THE BASIC ART OF ITALIAN COOKING by Maria Liberati tm
September 2008, Volume 2, Issue 9
all contents copyright, 2008, Maria Liberati
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SEPTEMBER 2008 Volume 2, Issue 9
Quote of the Month
Menu of the Month
New Column: “The Italian Diet”
Q&A with Babette Pepaj
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
“Ideas are like pizza dough, made to be tossed around.”
Think about your favorite pizza. Is it just plain cheese or pepperoni or fully loaded with every topping? Pizza is one of America’s favorite foods. We all know it originated in Italy; however, it is much different than the kind we are used to.
In America we have two categories for pizza- thin New York style or thick Chicago style. In Italy pizza is more basic and one taste will have you craving this style forever. The most basic Italian pizza is Pizza Margherita, made with tomato, mozzarella, basil and oil.
Here are some tips for ordering traditional Italian pizza.
#1: Pizza is not just a snack- it’s a meal! In Italy pizzas are eaten with a knife and fork. This may look silly in America, but give it a try.
#2: In Italy, pizzas are not delivered to your home. Most people goto the pizzeria or make pizza at home
#3: Pizza in Italy should always be ordered as personal size. Each person should order their own specific pizza.
So there you have it! The perfect ways to enjoy Italian pizza in America
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Zucchini Torte Pie
2 lbs zucchini
4 medium eggs
1 big red onion
1 lb of fresh tomatoes
¼ cup grated Parmigiana-Reggiano cheese
1 clove of garlic
Fresh basil leaves (6 or 7)
2 vegetable broth cubes (the ones without monosodium glutamate are the best)
3 or 4 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
Wash and cut both ends of zucchini, then cut them into round thin slices; peel tomatoes1, take their seeds away (this is to achieve perfection; if you are in a hurry, don’t do it) and place everything into a large pan. Then add the chopped onion, the minced basil and garlic, oil and stock cubes. Cook for about 10-15 minutes on medium heat until the zucchini are soft and everything looks creamy (not watery).
Remove the pan from the stove, add the eggs and the grated Parmigiana-Reggiano cheese. Stir gently with a fork and pour everything into a round oven dish. Cover with bread crumbs and put it into the oven (not pre-heated). Bake for about 20 minutes at 200° C (392° Fahreneit).
When it is ready, cut it into slides like a cake and serve it either warm or cold.
This cake makes 4 servings if you consider it a complete meal; if you accompany it with a fresh salad or with some salty biscuits (or bread) and cheese, it can serve more people.
If you happen to buy zucchini together with their yellow flowers (see picture above; you can even buy them separate!) don’t throw them away. You can use them to prepare delicious fritters.
What you need first is to prepare the batter: put 2 tblsps grams of superfine flour and a little milk in a bowl; add one medium egg, a little bit of salt and a teaspoon of sugar; beat with a fork until it becomes smooth (it must be rather dense, not liquid, so adjust the quantity of flour accordingly). Remove pistils from flowers and divide flowers into two or three parts that you will dip into the batter. Do not wash the flowers: it will ruin both their taste and consistence. Fry for few minutes in very hot vegetable oil (corn oil or sunflower oil); dry on kitchen paper and serve them.
MENU OF THE MONTH
Here is a menu that pays homage to an Italian meal full of pizza. Be sure to look for the Menu of the Month recipes that will be emailed to you later this month!Menu of the month: Italian Pizza
Appetizer: Pizza Margherita
First Course: Torte di Zucchini
Second Course: Insalata Mista (mixed Salad)
All recipes can be found in The Basic Art of Italian Cooking™ or at www.marialiberati.com
All recipes are copyright 2005-2006 The Basic Art of Italian Cooking™, by Maria Liberati, Art of Living, PrimaMedia, Inc.
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NEW COLUMN: The Italian Diet
By Brittany Lavin
This month for our healthy Italian recipe we are taking a look at everyone’s favorite part of the meal- dessert!
In Italy dessert or dolci can be rich and decadent like tiramisu. However, most Italian desserts are relatively low in fat. These meringue cookies are low in fat and sugar and are the perfect end to any heavy meal.
Try this healthy Italian dessert recipe.
Almond Cinnamon Meringue Cookie Recipe
3 egg whites
¼ cup sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp almond extract
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp almonds, finely chopped
Let egg whites stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.
Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking sheets.
In a small bowl mix together the cinnamon and sugar and set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl combine egg whites, almond extract, and salt. Beat with a whisk or electric mixer until soft peaks form. When you lift the beater out of the whites the peak will curl.
Add the cinnamon-sugar mixture a tablespoon at a time. Beat the egg whites until the peaks stand up straight.
Gently fold in the chopped almonds.
Using a tablespoon, drop well-rounded spoonfuls of the meringue mixture onto the baking sheets, 1” apart.
Bake at 250F for 30 minutes. Turn off the oven and allow the cookies to dry in the closed oven for 40 minutes.
Remove the cookie sheets from the oven and gently peel the cookies off the cookie sheets and
Recipe from bellaonline.com
For more healthy Italian recipes check out Maria Liberati’s forthcoming book, The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: Healthy and Light™.
WHAT’S IN YOUR FRIDGE?
This month Maria Liberti interviewed Babette Pepaj-founder of BakeSpace.com
Maria Liberati *What is in your refrigerator now? What types of food do you like to keep on hand in your refrigerator?
Babette Pepaj*I like to graze, so I keep a lot of snacks on hand. I always have a carafe of cold coffee that I can sip throughout the day. A coffee tip: If you make a large pot of coffee and take it off the burner as soon as it’s done, it will stay fresh for quite a few days. Cool it completely before putting it in the fridge. I usually make 12 cups on Monday that last me for the week. It really helps me during the summer to kick into gear in the morning because I don’t have to wait for the coffee to brew.
My dad recently started growing tomatoes in his backyard, so I have a bunch of them in the produce drawer along with cucumbers from his garden. They definitely taste a lot better than store bought. Some staples I keep on hand are yogurt, dark chocolate, tonic water, watermelon, orange juice and the usual condiments.
To tell you the truth, I’ve been so busy with our upcoming re-launch of BakeSpace that I’ve let the fridge get a bit bare. But once the site re-launches, I’ll get back to cooking and baking daily. I miss spending time in the kitchen… although I don’t miss the dishes.
ML*What are your favorite foods?
BP*I love sweet tasting foods like chocolate, mango chutney, vanilla yogurt, cupcakes, lemon meringue and pecan pie. There is also a pasta that my grandmother used to make that I crave every time I’m in the mood for comfort food. It’s pasta, a can of stewed tomatoes and a quarter stick of butter – I didn’t say it was healthy – but it’s a taste that reminds me of growing up in Michigan. Every time I make it I instantly feel better. Whenever I go grocery shopping I pick up some pasta and a can of tomatoes to keep on hand for stressful days.
ML*Do you stick to a special eating regimen?
BP*As the founder of BakeSpace, I come across lots of great recipes. And having such a variety to choose from has introduced me to all sorts of new foods, food customs and flavors. The site’s format enables members to connect directly with the home cooks who post recipes, so I love asking questions about tasty looking recipes. Being able to connect with home chefs from around the world also comes in handy when you change eating habits. I recently switched to a vegetarian lifestyle, which has been a real challenge in terms of getting enough protein. Fortunately, I can always reach out to members and ask questions if I’m unsure about how to make recipe substitutions.
ML*What foods do you like to indulge in?
BP*I am completely addicted to cupcakes – large, small, giant! I have never met a cupcake I didn’t want to eat. I also have a strange fascination with macaroni and cheese. If it’s on the menu, it’s a good bet that I’ll order it. A lot of people don’t realize that there are quite a few different ways to make macaroni and cheese – and it’s possible to ruin even the most simple recipe.
ML*Is the kitchen an important part of your house?
BP*Definitely. Most of my favorite childhood memories occurred in the kitchen. To me the kitchen is where you go when you’re hungry not just for food, but also for great conversation with friends and family.
ML*Do you cook and/or enjoy cooking?
BP*I still have a long way to go before I become a really good cook. That said, I’ve been told that I’m a pretty good baker. There’s something about turning on my KitchenAid mixer and hearing batter mix or eggs whip. It relaxes me. I love baking cupcakes.
ML*Do you share your fridge with anyone?
BP*Yes, my better half (boyfriend) and my cats. I can always tell when my boyfriend has gone through the fridge… everything is opened. He blames the cats.
ML*Do you have a favorite recipe tou can share with our readers?
BP*There is one recipe I have mastered and it’s called Devil’s Food Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache, which I swear have made grown men cry tears of happiness. Here’s the recipe: http://www.bakespace.com/index.php?mode=listing&act=show&lst_id=6344
ML*Is there someone in particular who has influenced your cooking and/or eating habits, in what way?
BP*I would have to say my mother. She was the type of home cook who would go into a kitchen with nothing in the fridge and come out with a meal. Still to this day I have no idea how she would do it. Also my grandmother – she would stir her ice cream until it was really soft, which is something I think about every time I eat ice cream.
I think this question is really great – it’s exactly what makes BakeSpace popular. A lot of people these days grow up without very much kitchen training. We eat out so often that a lot of us don’t grow up learning how to cook. Because BakeSpace enables members to share and interact, we hear that it helps encourage young men and women to spend more time in the kitchen where they can discover or rediscover, the joy of cooking!
ML*In your dream dinner party who would you like to invite to your home for a dinner party? (can be someone dead or alive, in the past or present).
BP*That’s an interesting question. I spent 10 years directing and producing reality TV, so my first thought is “who would I want to see interact with each other.” Perhaps that means I spent too much time in TV.
I think I would like to have dinner with:
· Mick Jagger – he would be a riot.
· George Clooney – I have a secret crush on him.
· Martha Stewart – I bet she’s hilarious after a couple of glasses of wine, plus she’d bring dessert!
· JFK – I would like to ask him about how he feels being part of the first American “royal” family.
· Cary Grant – his elegance would brighten up any dinner table
· Frank Capra – I would like to ask him if he knew that “It’s a Wonderful Life” would become a holiday classic.
· Steve Jobs – while it would be interesting to meet Bill Gates, I think Steve would be more talkative at a dinner party. I would want to know what he does to prepare for a presentation and how he’s so relaxed.
ML*What would you serve or what would be on the menu?
BP*Moroccan food because it would be great to have an informal meal. Eating with your hands in a group is pretty intimate. Lots of wine on-hand, pillows and great music.
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