Sunday, November 14, 2010

Italian Culinary Terms ...

Did you know Oregano means " The Joy of the Mountains" and has been in use since the early Roman times.

Arrosto morto: A typical pan roasting technique for meats combining dry and wet cooking. The meat is initially browned in oil or butter, then braised in liquid. Unlike pot roasting, however, the braising is accomplished by adding only a small amount of liquid at a time, repeated as needed to keep the meat moist.

All'agro: A term that described a dish that features an ingredient, usually a vegetable such as green beans, that is blanched and then dressed with olive oil and fresh lemon juice or, less often, vinegar.

Al dente: Literally, 'to the tooth', a term used to describe the point at which pasta is properly cooked: firm to the bite but not chalky.

Italian cuisine is part of our life in a way which 

is hard to understand for many guests. Food is 

not only a pleasure for the body, but for the soul


Antipasto: Literally 'before the meal', the Italian word for appetizer or hors d'oeuvre. Antipasti are always served at table, just before the primo piatto, while stuzzichini can be eaten standing up.

Bianco or in bianco:literally, 'white' or 'in white'. Terms used to describe the tomato-less version of a dish that can be made with or without tomatoes. A pizza bianca, for example, is a pizza made only with cheese. Lasagne in bianco means lasagne made with bechamel sauce (and, usually, a vegetable) but notragu'. One of the most well-known of these 'double dishes' is pasta alle vongole, which can be made either with tomatoes orin bianco.

Battuto: One or more aromatic vegetables, typically onion, celery and carrot, and sometimes including garlic, parsley or pancetta, that is finely chopped. A battuto is usually cooked in oil or butter as the first step in many dishes, in which case it is referred to as a soffritto.

Contorno: A vegetable side dish served with the secondo.

Fare la scarpetta: An idiomatic expression, literally meaning 'to make a little shoe', for sopping up juices or a sauce with a bit of bread. The expression refers to the shape of the bread, which is said to look like a little shoe when pressed against the plate with your fingers.

Un filo d'olio: literally, a 'thread of oil'. A term usually used to describe a thin stream of oil drizzled on top of a dish to finish it a technique often used for thick, bean-based soups. Can also be used more generally to describe adding a small amount of oil to a dish or to a skillet.

Gnocchi: pronounced 'nyaw-kee', this is the Italian word for dumpling. The most common type of gnocchi is made from potato, but gnocchi may also be made from flour, semolina, ricotta and spinach. A special kind of gnocchi made from bread is called canederli, also known in German as Knoedel, a speciality of the Alto Adige. Gnocchi alla romana are made with semolina boiled with milk, cut into disks and baked.

Insaporire: To saute meat, vegetable or other food in asoffrito to allow it to absorb its aromatic flavors.

Mantecare: The finishing step in making a risotto, whereby you add grated cheese (usually parmesan), and/or butter or oil to the cooked rice, usually off heat, and stir vigorously to incorporate the ingredients and produce a creamy texture.

Odori: Literally meaning 'scents'. The collective name for the herbs and vegetables that go into a battuto, eg onion, carrot, celery, garlic and parsley In Italian markets, you often get some odori for free when you purchase your usual shopping--at least when you're a cliente fisso, or regular customer.

Pasta all'uovo: A term for frech egg pasta, typically made from a dough of soft flour known in Italy as "OO" and whole eggs. The most common types of pasta all'uovo includefettuccine, tagliatelle andpappardelle. Most stuffed pastas, including cannelloni,ravioli, cappelletti andtortellini--are also egg pastas. Egg pastas are often made fresh at home, in which case they are also known as pasta fatta in casa (home-made pasta) orpasta fatta a mano (hand-made pasta).

Pasta secca: The generic term for factory-made pasta made from hard (durum )wheat and water that you will find in stores. There are an almost endless variety of paste secche, among which are spaghetti,linguine, bucatini, penne,rigatoni, ziti and farfalle.

Peperoncino: A small, dried hot red pepper used often in central and southern Italian cooking. Dried Mexican hot peppers are find substitutes. Red pepper flakes, which are easy to find, are an acceptable substitute as well, for most dishes, but you need to be careful as they burn quickly when fried in oil.

Primo piatto or primo:Refers to the first course of an everyday Italian meal, usually a pasta, risotto or soup.

Piatto unico: A dish that can serve as both primo and secondo, ie a one-dish meal. Often a dish that combines both a carb and meat, such as ossobuco with risotto alla milanese, or polenta with sausages. But it can also apply to a dish like parmigiana di melanzane (eggplant parmesan) that is so rich you don't need another dish to make the meal complete. In modern times, with working couples with less time to devote to preparing meals, piatti unici are becoming ever more common.

Quanto basta, or q.b.,literally, 'as much as is enough', a common term used in Italian recipes to mean, more or less, 'to taste' or as much as is needed to achieve the desired result.

Ragu': A long-simmering tomato-based sauce, typically made with meat, either in a single piece or minced. The two most famous are Ragù alla bolognese, made with minced beef, or a mixture of minced beef and pork, known in English as Bolognese sauce, and Ragù alla napoletana, made with a single piece of beef chuck. The Neapolitan version is the forebearer of the Italian-American "Sunday Sauce", made with sausages, meatballs and, often, a mixture of other cuts of beef or pork.

Rosolare: To lightly saute in oil or butter, especially asoffrito, over low heat. Often translated into English as 'to brown' but this gives the wrong impression, as the point is not to caramelize but to soften the ingredient and intensify its flavor.

Secondo piatto or secondo:Refers to the second course of an everyday Italian meal, usually a meat or fish, or sometimes a vegetable dish. You might be tempted to call this the 'main course', but Italian meals typically have no 'main' course. The primo is as filling as the secondo, if not more so. Both are considered equally 'important' parts of the meal.

Soffritto: A battuto sauteed in oil and/or butter to bring out its flavors and used as a flavor base for countless sauces, soups and stews.

Spianatoia: Wooden board, usually with a lip to hug the countertop, used as a surface on which to make frech pasta.

Stuzzichini: Term to describe little things to nibble on at a party or as a snack.

Sugo: Most common term to describe a tomato-based sauce for pasta. Ragu' (see above) is a particular kind of sugo.

In umido: A term to refer to a dish that is stewed, usually in a tomato sauce. Can apply to fish, meat or vegetables.

In zimino: a term used in Tuscan cooking to refer to a dish in which the main ingredient (classically, seafood) is simmered in spinach or swiss chard, for example seppie in zimino (squid) or baccala' in zimino (salted codfish). NB: Unlike their English or French equivalents, a dish called 'alla fiorentina' does not necessarily mean that a dish is made with spinach. It merely means that the dish is in the style of Florence. Trippa alla fiorentina, for example, contains no spinach at all, just as the famous bistecca alla fiorentina (Florentine-style steak).

Lazio in tavola ...

The Lazio region, located in central Italy, has always been a seat of cultural exchange, especially during the Roman Age. Simple pasta sauces, roast meats and pork products dominate the table.

Lazio was the heart of the Roman Empire and is full of incredible landscapes and antiquities. Many ancient Roman ports were located along the region’s spectacular Tyrrhenian coastline. The ports have since become popular tourist destinations. In the green valleys of Aniene and Tiber Rivers you will find picturesque cities housing vestiges of times past.
From Ciociaria to the Pontine Marshes, the natural beauty and architecture of Lazio have been immortalized in the drawings and paintings made by artists on the Grand Tour. The works of art capture the bucolic landscapes and ancient ruins, through which herds of sheep would graze. In Rome, the capital of Lazio, you will find history hidden in every corner, from the Fori Imeriali to the Coliseum, Pantheon and St. Peter’s Cathedral. Then, there is the Baroque architecture of the churches and fountains that adorn the city’s many piazzas.

Although the history of the region includes stories of wealth and power, especially when it comes to the Eternal City, Lazio’s history is really an intersection of different cultures. Examples of cultural exchange date back to the Etruscans and are certainly reflected in the regional cooking.
The food of Lazio if made up of simple dishes that are quick and easy to cook. Everything is based on great, fresh ingredients that are available to everyone. The extra virgin olive oil from Canino and Sabina, for example, are used in many of the traditional recipes.
The sauces that adorn the pasta dishes in Lazio, vary from the very simple like cacio e pepe, or salty Roman pecorino and pepper, to much more elaborate recipes that may include butter, egg, pancetta or guanciale. The traditional pasta sauce from Amatrice, called Amatriciana, is made by sautéing onions in pork fat, adding tomatoes and spices and allowing the flavors to come together. The sauces are typically served with long pasta noodles like spaghetti and fettuccine. Short, or broken pasta, often appears in soups, where it is pairs with beans, chickpeas, cabbage, or broccoli and flavored with pounded lard, onions and herbs.
In Lazio, rice is used to make supplì, or rice balls, which are similar to the arancini you find in southern Italy. The baseball-sized balls are often stuffed with mozzarella or chicken giblets and the rice itself is cooked in a tomato sauce with more giblets, like in some Tuscan recipes.
Beef is the meat of choice in Lazio, however lamb and kid is also served. Coda alla Vaccinara, or braised oxtail, is a popular Roman dish.  Outside of the city, and especially during the spring, you can find abbacchio, or lamb, baked in the oven, roasted on a spit or prepared in a fricassee. Many people eat chicken as well and either roast it or cook it with tomato and peppers, or in a pan with fiery spices. The most popular regional pork recipe is porchetta alla romana.
Pork is also used to make Guanciale, or cured pork cheek, Ventresca, cured belly meat, Mortadella di Amatrice, sausages or salsicce, lard and prosciutto. Often the salumi are spicy, but they are always flavorful.
Much of the fish consumed in Lazio comes from the Tiber River and Bolsena Lake, including ciriole, caption and freshwater eels.
In terms of dairy production, Lazio is famous for its sheep’s milk pecorinos, but also buffalo’s milk mozzarella, made like it is in nearby Campania. Roman ricotta is delicious and is used in many desserts and fillings. The rich soil in Lazio produces excellent artichokes (often prepared alla giudia, or fried), but also cauliflower, fava beans, peas and the renowned Lentils of Onano.
Even when it comes to desserts, they keep it simple in Lazio. Maritozzi, a type of cream-filled pastry, doughnuts, fried rice treats and ricotta tarts are all popular.  And when it comes to wine, Lazio is known for Est Est Est from Montefiascone, produced in the area near Lake Bolsena, and Falerno, which was loved by the Roman emperors.
Source: Academia Barilla