Recipes and Ramblings in Italy

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Cooking Tip of the Week (June 22, 2015)

Posted by William Abruzzo on June 22, 2015 at 3:20 PM

Toast Pine Nuts Before Adding Them to Your Recipes to Bring Out their Flavor

         Whenever a pasta, meat or vegetable recipe calls for any sort of nut, be sure to toast them first. Toasting the nuts develops the nutty flavor, adding more depth and richness to your dish. Nuts can be toasted in a pre-heated oven at 375 degrees. The nuts will toast quickly, anywhere from 3 to 5 minutes, so be sure to keep your eye on them. When the nuts are lightly golden, remove them from the oven and transfer them immediately from the baking pan to a dish.

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         Nuts can also be toasted on the stove top in an ungreased frying pan. Set the frying pan on a low flame, add the nuts and stir them continually. This will ensure that they toast evenly and do not burn. Sprinkle toasted pine nuts, almonds or walnuts on top of roasted or sautéed vegetables for added texture or grind them up and stir them into sauces like pesto for an extra kick of nutty flavor.

Categories: Cooking Tips

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Bill's Cooking Tip of the Month


Roll Out Pie Dough with Ease Using Plastic Wrap

This is an old trick I learned years ago from my mother. The next time you bake a pie, roll out the dough between sheets of plastic wrap. This will prevent the dough from sticking to your rolling pin and will make it easier to transport the dough from your work surface to the pie dish or baking sheet.

Cover your entire work surface with plastic wrap and sprinkle it lightly with flour. Turn the dough onto the wrap, pat it down to 1 inch thickness, sprinkle it lightly with flour, and then cover it with a second layer of wrap. Roll out the dough to just less than ¼ inch thickness and remove the top layer of wrap. Lift the dough using the bottom layer of wrap, turn it on to a lightly greased pie dish or baking sheet, and then remove the wrap. Its quick and easy! 

Tips on Italian Ingredients


 Frying Tomato Paste Enhances the Flavor and Adds Depth to Your Dish

Many recipes direct you to stir tomato paste into a sauce, soup or stew. However, frying the tomato paste first fully develops its flavor and eliminates any raw or metallic taste. It is a quick and easy way to enhance the flavor of your dish. Tomato paste should always be added at the beginning of a recipe, rather than at the end. This allows its flavor to marry with the dish. Add it immediately after sautéing your aromatics in olive oil or rendered fat. When the aromatics are soft, push them to one side of your pot or frying pan. Place a dollop of tomato paste on the other side, tilt the pot or frying pan to pool the oil around the tomato paste, and let it gently sizzle for about 2 minutes.  After the tomato paste has fried, incorporate it into the aromatics and then add the liquid and other ingredients to complete your sauce, soup or stew. 

Just Picked From My Italian Vegetable Garden!

 Zucchini Blossoms 

My Italian Heritage

 My Great Grandparents, Vita and Onofrio Abruzzo, from the town of Santa Margherita di Belice, Sicily pictured here with my grandfather Vito "Bill" in the center.

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