Ciabatta Bread: This is another recipe sent to me by Dan Locaputo, and is it ever delicious. Thanks Dan for letting us use your recipe here. I made some changes mainly so you can make it in a bread maker. Truly Italian Ciabatta bread was probably first made in Liguria, Italy but is now found throughout Italy. It has also become very popular across Europe and the US, and if you have tried it, you know why. The bread is also popular as sandwich bread. It has a hard outer crust and a delicious taste. Although it is not complex to make, it does take about 2 days, because you have to wait on the dough to rise. First, you start out by making a sponge followed by the final bread making process. Ingredients (2 loaves): For the sponge * 1/8 teaspoon active dry yeast * 2 tablespoons warm water (110 to 115 degrees F) * 1/3 cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees F) * 1 cup bread flour For the bread * ½ teaspoon active dry yeast * 2 tablespoons warm milk (110 to 115 degrees F) * 2/3 cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees F) * 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil * 2 cups bread flour * 1 ½ teaspoons salt Preparation of the sponge Stir the 1/8 teaspoon dry yeast and 2 tablespoons of warm water in a small bowl and let it stand for 5 to 10 minutes (until creamy). Place the creamy mixture into a larger bowl along with the 1/3 cup water and 1 cup bread flour. Stir the mixture for about 4 to 5 minutes, then cover with plastic wrap and let stand for 12 to 24 hours in a cool place. Sponge after it was mixed. Sponge after rising. Preparation of the bread In a small bowl, stir ½ teaspoons yeast and 2 tablespoons milk and again let it stand until it is creamy (about 5 minutes). Place the mixture in the bread machine along with the sponge, 2/3 cup water, olive oil, and 2 cups bread flour and mix until the flour is moistened. Add the salt and mix until you have a smooth and elastic dough ball (about 10 to 15 minutes). Dough mixing in bread maker. It will be sticky but put the dough into an oiled bowl scrapping up all of it and cover with plastic wrap. The dough should rise at room temperature for about 2 hours (until double in size) – make sure it is full of holes and sticky before you go to the next step. Dough rising. Place the dough on a floured surface, and cut it in half. Place each half on wax paper and form them into oval shapes (about 9 inches long). Dimple loaves with floured fingers and dust the tops with flour. Take a dampened towel, and cover the loaves. Let the loaves rise at room temperature for about 2 hours (until each loaf has almost doubled). The dough ready to go into the oven. At least 45 minutes before baking the bread, place a baking stone on the lowest oven rack position and preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Once the stone has become hot, transfer the loaves to it. Bake the loaves for 20 minutes or until pale golden brown. Once they have cooked cool them on a wire rack. Perfecto! Cooked bread. All about pesto: In the old days in Italy, when the basil was ready for harvest, pesto was made with a mortar and pestle and if so inclined one can still make it that way. I bet it tastes even better, but I must confess I never tried it. I do know for a fact that mayonnaise began in Corsica and it was the job of the father, not the mother, to make the week's batch every Sunday. Something tells me that pesto may be 'a man's job' as well (next time I talk to my friend Francesco I'll ask). I'm also curious as to how it was kept in the old days because clearly pesto is one way of getting the hard months of no fresh basil. These days you merely fill ice cube trays with the ambrosia and it freezes wonderfully. -The basic ingredients for pesto are basil, olive oil, parmesan or other hard grated Italian cheese like romano, and nuts. "What?" Some may exclaim, "you are no authority on Italian cooking at all!" But I'm here to testify that as surely as Mt. Vesuvius did not blow it's top over the way Pompeians were watering down the wine, I am committing no offense to good and sensible, down to earth Italian cooking. No, you don't have to use pine nuts, and yes, a variety of hard cheeses are acceptable. In fact, every time I make pesto (with a blender!), which, appropriately enough is once a year when my basil bushes have finally had enough of the cold, I like to try a new nut. Actually, I find pine nuts to be a bit overwhelming (ditto for chocolate mole) and my favorite choice so far has been walnuts, which adds a nice earthy touch fit for the colder months. Cashews proved to be interesting but intolerable when eaten with gusto, and almonds are nice. Next on my try list is macadamia nuts, over which I'm being careful not to predict anything. Finally, though pesto is best known as being eaten with pasta, the next time you make minestrone top each bowl off with a spoonful of pesto. After that your minestrone will be lonely without it. Chicken Parmigiana: Alternative ways to prepare: Parmigiana means from the city of Parma in northern Italy. But the name probably comes from one of the cheeses used in the dish – Parmigiana Reggiano (the finest Parmesan cheese made in Italy). But Parmigiana is a decidedly southern Italian dish (probably from Sicily) referring to breaded eggplant with tomato sauce and cheese. You can use breaded veal or chicken instead of eggplant. In fact, all are quite delicious. Ingredients (serves 6): * 8 – chicken breast halves, boneless and skinless * 1 – cup flour * 4 – large eggs * 2 tablespoons – water * 2 cups – bread crumbs * 1 tablespoon – butter (per batch of chicken) * 2 tablespoons – extra virgin olive oil (per batch of chicken) * 3 cups -- Botticelli's Rich Italian tomato sauce (you can substitute Ragù finto tomato meat sauce if you prefer a meat sauce) * 1 pound – mozzarella cheese, grated * 8 ounces – Parmesan cheese, grated Preparation: In my opinion, good chicken Parmigiana must have thin cutlets so you do not overwhelm your taste buds with chicken instead of a combination of the chicken, sauce and cheese. Consequently, I cut each chicken breast in half (parallel to the longest width). Place each cut chicken breast between cellophane wrap and pound it with a mallet until it is about ¼ inch (at most) thick. Make sure you do not pound it so that the breast breaks up. Pounded chicken breast in cellophane wrap. Set three bowls together from left to right (see photo) – place the flour in the first bowl, the eggs and water beaten together in the second, and the bread crumbs in the third. Flour, egg and water mixture, and bread crumbs. Dip each cut and pounded chicken breast in the flour first to lightly coat, followed by the egg mixture and then the bread crumbs making sure that each piece is completely coated. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a pan together with the oil and fry the chicken breasts (you will need to do several batches so place the cooked chicken on an aluminum foil tented plate (to keep the heat in) while you cook the other batches. Frying breaded chicken There are two ways you can proceed from this point forward. The first is to heat the tomato sauce and pour over individual servings of the chicken to cover. Cover each serving with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese, and broil until the cheese has melted and starts to brown. Serve immediately. The other way is to place the chicken breasts in a baking dish (my dish is 11 x 15 x 3 inches). Chicken cut to fit the baking dish Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. You can make two layers if you have too much chicken for just one layer. However, if you do have two layers, add sauce and cheese to the top of each layer. Cover the chicken with the tomato sauce and then add the mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Cook for 50 minutes or until the cheese has melted and browns. Let cook 10 minutes then cut and serve. Bon appétit. Just out of the oven. A serving of Chicken Parmigiana Fettuccine with an anchovy wine sauce: Fresh pasta: I know you probably get tired of me harping on the use of fresh noodles, but there is nothing quite as wonderful as a fresh bowl of noodles with a fine sauce. I sometimes make this for lunch or as a primo for a big dinner. By the way, I recently purchased the pasta maker attachment to my KitchenAid mixer (see the discussion about making Italian sausage), and what a difference it makes over the hand cranking I have been doing over the years to get fresh pasta. You turn out "tons" of fresh pasta in a very short time. Ingredients (6 servings): * 1 pound – fresh fettuccine noodles * 3 tablespoons – olive oil * 2 tablespoons -- butter * 1 pound – fresh button mushrooms, sliced * 3 cloves – garlic, minced * 1 ½ cups – dry white wine (e.g., chardonnay) * 1 tablespoon – anchovy paste * ½ teaspoon – red pepper flakes * 1 teaspoon – fresh basil * 2 teaspoons – fresh oregano * Salt and pepper to taste * 4 tablespoons – all purpose flour Preparation: Prepare the fresh fettuccine pasta and cook in salted water for about 6 minutes. When the pasta is finished, drain and then place it back in the pan you cooked it. Add the olive oil to keep the pasta from sticking until the sauce is prepared. Fresh pasta strips Fresh fettuccine cut from the strips. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium high heat and add the mushrooms. Sauté until the water has cooked off the mushrooms and they begin to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 1 minute. Add the wine and anchovy paste and cook for about 10 minutes to thicken the sauce. Add the pepper flakes, basil, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. Add the flour to thicken the sauce and turn heat to low to keep warm until the noodles are ready. The wine and anchovy sauce Pour the sauce over the noodles and mix well. Serve immediately. Enjoy! Botticelli's lasagna: Favorite recipe: I humbly believe this is the best recipe I have created. I have been making this for more than 35 years and keep trying to make it better all the time. I usually serve it for the holidays and the smell of lasagna baking in the oven has become as much a part of the holidays as Thanksgiving and Christmas turkey's are in other homes. One caution about my lasagna – although you should use fresh noodles, let them dry overnight and cook them before you add them to the lasagna. If you use them fresh and not cooked, they tend to blend with the other ingredients as I found out the hard way one time. By the way, use setting 4 for the pasta size if you are using a KitchenAid pasta maker attachment unless you like really thin pasta (then use setting 5). Ingredients (serves 12 – the proportions I give below are for two large baking dishes of lasagna using all of Botticelli's rich tomato sauce. If you want only one dish, cut everything in half including the sauce.): * Botticelli's rich Italian tomato sauce as called for in the recipe (don't forget to serve the sausage as a side dish) * 2 24-ounce containers – cottage cheese, small curd * 4 – eggs * 4 pounds – mozzarella cheese, grated * 16 ounces – fresh parmesan cheese, grated * 2 pounds – fresh lasagna noodles Preparation: Prepare Botticelli's rich Italian tomato sauce. Remember that you will be making two baking dishes of lasagna so make sure that you split everything evenly between the two dishes. We like to make one dish for our family and freeze the other for a later date. Both my baking dishes measure 11 x 15 x 3 inches. I actually prepare one dish and start that cooking while I am preparing the second dish. This requires you to prepare half the ingredients for the first dish and the rest for the second dish. Mix the cottage cheese and eggs together in a large bowl. The eggs and cottage for one baking dish. Cook the lasagna noodles in salted water as described in the recipe. Preparation of lasagna noodles. From left to right: cottage cheese mixture, mozzarella, parmesan, and tomato sauce with one layer of noodles in the baking dish. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cover the bottom of the baking dish with tomato sauce. Place one layer of noodles on top of the sauce and then cover the noodles with sauce. Spoon dollops of cottage cheese along three rows in the dish (see photo). Spread about two handfuls of mozzarella and one handful of parmesan over the top. dollops_of_cottage_cheese_mixture_along_three_rows_with_the_parmesan_and_ mozzarella_cheese_spread_over_the_top Dollops of cottage cheese mixture along three rows with the parmesan and mozzarella cheese spread over the top. Lay another layer of noodles and repeat until all of the ingredients are used. I usually like to put a little more cheese on top than I do in the layers. Lasagna dish ready for baking. Bake for one hour and then let cool for 10 minutes before you cut it into servings. Perfecto! Prosciutto e Melone: Salty When I was a kid, my mother put salt on melon (cantaloupe). I tried it and acquired the taste. The idea seems strange to most, but I believe it gives a sweeter taste to the melon. Try it. Or better yet, try prosciutto with melon (i.e., prosciutto e melone in Italian). The prosciutto has a salty taste which seems to sweeten the melon even more. It is such a simple recipe that that one might think it is not worth the effort to describe. But once you try it, you will understand why I describe it here. Prosciutto As I have mentioned before, prosciutto is the Italian word for ham. But it is usually referred to in the US as an aged, spiced, and cured ham thinly sliced and uncooked ham. The Italians refer to cooked ham (like we normally eat) as prosciutto cotto (which means literally cooked ham). But the prosciutto that is cured is referred to in Italy as prosciutto crudo (meaning raw ham). A fine prosciutto crudo can take anywhere from 9 months to one and a half years to make. Prosciutto crudo comes from central and northern Italy (Tuscany and Emilia in particular), and some prosciutto producing areas have a protected status just like San Marzano plum tomatoes and some antipasto delicacies we have discussed. In particular, the prosciutto di Parma, prosciutto di San Daniele, prosciutto di Modena, prosciutto di Toscano, prosciutto di Veneto, and prosciutto di Carpegna all have the PDO (protected designation of origin) status. Ingredients (6 servings): * 1 melon cut into 8 wedges with the rind removed (combine any smaller slices to make 6 servings). * 18 extremely thin slices of prosciutto Melon slices Preparation: Place each melon slice on a plate with 3 prosciutto slices arranged alongside or draped over the melon. Enjoy. Chou for now. Basil Pesto: Origins: Basil pesto originates from the Genoa region of northern Italy (pesto alla genovese). Pesto in Italian is derived from a word meaning to pound or crush. Obviously the food was named before they had food processors. Can you imagine grinding all the ingredients together? There is mention of a basil cheese spread as far back as Roman times, but it was the Genovese that first combined all the typical ingredients. It was not until the 1940s (probably because of World War II) that basil pesto started to be mentioned in newspapers. And it did not become a popular dish in America until the 1980s and 1990s. I call it a "triple crown" recipe – easy to make, healthy, and delicious. In a later article, I will show you how to make sundried tomato pesto also. Other uses: I might also add that although my recipe calls for the basil pesto to be added to pasta, you can use it on baked potatoes, spread over crostini (thinly-sliced toasted bread), or you can use it to season fish and chicken dishes. Ingredients (5 servings): * 2 cups (about 5 ounces) – fresh basil, pressed or packed (approximately – i.e., take the basil leaves and press them into a cup) * 3 cloves – garlic * 1/4 cup – pine nuts * 4 ounces – parmesan, grated * ½ cup – extra virgin olive oil * ½ teaspoon – salt * Pepper to taste * 1 pound – fresh pasta (linguine or fettuccine) Preparation: Rinse the basil leaves and place them in a food processor along with the garlic, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, and olive oil and blend until well mixed (see photo). Pine nuts Add pepper to taste and mix. Basil pesto Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a few quarts of water (if it is fresh pasta it should only take a few minutes). Drain the pasta and place back in the pot. Add the basil pesto and mix well. Serve hot. Bon appétit! Calzone: Similar to Stromboli: The real difference between stromboli and calzone is that the former is rolled and the latter is folded. There is no difference in the ingredients. Both usually contain cheese (usually mozzarella), meat, and/or vegetables. I suggest varying the ingredients each time you cook them. But stromboli usually contains a tomato sauce inside and calzone has sauce on the side for dipping. Ingredients (serves 5): * 2 tablespoons – extra virgin olive oil * 2 cloves – garlic, minced * 1 – large onion, chopped * 1 – green pepper, chopped * 1 pound – button mushrooms, sliced * 4 – mild Italian sausage, casing removed * 1 ½ pounds – mozzarella cheese, grated Preparation: Prepare the calzone dough the same way you prepare the stomboli dough. Also prepare the tomato sauce the same way the stomboli tomato sauce is prepared. Place the oil into a pan and heat over medium and add the garlic. Cook for one minute and then add the onion, green pepper, and mushrooms. Garlic, onion, green pepper and mushrooms. Sauté until the mushrooms have lost their water and the mixture starts to brown. Cook the sausage in a separate pan until it begins to brown, breaking up the meat into bits. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Pinch the dough apart into 5 separate but equal dough balls. Roll each ball flat on a lightly floured surface (about 9-inchs in diameter – see photo). Dough Cover each piece of dough with a layer of mozzarella cheese, followed by the sausage and vegetables (evenly distribute). First layer of mozzarella with sausage and vegetables. Cover again with the rest of the mozzarella cheese and fold each dough sheet over sealing the ends (see photo). Calzone before cooking Using a spatula, transfer the calzones to two lightly oiled baking sheets. Place both pans in the oven, one on the lower rack and the other on the upper rack. Cook for 15 minutes and then reverse the baking sheets and cook for an additional 15 minutes. Serve with the tomato sauce over the top or on the side for dipping. Enjoy! Two calzones cooked. Same Italian Recipe Pasta For 15 Years: 'Everyone is selling Italian food, even in food courts, and everyone is confused as to what a good one really is these days. Every chef we hire, I tell them to do pasta our way or it's no way.' WHEN my younger colleague Thomas dug into the $30 lobster tagliolini here, 'wah, worth it lah!' was his immediate response. This, from a Gen-X man who grew up on a diet of $9.90 fast food pastas made with freeze-packed sauces. Then he wolfed down the Ossobuco in Cremolata (mee pok with veal shank in white wine and herbed tomato sauce) in blissful silence. He also had a distinct smile when he bit into the fresh bread smeared with the dangerously smooth sliver of marrow, carefully dug out of the shank, softly trampled with droplets of the wine and tomato sauce. All in an old Italian restaurant, in the very volatile pasta business, which nearly closed twice in its 15-year history since the early '90s. 'It is very hard to run a successful restaurant business here if you don't put your knee and elbow grease into the operations,' said owner Rolando Luceri. He wound down from the glamorous world of hotel management and operations and took over from the previous owner of Pasta Brava, who had contemplated winding up because he was 'just not into the business as it was a venture his father paid to get him into'. So Mr Luceri revamped the operations at the age of 52. Fifteen years on, this is still one of the better dedicated pasta joints around. The secret to their staying power - a stubborn determination to maintain consistency despite changing demographics with fickle expectations. Mr Luceri said: 'We still hand-make our own pastas and have the dried and fresh range. It is not practical to maintain the snooty appeal of Italian restaurants anymore. That position he took did well for him and on any given day, the ShentonWay regulars make up 70 per cent of the business. He also feels hiring locals with a hunger to learn is better than a wannabe egomaniac Italian chef. And it helps that he pays them 'a bit more than the others'. His restaurant, in a pre-war shophouse with a woody decor that has hardly changed over the years, has hints of Peranakan heritage. An old shelf and an ornate partition screen, which is more at home in a Peranakan house, sit proudly amid touches of Italian arts and crafts. Their menu, which is also a misfit, looks like a tabloid newspaper which lists full Italian offerings from antipastis, two main dish sections to risotto. To be in the Italian restaurant business specialising in pasta for over a decade and a half takes more than grit and toil. Many good Italian eateries have come and gone, like Gaetano's. Every other little cafe just around the back alley or in a cosy corner of many retail malls is serving an $8.80 version of it. Some hawkers will tout it for $5.50. It helps that Mr Luceri has that 'hawker' appeal - some popular pasta dishes are still done in the same way since day one and regulars, by default, return for the same dish expecting the same experience every time. Each time I visit, without fail, their seafood pastas and linguine are the same ol', same ol'. Mama Mia! Now That's Good Food: The Popularity of Italian cooking recipes Italian cooking is popular all across the globe. Pastas and pizzas are popular with all age groups. Cooking an Italian meal for family and friends is always rewarding as they wait eagerly for the next Italian meal. So, in order to satisfy them with superb Italian meals, you can search for some good Italian recipes. Another good idea is to gift good Italian recipes. You could buy a good Italian recipe book for a friend of either sex, as there is no age bar for cooking, and people who have a flair for good food would love to have any new recipes come their way. As people savour their food, if they are food lovers, they will try to figure out the ingredients that have gone into the meal, the time it took to prepare, and various other thoughts on the meal. Familiarizing Yourself with Italian Cooking Recipes Your cooking skills will get better by the day if you keep trying out more Italian recipes. Keeping in touch with Italian cooking, learning all the names of the dishes and the terms that are used, will make you more familiar with Italian food, and consequently, you will find cooking Italian meals easier, and you will be able to obtain the ingredients needed for the recipe easily, as you will not have to keep searching for them, as you will be comfortable with the names. So, in other words, you will have an advantage over someone who is just beginning to learn Italian cooking. A great way to learn Italian cooking is to go on the Internet where you can aquaint yourself with thousands of gourmet Italian recipes and simple Italian recipes. You can also get wonderful recipes on Italian cooking from book stores or from TV cooking shows, and also from family and friends. Another excellent way to share your cooking talent with others is to get to know your neighbours who may also have a penchant for cooking, and you could get together, share your recipes and ideas, and produce a wonderful Italian meal together. If you prefer to be professional, then you could take lessons from a professional class. There are many professional Italian classes where you can learn the art of Italian cooking. You will learn all the details and tips, the exact quantities, dishes to be served in an Italian setting, the manner in which an Italian meal is served, and this will give your cooking a truly professional touch. You can also interact with classmates who are at your level, and even if they know more than you, or less than you, you will be able to get useful tips from them or share your own expertise with them. This way you will learn something new all the time, and you will be amply rewarded by being able to produce a delightful and innovative Italian meal. A Gastronomic Delight: Italian cuisine is the most renowned cuisine in the world. It is very comfortable to locate Italian restaurants in any region or land. The aroma of the herbs used in Italian dishes enhace the aroma and taste of the recipes wonderfully. Usage of tangy and loaded elements for example cheese, tomatoes and olive oil is regular in the majority of Italian recipes. Regular Italian foods include wheat and semolina flour in the form of numerous kinds of pastas and breads. The most prominent of all Italian foods are the pizza and pasta dishes, that have secured a high status in the global cuisine as well. These recipes have obtained such an acceptance around the globe that neighbouring styles of cooking are extremely influenced by the Italian food. The major ingredients used in Northern Italian dishes are rice, seafood, pork and corn. Different type of sausages and numerous kinds of cheese are extensively used in making Italian recipes in Northern region. The Central Italian Diet, which contains the scrumptious Lasagna, Tortellini and Ham along with a wide range of pasta preparations, made with flavorful sauces. Italian dishes made in South Italy generally include seafood, variety of cheese, green and black olives along with tomatoes. Olive oil is commonly used in making various types of salad and pasta dishes. Italian cooking is quite popular outside Italy as well. Italian dishes prepared in other nations include variety of breads, pastas along with Italian soups, salads. Italian wine is also a gourmet's pick for a true Italian meal. Italian pasta recipes can be prepared by using hundreds of distinct varieties of pasta that is made in Italy, such as Linguini, Penne, Fetucini, Spaghetti and Ravioli. Cappucino, Espresso and Caffe Corretto enhance to the coffee section of Italian cuisine. Italian desserts are also extremely popular not only in Italy but all over the world for their fine flavors and enjoyable taste. Italian desserts including tiramisu, spumoni and granitas are much loved sweet dishes in Italian meals. Italian recipes are not only tasty, but they are healthy as well. Conventional and Non-traditional Epicurean Italian Pasta Recipes: Pasta is mainly a term given towards the dishes that are made utilizing wheat, buckwheat, water and flour. So, many of the dishes which are prepared by using these pastas as the chief components are generally known as pasta recipes. Pastas have noodles in widths, varieties, shapes and lengths which can be full of other substances like ravioli and tortellini. A few of the post popular Pasta recipes are prepared utilizing styles of trendy Italian substances. Pasta recipes are undoubtedly one of the crucial widely eaten and loved meals that comes from traditional Italian cuisine. Known for being an ideal Italian recipe, pastas are created by following lengths, widths and shapes, and varieties cooking techniques and recipes. There are hundreds of various shapes of pasta with at least locally recognized names. Examples include spaghetti, maccheroni, fusilli, and lasagne. Sp?tzle and Gnocchi are mainly known for being pasta. They are both traditional in parts of Italy. Pasta is mainly categorized between two basic types: dried and fresh. Dried pasta made without eggs are generally kept for up to two years under ideal conditions, while fresh pasta will keep for a few days under refrigeration. Pasta is usually cooked by boiling. The pastas will also be stuffed or filled utilizing lengths, widths and shapes, and varieties components such as ravioli and tortellini. These pastas are mostly served together with some delicious sauces as being a main meal for Italian main courses. Pasta is mostly served with some form of sauce; the sauce and the species of pasta usually are matched determined by consistency, ease of eating, etc. Ordinary pasta sauces in Northern Italy include pesto and rag? alla bolognese, which generally adds meat to the sauce. In Central Italy, you can get simple sauces something like tomato sauce, amatriciana and carbonara. In addition, a few of the popular southern Italian cooking methods of sauces are pasta alla norma, puttanesca, pasta alla norma (tomatoes, eggplant and fresh or baked cheese), pasta con le sarde (fresh sardines, pine nuts, fennel and olive oil), spaghetti aglio, olio e peperoncino (literally with garlic, olive oil and hot chili peppers), pasta con le sarde, olio e peperoncino and spaghetti aglio. Furthermore, the overall components helpful to prepare these sauces are garlic, tomatoes, eggplant, freshly baked cheese, olive oil, fresh sardines, pine nuts, fennel and hot chili peppers. Pasta is generally served with few kind of sauces. The best suited sauce is required to be preferred for almost all form of pasta. The Great Variety of Italian Food: Italy has a well-established and deserved history for making high-quality recipes and mouth-watering cuisines. Best known for pizza and pasta, Italian food also includes many exemplarary meat and seafood dishes, in addition to excellent cheeses, and fabulous desserts. Food in Italy is a means of spending quality time and bond with family and friends. Italian cuisine is all about attention to detail that goes into creating each dish just perfect. Italian food varies from region to region and are generally simple and straightforward to prepare. A few of the favored ingredients utilised in a lot of Italian recipes include potato, bell pepper and tomato. Cheese is regarded as an important ingredient and is utilized majority of Italian dishes. It has often been noted that Italy is a country of great regional variations - and that's certainly true, indeed the country was only unified in 1861 - and this fact is reflected in the diversity of Italy's regional cuisine. It must also be noted that Italy has been invaded often over the centuries, as well as involved trading with many other countries, and this too is reflected in the national cuisine. Lets take a short gander on some of the Italian cuisines: - Lasagna, balsamic vinegar, mortadella, polenta, polenta, tortellini are some of the native Italian cuisines. Before you ask let me give a short description of the all food mentioned. Mortadella is pork sausage that is cut, hear cured and served cold. Polenta is a dish made using boiled commeal and tortellini is stuffed pasta. - Tuscan cuisine often features meat, white beans and unsalted bread. - Pizzas and Mozzarellas originated from Naples. - Roman cuisine often uses pecorino (cheese made out of sheep's milk) and offal. Rome is also known for its ultra-thin pizzas - Calabria (the region likened to the "toe" of Italy) is renowned for its spicy kind of salami - Sardinia is well-known because of its lamb and pecorino (cheese made from sheep's milk). - Sicilian cuisine is noted for its Arab influences in its cooking (with the usage of lemon and pistachio), as well as for its seafood (including tuna and swordfish). Sicily is also home of gelato (ice cream) and granita (a delicious semi-frozen dessert made using sugar, water and flavorings). Italian Culinary - The Brilliant Italian Stromboli: Today lets take a look at the famous Italian Recipe- Stromboli. The true change between stromboli and calzone is that the former is rolled while the latter is folded. There's not much of a difference in the ingredients. Both generally include cheese (usually mozzarella), meat, and/or vegetables. I propose changing the ingredients each time you cook them. But stromboli usually has tomato sauce inside and calzone has sauce on the side for dipping. Ingredients (serves 5): * A couple of tablespoons - extra virgin olive oil * Two cloves - garlic, minced * One - large onion, sliced * 1 - green pepper, diced * 1 pound - button mushrooms, chopped * Four - mild Italian sausage, casing removed * 1 1/2 pounds - mozzarella cheese, grated Preparation: Prepare the calzone dough the same manner you make the stomboli dough. In addition prepare the tomato sauce the very same method the stomboli tomato sauce was prepared. Place the oil into the pan and heat over medium flame and add the garlic. Cook for one minute and then add the onion, green pepper, and mushrooms. Saute until the mushrooms have lost their water and the mixture starts to brown. Prepare the sausage in a different pan till it starts to brown, breaking up the meat into bits. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Pinch the dough apart into five different but equal dough balls. Roll each ball flat on a lightly floured surface. Cover every portion of dough with a layer of mozzarella cheese, followed by the sausage and vegetables and divide them evenly. Wrap again with the rest of the mozzarella cheese and fold each dough sheet over, sealing the ends. By means of a spatula, transfer the calzones to two lightly oiled baking sheets. Put the two pans in the oven, one on the lower rack and the other on the higher rack. Cook for fifteen minutes and then reverse the baking sheets and cook for an further 20 minutes. Offer with the tomato sauce on the top or on the side for dipping. Good Food Would Love to Have Any New Recipes Come: Italian cooking is popular all across the globe. Pastas and pizzas are popular with all age groups. Cooking an Italian meal for family and friends is always rewarding as they wait eagerly for the next Italian meal. So, in order to satisfy them with superb Italian meals, you can search for some good Italian recipes. Another good idea is to gift good Italian recipes. You could buy a good Italian recipe book for a friend of either sex, as there is no age bar for cooking, and people who have a flair for good food would love to have any new recipes come their way for the help www.july4-recipes.com. As people savour their food, if they are food lovers, they will try to figure out the ingredients that have gone into the meal, the time it took to prepare, and various other thoughts on the meal. Familiarizing Yourself with Italian Cooking Recipes Your cooking skills will get better by the day if you keep trying out more Italian recipes. Keeping in touch with Italian cooking, learning all the names of the dishes and the terms that are used, will make you more familiar with Italian food, and consequently, you will find cooking Italian meals easier, and you will be able to obtain the ingredients needed for the recipe easily, as you will not have to keep searching for them, as you will be comfortable with the names. So, in other words, you will have an advantage over someone who is just beginning to learn Italian cooking. A great way to learn Italian cooking is to go on the Internet where you can acquaint yourself with thousands of gourmet Italian recipes and simple Italian recipes. You can also get wonderful recipes on Italian cooking from book stores or from TV cooking shows, and also from family and friends. Another excellent way to share your cooking talent with others is to get to know your neighbours who may also have a penchant for cooking, and you could get together, share your recipes and ideas, and produce a wonderful Italian meal together. If you prefer to be professional, then you could take lessons from a professional class. There are many professional Italian classes where you can learn the art of Italian cooking for the help www.book-of- cookies.com. You will learn all the details and tips, the exact quantities, dishes to be served in an Italian setting, the manner in which an Italian meal is served, and this will give your cooking a truly professional touch. You can also interact with classmates who are at your level, and even if they know more than you, or less than you, you will be able to get useful tips from them or share your own expertise with them. This way you will learn something new all the time, and you will be amply rewarded by being able to produce a delightful and innovative Italian meal. Finding Delicious Italian Cooking Recipes: If you love Italian food but you're tired of spending extravagant amounts of money at Italian recipes and you'd like to try your hand at cooking your own Italian meals, you should know where to find some good Italian cooking recipes that are sure to please you as well as anyone else you may be cooking for. First of all you need to decide who you're cooking for, what kind of cooking skill level you have as well as what kind of ingredients you would like to cook with. Of course, any good Italian cook book will have loads of great Italian cooking recipes but there are other ways to find good recipes that will provide you with the delicious meals you crave. Have You Cooked Before? If you've never cooked before and you're looking for Italian cooking recipes, you may find yourself over your head with some cook books. Also, if you're cooking for a lot of people, like four or more, and you've never cooked before, you would likely become overwhelmed quickly. Your cooking skill level has a lot to do with where you get your Italian cooking recipes from. Search the internet for beginner, intermediate or expert Italian cooking recipes and you'll be sure to find something that will fit within your criteria. Cook Books Whether you're looking for finger food recipes or entire meal recipes, there are so many cook books out there that you are sure to find Italian cooking recipes to suit your needs. Some cook books tailor their Italian cooking recipes for beginners so that you only need a few ingredients. Make sure you understand the ingredients, the measurements as well as the cooking instructions before you start. Most cook books have a section that explains all of this in detail for you. Italian cooking recipes will typically involve lots of tomatoes, tomato paste, Italian sausage, beef and chicken, as well as pasta, cheese and other ingredients that Italian food is known for. If you search hard enough, you may even find a cook book, or Italian cooking recipe that will allow you to make your favorite restaurant foods right in your own kitchen so that you can save money the next time you get a craving for some great Italian food. You can find cook books at your local book store, online, and you can even find great recipes online if you search using your favorite search engine. Happy cooking and don't forget the wine. To Know About How to Cooked Americans Italian Food: Most of us have found some sort of Italian cuisine that has become a favorite for our families and ourselves. Unfortunately, far too many of us discount the possibility of bringing Italian cooking into our very own kitchens for fear that many of the recipes are far too difficult. The truth is that learning to cook Italian food just might make your home the favorite drop in dining spot for friends and family all over. Believe it or not, most great Italian recipes have an easier version that can be made with very similar effects when it comes to flavor and aroma. Also, despite the commercials of old, all Italian cooking does not require an entire day of simmering in order to achieve great flavor. Though you do not have to let your friends and family in on that little secret. Be a martyr for flavor and they will love you even more. You do not have to let anyone in on your best-kept secrets when it comes to preparing these often simple dishes. The biggest challenge that most Americans face when it comes to Italian cooking is basically learning a new set of essential ingredients. for more details go towww.dishadvice.com. The cheese, meats, or grains that are used in their creation most often identify or define Italian cuisine. It's the combination of these primary ingredients that create some of the most distinctive flavors on earth. Learn about these ingredients. Identify the flavors and study the combinations of flavors and you should be able to not only follow many great Italian recipes but also to invent a few of your very own Italian inspired recipes. The greatest thing when it comes to cooking Italian food is that most of these dishes are rather difficult to destroy. This of course does not indicate that it cannot be done, only that it isn't as simple as with some of the more delicate cuisines around the world. Italian food is durable and flavorful but for the most part not too terribly delicate when it comes to flavor. You can go a little heavy with some spice or cheese without completely ruining the dish in most instances. For more details go to www.camping-outdoors-recipes.com.If you are anything like me, this is a regular occurrence when cooking and one of the reasons I enjoy cooking Italian food so much. Whether you are a beginner when it comes to the culinary arts or a seasoned pro there is something that will provide the appropriate challenge for you when it comes to Italian cooking. Take a look around there are recipes in abundance across the Internet, at your local library, in specialty cook books, and even in your favorite block buster best selling novels. Another thing you should keep in mind when cooking Italian food is that nothing seems to bring out the flavor of Italian food better than a good bottle of wine to match. Perhaps this is the reason that it is difficult to ruin an Italian meal, no matter how bad it is, the good wine paired with it, will erase all ill will and tastes in very short order. You will want to spend a little time researching and studying the science (though some will argue that this is truly an art form) that goes along with pairing a good bottle of wine with the right flavor combination when it comes to Italian cooking. Once you've mastered this, there is nothing to prevent you from being the diva of all things Italian when it comes to food preparation. The most important thing for you to remember when cooking Italian food is not to take the cooking too seriously. Good Italians know that the enjoyment of the meal is far more important than the process of preparing the meal. Make your meal an event with plenty of time for pleasant conversation and enjoyment of your company in between courses. You should also never rush a good Italian meal or you will find that all your efforts cooking Italian will be for naught as the true pleasure of Italian cuisine has been lost somewhere in translation. Bringing Italian Cooking In Our Kitchen: Many people have found about Italian cuisine with the intention that has become a favored instrument of our families and ourselves. Unfortunately, too many of us the money to the possibility of bringing Italian cooking in our kitchen own professional preoccupation with the intention of many of the recipes are too difficult. The truth is that with the intention of learning to cook Italian food could reach only lower family favorite dining spot known for and all the finished tree. Believe it or not, in general, be inflicted splendid Italian recipes with an easier version with the intention of things you can do with very similar as regards to the feel and aroma. Moreover, despite the ads of yesteryear, all Italian cooking does not require full-time to simmer to make wonderful sense. Although not classified inflicted with the consent of his acquaintances and family in the tree with the intention of little secret. Pro Befall feeling a martyr and love you even more. A sort not inflicted with the consent of someone in your best kept secret, as is often prepare these dishes unadorned. The biggest challenge with the intention of face in general, Americans as it is Italian cooking is basically learning a further adjustment of the essential ingredients. The cheese, meats, grains, or with intent to be used in their creation in general, tend to identify or define Italian cuisine. It is the combination of these main ingredients with the intention of creating the distinctive flavors in general, in the land. More information in this area these ingredients. Identify the flavors and the study of combinations of flavors and should be capable of not being alone in many splendid Italian recipes, but also to invent almost nothing of his own Italian inspired recipes. Maximum object as it comes to cooking Italian food is the general intention of these dishes are very difficult to finish. This way not intended to indicate that you can not do, only with the intention of which is not as smooth as with some of the finest dishes from around the globe. Italian cuisine is durable and penetrating, but for the general, not too terribly sensitive as regards sentiment. You can power a little gray, with some spices or cheese to spoil the dish lacking in general cases. If you're anything like me, this is a regular occurrence, like cooking and that reason alone I have the pleasure of cooking Italian food so much. "natural teeth whitening" IFR you are a starter once it comes to kitchen gear or a seasoned professional this is something with the intention of the will to provide adequate pro challenge as this is Italian cuisine. Take a look here there are recipes in abundance across the Internet, for their community store in specialty cookbooks, and even check your favorite novels buster preeminent promotion. An additional business you must consider how to cook Italian food is the intention that nothing seems to make sense to know the Italian food better than a bottle of wine to match qualified. Perhaps this is the genius with the intention that is trying to ruin an Italian food, thumbs down evil theme that is qualified wine paired with it, will erase all the weather will be in taste and very fleeting . You aspire to lose a bit of calculating the research and study of science (though some argue with the intention of this is really an art form) with the intent of goes hand in hand with the mixture of a bottle of wine rated combined with the feeling of success as regards to Italian cuisine. Once you've mastered this, here is nothing to prevent the diva of all things Italian, as is the training of food. The business program of value largely to remember how to cook Italian food is not to take the kitchen also with sincerity. Good Italians know with the intention of enjoying the food is much more valuable than the process of preparing food. Take your meal an event with plenty of calculation of a pleasant conversation Pro and enjoy your company in linking courses. Also, you should by no means top of a specialized or Italian food you will discover with the intention of cooking all the hard work is unprofessional Italian as the true pleasure of Italian cuisine has been lost somewhere in translation. Content related home tips "types of acne" and "free dental implants" Italian Vegetarian Cooking - Over 50 Exciting Varieties: At times people think vegetarian food offers no variety at all. To prove this myth wrong, switch to Italian vegetarian recipes. These are a great combination of excellent food & vegetarian needs. You can enjoy a wonderful meal while adhering to your food needs. This is due to the fact that vegetable go much in tandem with the Italian cuisines. These recipes are are not just healthy & harmless, but also culminate to a great taste. They are also royal and indeed unique such as Zucchini Corn & Tomato Au Gratin, Eggplant Parmigiana and Vegetables & Beans Alla Veneziana. Lets have a glimpse of these exquisite preparations: 1. Appetizers Pre meal dishes in Italian vegetarian offer a wide variety of salads. To name a few: i. Panzanella Salad ii. Rotini Salad teamed with Feta Cheese & Black Olives iii. Italian Potato Salad served with Sun Dried Tomatoes iv. Pecorino & Basil Crostini v. Rocket (Arugula) & Baby Corn Panzerotti vi. Tomato Bruschetta 2. Pasta Pasta is an exclusive Italian delicacy and are surely world-known. While there are several traditional pastas to choose from, with time many new & modern styles of cooking pasta have come in to being. Some not-a-miss vegetarian pasta varieties are: i. Eliche Arrabbiata ii. Linguine teamed with Spinach Pesto iii. Rigatoni with Gorgonzola iv. Fusilli teamed with Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto v. Courgette vi. Spinach & Wild Mushroom Lasagne vii. Cannelloni teamed with Ricotta Cheese in Red Wine Sauce viii. Manicotti served with Artichokes in Green Tomato Sauce ix. Capellini in Tomato & Basil Sauce x. Conchiglie Genovese with Coriander Pesto xi. Spicy Vermicelli with Oyster Mushrooms xii. Macaroni with Cheese xiii. Fettuccine served in Creamy White Sauce xiv. Tagliatelle with Tomato Sauce xv. Penne Pesto xvi. Spaghetti served with Olive Oil & Garlic xvii. Farfelle Marinara xviii. Pasta Primavera 3. Gnocchi Dishes Another exquisite Italian specialty, the gnocchi dishes just like the other categories offers lot of variations. Some of these are: i. Gnocchetti served in Pomodoro Sauce ii. Potato Mushroom & Chives Gnocchi iii. Spinach & Ricotta Cheese Gnocchi iv. Pumpkin & Semolina Gnocchi 4. Risottos Italian vegetarian cooking is almost filled of surprises. One among them are the risottos. Some unbeatable risotto recipes for the vegetarians are: i. Alla Pomodoro ii. Risotto Alla Milanese iii. Risotto served with Porcini Mushrooms iv. Baked Brown Rice served with Roasted Vegetables 5. Sauces Italian food is served with varied sorts of sauces. Some of the known favorites among Italian vegetarian sauces are as follows: i. Almond Butter Sauce ii. Basil Garlic Sauce iii. Herbed Mushroom Sauce 6. Pizza It won't be wrong to say that pizza is among the most commonly prepared Italian dishes across the globe. Its list can be just endless. However, they are all based on the fresh dough pizza bases. The base is then garnished with the favorite toppings like: i. Thin Crust Gourmet Vegetarian Pizza ii. Deep Pan Pizza Margherita iii. Cheese & Mushroom Calzone iv. Spinach & Feta Cheese Stromboli 7. Desserts Enjoying a rich vegetarian diet and ending up with sweets is a sheer treat for one & all. Desserts in the Italian recipes have a special space and these recipes are indeed different & unique in taste. To name a chosen few, these are: i. Risotto & Rocket Pie ii. Vegetable & Rice Timbale iii. Red Pepper & Spaghettini Flan iv. Tiramisu v. Lemon Vanilla Panna Cotta with Wine vi. Fresh Cherry Sauce vii. Strawberry Cheesecake Italian Cooking Schools - Don't Just Drink Your Wine, Eat It Too!: Are you interested in cooking and want to take up a class? Have you always favored Italian food over other foods? Are you a wine lover? If you are interested in becoming an expert cook especially in Italian cooking because you love wine then it is the right time for you to join one of the many schools that teach Italian cooking and how to enjoy your wine. These schools which hold classes for Italian cooking and wine are extremely useful to those who want to widen their cooking abilities so that they can enjoy not only Italian food but also the wine. These classes hand out great tips when it comes to cooking Italian recipes using unique methods. Here one learns how to make healthy Italian food in great flavors using the perfect wine to dish up exquisite dishes. In these Italian cooking classes the student is taught how to choose the right wine to be used to bring out that unique flavor in the particular dish. The student learns that when they should certain wines they can enhance the flavor of the dishes. This is a special skill which is taught to make the perfect dinner. For a perfect dinner it is not only the mood and settings that make the difference but also the meal and what wine goes with it. When you take up Italian cooking and Italian wine lover’s classes you can be assured that your family and friends would be astonished to see your cooking skills. They would love to have dinner with you and would be curious about where you have picked up your culinary skills in Italian cooking. You may even end up taking these Italian cooking classes yourself to others once you have learnt the intricacies of Italian cooking using Italian wine. Attending these classes could even get you to experiment with different recipes that you could be writing new recipes too! Your whole world will expand when you take up these Italian Cooking classes and Italian wine lover’s classes. This could bring out all the hidden creative talents you may have to make an excellent chef in Italian cooking using Italian wines. If you want to try your hand at Italian cooking and feel that you surely can’t afford the expensive fees when it comes to joining a course then you could just try your hand by attending a single session or you can even get a DVD or books on Italian cooking and wines from your local stores and learn it yourself. Recipes That Set the Mood For a Romantic Italian Dinner: One needs to be very creative and effortful to setup a romantic dinner. Your partner will surely love an Italian theme. Here are a few tips on how to pull it off successfully. There are no strict rules on planning a romantic night with your partner. You can make your night as passionate and memorable as ever. Being creative is the key factor to this. And it depends largely on what the two of you prefer. You know each other best. For a romantic dinner for two, here are a few easy and sure fire tips you can consider: Researching Important Data about your Partner Start with listing down the type of food your partner really loves to eat. These are the best foods to prepare. You could try a little ingenuity and create twists to the usual recipes to make the event more memorable. Once you have listed down the type of food he loves, narrow it down to even the tiniest detail. For example, if your partner loves grilled meat, is it chicken, pork or beef? Does your partner prefer his grilled meat well done or medium rare? What are the side dishes he usually prefers? What sauce is appealing to him? Start from the appetizer to the dessert and the type of wine. Next, plan the decorations, setups and the logistics. This pertains to even the placemats or napkins you will use that will match the theme and food you will prepare. It will create the perfect atmosphere you wish to achieve, and will show how much you took the time and effort for this dinner. It will reflect just how much you know your partner. Themes you can consider would be Italian, Oriental, Mexican, East Indian, French or Seafood. After you have chosen the perfect theme, you can go ahead and look for the right trinkets, placemats, napkins, cutlery and the like that matches your theme. Creating the Mood This is actually a crucial part of your romantic night together. Again, you need to list down the tiniest details like the favorite CD or song of your partner. It is best that you play something sentimental. This will surely set the mood. Try to dim the lights and use scented candles to enhance a romantic ambiance. Use the favorite scent of your partner. Decorate your house or garden by filling the room with your partner's favorite flowers. Color can surely add a great deal to the romantic atmosphere. Deep red is a good color for the flowers. Along certain parts of the floor, scatter some rose petals, especially around your dinner table. You can also be as creative as making a rose petal pathway from the door to your dinner table. You can drape fabric on some areas of the room for more elegance. You can also use this to hide unromantic sections of the room. Preparing and Serving Dinner Italian is one of the most popular themes used because many of us like Italian cuisines. Here are simple Italian recipes you can prepare and serve on your romantic dinner with your partner: You could try Bresaolo con Rucola for the appetizer. Bresaola pertains to seasoned and salted beef aged for 2 to 3 months and then air dried. It is produced from a valley in the Alps along the Lombardy region of northern Italy called Valtellina. Its color is brilliant uniform red with a few thin and white streaks of fat. Cut it very thinly to be moist and tender. Since it is very lean, it is mostly recommended to people who are dieting but it is a superb ingredient for refined and modern cooking. Ingredients are a fistful of fresh arugula, 7 ounces of finely sliced Italian Bresaola, 4 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 1 cup of finely sliced Italian Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Place the Bresaola either on a large-sized plate or on 4 small plates. Make sure you overlap the slices to completelt cover the plate. Add the arugula and Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle the slices with salt, olive oil and pepper. Serve. Your main dish could be Italian Meat Loaf called Polpettone. This can be made on the stove instead of using the oven. Ingredients are 10 ounces ground pork, 10 ounces lean ground beef, ½ small white onion, 1 egg, 1/3 cup freshly grated Italian Parmesan cheese, 2 tablespoons butter, a pinch of fresh ground pepper, 2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil, whole milk and 1 teaspoon salt. Use a 9- to 10-inch frying pan, heat some oil and butter. Cut the onion into big pieces and cook in low heat, occasionally mixing it. In a large bowl, combine the Parmesan, meat, pepper, salt and egg. Remove the onions from the heat after 5 to 10 minutes of cooking time but leave the butter and oil in the pan. Put the meat mixture into the pan. Press it down using a spoon. Cook the meat mixture in Medium heat until it becomes golden brown. Turn it and brown the other side as well. When the 2nd side turns brown, add some milk until the meat is covered completely. Lower the heat to minimum, covering and allowing it to simmer for an hour. Then, take off the lid. If there is still too much liquid, allow simmering again for another 15 minutes or so but leave it uncovered. Serve with mashed potatoes. Chocolate Balls or also called Palline di Cioccolato can be served for dessert. Ingredients are 1 cup Hazel nuts (shelled), 3 ½ ounces unsweetened chocolate, ¾ cup powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon cold Espresso coffee, 1 tablespoon unsalted butter and 3 tablespoons unsweetened Cocoa. Grate the chocolate in a bowl. Put the hazel nuts inside the food processor and blend thoroughly. Mix the nuts with the chocolate, coffee, sugar and butter. Prepare a plate and put the cocoa. Roll the mixture into balls that measures approximately 1 inch, using your hands. Place the balls on the cocoa. When all the balls are ready, gently roll them on the cocoa. Put them on a serving dish. Keep them inside the fridge until you are ready to serve them. You can use instant coffee as an alternative to Espresso. Almonds can be used instead of hazel nuts. Learning Everything About Italian Cookery And Culture, In Italy: Where do recipes come from? Do you want to unfold the secrets of Italian cookery? If we close our eyes and try to imagine Italy, many famous features of this country come to our minds: history, top art making and rich museums, architectural beauties, a gorgeous climate, fashion, people’s warmth and a delicious cooking. Italy is famous as a country of one hundred towns, several churches, and numerous cookeries. What about the worldwide known Tiramisù? A cake loved by Italians and foreigners, where the strong taste of coffee, the softness of the mascarpone cheese and the fragrance of the cookies meet and create one of the most famous cake you can ever taste…and most exquisite too! It is true that eating is the first need for a human being, but “you do not live only on bread”, as the famous Italian proverb says. Food is a pleasure too. Eating what we like can help us to be in good spirits and feel satisfied and relaxed. Cooking, watching, smelling and tasting good food not only introduce us into a world of emotions, but it is also a way to get to know better the Italian culture. As Scuola Leonardo da Vinci is convinced that food culture is an important part of an Italian experience, it has been offering for many years Italian Cooking Courses at various levels in all its seats, Florence, Rome, Milan and Siena. Who loves cooking and tasting the most secret flavors of the Italian Cookery, has to attend the group lessons with a chef’s guidance. Typical Italian recipes are prepared, traditions rediscovered and homemade pasta kneaded. Appetizers, courses, ice creams, cakes and so on, everything will be eaten up at the end of the lesson! Professional courses are available on request only in Florence, from basic to refined techniques. Check the school website www.scuolaleonardo.com for further information. A curiosity about the Tiramisù: its fame has no borders, everywhere in the world is appreciated and you can find it on the menus of the most important restaurants. But who invented it? Many legends were born, due to its alleged aphrodisiac virtues. Its origins are not certainly known, but it is officially believed that it firstly appeared in Tuscany in the 17th century, prepared in honor of the Grand Duke of Tuscany Cosimo de’ Medici, a famous glutton for sweets and cakes. The pastry cooks wanted to prepare a cake reflecting the Grand Duke’s personality: tasty but not too complicated, something great with simple ingredients. And so the Tiramisù was born. Its original name was “soup of the duke”, in honor of Cosimo de’ Medici. The cake quickly became the courtiers’ favorite one just because it was told to have aphrodisiac properties. And that’s why the “soup of the duke” changed name and took on the allusive one of “tiramisu” (turn me on!). Recipes that Set the Mood for a Romantic Italian Dinner: There are no strict rules on planning a romantic night with your partner. You can make your night as passionate and memorable as ever. Being creative is the key factor to this. And it depends largely on what the two of you prefer. You know each other best. For a romantic dinner for two, here are a few easy and sure fire tips you can consider: Researching Important Data about your Partner Start with listing down the type of food your partner really loves to eat. These are the best foods to prepare. You could try a little ingenuity and create twists to the usual recipes to make the event more memorable. Once you have listed down the type of food he loves, narrow it down to even the tiniest detail. For example, if your partner loves grilled meat, is it chicken, pork or beef? Does your partner prefer his grilled meat well done or medium rare? What are the side dishes he usually prefers? What sauce is appealing to him? Start from the appetizer to the dessert and the type of wine. Next, plan the decorations, setups and the logistics. This pertains to even the placemats or napkins you will use that will match the theme and food you will prepare. It will create the perfect atmosphere you wish to achieve, and will show how much you took the time and effort for this dinner. It will reflect just how much you know your partner. Themes you can consider would be Italian, Oriental, Mexican, East Indian, French or Seafood. After you have chosen the perfect theme, you can go ahead and look for the right trinkets, placemats, napkins, cutlery and the like that matches your theme. Creating the Mood This is actually a crucial part of your romantic night together. Again, you need to list down the tiniest details like the favorite CD or song of your partner. It is best that you play something sentimental. This will surely set the mood. Try to dim the lights and use scented candles to enhance a romantic ambiance. Use the favorite scent of your partner. Decorate your house or garden by filling the room with your partner’s favorite flowers. Color can surely add a great deal to the romantic atmosphere. Deep red is a good color for the flowers. Along certain parts of the floor, scatter some rose petals, especially around your dinner table. You can also be as creative as making a rose petal pathway from the door to your dinner table. You can drape fabric on some areas of the room for more elegance. You can also use this to hide unromantic sections of the room. Preparing and Serving Dinner Italian is one of the most popular themes used because many of us like Italian cuisines. Here are simple Italian recipes you can prepare and serve on your romantic dinner with your partner: You could try Bresaolo con Rucola for the appetizer. Bresaola pertains to seasoned and salted beef aged for 2 to 3 months and then air dried. It is produced from a valley in the Alps along the Lombardy region of northern Italy called Valtellina. Its color is brilliant uniform red with a few thin and white streaks of fat. Cut it very thinly to be moist and tender. Since it is very lean, it is mostly recommended to people who are dieting but it is a superb ingredient for refined and modern cooking. Ingredients are a fistful of fresh arugula, 7 ounces of finely sliced Italian Bresaola, 4 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 1 cup of finely sliced Italian Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Place the Bresaola either on a large-sized plate or on 4 small plates. Make sure you overlap the slices to completelt cover the plate. Add the arugula and Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle the slices with salt, olive oil and pepper. Serve. Your main dish could be Italian Meat Loaf called Polpettone. This can be made on the stove instead of using the oven. Ingredients are 10 ounces ground pork, 10 ounces lean ground beef, ½ small white onion, 1 egg, 1/3 cup freshly grated Italian Parmesan cheese, 2 tablespoons butter, a pinch of fresh ground pepper, 2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil, whole milk and 1 teaspoon salt. Use a 9- to 10-inch frying pan, heat some oil and butter. Cut the onion into big pieces and cook in low heat, occasionally mixing it. In a large bowl, combine the Parmesan, meat, pepper, salt and egg. Remove the onions from the heat after 5 to 10 minutes of cooking time but leave the butter and oil in the pan. Put the meat mixture into the pan. Press it down using a spoon. Cook the meat mixture in Medium heat until it becomes golden brown. Turn it and brown the other side as well. When the 2nd side turns brown, add some milk until the meat is covered completely. Lower the heat to minimum, covering and allowing it to simmer for an hour. Then, take off the lid. If there is still too much liquid, allow simmering again for another 15 minutes or so but leave it uncovered. Serve with mashed potatoes. Chocolate Balls or also called Palline di Cioccolato can be served for dessert. Ingredients are 1 cup Hazel nuts (shelled), 3 ½ ounces unsweetened chocolate, ¾ cup powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon cold Espresso coffee, 1 tablespoon unsalted butter and 3 tablespoons unsweetened Cocoa. Grate the chocolate in a bowl. Put the hazel nuts inside the food processor and blend thoroughly. Mix the nuts with the chocolate, coffee, sugar and butter. Prepare a plate and put the cocoa. Roll the mixture into balls that measures approximately 1 inch, using your hands. Place the balls on the cocoa. When all the balls are ready, gently roll them on the cocoa. Put them on a serving dish. Keep them inside the fridge until you are ready to serve them. You can use instant coffee as an alternative to Espresso. Almonds can be used instead of hazel nuts. Green Beans Italian Style - Recipe: Eat your vegetables I have never liked vegetables – even more so when I was a kid. So I have had to invent ways to make them more palatable to my palate. Seems like I had green beans or peas growing up every night. And my parents never put anything on them that I can remember. I used to hide them under my plate or drop them on the floor, because my folks never let us leave the table until our plates were clean. Unfortunately, my dog hated them too and never would help me clean my plate. But when I became an adult, I discovered that others were doing wild things with vegetables. I came across a recipe about 10 years ago and started making variations on it until I found the perfect taste (at least to me). To tell you the truth, once you try these zesty green beans you will never go back to plane beans. Ingredients (6 servings): * 1 pound green beans with ends removed and halved * ½ cup extra virgin oil * 3 teaspoons lemon juice * ¼ cup fresh Italian parsley * 1 teaspoon salt * 1 teaspoon pepper * 3 garlic cloves minced * ¼ cup Good Season's Italian salad dressing – replace the water with red wine and the vinegar with balsamic vinegar (if children will be eating this then just use water instead of red wine) Green beans Green beans Preparation Steam the green beans until they are cooked (they are healthier if they are crunchy after cooking, but some people do not like them crunchy). Let the green beans cool and then cover and place in the refrigerator. Meanwhile mix all of the rest of the ingredients in a bowl. Once the green beans are cold, pour the seasoning over them and serve. The finished product The finished product Humbling experience I hate to admit this but I will work hours on some fancy Italian recipe and serve it on a social occasion and after the dinner people will ask me for the green bean recipe. Go figure. But this is great with any of the other main dishes I have (e.g., try it with the ziti). Chou chou bambino. Preparing to Cook Italian: You might have found lots of databases on Italian cooking through the Internet and be excited about trying to delve into the world of parmagiana, pesto, and pasta. It would be useful to have on hand some basic ingredients that are found in lots of Italian cooking. By that way, you will be able to serve your Italian food most days without having to do an extensive grocery shop. Lets look at the ingredients that you need to have in your grocery list. Garlic: This may sound like a cliché to you, but this modest bulb has its own place in all Italian kitchens. Keep garlic in a dry and cool place, such as a pantry or root cellar. Look for bulbs with no discoloration on the bottom when buying garlic as these discolorations indicate moulding and age. Tomato Sauce: You do not have to buy the expensive tomato sauce. The national brand or house brand at your nearby local grocery store will be fine in your Italian dish. Local made tomato sauce does not affect the taste of your Italian cooking. Try not to buy from the "pre-seasoned" blends, as you will be adding your own spices and herbs. Pasta: Do not buy a huge quantity of any one specific pasta. It is preferable to keep a little amount of the most regular types such as wide egg noodle, large and small shells, elbow macaroni, linguine and spaghetti. It will be good if you have storage so that you can keep the long noodles in a long container. Moreover, you can find many tuppaware makers that are specially design to keep the pasta in to maintain freshness. Parmesan Cheese: Freshly ground Parmesan cheese is always a welcome addition to the top of any Italian dish even though it may not always be needed in the ingredients of the Italian recipe you are cooking. The famous cheese brand, Kraft, has a new product with a block of cheese in its container along with its grater. The price is not expensive and it works very well with Italian cooking. Olive oil: One of the mistakes that many Italian food amateurs make is using pricey olive oil for things like pan-frying. Using the standard olive oil, which is yellow in colour is just fine for this. Keep these ingredients well stocked and you will be ready and prepared to cook any Italian dish. Italian Calories: Why You Should Not Worry About Them: People eat Italian foods with so much gusto – pizza, pasta, Panini, ravioli. Name it, and everyone loves it. Yet at the same time, several people freak out at the thought of the so-called Italian calories attached to these sumptuous foods. They beg off from some delightful dishes, because of the much-talked about calories that offer extra baggage, specifically to weight-watchers. But are we really supposed to be worried at all? While it’s true that Italian foods are, most often than not, high in calories and fat content, this shouldn’t stop you from enjoying your Italian favorites. Besides, there are other approaches to create or recreate your own Italian recipe that’s absolutely nutritious and delectable, without the problem of excessive caloric intake. Okay, let’s begin with the basics. The crunchy garlic bread is a good example. We all love garlic bread. Nonetheless did you know that restaurants normally serve an eight-ounce garlic bread that is surprisingly comparable to 40 grams of fat and seven white bread slices? I know, that’s really a lot for one bread in one meal time. So imagine if you take one slice for three meal times? The fat component comes from the olive oil, cheese, and butter included in the whole package. If you can’t resist garlic bread, then make room for only one slice of bread and butter. Don’t even think about taking a second slice. But if you’re the type who can hold the cravings for the love of perfect form, then pass it up, even that inviting single slice. Italian pizza is another example. While it’s definitely hard to resist what the whole family loves to eat, the smartest way to have your own pizza is to learn how to prepare it at home, with your very own choices of healthy toppings. So instead of the thicker crust, go for thin-crust pizza. The thicker the crust, the higher the carbohydrates and calories, of course. Stuffed crusts are a no-no, too. Then opt for red pepper flakes instead of fatty pepperoni, without losing the flavor and spice but getting rid of excessive calories and fat. You can also try broccoli, mushrooms, onions, black olives, feta cheese, chicken strips, lean hams, shrimp, tomatoes, and spinach. Always remember that low or non-fat cheeses are excellent alternatives for your homemade pizzas. Be smart, and think about the nutritive values of what you choose. For good choices of sauces for that delicious pizza, you can go for tomato sauce, mushroom sauce, marinara sauce, Bolognese sauce, light wine, red, or white clam sauce, and primavera without the cream. It’s sad, breaking news though - high in fat and calories are other favorites such as ravioli, lasagna, stuffed shells, and manicotti. But as I say, you can lower the calories and fat if you can learn how to prepare your own dishes. This way, you can control the recipes, control the fat and calories, and yet still enjoy that Italian food, without the image of bulging fat. Italian Cuisine: Italian cuisine is as varied as the regions of Italy. Although Italy was officially unified in 1861, the food reflects the cultural variety of the country’s regions with culinary influences from Greece, Roman, Gallic, Germany, Turkish, Hebrew, Slavic, Arab, Chinese and other civilizations. In this sense, there really is no one Italian cuisine because each area boasts of its own specialties. Not only is the food of Italy highly regionalized, but a high priority is also placed on the use of fresh available produce. Although traditional Italian dishes vary by region, they also do not follow strictly to a North/South pattern either. The north tends to use more butter, creams, polenta, mascarpone, grana padano and Parmigiano cheeses, risotto, lasagna and fresh egg pasta, while the south is more tomato and olive oil based cooking, along with mozzarella, caciocavallo and peconrino cheeses, and dried pasta. Coastal and central regions often use tortellini, ravioli and prosciutto in their cooking. Even pizza varies across the country. In Rome the crusts are thin and cracker-like, while Neapolitan and Sicilian pizzas have a thicker crust. For most Italians, pasta is the first course in a meal with the exception of the far north where risotto or polenta is the norm. Vegetables, grains and legumes play a regular part of many Italian diets with meat often not being a regular part of everyday meals, Olive oil is usually seen in its dark green state (from its first pressing) in the south, where in the north a more refined, golden oil is seen. Basically, Italian cuisine consists of a combination of vegetables, grains, fruits, fish, cheeses and a some meats, with fowl and game usually seasoned or cooked with olive oil (with the exception of the far north). La cucina povera, the food of the poorer Italian people of the southern coastal area, has shaped a diet popular for centuries but now there is a resurgence of this "poor people's food", the Mediterranean diet, which is now being touted as the model around which we should restructure our eating habits. Breakfast is considered a minor meal in Italy, often consisting of nothing more than a bread roll and milky coffee (café latte). Traditional lunches tend to be larger, have several courses and are eaten slowly. Italian children don't go to school in the afternoon, and because of the heat, many small businesses close from midday until about 4pm which makes lunch the social meal of the day. The traditional menu structure in Italy consists of basically eight courses, but the long traditional Italian menu is typically kept for special occasions such as weddings, with everyday fare including only the first and second courses, with the side dish being served with the second course. As an exception to this order, a unique course, Piatto unico, can replace the first or second course with, for example, pizza. The traditional menu consists of: 1. ANTIPASTO – which are hot or cold appetizers, literally it means “before the pasta”; consists of a varied combination of colorful foods. The most popular ingredients are melon or tomatoes served with prosciutto cut into very thin slices. Lettuce, such as the slightly bitter endives or rocket, or other green leaves, such as the aniseed-tasting fennel, are typically used as a garnish, placed around the edges of the serving dish. Salami, mortadella, coppa and zampone, manufactured meat products, are common in antipasti. The artistry of the food is as important to Italians as the taste. For example the reddish colour of salami provides a good contrast to the green lettuce. Fish and other seafood may also be used in the antipasti course and, of course, olives and artichokes are also common servings, as are mushrooms (fungi) seasoned with salt, pepper and lemon juice. 2. PRIMO (first course) – which usually consists of a hot dish such as pasta, risotto, gnocchi, polenta or soup, with many vegetarian options. There are many types of pasta, each type usually named after its shape with common types including spirali (spirals), farfalle (butterflies; sometimes described as 'bow-tie-shaped'). Penne (hollow tubes) and conchiglie (shells). Different shapes are supposed to be better with the different types of sauces. Spirals are two strips of pasta twirled around each other and are used with the heavier sauces, such as those containing minced meat and vegetables. Rigatoni is cylinders or tubes, with a wide diameter and grooves (or lines) on the outside. The grooves are supposed to hold the sauce onto the pasta, meaning that this pasta is good with runnier sauces. Then there is the group of pasta made up of long thin strands, which includes the most common type of pasta, spaghetti. Typically you eat this type of pasta by coiling its long thin strands around a fork. Other long thin pastas are tagliatelle, fettuccine and linguini, which are all varieties of flattened spaghetti. Extremely thin strands of pasta are called vermicelli (meaning 'little worms'). Yet another group of pasta is made of flat sheets (lasagna) or tubes (cannelloni), which are either layered or stuffed with meat and cheese fillings. Some pastas have 'pockets' to hold the sauce inside them instead of outside like ravioli or tortellini, which are soft sheets of pasta rolled around meat or cheese. Italians cook pasta of all kinds, whether fresh or dried, in boiling water until al dente ('to the teeth', meaning still a tiny bit hard in the centre. It is then served immediately in a bowl with sauce or cheese. 3. SECONDO (second course) – this is usually the main dish of fish or meat. Veal, pork and chicken are traditionally the most common and are often pan-fried or casseroled. Beef is used as steaks (bistecca), while lamb (agnello) is roasted on special occasions, such as Easter and Christmas. Fish and other seafood are often used as main courses. 4. CONTORNO (side dish) – this may be a salad or cooked vegetable. Salad is traditionally served with the main course. Common vegetables are beans (greens and pulses), potatoes (often sautéed), and carrots as well as salads. 5. FORMAGIIO AND FRUTTA (cheese and fruit) – this is the first dessert course and the fruit and cheese are usually served together. Grapes, peaches, apricots and citrus fruits are a major product of Italy's agricultural industry and are common. 6. DOLCE (dessert) – the cakes and cookies course Italians produce many sweet desserts and 'sweet treats', including Amaretti, almond-flavoured meringues, which Australians call macaroons, Panforte, a sweet semi-hard 'strong bread' based on nuts and containing dried fruit (a classic Christmas treat from Siena), and. Pannettone, a very rich bread-cake (another Christmas treat). 7. CAFFÉ (coffee) – which is usually espresso coffee 8. DIGESTIVE (liqueurs) – which may be grappa, amaro, or Limon cello. The wine industry has been important to Italy for centuries and the most common drink associated with Italy is wine. Until recently, and even now in the countryside, most Italians would make their own red or white house wine after the grape harvest. This would be drunk at every lunch and dinner. Even children are given wine to drink, but it is usually watered down with mineral water. Before dinner many Italians drink an amaro (bitter) to stimulate the digestive system, while after dinner they may drink sweet wines, such as marsala (from Sicily). Children are also sometimes given Marsala, beaten with a raw egg and sugar into zabaglione, to strengthen them. PIZZA Modern pizza has evolved from pizzas made by peasants in Naples, Italy, but more than a few Mediterranean peoples can claim to have 'invented' the pizza. In ancient times many civilizations created dishes of flat bread with various herbs and toppings. As a staple for the poor, it was a matter of necessity that food could be eaten without utensils, and that the 'plate' it was served on could be eaten as well. They made a bread crust from flour, water and yeast, topped it with olive oil, herbs, cheeses, sometimes even leftovers, and baked the whole thing in a stone oven. Given that most pizza connoisseurs today consider the tomato sauce to be the key ingredient, it may be surprising that pizza pre-dates the introduction of tomatoes to Europe. Tomatoes reached Italy by way of Spain in the early 1500s but were thought to be poisonous. It was several decades later that tomatoes topped a flatbread in the form of a pizza. Italian cuisine is very popular in all its forms and is imitated all over the world. Look for a few Italian recipes on June’s Recipes page, and visit our Marketplace to find Italian cookbooks and herbs and spices to make your families Italian dishes more authentic. 7 Essential Herbs to Start Your Own Italian Herb Garden: The rich delights of fine Italian cuisine is enjoyed everywhere in the world. The colorful array of flavors that excites the pallet can be largely attributed to the refined blend of herbs that has been grown by this fine nation for centuries in herb gardens. Almost everyone prepares Italian cuisine at home for their families and many grows the plants in their own garden to keep at hand a fresh and flavorful supply for preparing these wonderful meals. If you wish to start this fine hobby for yourself, this is a list of the 7 most used herbs to assure a complete authentic Italian herb garden. 1. Garlic is probably the most used herb to be grown in the garden and is the basic ingredient in many Italian dishes. One thing is certain, a garden that doesn't grow garlic cannot be considered an Italian garden. This herb can be planted and will thrive requiring very little attention. Once harvested, they can be frozen or pickled and stored in the refrigerator for later use. 2. Basil is among the most commonly used herb. Its distinctive flavor is the soul of Italian cuisine and it also offer certain benefits to the garden itself. This herb repels flies and mosquitoes in the garden and, if planted nearby, will improve the taste of tomatoes and peppers. 3. Another herb that is widely used to garnish many dishes is parsley and can be eaten fresh and raw. An interesting fact about this herb is that it has the quality of absorbing the odors of ones breath after a tasty meal. This tradition is quite old and is still being practiced nowadays. 4. Oregano is a decorative and has a very distinctive flavor that is strong enough to hold its own in any meal. The herb will deliver the most flavor when harvested only once lovely small purple flowers start to sprout. Be patient, it is definitively worth the wait. 5. Sage is a herb that graces many different Italian recipes ranging from salads to meats. It is strongly advised to keep the plants well trimmed when growing this herb for the new shoots are the most flavorful part of the plant. You should harvest the sage plants only after they have bloomed. 6. Rosemary is a perennial plant that forms a rather big shrub that sprouts beautiful blue flowers. This plant is valuable in the garden for its ability to attract bees, thus keeping them away from other plants. Keep in mind though that rosemary is easily affected by frost. 7. Fennel is used when making Italian sausages that adds a distinctive exciting flavor to the palette. This perennial plant must be divided and replanted every 2-3 years because once the fennel plant has reached maturity there is a noticeable loss of flavor. With these herbs growing in your Italian herb garden you'll be able to use fresh basil when preparing a tomato based Italian meal or oregano with fried foods and grilled meats. Sage has a peppery flavor that is magnificent with meat dishes, Italian salads and dressings. It will also be a welcomed addition to stuffing for poultry, pork, lamb or seafood. Of course there are many other herbs that can be added to the garden that are used for Italian dishes but these 7 herbs described above is a great start and will be sufficient for a large variety of recipes. Of course, you can balance them to your particular taste and needs. Be sure to consider the growing needs of each herb you plant. Purchasing Italian Food Online - 9 Useful Tips: Internet or the World Wide Web has indeed brought the world together. It has merged the varied cultures in terms of festivals, lifestyles, tastes and food. This surely explains the craze for Italian food in America. But thats no news. The latest update is that nowadays Americans are shifting to the authentic Italian cuisine. They not only want to enjoy the genuine Italian flavor but also want to personalize it to their individual tastes. The very known chain restaurants have been serving delicious Italian recipes in America for a long time now but now people seem more interested in cooking it at home or purchasing ready-to-serve dishes. These purchases are easily available online. Earlier for such purchases one had to pray to have an Italian family next door or an international market in the neighboring town. But now, internet has made the purchasing quite simpler. Also, one can source various authentic Italian recipes online to try at home. This treat, besides being simpler & quicker would also be quite cheap as compared to the restaurants & hotels in the city. There are various options one can choose from to purchase Italian food online. You can opt for the specialty vendors that offer the best deal at your convenience. While shopping online one must beware of several things. Here are a few tips for the online shoppers: 1. Watch that the vendor is as close to the source as possible. This would reduce the price as the delivery or transportation charges would surely be lesser. 2. In case you are in search some specific ingredients, hunt for a specialty vendor. Reducing the middle men would lessen the costs further. Also good quality products would maintain the authenticity in taste and presentation. 3. Check how trustworthy the vendor is. You can do this by seeing how long has been in to the business for and how experienced are they with the Italian cuisine. 4. Watch the shipping charges. Purchasing from another country could cost you a bulk of money. However, check that shipping charges are not being levied per item. Obviously, all the goods would be shipped at one go paying per item charges makes no sense. 5. In continuation to the above, one must understand a basic fact that ordering for several items together makes the purchases cheaper for you. For the first time, you can restrict the list and increase the same gradually. 6. At times vendors charge a flat rate for shipping. One may also be able to get specials with free shipping. Surely read the fine prints to understand all sorts of charges. Else, you might be surprised by some unexpected charges like processing charges or extra fees. 7. Italian cuisine consists of several perishable and non perishable items as well. Watch that the items you buy must be delivered in time. 8. Run through the company's return policy. The vendor must be willing to replace the spoiled or ruined food upon delivery. 9. Italian food is all about fresh ingredients. Watch that you are not made to pay for stale or spoiled stuff. The current scenario is such that many online Italian food companies excel in shipping fresh eatables and are sure to reach your doorstep on time. In case you have not yet tried a deal, strike upon one now! You never know, you might develop a new taste bud or have an enormous experience better than that fancy Italian cuisine outlet at the outskirts of the city!