Thursday, March 14, 2013

Incorrect coffee & Scotch whisky

"The more you throw it down and the more it picks you up."
I pretty certain, all of us remember the popular motto referring to the coffee.

The coffee arrived from the Middle East in Venice in 1615,  the almost universal ritual of the black drink in the little cup... 

A seemingly unstoppable success, that of the bitter potion: Yet, even the coffee fell to the fate of being the center of controversy, and accusations. If his supporters, perhaps with some exaggeration, they presented it as an excellent remedy for curing diseases of the stomach and liver, and to strengthen the heart sound to eliminate dropsy, to combat the itch, the pains of the spleen, pulmonary inflammation, worms and a host of other physical problems, they did not lack the fiercest critics of the dark beverage that come from the Middle East.

A good coffee awakens the senses. Its aroma promises just what the flavor will capture: nuances and different notes depending on the origin of the blend... all of them characterized by the same genuine passion. A good espresso comes from an ancient ritual that technology has now made just perfect. To evaluate the quality of a coffee it is necessary to rely on your senses: sight, smell and taste. It is a test that must be performed in a precise manner...

How to recognize it? 
Working out the senses: tasting an espresso is also an art.
The consumers of espresso coffee judge and identify the drink in the following ways:
- soft
- velvety
- full-bodied
- intense
- strong
- sweet
- aromatic

The Caffè Corretto:
obtained with a small addition of grappa or brandy often accompanied at the end of a meal as a digestive.

A ritual that certainly started years ago is the 

"Caffè Scorretto" 
(Incorrect coffee). 

After having drunk your espresso coffee there 
always remains a little bit of the cream of the coffee around the little cup, therefore adding a little Scotch whisky to rinse the little cup makes your coffee "scoretto", 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The 4 Humors of Wine pairing...

That each wine can match the right food, or the right foods, it is not an idea of modern dining. It was discussed already in the Middle Ages. It is no doubt that certain wines under certain conditions match better than others.

At the foundation of the Middle Ages nutritionist’s choices was the key theory of the four humors: cold, warm, dry, moist. To attain the ideal, healthy equilibrium, it was important to combine beverages and food in a balanced way. Wine was classified as warm and moist, and given to people according to their age. A man who was nearing old age needed more wine than a young person because with time, the man’s body became colder and drier. He therefore needed something that was warm and moist. Much of life at the medieval table was regulated by such rules.

These considerations made​​, the rules to be followed for a proper pairing are very few: food and wine can be matched considering their affinity or rather the contrast of the flavors or minor overlaps. Here is the "why" of this particular pairing, a good exercise to take practice of is with one of the approaches most stimulating at the table. The Parmigiano Reggiano, for its quality, lends itself to different modes of tasting and pairing with food, from the entrées, the main dishes, the side dishes, etc. ... 

Think of a red structured wine like a good aged Barolo, Barbaresco, a Brunello di Montalcino a Chianti Classico Riserva, a Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, a Torgiano Rosso Riserva, or, an Aglianico del Vulture.

Click here: to watch how Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese is Made.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Italian Elixir...

Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena is a versatile condiment to be used on a variety of preparations. However, being primarily a condiment, its most logical use is as dressing for mixed salads, or even cooked or raw vegetables. When using this condiment it is important to follow a precise sequence: first add the salt, followed by traditional balsamic vinegar of Modena, and lastly extra virgin olive oil. This way the balsamic vinegar can slide and stretch on the greens thoroughly and uniformly. In fact, extra virgin olive oil added first creates an oily film that blocks the travel and penetration of the balsamic vinegar.

Traditional balsamic vinegar of Modena is made by pressing and aging Trebbiano and Lambrusco grapes in chestnut, oak or juniper barrels for a minimum of 12 years. The grapes used are white trebbiano, red lambrusco and ancellotta, which come from vines solely intended for the production of balsamic vinegar, and a late harvest to obtain a high concentration of sugar. Balsamic vinegar of Modena can also be used as a glaze for meats, can be drizzled atop fruits, and can even go great alongside less conventional meals, such as grilled cheese or oatmeal.

The balsamic vinegar of Modena has a wonderfully bold and aromatic taste with a distinct sweet and sour flavor. I use it to add rich flavor to meats, fish, sauces, salads, vegetables or even desserts. 
The sweet, sour, woody condiment so often served with oil onto a bed of leafy greens goes nicely with a number of dishes also. 
Like for this recipe with figs!

Caramelized figs with balsamic vinegar...

This recipe I have found in an American cookbook of vegan recipes and instantly experimented by me.

Ingredients for 8/10 figs:
1 tablespoon soy butter
1 teaspoon of sugar
5 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
1 bunch of arugula
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
juice of half a lemon
salt and ground pepper

In a large skillet melt the butter 
and sputter over the sugar (or honey).

Halve the figs lengthwise 
and place face down in the pan.

Let them brown (3 to 5 minutes) 
and when they are golden on the edges 
put to rest face up, on a plate.

In the pan where has remained the butter, 
add the balsamic vinegar and let it concentrate on low heat 
until it becomes thick like honey 
(max 5 minutes on medium heat).

Meanwhile, prepare the arugula cutting it 
and seasoning it with olive oil and lemon, 
and salt and pepper to taste.

Place them in small bowls for serving, 
leaning over the figs, 
and pouring the balsamic vinegar.

An excellent appetizer!

The first recipe for balsamic vinegar in history...

The history of the Giusti family is intertwined with the most important moments in the history of Balsamic Vinegar. In 1863, on the occasion of the agrarian exhibition of Modena is a Giuseppe Giusti to set the first writings, after centuries of oral tradition, the golden rules to obtain a "perfect Balsamic Vinegar: selection of the grapes, the quality of the containers and the time," remained so to this day. It 's the first existing document that explains how to produce the balsamic vinegar, still known and cited as the "Recipe of Giusti."

source of photo:  la bottega golosa

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Veal scaloppini with porcini mushroom

There are many different types of porcini mushrooms. One of the most popular and sought after species is the Porcino d'Autunno or Autumn Porcino and is commonly referred to as the "King" in Italy and France. Porcini mushrooms are used in a variety of preparations, right from soups and salads to side and main course dishes.

In Italy, the mushroom is used to make porcini risotto, a traditional autumn dish. I like to use them for veal scaloppini with porcini mushroom.


300 gr. veal (thin slices)
a knob of butter
a glass of white wine
75 gr. chopped porcini mushrooms
flour as needed
salt to taste
a ladle of beef broth
2 teaspoons cooking cream 15%
chopped parsley

Take a small pan and melt a knob of butter, divide the meat slices in half and beat them to make them as thin as possible, flour on both sides, place them in the butter and cook on both sides for a few minutes (until browned) sprinkle with white wine, then add the chopped mushrooms and cook for a few minutes. At this point, add a ladle of pre-prepared traditional broth and salt, add the cream after a few seconds and when the sauce is unctuous, the veal scallops are ready to serve...

This dish is excellent with a Travaglini Giancarlo Gattinara, it is a perfect match with this rich and powerful veal dish, based from porcini mushrooms.

Like Barolo and Barbaresco, this wine is produced from the Nebbiolo grape, but it is classified as Gattinara based on the region where it is produced.  One of the things I like about this wine is that you can enjoy the characteristics of a Nebbiolo based wine at a more affordable price than most Barolo and Barbaresco although you can find some rather pricey Gattinara too.

Travaglini is one of the best known producers of Gattinara. He claims that the bottle shape serves a purpose, to hold the sediment in the bottle when the wine is poured. The nose of this wine is spicy and interesting, the palate is rich and well balanced. 

This is a great wine!