Recipes and Ramblings in Italy

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Cooking Tip of the Week (1/10/2011)

Posted by Bill Abruzzo on January 11, 2011 at 11:15 PM

Know your Mozzarella!

Mozzarella is a traditional cheese from Campania. There are several different varieties.  In the Salerno province south of Naples, the highly prized “Mozzarella Buffala” is made with milk from domesticated water buffalo that graze on the coastal plain of Sele. It is considered to have the best taste and creamiest texture. It is expensive and difficult to find in the United States.  It is best eaten with a slice of fresh tomato and a drizzle of fine extra virgin olive oil.

Elsewhere in Italy and in the US, mozzarella is made with cow’s milk. In Italy, it is called “Fior di Latte.” This is the mozzarella one typically finds on pizza.  When fresh, cow's milk mozzarella or “Fior di Latte” has a high moisture content and is creamy.  It is typically stored in water. Freshly made "Fior di Latte" can be shaped into large balls, twisted into braids or cut into bite-sized nuggets called bocconcini. When commercially produced "Fior di Latte" has a low moisture content and is quite firm, making it the best mozzarella for melting on pizza and baking in casseroles. This is the mozzarella I like to use when making Mozzarella in Carozza. Commercially processed mozzarella is what one typically finds in supermarkets in the US.  Some better known brands are Polly-O, Sargento and Sorrento.  

Categories: Cooking Tips

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Reply Sandro
12:12 AM on January 31, 2011 
Try the smoked Mozzarella too. It has a light brown colored skin and is always salted. Very deliciouso! You can find it at any Italian deli and some supermarkets in NY.
Reply mariabella
7:03 PM on January 18, 2011 
There is no comparison between the "fresh" mozzarella you buy in an Italian grocery store and the commercial ones. You can purchase the fresh mozzarella either in salted water or unsalted water, whichever you prefer. I personally prefer the unsalted.

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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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