisines share some similarities and key ingredients. TAA is equally informed by Austria in its cooking and culture. Dark, whole grain breads are a key staple. When they get too stale, one use for these breads is to make them into canederli, a type of gnocchi or dumpling. Sauerkraut also can be found used here, as can perhaps the best-known export of the region, speck or smoked prosciutto. Game abounds, and beef is used quite a bit in the cooking as well. This is one of the thinnest referenced regions we've covered, unfortunately. No books devoted exlcusively to it turn up in an Amazon booksearch. Ada Boni roles up the Veneto, Trentino Alto Adige, and Friuli Venezia Giulia into one whole chapter. Marlena di Blasi leaves the region out entirely from her Northern cookbook, dismissing it as "too Germanic". That leaves a thin chapter on it from Ada Boni's book, and the chapter from Culinaria. If I recall correctly, Lynne Rossetto Kasper also imparts a few reigional recipes in her Italian Country Table cookbook as well. There's a not-terribly enlightening article on it in the new all-Italy edition of Gourmet magazine. Hopefully, Pontormo will be able to help us with online resources, and of course others' knowledge and input are welcome as well.
  15. a poster on this thread suggests that there is good Italian food to be found in NJ at local restaurants. anyone know where? OG is obviously not a very good option. we could really use an injection of Vitamin B (batali) here in NJ. the red sauce places just aren't cutting it, and usually can't make "italian" food better than my irish grandmother or me (in fact, it's usually much worse). i think i'll go to Babbo for lunch.
  16. Yesterday, I was in my new Trader Joe's and bought a container of bocconcini, mozzarella balls packed in water. I put them into a salad and used a vinaigrette on them but they didn't really absorb the taste ... Should I melt them on something? Should they be marinated? So, my question here is in what way are they best utilized to enjoy their fresh, creamy taste?
  17. I've not found a thread on these little gems, in eithier the Italy or Cooking forums. If someone could point to a previous thread please do, if not can we proceed here? thank you woodburner
  18. I am planning on preparing a large pork roast for dinner Christmas Day. I will be feeding about 16 people. Does anyone have any tips for the best method to use to ensure that it is tender and moist? Dry roast or braise type? Boneless or bone in? I typically roast it a la my Marchigiani grandmother, with garlic and rosemary sprigs, but I am a bit intimidated by the size cut I will need and I don't want it to dry out. Does anyone have a favorite recipe or tips you might share?
  19. Last week my partner and I went to a new Italian trattoria in Vancouver and ordered a dish called Vincigrassi. Here's how it was described on the menu: Layered pasta baked with fresh porcini, Parma ham, fontina cheese The hidden ingredient? Dried porcini powder sprinkled atop every layer of the sauce, as the chef explained to us later. The dish was absolutely sublime. I wouldn't mind having it every night of the week. A quick google search today yielded many results but also many variations of the dish. I'd like to give Vincigrassi a try at home. Does anyone have a recipe that they can share?
  20. I will be attending a potluck with an Italian theme, and I signed up to bring a dessert. I don't want to make the usual tiramisu, cheesecake or zabaglione. It has to be something that I make in advance and can be easily self-served on a buffet line, so this rules out individual servings of something in a martini glass, for example. Any ideas or pointers to recipes? Thanks for any suggestions.
  21. Today, I acquired a bread maker from a friend who is moving and needed to get rid of some stuff. I have never used a bread maker, and I haven't particularly wanted one because I am comfortable making bread dough by hand or sometimes in my food processor. However, I am always up for a cooking experiment, so I took the bread maker just to see how it works. After examining the bread maker, I have found that it has a setting for pasta dough. Has anyone tried making pasta dough in the bread maker, and if so would anyone recommend it? If so, why? If not, why not? As in the case of bread dough, my interest in using the machine for pasta is not motivated by any aversions to doing the work by hand. I'm just curious about different methods of making things, their pros and cons, etc.
  22. Based on the recent good reviews, I was more excited about my dinner A Voce tonight than any restaurant I've been to in the recent past. The restaurant didn't quite live up to expectations. If you've been to the Modern, then the decor at A Voce will seem very familiar. It is very sleek, very modern, and very comfortable (including swivel chairs). Service at A Voce was great. Our server was always around when we needed him, but he was not at all obtrusive, and never once rushed us. Our first taste of A Voce came from a delicious bread basket with warmed bread that tasted homemade. In terms of ordered food, my boyfriend and I shared an order of the duck and foie gras meatballs. There were four meatballs lined up on a rectangular plate, each on a small bed of celery root puree and surrounded by a cherry sauce. The meatballs were tender, rich, and very good. For his main, my boyfriend ordered the lamb tortellini. The serving size was relatively small but balanced by the fact that each piece of pasta was filled with a generous portion of hearty lamb meat. After a full day of eating, I opted for something lighter--the olive-crusted cod. This was served over sliced fingerling potatoes, fava (I think) beans and pureed fava beens. The cod was well-prepared, although not mindblowing. Perhaps if I had opted for a more traditional Italian dish, I would have been more impressed. The true disappointment of the meal was dessert. I chose for the chocolate amaretti cake with gelato. The cake was just too dry. It's rare that I don't finish a dessert, but this one went largely uneaten, except for the gelato on a bed of golden raisins.
  23. For April, we take a jump midway down the Italian peninsula to Lazio and of course the capital city of Rome. Another favorite region of mine: I love the staightforward, robust cooking style and the honest trattoria food of Rome. It's a perfect match for Easter month, as well as the peak of artichoke season in the U.S. They are consumed with abandon in Rome and two classic artichoke dishes were popularized here: carciofi alla guidea and carciofi alla romana, both of which I can't wait to make. In cookbook literature at least, "Rome" seems to have become almost interchangeable with "Lazio" and in fact an Amazon booksearch for cookbooks on Lazio or Latium (the English name) turned up no exact hits. However, a booksearch for "Rome" turns up these books: Roma: Authentic Recipes from In and Around the Eternal City, by Julia Della Croce In a Roman Kitchen: Timeless Recipes from the Eternal City, by Jo Bettoja Williams-Sonoma Rome: Authentic Recipes Celebrating the Foods Of the World , by Maureen B. Fant Rome, At Home : The Spirit of La Cucina Romana in Your Own Kitchen by Suzanna Dunaway Diane Seed's Rome for All Seasons: A Cookbook A Thousand Bells at Noon : A Roman Reveals the Secrets and Pleasures of His Native City by G. Franco Romagnoli A Taste of Ancient Rome by Ilaria Gozzini Giacosa Cooking the Roman Way by David Downie Of these, the only one I have experience with is Downie's book, and that's more than enough for me. His is one of my favorite regional cookbooks, combining all of my requirements: history, personal anecdotes, dish origins, and a wide range of recipes. Other dishes created or popularized in Rome: fettucine Alfredo, pasta carbonara, bucatini all'Amatriciani, pizza bianca, spaghetti cacio e pepe, saltimbocca alla Romana, gnocchi alla Romana, pollo alla Romana, lamb scotaditti, puntaralle (bitter endive) en salsa, and finally, the "quinto cuarto" (fifth cut) dishes from the slaughterhouse district, including oxtail stew, tripa alla Romana, and pajata, spicy veal intestines and pasta. And we're off!
  24. Has anyone else been to this place (4700 Guadaloupe) yet? I haven't even tried the restaurant operation yet, but the grocery/bakery/deli is amazing. This weekend I got squid ink, marinated anchovies, excellent canned tuna, and a new brand of spaghetti. It really felt like being in a little market in Italy. Andrew
  25. Marcella Hazan's "Marcella Says..." is an excellent book, but I recently came across a recipe for "Chicken Breasts Saltimbocca style," that lists pancetta as an ingredient -- not prosciutto. Checking up on this, I've found about a dozen different recipes for both the veal and chicken variant, and while one listed Parma ham and a couple simply required "ham," the rest all called for prosciutto. None called for pancetta -- or any similar bacon-like product... This book seems to be extraordinarlily well researched, so I can't see how this could have been a typo, but I don't understand why I can't find any other recipes that uses pancetta (or bacon) for this application... I mean, it's a pretty significant difference -- between using uncooked bacon, and cured, ready-to-eat ham, right? What do you make of this?
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