September 17, 2020

Update!

Ciao! Hi there!, 

You may have noticed that I haven't spent a lot of time on this website. That's partly because I have been

busy creating almost daily content for Facebook and Instagram...Yes, and because the Coronavirus put a stop to my business at the end of February, I decided to open a YouTube channel, too. 

A bit much, perhaps but it is a way to hopefully keep teaching, which I love. But learning to make decent videos has been challenging, although I believe I am at a good point with my latest "How to make Green Pasta" video (did you watch it? what did you think?) Check out my last post (below) to watch the video. 

This website will be completely redone soon! Until the new website arrives, I suggest you follow me on Instagram or Facebook where I post Italian recipes, videos and provide travel and cultural information ALMOST EVERY DAY. 👀

Once the new website is up and running, the website will become the center of my attention once again. 😊

Below you will find the addresses (these are not links) where you can find me and my photos, recipes, and videos about Italy:

Where to find me on Social Media


Feel free to share any of my posts you like with your family and friends. The more, the merrier!

If you have a suggestion, comment, request or question, you can write under any of my posts. I personally read all of them. 

I look forward to connecting with you on social media!

Ciaoooo! Maribel

 

 

 

 

The BEST Summer Pasta Dressing with Eggplant, Tomatoes and Sheep’s Cheese

This is such an amazing pasta dressing! 


This pasta dressing explodes with Mediterranean flavors! It reminds me of sunny Puglia in southern Italy and its amazing Mediterranean vegetables. It has juicy, tasty tomatoes; mild aubergines/eggplants, some chili peppers and garlic, lots of fresh basil, wonderful, savoury seasoned ricotta (ricotta salata) and fresh, fruity olive oil from Puglia. Its perfect for meatless Mondays or vegetarian days. I promise you won't miss the meat!

It is equally delicious with handmade fresh egg pasta or dry, hard wheat pasta.

With Egg Pasta Farfalle

With Hard Wheat Rigatoni


I suggest reading through the entire recipe and my notes before cooking this. I recommend seeking out the “sweet” variety of aubergines/eggplants which are either striped (violet and white), all white, or violet with white tinges by the stem area on the outside and completely white on the inside. These varieties do not require salting to remove bitterness because they are not bitter. 

It is not necessary to cook the tomatoes, specially on a hot day. Raw tomatoes that are ripe and tasty are wonderfully refreshing and also give you a nice variation on this dish.

Ricotta salata is a dairy product from the Puglia region of Italy. Although we treat ricotta salata like a cheese, it is technically not a cheese but a dairy product. It is made from the whey left over after making cheese with, usually, sheep’s milk. The whey is cooked a second time, thus giving it its name; ricotta literally means cooked twice or cooked again. It is less fatty and much less caloric than cheese. Ricotta salata literally means salty ricotta and while it tastes somewhat salty, its main characteristic is that it is hard because its been seasoned for 30 days and lost up to 50% of the water regular fresh ricotta has. 

If you cannot source ricotta salata you can substitute it with Pecorino Romano (hard sheep’s cheese from Rome) or good quality Greek Feta cheese (made with either sheep or goat or a blend of the two). While these two cheeses have different consistencies, they both confer the tasty sharpness required in this dish.


Aubergines, tomatoes, garlic, basil and ricotta salata

RECIPE

Serves 4 persons as a first course or 3 as a single course meal. 

Ingredients

1 -2 cloves garlic, peeled

1-2 dried hot Italian peppers (pepperoncino)

12-16 sweet cherry tomatoes (see notes)

600g or 2 medium sized sweet aubergine/eggplants

a large bunch fresh basil

100/3.5 oz grams of Pecorino Romano cheese, Ricotta salata or very good quality Feta cheese

Extra virgin olive oil for cooking

Excellent quality extra virgin olive oil to finish  

350 grams of hard wheat pasta or fresh egg pasta. A short shape with some sort of cavity is ideal such as rigatoni, orecchiette (little ears), bowties or garganelli.

NOTE: Keep in mind that hard wheat pasta takes longer to cook than fresh egg pasta. Fresh Egg pasta takes between 2-3 minutes for flat types and up to 5-7 minutes for fresh stuffed pastas while dry hard wheat pasta can take up to 15 minutes, check package directions for exact time.

Procedure

Prepare all the ingredients as follows and set aside, each in its own bowl or dish: 

Wash, dry and cut aubergines/eggplants into bite sized cubes,

Wash cherry tomatoes and cut into small bites sized pieces, 

Grate cheese, I like to grate in the larger holes of the grater,

Rinse and dry basil. Tear up the basil into small piecesith your hands. 

Ready to cook

Take a non-stick skillet and drizzle with a bit of regular olive oil (extra virgin but not the expensive stuff). 

Crush the garlic with the flat side of a large knife, remove its green germ and immediately place in the skillet with the the olive oil. 

Crush the hot peppers directly into the olive oil. 

NOTE: Wash your hands immediately because anything you touch will sting (eyes, mouth, nose)!

Warm the skillet over med-low heat and as it cooks the garlic will begin to become golden (do not let it brown though - that would be a different flavor profile). Once it is golden you may remove it as its done its job of flavoring the olive oil. 

At this point add the aubergine/ eggplant and raise the heat to med-high, stirring regularly to prevent it from sticking. This step requires frequent turning over the cubes of aubergines to ensure it cooks evenly. 

NOTE: Do not add extra olive oil because the eggplant will absorb the oil and then it becomes a heavy dish. If necessary, lower the heat.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. When water is boiling add some coarse salt (never add oil to the water).  If using packaged pasta, add it now and check package directions for cooking time. 1

After the aubergines are almost cooked (see note below), add the cut tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes or so. Salt lightly and lower the heat.

NOTE: The Aubergines are done when the exterior is opaque white and/or browned. You could also put a toothpick or knife through it to test it. If it goes through without resistance, it is done. 

Cook your pasta in boiling salted water. Drain when cooked (taste to test doneness). 

Time to assemble the dish

Immediately toss pasta with aubergine/eggplants and tomatoes. Toss well.

Then add the grated cheese and hand-torn basil and toss some more. 

Add a generous drizzle of high quality olive oil and toss thoroughly. 

NOTE: The tossing between prevents the ingredients from clumping together. 

You may add extra cheese to each individual plate. Serve immediately and enjoy!


All recipes and comments are by Maribel Agulló except where expressly attributed to others.

Do not publish or distribute the recipes without previous, written consent.

September 10, 2020

How to Make Green Pasta Naturally, the Italian Way!


Making natural green colored pasta is traditional in many parts of Italy. In the Emilian part of the Emilia-Romagna region (Piacenza, Parma, Reggio-Emilia, Modena, Ferrara and most of the metropolitan city of Bologna) spinach and young swiss chard is used to color the dough. 

In the Ligurian region and lower part of the Piedmontese region (the provinces of Asti, Alessandria and Cuneo) borrage is used to color the dough green.

In the spring, these as well as other fresh pasta making regions use young and tender nettle leaves to give their dough a natural green color.

Remember that one of the founding principles of Italian cooking is that people cooked with what they had readily available: so it was ALWAYS fresh, local and seasonal. Cooking this way also makes it more tasty, more nutritious, less costly and sustainable. That's a win-win for everyone! 

While I do provide quantities, it really is up to you: it depends on your personal preference. Generally we use 100g of fresh spinach or young swiss chard leaves per every 100g of flour, plus one egg. If using frozen greens, use 30g of frozen spinach or young swiss chard leaves per 50g of flour.

If using fresh borrage or nettle leaves, plan on using 50g of fresh leaves for every 100g of flour plus one egg. 

The amounts in ounces are as follows:

100g =3.5oz

50g = 1.76oz

30g= 1oz

25g = .88oz

Serving size: plan on one 100g of flour per person. When making green dough, have an extra 50-60g of flour on hand, just in case it is needed. See notes below. 

PROCEDURE

1. Before you use the vegetable, you must wash it, cook it and remove as much water as possible. 

2. Then you mince it, either by hand with a knife or in a food processor. If using a food processor, you get better results if you add the eggs in as well.

3. You make a well and add the egg and minced vegetable. 

4. Work in the flour a bit at a time, proceeding as you normally would when making fresh pasta.

5. Keep adding flour until you obtain a nice and bouncy ball of dough. 

**It is of utmost importance to have more flour than you think you might need on hand because the cooked vegetable adds some moisture to the dough and you will need to add flour to the dough until you have a nice and bouncy ball of dough. It is practically impossible to know beforehand exactly how much flour you'll need. I like to keep about 60g extra on hand per every egg's worth of dough I'm preparing.  **

6. The dough should rest at least 30 minutes at room temperature; if you can't roll it immediately after, then refrigerate and let it come to room temperature before rolling out.

You will find detailed information about working with dough, kneading and rolling with the pasta machine  in the video below. Remember to subscribe so you won't miss my new videos. 



green pasta dough, green pasta, natural green dough

June 29, 2020

Peach with Balsamic Vinegar and Parmigiano Reggiano Salad

peach, balsamic vinegar and parmigiano salad



Today I am sharing with you my favorite summer salad! What makes this salad special is the unique combination of peaches (or nectarines), parmigiano reggiano and balsamic vinegar. This salad is pretty, delicious, refreshing, and real quick to put together. It goes really well with grilled seafood, poultry, meats and grilled … anything! 

OK let’s get on with the recipe! The video is below...


INGREDIENTS
No quantities are listed as you can make a salad for one or 50.

You'll need

. a chunk of aged Parmigiano -Reggiano cheese: the older the better: Ideally between 30 and 36 months which has a nutty undertones vs caramel undertones of the mild 12 month old Parmigiano. We are looking for contrast between the peach and cheese, this is why an older cheese is preferred

. 1 Ripe peach or nectarine (every 4 servings) : ripe means that its juicy and sweet, it might still have some tangy notes in there

. lettuce : The lettuce’s mild flavor is important to help balance all these sweet, tangy and savoury flavours. So choose greens that are mild flavoured such as butter, round, red leaf, oak leaf and Boston Bibb lettuces. Remember that the flavor needs to be mild.
Therefore, avoid greens that will compete with the flavours just mentioned. So a big NO goes to kale, arugula, cress, radicchio, iceberg, cabbage, spinach, as these lovely but strong tasting greens would mask the the flavor of the Parmigiano & Balsamic vinegar

. Salt & freshly grated pepper

. Balsamic vinegar from Modena. Not all Balsamic Vinegars are worthy of that name. There is PDO Balsamic Vinegar from Modena which is fabulous and then there is wild west of balsamic vinegars where you never know what you are buying until you taste it. Below you will find 2 links to some nice PDO Balsamic and some very decent but not expensive balsamic vinegar.

Remember that a Balsamic vinegar should not taste like vinegar. It is more like a tangy grape syrup ; it should taste smooth, creamy with tangy and sweet notes.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil 
 - there are many wonderful types of extra virgin olive oil: fruity, less fruity, etc.
They are all good, I’d only avoid using using just “been bottled” olive oils as some types, in my experience, tend to be bitter (they do mellow out after a month or two).  

Naturally, we also want to avoid using rancid olive oils. So before you pour it on, TASTE it.

That’s it! There's only 5 ingredients! The success of this dish depends its ingredients, I will provide suggestions on how to choose the right ingredients as we go through the recipe.

PROCEDURE

1. We begin by shaving an old Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese preferred.

You can shave the cheese ahead of time and cover if not using immediately. This is a salad that we put together right before serving.

2. Put the clean lettuce in a wide pretty bowl and dress add salt and pepper with a good drizzle of EVOO and good balsamic vinegar. Toss salad.

3. taste a piece of lettuce to ensure that its properly dressed and adjust seasonings if necessary 

4. Right before serving slice the peach. It is important that you do not do it ahead of time as Ive noticed that cut peaches and nectarines color turns the longer it sits out. Slice the peach thinly - not paper thin but pretty close
5. place peach slices on salad in a pattern so that its pretty to look at

6. we will top each piece of fruit with a a thin shaving of parmigiano reggiano cheese 

7. place a drop (or drizzle) of balsamic vinegar over each slice of cheese
8. this salad is ready to serve as is, no further tossing should be done. to serve, don’t toss but use your serving utensils to dig deep into the bowl and pick up some salad with fruit & cheese on top. 

Buon appetito!

Recommended Balsamic Vinegars: 
(These are NOT an affiliate link as I don't know how to do that YET  :S)

This is the GOOD stuff- for special friends & loved ones. 
PDO Traditional Balsamic Vinegar from Modena (here)

THIS is my everyday and awesome Balsamic vinegar. Its not made the traditional way but it tastes pretty close to the good stuff (here)
If you would like to see me prepare this salad - follow this link 


For more authentic Italian food (the way its done in Italy), visit my channel and consider subscribing - remember to also click on the bell to be notified everytime I upload a video. All the videos are on my YouTube Channel

AUDIO: Please forgive my audio, still working on improving it. This is only my 5th video and am working hard to learn as fast as possible and create videos all by myself during the pandemic!


May 2, 2020

Bolognese or "Bolognaise" ragu’

In Bologna, we call our meat sauce simply ragu’. There is no need to add "Bolognese" to its name since we ARE in Bologna (its important to add the name when outside of Bologna to distinguish it from other types of ragu')

Tagliatelle al ragu' . photo belongs to Taste of Italy BolopgnaEver wonder what the difference is between a Ragu' and Sauce? You might think that they are one and the same since they all go with pasta. But there are some important differences.

"Sugo" or sauce is a general term that indicates a fluid sauce. It can be a simple tomato sauce like a marinara or can include whole plum tomatoes and some other ingredients, cut small.


A ragu' is thick and chunky usually made by cooking several kinds of meat in a sauce, usually tomato. That said, a ragu' can also made with seafood, vegetables or a combination of these.  


The Bolognese ragu' is made with ground meat cooked with vegetables and a small amount of concentrated tomato, added for color. This ragu' is less fluid, hardly tomatoey - its really all about the meat!

Our ragu’ is never served with spaghetti as the small bits of meat would fall off the strands. If you’ve ever had spaghetti with a chunky sauce you probably remember eating most of the spaghetti first and at the bottom of the bowl, you had your ragu’. Ragu' and pasta are supposed to be consumed together, a bit of meat in every bite. 

So you want to choose a pasta shape that has enough surface so that you can eat the ragu’ with the pastaIn Bologna the ragu’ is typically served with flat wide egg dough noodles called tagliatelle and you will find this dish on menus as tagliatelle al ragu’. One can also find this ragu’ served with garganelli or farfalle (bowties); in fact the surface of both these shapes are ideal to carry the meat sauce. Check my posts on Instagram and Facebook to learn how to shape garganelli & bowties.

We prefer our ragu’ with egg dough noodles but non- Bolognese will also serve it with hard wheat pasta such as ziti, penne, etc. Remember you need a large enough surface that can carry those bits of meat and vegetables!

To learn more about the Bolognese ragu', be sure to read the following two excellent articles 
1. www.tinastable.com May 1st post
2. http://recipephany.com June 26th post


Buon appetito!

April 30, 2020

Online Pasta & Italian Cooking Lessons


Ciao everyone! Given the current world pandemic all cooking lessons are going online.

Alas, getting back to “normal” looks like it will take awhile and not being one who enjoys twirling her thumbs, I have decided to go “online”.

Sure it won’t be the same as cooking together in person, going to the market together or sharing a glass of vino in person, but we can do it online! We can still have a nice time together.

I will begin by opening up private cooking lessons and then based on the most popular requests, I will set up group lessons.

Some suggestions for lessons 
  • review pasta making techniques 
  • new or review pasta shapes, traditional egg dough or hard wheat dough
  • seasonal / traditional pasta sauces
  • how to clean/prep vegetables
  • desserts
  • antipasti aka appetizers 
  • kitchen hack
Or let me into your kitchen (virtually) and I’ll help you put together a meal with your pantry items; I’m actually pretty good at this!

As always, I am able to accommodate vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and lactose-free diets.

Write to me via Instagram or send an email to maribel AT (use @ instead of AT) taste-of-italy.com (pls don’t send me messages on Facebook) with what you are interested in and dates/times you are available. I will give you an estimate of time needed to complete your request and price.

The aim is to stay within the hour, hour and a half. If necessary, the lesson can be divided over the course of two -three days.

You will receive a list of ingredients to purchase and equipment you’ll need to complete the lesson. 

Let’s cook yummy things together!

March 24, 2020

Pasta e Fagioli - Bolognese Style

TASTE OF ITALY 2020
A hearty and delicious soup, every Italian region has their own version; in Bologna it is made up of creamed borlotti beans, ham, garlic and rosemary. You can leave out the ham, I sometimes do - and instead add small squares of Parmigiano Reggiano rind- and no one at home notices! 
In Bologna we add egg pasta to our soup, generally the maltagliati (literally means poorly cut) which often are the leftover bits or rimasugli of your pasta making. If you don’t have any, then some quadrucci, little squares, are perfect. 
Although I prefer to use dried beans for this soup, I always have canned beans in my pantry so I can quickly prepare this soup, if need be. 

It is so easy you don’t really need a recipe but if you’ve never made it before, here is what I do:
INGREDIENTS
1-1 and 1/2 cups dried beans or 2-3 cans borlotti (pink beans)
EVOO
A large clove fresh garlic
a sprig of fresh rosemary
100g or 3oz fresh pancetta, cubed
water
salt &
pepper
100-200g of egg pasta maltagliati
bits of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese rind, optional

Special equipment: sumergible mixer

METHOD
  1. Soak beans overnight if using dried or drain liquid from canned beans
  2. Cook dried beans following package directions 
  3. peel and smash garlic and place in large enough pot with a generous swirl of EVOO
  4. remove leaves off rosemary sprig and add to pot with garlic and oil
  5. add cubed pancetta to pot
  6. saute’ items in pot over medium heat until they begin to get colored, stirring once in a while - it smell really good, doesn’t it? :)
  7. Add cooked beans and enough water to cover beans, continuing to cook for about 20 minutes
  8. Remove several tablespoons of the beans and set aside for now.
  9. Taste and adjust to taste with salt & pepper and water if necessary.
  10. Remove from heat and using a sumergible mixer, whir everything in the pot to obtain a cream. 
  11. Then put the pot back over the heat, add the beans you set aside and if using, bits of Parmigiano Reggiano rind, now is the time to add it.
  12. Add egg pasta, stir in and keep over heat until pasta is done, largely depends on pasta used but a dried egg dough can take 5 minutes while fresh egg dough will take 2-3 minutes.
  13. Pour into bowls and if you like, add a nice swirl of extra tasty extra virgin olive oil to your soup.

It is easy to make the soup #vegetarian or #vegan. This soup uses #pantry items as well as foods other people would throw out: ugly little pasta bits (they should be similar in size and thickness for similar cooking time) and Parmigiano Reggiano rind (which has no wax).


#iocucinoacasa #iorestoacasa #keepcalmandmakepasta #mybologna #emiliaromagna #italianrecipes #ricettefacili #cucinaitaliana #italianfoodporn #foodies #pastafresca  #foodstagram #foodiesofinstagram #foodblogger #lacucinadellamamma #cucinadellanonna #vegetarianrecipes #recipesforlent #lentrecipes #meatlessmonday #cucinatradizionale #cucinaromagnola #italiancuisine #italiancooking #sustainable #easyitalian #easypeasy #easyrecipes 

March 19, 2020

Fried Italian Caprino or Pecorino Cheese


FRIED ITALIAN CHEESE
This is a super easy dish you can prepare in no time with ingredients you likely already have in your pantry. Perfect as an appetizer or second course over a bed of fresh, crisp greens. If serving as a second course, plan on serving larger pieces or two pieces per person.

The first time I had this for lunch in the mountains near Merano in Alto Adige (Italy) I was amazed at how ridiculously easy yet delicious this dish was. The hard part was finding cheese like theirs: mild flavored, with just the right amount of melted (not gooey) and not salty at all. Heavenly!

Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS
  • 4 pieces of 1 to 11/2 cm (about 1/2 inch) thick cheese per person. See Cooking tips regarding ideal types of cheese to use.
  • 1 whole egg or 1 egg white
  • 125g (4 ounces) of dry breadcrumbs 
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • Frying oil (see Cooking Tips) 

METHOD
Prep: 
  1. Pour breadcrumbs into a deep dish and add salt & pepper to taste, blend well.
  2. Remove crust from cheese and cut the cheese into squares or rectangles for more eye appeal
  3. Break egg into a bowl and beat well
  4. Pour enough frying oil so that it fills up the bottom with 2cm (3/4 inch). The frying pan should have high sides to prevent splashing, heat oil until pretty hot. 
  5. Cover a large plate with paper towels to hold your fried cheese
  6. Prepare serving plates with washed greens or salad.

When oil is hot - remember to turn ON your kitchen hood’s fan, proceed as follows:
  1. Dip one piece of cheese into beaten egg and turn over to ensure that it is well coated then ->
  2. Dip into the seasoned breadcrumbs, turning over to ensure that it is well coated then ->
  3. Place into the frying pan and cook for a few minutes until it is golden on one side and turn over to cook on the other side. 
  4. Do not overcrowd your frying pan, you need enough space to turn your pieces of cheese. 
  5. When golden on both sides, remove cheese from pan and blot excess oil on paper towels. 
  6. Place still hot cheese in the center of prepped plates with salad.
  7. Eat immediately.

COOKING TIPS
If you keep the cheese vacuum packed in the refrigerator, it will last for months, allowing you to “whip up this dish” at a moment’s notice, like a true Italian.

A pair of tablespoons may be best to turn the breaded cheeses, as I found the tongs tend to break the crispy bread crust. Have a spatula ready in case your cheese slices stick to the bottom - to prevent this to begin with, I suggest adding plenty of oil to your frying pan (see Prep point 4 under Method).

The right cheese. Although you could use most cheeses with this recipe, this particular dish calls for an Italian cheese that is not too young, not too old. A Caprino (goat) or Pecorino (sheep) cheese between 2-5 months is ideal. Too young and the cheese will melt before the breading becomes golden, too old and the cheese is likely to be too salty.

The Frying oil. When frying, choose an oil with a high smoke point such as peanut, grapeseed, safflower, soybean, sunflower, canola, or extra light olive oil are all good choices. 

Substitutions

You can make this dish Gluten free by substituting with GF breadcrumbs

March 10, 2020

Tagliatelle al Prosciutto

A stunning pasta dish whose secret lies in its top quality ingredients; it is also quick and easy to put together. .

Ingredients PER PERSON (multiply as needed) 
about 100g/3.5 oz of fresh tagliatelle (egg noodles) 
60g of minced Prosciutto Crudo di Parma*
1 walnut sized nob of sweet, unsalted butter
2-3 tablespoons of 26 months or more Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated
*If you can’t find it already minced, then mince it yourself with a mezzaluna or in a food processor.
Method
  1. Prep your ingredients
  2. Make the pasta … and roll it thin! (you can do this several hours beforehand) 
  3. Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat, toss in the prosciutto and break it up, toss around for a minute or so
  4. Cook the fresh pasta in boiling, salted water (about 2-3 minutes)
  5. Drain pasta and toss with butter and prosciutto
  6. Sprinkle the parmigiano cheese on top
  7. Dig in: rejoice in all things simple!

A note about the ingredients and balance:
The difference between a “just okay” and “amazing” dish has EVERYTHING to do with the quality of your ingredients. Herein lies the secret of Italian food, get the best ingredients you can get your hands on. It doesn’t have to be expensive, it has to be very good though.
So make sure that you are using the best tasting sweet, unsalted butter; it should taste creamy. The the prosciutto crudo should NOT be salty, if it is genuine Prosciutto di Parma (look for the distintive crown marking on the ham or package) it won’t be salty. The Parmigiano Reggiano cheese should be freshly grated and aged over 24 months, preferably 30 -36 months old. Why? because the taste of Parmigiano Reggiano changes as it ages: the younger 12-18 months has creamy and caramel type notes whereas the older 30-36 months has nutty notes and has more umami (do I dare say that?). 
The reason why this dish works so well is that the sweet butter is in perfect harmony with the sweet and savoury Prosciutto and the umami-rich Parmigiano. It is a perfect balance of flavours. One subpar ingredient and you’ll find yourself having to “fix” this dish with other ingredients. Fix it if you must but don’t deny yourself the pleasure of this sensory experience with the right ingredients. When #lessismore
Staying busy during the #coronavirus emergency: #Istayhome #iorestoacasa #keepcalmandcookon #keepcalmandmakepasta #covid19 #covid19Italia
#pastaia #sfoglina #pastaalmattarello #qualityingredients #Italianfood #italianrecipes #ricettefacili #ricettacolprosciutto #cucinaitaliana #pastaworkshop #nopastamachine #italianfoodporn #foodies #pastalover #pastamaker #pastaeveryday #handmadewithlove #myrecipes #pastafresca #pastaalluovo #foodstagram #foodiesofinstagram #foodblogger #tasteofitalyrecipes

February 27, 2020

Corona Virus Situation in Italy


I feel the need to do my part in providing accurate and clear information about the situation here in Italy. There is no need to be alarmed but we all do need to be careful. Please read on and share these posts among your family and friends, hopefully it will calm people down.
I will do regular updates here and on my Facebook page : www.facebook.com/TasteItalyBologna/

HOW IT IS TRANSMITTED
  • The virus enters your body via nose, eyes and mouth 
  • The virus does NOT enter your body through your skin
  • by micro drops from infected persons: when they cough, sneeze or talk (yes, we all spit a bit when we speak) so keep some distance from other people.
  • by shaking their hands if they’ve JUST sneezed or coughed into their hands (and did not wash their hands) and then you touch your eyes, mouth and nose.
  • not everyone who has the virus has symptoms so it is important that EVERYONE observe the prevention measures (see below) so you don’t spread it if you have it and don’t get it if you don’t have it! 
PREVENTION
The prevention measures for the Coronavirus are the same for anyone who wants to avoid catching influenza or the cold!
  • wash hands thoroughly for at least 40 seconds, with soap and water or hand gel with high content (60%+) of alcohol 
  • When you sneeze or cough do so covering your mouth and nose with a paper handkerchief OR cover your mouth and nose with your elbow 
  • dispose paper handkerchief in a wastebasket
  • Wash hands thoroughly immediately after
  • Avoid eating raw or meats/seafood that are not thoroughly cooked
  • wash fruits and vegetables before eating
  • drink liquids only from bottled sources
  • avoid contact with anyone who shows symptoms of respiratory illness
  • avoid crowded places where you would be in tight quarters with people you don’t know.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU SUSPECT YOU MAY HAVE THE VIRUS
  • do not just show up at the hospital or doctor’s office: you do not want to either infect anyone or get infected.
  • call and talk to a health professional who will provide instructions or check your health department’s website for instructions on how to proceed.
WHO IS AT RISK?
  • Anyone with a delicate health situation (cancer, heart problems, HIV, etc)
  • older adults (60+)
  • Technically children also are at risk because they have not developed a full set of antibodies but so far we haven’t seen deaths amongst children
   
MASKS or NO MASKS?
One could divide masks into 2 groups : 
  1. the FFp2 or FFp3: those that have the filter and a piece of metal above that needs to be tightened around the nose. 
  2. and all the others: some with metal clip but no filter as well the other masks without the metal clip.* 
Those who definitely need masks are people in contact with sick people (doctors, nurses, pharmacists) and people who are sick.
->These people need the super protective masks that have the filter and a piece of metal above that needs to be tightened around the nose. 

Everyone else really doesn’t need to wear a mask. 
Having said that, if you cannot avoid a crowded place such as public transportation, then do by all means wear the second type of mask. 

 *Attention: this mask's main function is to keep YOU from touching your nose, eyes and mouth! as soon as you arrive where you are going, wash your hands.

CORONA VIRUS FAQs
For your information: all the Italian deaths to date (25/2/20) have involved elderly people (with a weak immune system) and/or already sick with other health problems.

So why does Italy have so many cases?
- because Italy is testing a lot more people (10,000 tests as of 25/2/20) therefore, the more you look for something, the more you will find. We don't doubt that other countries have a similar amount of CoVid19.
  • Unfortunately some Italians from the quarantined areas don’t have symptoms and have not respected their quarantine and have travelled. This has created a number of issues outside of Italy.
Why have entire towns been quarantined? 
  • The towns that have been quarantined are where people with the CoronaVirus have lived/been in. 
  • because the virus can only survive through human contact. If we limit human contact, the virus dies out.
  • while a quarantine is a definite nuisance, there are definitely worse problems
Why have other towns closed schools and cancelled public events if they do not have people sick with CoVid19?
  • The towns and regions that have taken these PRECAUTIONARY measures are in close proximity to the quarantined areas. 
  • because the virus can only survive through human contact. If we limit human contact, the virus dies out.
  • while this is a nuisance, there are definitely worse consequences
Should I cancel my trip to Italy? or any travel plans?
  • honestly I would take a wait and see approach. There are measures being taken and we will soon see if they are effective.
  • if you are generally a “weak” person when it comes to your health or are elderly; I would definitely wait and see how this plays out. 
  • If it’s on a cruise ship, the answer would be YES, cancel
Why are people panicking? 
  • firstly because the information available is little, incomplete or just plain wrong; this creates confusion and thus alarm. 
  • the media is not taking a calm and informative approach to the news
  • There is disagreement amongst the medical community. Some virologists are claiming that the flu kills more ppl per year (true) while others explain that the real issue is that 20% of infected ppl end up in intensive care and most countries health system is not prepared to have 20% of their population in Intensive care (also true)
  • if we follow the prevention measures, we should be okay.
Why are people buying lots of food and even water?
  • I believe that some people have panicked and forget that you can have food delivered home by shops, supermarkets and restaurants
  • Others prefer to go to the supermarket (a crowded place) now while the virus hasn’t arrived in our towns and stay indoors (and away from potential crowds).
  • Our water is perfectly good so it is hard to understand the need to purchase water
Good to know
  • your pets won’t get the virus
  • objects don’t carry the virus (there is a German study out that disagrees but it wasn’t done on CoVid19)
  • if you do proper prevention you have little chance of getting sick

February 7, 2020

Orange Marmalade, Candied Peels and Orange Powder


I recently posted a photo of some of my experiments on Instagram and so many people asked me for the recipes, I decided to post them here where it is easier to type. 

It all began at the end of December when I tried the recipe for Candied Orange Peels by my friend Flavia of @SpaghettiABC (on Facebook and Instagram). The candied peels were really easy to make and they were SO good. 

I decided to make them again but make more since we had already finished the small batch I'd made and I wanted to make marmalade with the pulp. I also wanted to try my hand at making orange powder since I had scorched my first batch!



Orange Marmalade
For the marmalade I used the Silver Spoon's recipe, leaving out the peels since I planned to use them elsewhere. The recipe calls for 1 kilo (2.2 lbs) of pulp. Unfortunately the recipe appears to be only in Italian but you only need to look at the ingredients and proportions and follow someone else's recipe for orange marmalade. Obviously you also need to ensure you follow hygiene so make sure you have sterilized jars at the ready. For your information, 1 kilo of pulp turned into half a kilo, 500g or about 1lb of jam!
The recipe is here: marmellata di arance



Orange Powder
The idea began I finished my powdered Cuban adobo which has orange powder in it. It adds a nice zest to pork and poultry. I wondered if orange powder would work in other recipes: say sprinkled on seafood or in a delicate pasta sauce or pasta filling. 

As I mentioned above, I scorched my first batch. My second try went perfectly. I took all the ugly peels from the next recipe (hahaha) and some large & odd pieces and put them on a tray with parchment paper. Place into the oven at the lowest setting and check at 10 minute intervals. As soon as they are dry, remove them from the oven. Once they are cool, you can pulverize them in your food processor or in a mortar.
Pro Tip: do not put the peels directly on your oven trays as the peels will irreparably stain them! 

Candied Orange Peels
Candied orange peels
Candied orange peels are a luxurious treat when dipped in dark chocolate, on your cannolis, gelato or as a cake decoration. Hey, I even drop them in my tea as a little self-care treat on a cold day! 
Candied orange peels are very easy to make: you only need 3 ingredients. There are several ways to get rid of the bitterness in the peels, one is to boil the peels another is to soak them. I soaked mine and the kitchen smelled so sweet.
The original recipe is here: Flavia's candied orange peels

Below is my adaptation with a few tips ;)
I suggest using organic oranges (that haven't been sprayed with toxic substances).
Pro Tip (aka don't make my mistake - hahaha) : do not add syrup after the oranges have begun simmering, because you will not get the supple and glossy finish if you do. 
Ingredients
Oranges, as many as you'd like but at least two.
Sugar, same amount as the weight of the softened orange peels
Water, same amount as the weight of the softened orange peels
Procedure

0. Rinse and pat dry the oranges (this should be obvious)
1. Cut the orange rind the way you'd like them: thin strips, wide strips, small squares or even the whole rind. Remove the zest and the white part.
2. Put the peels in a large bowl and cover with water. Let the peels soak for 3 days. You will see the water turn cloudy and orangey, its normal.
3. Remove the peels from the bowl and let them drain off the water.
4. Weigh the peels; this is the amount of water and sugar that you will need.
5. Put all the ingredients in a wide enough skillet so that you have a single layer and bring to a simmer. Simmer until the peels have soaked up the syrup. About 20 minutes.
6. Place the peels over a board, marble top or even parchment paper (what I did) keeping them mostly separated. I used tongs to do this, just to keep my fingers from getting too sticky.
7. Allow the peels to cool for at least 1 hr. Then you can put them in an airtight jar.