Your Guide To Cooking Artichokes

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People in general find artichokes intimidating to cook. For those who don’t know how to cook this immature flower from a cultivated thistle, the process is actually very simple and nothing to be worried about! Moreover, the fact that artichokes tastes deliciously nutty and sweet will be a great motivator for one to learn how to properly cook it.

The very first thing that you need to learn before cooking artichokes is how to select the right ones. The rule of thumb here is to pick artichokes that have tight leaf formation, and preferably the ones that have a deep green hue. Squeeze the artichoke in your hand, the leaves should produce a faint squeaking sound. Artichokes with split and dry-looking leaves are a strict no-no.

These delicious vegetables remains fresh for up to four days when stored in a plastic bag inside the refrigerator. If you want tender artichokes then go for smaller ones. Alternatively, if you prefer to have artichokes with larger hearts then go for plump round ones.

Next, before cooking artichokes it is necessary to prepare it properly. The first thing that you need to do is to wash them with regular tap water. Now, slice the stem off at the base if you intend to have your artichokes stand upright otherwise leave them on and just split it in halves lengthwise. Now remove some of the outer leaves close to the stem just as you would with cabbages to expose the fresh and vibrantly green inner leaves.

Taking a pair of kitchen scissors, snipe off the pointy tips from the leaves so that they would be easier to eat. An interesting tip here is to brush all the sniped edges with the juice of a lemon to prevent it from turning brown but this is option. You can then steam the artichokes in a stainless steel utensil or an enamel pot. Alternatively, you can also boil these prepped artichokes in salted water. Either ways, it would take about 20-25 minutes before you can consume the same.

Artichokes can be eaten whole but for fancy preparations or dishes, only the hearts of artichokes are used. Of course this doesn’t mean that you need to discard the cooked leaves because you can consume them with sauce, mayonnaise or melted butter.

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How To Roast Garlic: An Easy Guide

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As an Italian cooking enthusiast, you already know that garlic is a staple of this cuisine. Closely related to onions, garlic is a pungent bulb that adds a distinctive flavor to a variety of dishes. More and more recipes these days call for roasted garlic as an ingredient. Instead of purchasing roasted garlic, try roasting your own and keep it on hand for use in a variety of dishes. Here are some easy tips on how to roast garlic.

Begin by selecting large, firm heads of garlic and cutting off the tops just enough to expose the tops of the cloves inside. Take an old ceramic pan and drizzle one to two tablespoons of olive oil on the bottom and tilt it to thoroughly cover the surface. Place the heads in the pan with cut sides up. The exposed heads need moisture, so drizzle them with olive oil. Sprinkle the heads with salt, preferable a type like Kosher salt or sea salt that has larger flakes as these will adhere better to the cloves. Sprinkle the cloves with pepper and cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil.

Roast the garlic heads in a 375 degree over for 35 to 45 minutes until tender and fragrant. Let the heads cool and take each head and gently squeeze each clove at the bottom to release the garlic. The garlic will be quite mushy. Place the roasted garlic  with a bit of olive oil in a jar and cap tightly.

Roasted garlic has many different uses. At its simplest, you can pop it in your mouth and eat it. You can also mash it and spread it on bread for a tasty treat. Other uses include mixing it into mashed potatoes or into mustard or mayonnaise to make a delicious sandwich topping. Mix into hamburger meat before putting them on the grill or place in soups for great flavor, mix it in butter and gravies, mix it into hummus, sour cream or yogurt to make a more tasty dip. The possibilities are endless.

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What Is Italian Spumoni Ice Cream?

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If you’re looking for a great summer dessert treats, how about spumoni. You may be like many people who don’t know what spumoni is. What is Spumoni, you might ask? It is an Italian dessert constructed out of multiple layers of ice cream. The common Neapolitan ice cream flavors of chocolate, strawberry and vanilla is a classic example of what a spumoni looks like.

AA049745There are many tasty examples of spumoni combinations. Traditional spumoni is a combination of cherry, pistachio and vanilla or chocolate ice creams. These flavors combine fruit and nuts, which is a traditional Italian mix.  It also can reflect the same colors of the Italian flag, red, green and white when vanilla ice cream is used.

Creating your own customized spumoni could be immensely gratifying. Titillating your taste buds with flavor combinations that are mouth watering to you, could be as simple as putting together some light, summer-like flavors. Try combining raspberry sorbet with vanilla Swiss almond ice cream and creamy lemon gelato.

If you’re even more adventurous, combine some richer ice creams for a mature taste fest that you can wash down with a glass of spirits, brandy or cognac. Traditional spumoni combines the textures of the ice creams giving the mouth a treat of chewy fruit and crunchy nuts. With this adult treat, layer chocolate, chocolate-chip gelato, butter pecan ice cream and dulche de leche. The textures in this delightful treat mix the smooth creaminess of the caramel swirl in the dulche de leche with the crunch of the pecans and the chocolate chips.

Tailor Your Spumoni to Your Personal Preferences

Make sure when you’re creating your customized spumoni, you incorporate as much texture as you desire for your own personal tastes. Spumoni is a little slice of heaven composed of multiple flavors of your favorite cool creamy treat, ice cream, gelato, dulche de leche and/or sorbet. Mix and match to develop the treat of your dreams. Layer it neatly in a loaf and slice it in servings or if your prefer eat it from a bowl in a bomb or dome shaped combination of flavors.

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The History Of Italy’s Many Desserts

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The history of Italy’s desserts is very fascinating and old. Modern casual diners and culinary experts alike love to partake in a variety of rich and delicious Italian desserts, but few know how those desserts came about. For any aspiring chef, learning about this type of dessert will spark the imagination and motivate them to engage in the art of cooking with newfound passsion.

Italy’s First Desserts

Many experts believe that the first desserts were breaded sweets. While sugar was too expensive for many people to have, recipes included natural sweetening foods, such as fruit and honey. One of the most well known desserts that arose from such tradition was the panforte, whose earliest origins can be traced to Siena. This early version was much less heavy than the contemporary one, but ultimately led to the modern innovation as tastes advanced. Biscotti, which many people know as a gourmet dessert, also originated in early medieval Italy. Much like with all food at the time, the early version of biscotti was much simpler and included fewer ingredients.

When Sugar Became Readily Available

Slowly, as more and more sugar became readily available as a household item, more and more people were able to enjoy a wider variety of dessert innovations. Many believe that Italy’s most famous dessert, the delicious tiramisu, had originated in the 1500s. Historians believe that this dessert was first introduced to Duke Cosimo de Medici, who had enjoyed it so much that he helped spread its popularity. Whether or not this was the exact origin of the dessert, it is a clear indicator of how available sugar had become in most modern households. Had sugar not become so quickly available, this dessert would have taken much longer to develop. Many other desserts that many believe had originated during this time period are also panna cotta, cheesecake, and cream puffs.

Italy Has So Many Wonderful Desserts, It’s Hard To Name Them All. Luckily Pictures Are Worth A Thousand Words, So Check Out The Delicious Gallery Below:

 

More and more culinary developments resulted in more and more delicious desserts being created for so many people to enjoy. It is thanks to such early innovations that most modern Italian desserts exist as we know and love them now. With creativity on the rise, the future for culinary developments is a bright one.

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The Best Italian Cheeses For Cooking

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As you may already know, Italy is home to some of the best foods in the world. If you are looking for the best cheeses to use on your favorite meal, then Italy is the best place to look. Some of the most popular cheeses in Italy include; Parmesan, Fontina, Asiago and Gorgonzola. These Italian cheeses are world-renowned and can improve your experience in a remarkable way.

Asiago Cheese

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There are three different kinds of Asiago cheeses. You have Asiago Pressato, which is fresh, sweet and smooth, Asiago d’allevo, which has been aged, and has a bolder taste and the stravecchio, which has a more powerful taste from the aging process of up to 2 years. Most Asiago cheeses come with a stamp that reads, “Product of the mountain”. This means that they are produced in Veneto or Trentino, at an altitude of more than 1,800 feet.

Fontina Cheese

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Fontina cheese is used in making Fondue and has its origin in Switzerland, France and Italy. It comes with an intense, nutty flavor that will improve your cooking experience in a unique way. This one is also produced from cow’s milk and has been around for hundreds of years.

Gorgonzola Cheese

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Gorgonzola is one of the best Italian cheeses there is. It is produced in cold and damp conditions, giving it a unique flavor from the rest. There are two types of Gorgonzola cheeses; gorgonzola piccante and Gorgonzola dolce. Piccante has a slightly spicy flavor while dolce has milder one. The origin of this cheese remains a mystery — but some believe the name comes from the town it was created in.

Parmesan Cheese

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Just like wine, Parmesan, also known as Parmigiano Reggiano, gets better as it ages. It is made from cow milk and comes with a unique, sweet flavor. You can either eat this cheese as it is or use it on many different types of pasta in Italy.

Next time you are buying Italian cheeses, make sure it has a DOP label. DOP stands for Denominazione di Origine Protetta, which basically means that the product was produced and packaged in Italy. There is a huge different between cheeses made in Italy and those from other parts of the world, so you want to be careful when making a purchase.

Not Just Another Ordinary Grain: Polenta

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Many homeowners think that their kitchen has it all. However, what they are not aware of is that there is a wide variety of delicious foods available that they might not have even heard of. Polenta is one of these delicious dishes. It is a whole grain cornmeal that is packed with numerous different types of nutrients and vitamins.

What Is It?

Polenta can be understood simply as cooked cornmeal. While it was once a solution to affordable food, it has quickly risen up the culinary chain. It is now on its way to gourmet menus and cookbooks, and has captured the attention of numerous chefs. Preparing polenta on your own can be very simply and delicious. In order to make it, all that you have to do is grind the dried corn in water or broth in order to create a warm and creamy mixture. It has a nutty flavor, combined with classic corn, and it can be mixed with a wide variety of other foods as well. You can add just about anything to it to add some delicious flair.

Creating The Best Polenta

Cornmeal is typically available in a wide variety of different types and textures. In order to get the best results, however, it is recommended for you to choose cornmeal that is white or yellow, as blue cornmeal is usually much coarser. Cooking the polenta can be very easy. A ratio of cooking a standard batch is usually one cup of cornmeal for every four cups of liquid. This can be changed once you get more used to cooking the food, and know what type of consistency you want. One cup of the cornmeal will typically produce three cups of polenta. A cup of polenta by itself has only one hundred and fifty calories, three grams of protein, three grams of fiber, one gram of fat, and no cholesterol at all.

This delicious dish can be introduced as a side piece to a main meal, or prepared as a snack, and it even can be created into a breakfast creation! With how simple it is to make, it is not surprising that more and more people are beginning to add polenta to their cooking repertoire.

There Are So many Different Ways To Prepare Polenta, The Possibilities Are Endless: