Recipes and Ramblings in Italy

Food Blog

Cooking Tip of the Week (9/6/2011)

Posted by Bill Abruzzo on August 9, 2011 at 11:10 PM

A Few Simple Tips for Prepping Artichokes

       Artichokes are available in several different sizes. Globe artichokes can be as large as a softball, whereas oblong Tuscan artichokes are somewhat smaller and baby artichokes are no more than 2 1/2 inches long.  Preparing them for your favorite recipes is quite simple.

        For large globe artichokes : Use a paring knife to remove all of the leaves from the artichokes, and then remove the inner chokes. This will leave just the heart and stem. Then, use a potato peeler to remove the stringy outer fibers of the stems, and cut the artichokes in half.

        For baby artichokes: Remove the outer leaves until you reach the soft, pale inner cone, and then cut off the top 1/3 of the cone and peel the stem with a potato peeler.  If you wish, cut the artichokes in half. As the artichokes are small, the chokes are tender and do not need to be removed.

       After you prepare the artichokes, be sure to place them in a bowl of cool water acidulated with the juice of one lemon. this will prevent the artichokes from browning. When you are ready to cook them, simply rinse them under cool running water and then pat them dry.


Categories: Cooking Tips

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Private Cooking Classes

Cooking Classes

I offer private cooking classes for up to six people. Cooking classes are held in my home on Saturday evenings. I specialize in all aspects of Italian regional cuisine, including soups, vegetables, pasta, risotto, meat, seafood and desserts. I will design a cooking class around whatever interests you –whether it is a specific recipe you wish to learn or a skill such as pasta-making. For more details, please take a minute to become a member of my website and contact me via internal email at . 

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.

Great reads for the Italophile!

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