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45

You seem to have the wrong expectations. No, it will never be as thickening as a cornstarch slurry. If that's the level of thickening you expect, you are really better off using the slurry. Don't forget that pasta water thickening is a traditional technique from the time when people did not go to the supermarket to buy a pack of cornstarch. They cooked ...


42

Clearly, your flatmate was misinformed. Firstly, Italian cuisine is defined regionally. There are vast differences throughout the country, usually defined by local ingredients and historical influences. However, there are many Italian dishes...from north to south that contain both onion and garlic. It could be true that someone's specific recipe for, ...


29

According to the CONSORZIO DEL PESTO GENOVESE, which defines what is considered official Pesto Genovese, it does contain garlic. They suggest that traditionally it contained less garlic than the current official recipe calls for - one clove for 600g of pasta versus two. Later on they mention that it contains one clove for each thirty leaves of basil, and ...


21

A few things can cause tomato sauces to become bitter: Overcooked spices. Both basil and oregano can become bitter with long simmers. Add them near the end of the process. Under-ripe tomatos. Store bought tomatoes are often picked green and ripened in the store. These tomatoes make less sweet sauces (which may be contributing). Cooking in an aluminium ...


19

Disagree with the umami analysis from @Carmi, even if it was a good attempt. You have some basic facts wrong though. Cooked tomato sauce is high in umami, and is often combined with mushrooms, however, a sauce with mushrooms would not take parmigiano (also extremely high in umami) Mozarella is high in umami, like most fresh young cheeses. So is tuna. ...


19

Time...lasagna needs to allowed to rest for a while before serving. At least an hour. If you try to serve it straight out of the oven it will slide all over on you. Time will allow the cheeses and other filling to firm a bit to give you the distinct 'layers' that you want to see out of a traditional lasagna. I would even recommend making your lasagna the day ...


16

It may not seem intuitive but adding salt is usually a better way to reduce bitterness than adding sugar. I would also suggest that you do not sauté your garlic until burnt as that will add a quite unpleasant bitterness. Sauté until fragrant.


15

In the US at least, common canned tomato products include: Paste, cooked down tomatoes, to the point where they are scoopable with a spoon but will not flow. Very thick, like peanut butter. Often sold in six or twelve ounce cans. Pureee - cooked tomatoes that have been--well--pureeed, but are mostly at their natural density; also called crushed tomatoes. ...


15

Think of your pasta water as a tool for emulsification, rather than "thickening." Adding pasta water to your condiment pan has the benefit of helping the condiment form an emulsified sauce that adheres to your pasta. Add it a little at a time and swirl the pan vigorously. It also allows you to control how "wet" you want your final result to be without ...


14

By "Italian Sausage" I think you mean the seasoned pork sausage available in many supermarkets throughout the US. I've found that a 30-70 mix of beef and turkey/chicken works reasonably well as a substitute when pork is not available. Beef is too strong a flavor and turkey too weak in its own. Flavor-wise most italian sausage has red wine, fennel, and ...


13

The best way to thicken marinara sauce for me, without losing any taste is to cook it a little longer. Cooking it longer is just keeping the sauce on simmer, uncovered and stirring it occasionally so its cooking consistently and taking it off the heat when you think it has reached desired thickness. You can also try draining the tomatoes before you crush ...


13

I'm assuming this is not a speciality Italian bread such as Panettone or Pan d'oro. It's a regular bread loaf. Hard to know for sure, but in all likelihood, the missing taste is due to short rise times and yeast type. Most of the taste in bread is developed, not put in. As suggested in the comments, the ingredients are bread flour (usually tipo 00 or 0), ...


13

I agree with moscafj's general answer: there is no pan-Italian "rule" like this in Italian cuisine. It's common to mix the two in many Italian regions, and it's certainly common in other world cuisines. On the other hand, I wouldn't dismiss this story out-of-hand or as some quirk of one crazy roommate. I grew up near an old Italian neighbor, daughter of ...


13

The primary reason is definitely convenience. If you don't want skin and seeds in your sauce, then you have to do some work to avoid it. Yes, it's possible, e.g. passing through a food mill, or blanching and peeling plus retaining only the flesh, but having it already done is a whole lot easier. Passata is usually much thicker too, so it won't need as long ...


12

You need enough liquid in the blender for it to work; if the leaves get stuck in blender canister, they won't reach the blades to get ground up. It's mostly an issue of width of the container relative to the size of the basil leaves. I typically make my pesto in a blender rather than a food processor, but I do the following: Pack a few inches of basil (or ...


12

First, I'm assuming by "pesto" you mean "Pesto alla Genovese", given your question about pine nuts. Basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, and cheese is a delicious combination, but it's only one of many "pestos" (peste, actually), since pesto refers in general to any sauce which is made from crushed or pureed ingredients. Mix and match to your heart's ...


12

Ditch the cream and onions, and don't use tomato paste. Take a whole bulb of garlic, peel the cloves and leave them whole. Heat a cup of good olive oil over medium heat and add the garlic, stirring occasionally until very lightly brown and blistered: be careful not to burn it! Then add 4 28oz cans of chopped/crushed Italian tomatoes and some chilli, being ...


12

San Marzano tomatoes are generally preferred for Italian tomato sauces because they are denser, fruitier, have a slightly lower acidity, and break down well when cooked. I've made both fresh and fresh-cooked tomato sauces from the San Marzanos my mother-in-law grows, and would prefer these over just about any other tomato variety for sauce-making (dry-...


11

Many pasta shapes can be made without a pasta machine--home cooks have done it for generations. The only pastas that are really difficult to make without a special machine, I think, are the extruded pastas like buccatelli or macaroni. One common method, which leads to a lot of different shapes, is to roll the pasta dough out into a sheet with a rolling ...


11

Fresh herbs should, generally, be added closer to the end of a recipe. Dried herbs should be added fairly early on during the cooking process so that they have time to "develop" and more fully release their flavors. Fresh herbs and spices, however, will generally have more subtle flavors, and they are usually best used for seasoning at the very end of the ...


11

Kenji at Serous Eats pondered exactly this question at length. (emphasis mine) And now we get to the most crucial phase of the process: the long cook. If you take a quick look back at that passage from Cook's Illustrated, they do make one good point: browning meat toughens it far more than simply simmering it. But we also know that browning adds flavor, ...


11

I'm not sure what you mean by "common mozzarella." If you mean the dried out "low-moisture" stuff you find in the U.S., that's just not common in Italy. If your pizza actually had "mozzarella" on it, it was likely either actual mozzarella di bufala (from buffalo milk, the traditional version) or fior di latte (i.e., cow's milk mozzarella, which we'd call "...


11

What moscafj says is true, but it doesn't explain specifically for risotto. Basically, the creaminess** is because of a starch-based solution. Starch based solutions are temperature dependent and will get much thicker as it cools. If there's enough starch, it can solidify to the point where the sauce will break into pieces if you try to manipulate it. ** ...


10

Both sweet and mild refers to the sausages without hot red pepper flakes. The fact they are called sweet Italian sausages doesn't mean they contain sugar.


10

The most similar, of course, the one you could easily find in any supermarket, is the "Camoscio d'Oro". This is not similar but the same, since is made by Bongrain SA, a French food group. As semi-industrial cheese made in Italy, we have the "Alpino", better or similar to "paglietta", both of Osella, which is sited in Piemonte (Turin), region on the border ...


10

To cook a sauce for a long time, particularly without a lid, concentrates the flavor of the sauce as the water evaporates. That's also called reduction. Yes, sauces that are cooked that way need to be stirred frequently to avoid allowing them to stick to the bottom of the pan. Sticking is bad enough, but it leads to burning, which is worse. In meat sauces (...


10

It was called garum, and indeed the ancient Romans used it, as did the ancient Greeks: Garum was prepared from the intestines of small fishes through the process of bacterial fermentation. Fishermen would lay out their catch according to the type and part of the fish, allowing makers to pick the exact ingredients they wanted. The fish parts were then ...


10

Italian rice is graded according to length, shape, size and the amount of broken or whole grains. Commune or originario is the least expensive and most basic. Semifino is medium length, maintains firmness, not typically used in risotto. Fino is relatively long, large and has tapered grains...Stays firm when cooked. Can be used in risotto...a "fine" rice. ...


10

Traditionally, you start with a layer of pasta at the bottom, then go ragu-bechamel-lasagne-ragu-bechamel-lasagne, and finish with a layer of bechamel directly on top of the last pasta layer, followed by a liberal covering of grated parmesan. It is also common to add a sprinkling of parmesan on top of the bechamel in each layer. Ratios are subjective but ...


9

I am a cook in an Italian restaurant. We cook risotto to order, from scratch in under 20 minutes. You need a hot pan, hot stock and a hot French top/burner. It's easy. Add onion, butter, olive oil, salt and pepper, sweat the onion (it in your already hot pan). Add rice, toast and deglaze the pan. add stock, cream, salt. Come back in 10-15 minutes (All that ...


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