10 Cooking Tips Related To These Recipes
1. When buying Prosecco to make Peach Bellini cocktails, don’t worry about picking
the most expensive bottle available. The natural fruity sweetness from the peaches
and the simple syrup (if used) give this cocktail its distinctive taste. An average $10
– $15 bottle will work just fine.
2. When it comes to making minestrone, there are endless variations you can try. This
soup is traditionally made using whatever vegetables are locally available and in
season. Let your local farmers’ market or your own seasonal garden be your guide.
3. The key to making delicious soups is to “layer” the flavor. For example, if adding
bacon to your minestrone recipe, brown it in your stockpot or Dutch oven first, then
sauté the chopped vegetables such as garlic, onions, celery or carrots in some of the
pan drippings to impart extra flavor.
4. Never throw away the outer rind from fresh Parmesan cheese. Instead toss one into
your soup pot to add yet another flavor “layer” to your recipes. And, yes… freshly
grated Parmesan cheese is ALWAYS a better option than the stuff you find pre-
grated in the store.
5. Although it didn’t originate in northern Italy, ribollita is a very popular Italian dish
you can make with leftover minestrone soup. Simply brush some ciabatta or other
crusty bread with olive oil and toast in your oven until golden brown. (Set under
the broiler, but watch carefully so it doesn’t burn). Place the toasted, crusty bread in
a soup bowl and ladle warm minestrone over it. Top with fresh shaved Parmesan
cheese and enjoy!
6. When made correctly, gnocchi should be oh-so- light and melt-in- your-mouth
delicious. Unfortunately, the dough is easy to over-knead and the end result is tough,
dense, and chewy.
One trick to avoid this? Use a pastry scraper to combine your wet dough with flour
instead of your hands. Chopping and turning the dough with a metal blade – instead
of kneading it with your warm hands – won’t activate the gluten in the flour, which
is what makes the dumplings so tough and chewy.
7. Not sure what texture your gnocchi dough should be? Just squeeze your earlobe.
The dough should be soft and ‘giving’ to the touch, not overly thick and dense.
8. Can’t find official “polenta” in your grocery store (other than the premade packaged
rolls)? You can use regular cornmeal, but look for medium to coarse ground for the
9. The type of rice you use to make risotto is very important. While it may be tempting
to try whatever rice you have on hand – don’t. Common long-grain rice lacks the
proper starch content to yield the creamy results you’re after.
10. Most modern pesto recipes call for using a food processor to the blend the
ingredients. There is no question this method is much faster and easier than doing
all that chopping by hand.
However, when you finely chop the ingredients by hand, some natural variation in
particle size occurs. This creates a less homogenized and paste-like final product
that adheres to the nooks and crannies of pasta or gnocchi differently.
The result? More distinct flavors from one bite to the next. Give it a try sometime!