Monday, February 4, 2008

Italian Cooking

Whenever I think about Italian cooking, the first thing that comes into my mind is Olive oil then Pasta. These two could be said as synonyms with Italian cooking.

When it comes to Olive oil, there are many brands available in the supermarket offering prices of different ranges. But wouldn't it be nice to add Olive oil from Italy into your cooking. Thanks to the internet, such a desire is not too farfetched.

As I was browsing the net I came across a site that deals with Italian products such as olive oils, pastas, coffee, vinegars, sea salts and many more.

OliveNation is a site that allows you to connect with many of the small, traditional farmers in Italy who produce some of the country’s finest ingredients such as olive oil, coffee, pasta, vinegar and other pantry products.

You can shop online for ingredients such as Aged Balsamic Vinegar,Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Pasta, Coffee, Sea Salt, as well as Regional Cook Books.

Do your loved ones go nuts about using only the finest ingredients. Well for this Valentine, give her/him a unique gift. A gift certificate from OliveNation so that she can experience the finest ingredients in her cooking. ( You get to eat all that fine food too)

OliveNation has many mouth watering recipes using these great ingredients. Here are some of my favorites for you to try out.

Summer Pasta Salad

Serves 4-6
Prep: 10 min. Cook: 12 min.

1 lb rigatoni
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 oz. mozzarella cheese, in bite size pieces
4 oz. black olives
2 tbsp capers
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 medium salad tomatoes diced
8 basil leaves, torn

Cook the pasta in salted boiling water until al dente. Drain well and transfer to a large bowl. Toss vigorously with half the oil and set aside to cool. Add all the remaining ingredients. Toss well and chill in the refrigerator for 30 min. before serving.

Wine: a dry white

From the book Pasta by Fabrizio Ungaro. Published by The Wine Appreciation Guild. Pice ($12.95)

Sicilian Orange Salad

Serves 4
Prep: 7 min.

Serve as a starter

4 juicy oranges
salt and freshly ground black pepper
10 black olives, pitted and cut in half
1 small white onion, thinly sliced
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Peel the oranges, taking care to remove all the white pith. Slice thinly and place in a salad bowl. Sprinkle with a little salt, then add the olives and onion. Drizzle with the oil and season with a generous grinding of pepper.

Wine: a light, dry white.

From the book Olive Oil by Leonardo Romanelli and Gabriella Ganugi. Published by the Wine Appreciation Guild. Pice ($12.95)

Coffee Macaroons

Makes 3 doz.

¾ cup blanched almonds
2 tbsp light brown sugar
4 large egg whites, at room temp
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
1 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar
1 tbsp finely ground espresso, dissolved in 1 teaspoon boiling water
Icing (see recipe below)
Whole espresso beans

Preheat oven to 375 deg F. Combine the almonds and brown sugar in a food processor until completely ground. Using an electric mixer, fitted with a whip attachment, whip the egg whites and cream of tartar on low speed until frothy. Add the confectioner’s sugar. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue whipping until very stiff peaks form. Fold in the almond and sugar mixture. When almost completely incorporated, add the coffee and continue folding until mixed. The batter should be smooth and shiny.

Drop mixture by tablespoonfuls, about 1-inch wide and 1-inch apart, onto a lightly greased baking sheet or baking sheet lined with parchment. Bake 12 minutes or until just starting to brown. Transfer to wire racks. Cool.
Drizzle cookies with icing and top each with an espresso bean.

2 large egg whites
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted

Beat egg whites with vanilla extract using an electric mixer. Add the confectioner’s sugar and beat on low speed until combined and smooth. Use immediately or store in an airtight container.

Tomatoes, Rosemary and Onion Focaccia

Serves 6.
Prep: 15 min. Cook: 1 hr.

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil, additional for brushing
1 egg
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
6 sprigs of fresh dried rosemary, chopped lightly
1 Vidalia onion thinly sliced and separated into rings
2 plum tomatoes, sliced
2 tablespoons sea salt

In a large bowl, combine 1 cup of the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast.
Heat water and olive oil until warm. Add water mixture to ingredients and then add the egg. Blend with an electric mixer at low speed until moistened. Beat for 2 additional minutes. Gradually add 1-3/4 cups flour while beating, until dough pulls away from side of bowl. Knead in 3/4 cup flour on floured surface. Cover dough with a bowl, and let stand for about 5 minutes. Brush a baking sheet with olive oil. Press the dough out evenly onto the pan. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise for 20-30 minutes. Uncover dough, and press indentations with your fingers at 1 inch intervals. Brush dough lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with parmesan cheese and rosemary sprigs. Arrange onion rings and plum tomatoes evenly over the dough. Sprinkle with sea salt. Bake at 400ยบ F for 15 minutes, until golden brown.

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IludiumPhosdex said...

When it comes to "extra virgin" olive oil, a bit of caution should be used when buying same--unless the same is from France, where, by law, the appellation is restricted to such made from the first cold pressing of olives.

Simply Love 101 said...

Wow...your recipes are yummylicious! I might wanna try the coffee macaroons. Btw, I like your blog and the one on parenthood. I am thinking of linking one of yours to mine...would you be open to exchanging links? Let me know!


Rob said...

There are so many choices for Olive oil, and extremely high quality is not important if you are using it to fry. But if you want the best, there is an alternative, and it's Greek olive oil. These oils vary in quality and price, but even with the fires in Greece last summer it's still the case that your twenty dollar bill gives you a higher quality oil if it comes from Greece. And yes, I am Italian.