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The Beloved Italian Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese Is Going Kosher to Appeal to Americans

The Beloved Italian Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese Is Going Kosher to Appeal to Americans


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Italian companies are going through an intense rigmarole to become kosher certified in an attempt to increase exports to the US

Now everyone — even those who eat kosher — can ask for a little extra Parm on top of his or her spaghetti.

Parmigiano-Reggiano, the hard, crumbly cheese that has been an Italian mainstay for centuries, is going through some serious changes. According to Bloomberg, multiple Italian cheese companies near Parma are seeking kosher certification in order to increase their American export profits. The kosher market has boomed in recent years and is estimated to bring in about $12.5 billion annually.

“An entrepreneur who has vision must spot what’s missing [in the market],” Nicola Bertinelli, said during an interview at his cheese factory. Bertinelli premiered his kosher cheese in October, and will be presenting it at the World’s Fair Expo Milan.

Other Italian businesses that have gained kosher certification include Ferrero (producers of the beloved Nutella spread) and Italian coffee company Lavazza. But, despite appearances, the popularity of kosher food has little to do with religion. According to according to Lubicom Marketing & Consulting, only one-fifth of kosher food is purchased by those who follow Jewish laws.


Can Italy Still Make Things?

MILAN — It’s the day before Christmas. Renzo and Lucia are in their shiny new Alfa Romeo, on the way to their grandparents’ apartment in central Milan for the traditional Christmas Eve family dinner.

Everybody is smartly dressed. Grandma’s vintage red Valentino dress smells faintly of Acqua di Parma. Grandpa, resplendent in his Loro Piana cashmere sweater, is relaxing in a Poltrona Frau armchair. Aunt Stefania looks radiant in a black Gucci gown. And what a spread they’ve put on! Classic Buitoni rigatoni — what would Italians do without their pasta? — followed by salad dressed with Carapelli olive oil. To drink, a bottle of Chianti Gallo Nero. And of course some San Pellegrino mineral water.

After a taste of the traditional Italian Santa Lucia mozzarella, there’s the greatest of all Milanese classics: Motta panettone cake with Gancia spumante wine! Coffee, as usual, is served with Baci Perugina chocolates for everyone. And there’s a special surprise gift for Lucia — those Bulgari earrings she always wanted.

Christmas Eve doesn’t come more Italian than that! Does it matter that none of these products are Italian-owned anymore?

Alfa Romeo, founded in Milan in 1910, is now part of the Netherlands-based Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, or FCA. The Valentino fashion house has been sold to Qatar’s Mayhoola for Investments. Acqua di Parma, in business since 1916, now belongs to the French luxury group LVMH, as does Loro Piana. Poltrona Frau, established in Turin in 1912 by Renzo Frau, was sold last February to Haworth, an American furniture company. Guccio Gucci set up shop in Florence back in 1921, but today his company is part of the French Kering group. Pasta Buitoni, which has been going since 1827 and is named after its founder, Giovanni Battista Buitoni, is the property of the Swiss conglomerate Nestlé, which also owns San Pellegrino. And so on down the list.

Many more iconic Italian brands have been sold to foreign companies recently. Ducati, which has been making motorcycles since 1926, is now owned by Germany’s Audi. Peroni (beer, 1846), was bought by the South African beverage giant SABMiller in 2003. Pernigotti (chocolate, 1868) currently belongs to the Turkish Toksoz group. Fendi (fashion, 1925) went to the French luxury group LVMH in 1999.

Even many brands that don’t get much recognition outside the country are Italian no more — Plasmon, which has been providing Italian mothers with baby food since 1902, is now owned by Heinz Algida ice cream is part of the Anglo-Dutch Unilever group and Star, a pasta sauce found in almost every Italian kitchen for decades, is now owned by Spanish food group Gallina Blanca.

Globalization is hardly unique to Italy. And yet the gobbling up of so many of our beloved and time-tested consumer brands is noteworthy, and a bit unsettling. Part of it is, of course, Brand Italy itself: Foreigners have been quick to spot the potential of anything associated with Italy and market it around the world. Italy reminds people of life’s pleasant things — art, music, good food, great wine, chic design and an enviable lifestyle.

There’s a less obvious, but still clear, linguistic appeal as well. Many Italian words are stressed on the penultimate syllable, which gives them a reassuring rhythm. One of the reasons for the universal success of Italian-style frothy coffee is that people everywhere simply love to say “ca-poo-CHI-no.”

And if you want to set a soothing mood at the restaurant, skip the Gewürztraminer and order Brunello di Montalcino (remembering to pronounce it “Mon-tal-CHI-no”).

Many so-called Italian products are not even designed or made in Italy. America imports just $2 billion in Italian food goods a year, but “Italian-sounding” goods in the United States are worth $20 billion. And that’s just the food sector. Around the world, the figures are $54 billion, against $23 billion in exports.

Grana Padano and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese are the most imitated food types: Americans have Parmesan, Brazilians nibble Parmesão and Argentines chow down on Reggianito. The endlessly negotiated Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which aspires to create a free-trade zone between Europe and North America, is going to have to deal with this, one way or another.

Of course, plenty of Italian companies realize the potential of the Italy brand and have become household names abroad without selling out to larger groups: Think Prada, Armani, Campari, Barilla, Ferrero Nutella, Pirelli and Jacuzzi.

One newcomer is the Verona-based company Giovanni Rana, whose fresh pasta business is growing at 20 percent a year, with most of its sales abroad, and 18 percent of its sales in the United States, where it just clinched a deal with Walmart. Last year in New York, the company opened a store called Pastificio and Cucina, where customers can buy fresh pasta to go or eat on the spot.

There’s a telling detail about Rana’s American expansion that might explain a lot about the migration of Italian brands, and their manufacturing, overseas. Rana’s new plant in Illinois was fully operational in seven months. Thanks to dense regulations and slow contractors, expanding the original factory in Verona took seven years. Could that be the reason so many Italian brands seem to prefer living abroad?

Beppe Severgnini, a contributing opinion writer, is a columnist at Corriere della Sera and the author of “La Bella Figura: A Field Guide to the Italian Mind.”


Pandemic Challenges U.S. Lifeline To Authentic Italian Foods

Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese named after the producing areas near Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, and … [+] Bologna (all in Emilia-Romagna), and Mantova (in Lombardia), Italy.

The COVID-19 pandemic threatens to fray America’s love affair with authentic Italian foods. 

Current travel restrictions have made it virtually impossible to savor the tastes of Italian foods and wines at their source. Many Italian restaurants in the U.S.𠅋oth upscale and casual—that typically serve these products have shuttered their doors or been forced to limit seating capacities. 

Even home cooks have encountered problems procuring coveted ingredients. In April, reports emerged of a pasta shortage fueled by increased demand as consumers ramped up their pandemic pantries.

The Italy-America Chamber of Commerce West (IACCW) is a consortium of individuals and companies whose goal is to promote bilateral trade between Italy and the U.S., including foods and wines The non-profit organization, part of a network of 81 Chambers operating in 55 countries, sponsors networking and educational events to support industry professionals, entrepreneurs and the public. 

Forbes.com spoke to Genny Nevoso, the Executive Director of IACCW, to find out how the pandemic is affecting the Italian food and wine industry, and its ripple effect on American consumers.

Genny Nevoso, Executive Director IACCW

How has Italy garnered its reputation as an epicenter of food tourism?

Genny Nevoso: I had the good fortune of being born in Italy. Although a tiny country, Italy is a small geographic miracle, the only peninsula in the world spreading north through south at a perfect latitude, and surrounded by seas, which contribute to the incredible microclimates and biodiversity. 

Food tourism has become popular because the country’s unique cultural and culinary history are woven into one, an enduring appeal for visitors. The diversity of geographic regions offers different food products and recipes on fertile lands that grow more than a thousand different grape varieties�h with their own personalities and stories to tell. 

When someone travels to Italy to explore a specific region, they can expect to see how these foods are harvested and the products are made. They can better understand the land, soil and animals, and witness the hundreds of thousands of years of protocol, history and traditions.

For instance, Calabria’s best-known wine is a DOC wine called Cirò, which was once offered as a toast to the gods by the Olympic champions of ancient Greece. It’s still being produced today, and you can connect to that kind of history in every authentic bottle you find. Calabria, as well as other southern regions like Puglia, Sardinia, and Sicily have become increasingly popular destinations for food and wine lovers. 

With travel restricted, how can food tourists bring a little bit of Italy into their homes during the pandemic? 

GN: While Americans can’t travel to Italy at this moment, distance often makes the heart grow fonder. They can still savor the tastes of authentic Italian products at home, available from many specialty food purveyors and at restaurants closer to home. 

Each of these products carry a bit of the land, history and tradition with them. Think Modena’s Balsamic vinegar, Campania’s Mozzarella di Bufala and San Marzano tomatoes, products that tell the story of a destination and an entire landscape.

How has the burden of recently imposed U.S. tariffs affected Italian food imports and costs?

The Prosecco Hills in Conegliano/Veneto

GN: The tariffs slapped on by the U.S. administration last fall hit many beloved Italian products with an additional 25% which came into force in October 2019 and are still in effect. They have already affected Italian specialties such as Parmigiano Reggiano PDO, Grana Padano PDO, Gorgonzola PDO, Asiago PDO, Fontina PDO, and Provolone Valpadana PDO but also salami, mortadella, crustaceans, citrus, shellfish, juices and liqueurs. 

Fortunately, Italy was mostly spared on the latest round of tariffs announced in August 2020)—no additional duties will be applied to its pastas, wines, and olive oils. 

Many of our Chamber members, both restaurateurs and importers, have urged the administration to remove the tariffs, adding that these products are irreplaceable by domestic ones. And that is the truth. To deliver authentic Italian cuisine, fine-dining or casual, there is a crucial need for specific products, particularly those we call PDO (of protected denomination of origin) for foods and DOC/DOCG for wines. 

Also, the impact of these tariffs makes it impossible for small producers to survive and make a living. We are running out of qualified manufacturers in Italy because the younger generation is walking away from time-honoured family businesses due to these challenges, the lack of demand for the product and general lack of interest. Those that inherit the companies are not incentivized to carry them on, and this is resulting in a serious shortage. 

For instance, the best and most expensive Modena balsamic takes 25 years to age. Families produce a barrel as soon as they have a baby because their future and wealth depend on it. We will see regional and honest vinegar disappear if we don’t change now. We cannot allow counterfeit or imitation products to continue to find their way into the market to replace the true, PDO and DOC products in this way. The more demand we can sustain, the more value the new generation sees in the business, and they will be encouraged to modernize their family’s brands. Otherwise, these products will be near extinction, and soon. 

What has been the effect of pandemic-related restaurant closures, reduced seating capacities and drastic drops in tourism on the availability of Italian food products in the U.S.?

GN: Restaurants play a major role in importing and serving Italian food and beverage products, as well as in educating consumers. With the multiple threats to the industry of higher tariffs, greater shipping costs, growing numbers of restaurant closures, and pandemic guidelines limiting restaurant capacity, it is becoming increasingly more complicated to experience Italian food authenticity. 

Imitation products, those we call “Italian sounding” products, run rampant. The widespread imitation of Italian products is tremendously severe: Italian sounding products account for 100 billion Euro vs 42 billion Euro, which is the value of authentic Italian food production. 

Over the past decade, the number of imitation products has grown by 70% and has Italian producers extremely worried. Italy boasts the highest number of products (794) protected by EU food labels, which guarantees their authenticity. Labeling something as “Italian” has become a byword for quality, making it more profitable for “Italian sounding” producers to make money from the strength of the “Made in Italy” label. 

Many American-based chefs advocate for true Italian ingredients on their plates, taking pride in the far-flung ingredients they research and source. And then, quite frankly, there are others in the industry who just don’t get it. They are trapped in cost concerns that cause them to serve inauthentic versions that they portray as Italian-style and give them a platform. This has the adverse effect of mutating consumers’ experiences of authentic Italian fare.

By the way, how are restaurants in Italy faring? Will they be there when we return?

Spritz cocktail aperitivos

GN: A recent decree by the Italian government invokes a wide range of urgent measures to support and revive the country’s economy. Approved in August 2020, it provides several million Euros of direct support to aid the recovery of the restaurant industry. Specifically, restaurants and catering companies that recorded an income drop of 25% between March and June 2020 (compared to the same period last year) are entitled to Euro 2,500 to purchase ingredients (food and wine products) that must be made in Italy. This initiative is aimed at helping both restaurants, and food and wine producers recover.

How can Americans best identify and find authentic Italian products to bring in their kitchens now? 

Symbols of authentic Italian products

GN: Italy is the country with the highest number of PDO (Protected Denomination of Origin) and PGI products (Protected Geographical Indication) products recognized by the European Union, totaling 573, which include 167 food products and 406 wines. These can be recognized by the round, sun-like red and yellow symbol.

Our IGP products currently total 249 (131 food products and 118 wines). They can be recognized by the blue and yellow symbol.  

The EU Geographical Indications system helps producers and the local economies. It prioritizes environmental protection thus safeguarding the ecosystems and biodiversity of that specific land. It also supports social integration within the community. Lastly, these certifications offer consumers a higher level of traceability and quality standards.

Through the True Italian Taste campaign – funded by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and coordinated by Assocamerestero – IACCW has been producing events and educational activities aimed to help media, buyers, and consumers recognize authentic Italian food & beverage products. 

A few tips: always look for the PDO or PGI symbols make sure the package states it is a “Product of Italy.” Don’t be fooled by the Italian sounding brand names and the Italian flag symbols on packages. 

Note: This conversation has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.


Pandemic Challenges U.S. Lifeline To Authentic Italian Foods

Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese named after the producing areas near Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, and . [+] Bologna (all in Emilia-Romagna), and Mantova (in Lombardia), Italy.

The COVID-19 pandemic threatens to fray America’s love affair with authentic Italian foods.

Current travel restrictions have made it virtually impossible to savor the tastes of Italian foods and wines at their source. Many Italian restaurants in the U.S.—both upscale and casual—that typically serve these products have shuttered their doors or been forced to limit seating capacities.

Even home cooks have encountered problems procuring coveted ingredients. In April, reports emerged of a pasta shortage fueled by increased demand as consumers ramped up their pandemic pantries.

The Italy-America Chamber of Commerce West (IACCW) is a consortium of individuals and companies whose goal is to promote bilateral trade between Italy and the U.S., including foods and wines The non-profit organization, part of a network of 81 Chambers operating in 55 countries, sponsors networking and educational events to support industry professionals, entrepreneurs and the public.

Forbes.com spoke to Genny Nevoso, the Executive Director of IACCW, to find out how the pandemic is affecting the Italian food and wine industry, and its ripple effect on American consumers.

Genny Nevoso, Executive Director IACCW

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How has Italy garnered its reputation as an epicenter of food tourism?

Genny Nevoso: I had the good fortune of being born in Italy. Although a tiny country, Italy is a small geographic miracle, the only peninsula in the world spreading north through south at a perfect latitude, and surrounded by seas, which contribute to the incredible microclimates and biodiversity.

Food tourism has become popular because the country’s unique cultural and culinary history are woven into one, an enduring appeal for visitors. The diversity of geographic regions offers different food products and recipes on fertile lands that grow more than a thousand different grape varieties—each with their own personalities and stories to tell.

When someone travels to Italy to explore a specific region, they can expect to see how these foods are harvested and the products are made. They can better understand the land, soil and animals, and witness the hundreds of thousands of years of protocol, history and traditions.

For instance, Calabria's best-known wine is a DOC wine called Cirò, which was once offered as a toast to the gods by the Olympic champions of ancient Greece. It’s still being produced today, and you can connect to that kind of history in every authentic bottle you find. Calabria, as well as other southern regions like Puglia, Sardinia, and Sicily have become increasingly popular destinations for food and wine lovers.

With travel restricted, how can food tourists bring a little bit of Italy into their homes during the pandemic?

GN: While Americans can’t travel to Italy at this moment, distance often makes the heart grow fonder. They can still savor the tastes of authentic Italian products at home, available from many specialty food purveyors and at restaurants closer to home.

Each of these products carry a bit of the land, history and tradition with them. Think Modena’s Balsamic vinegar, Campania’s Mozzarella di Bufala and San Marzano tomatoes, products that tell the story of a destination and an entire landscape.

How has the burden of recently imposed U.S. tariffs affected Italian food imports and costs?

The Prosecco Hills in Conegliano/Veneto

GN: The tariffs slapped on by the U.S. administration last fall hit many beloved Italian products with an additional 25% which came into force in October 2019 and are still in effect. They have already affected Italian specialties such as Parmigiano Reggiano PDO, Grana Padano PDO, Gorgonzola PDO, Asiago PDO, Fontina PDO, and Provolone Valpadana PDO but also salami, mortadella, crustaceans, citrus, shellfish, juices and liqueurs.

Fortunately, Italy was mostly spared on the latest round of tariffs announced in August 2020)—no additional duties will be applied to its pastas, wines, and olive oils.

Many of our Chamber members, both restaurateurs and importers, have urged the administration to remove the tariffs, adding that these products are irreplaceable by domestic ones. And that is the truth. To deliver authentic Italian cuisine, fine-dining or casual, there is a crucial need for specific products, particularly those we call PDO (of protected denomination of origin) for foods and DOC/DOCG for wines.

Also, the impact of these tariffs makes it impossible for small producers to survive and make a living. We are running out of qualified manufacturers in Italy because the younger generation is walking away from time-honoured family businesses due to these challenges, the lack of demand for the product and general lack of interest. Those that inherit the companies are not incentivized to carry them on, and this is resulting in a serious shortage.

For instance, the best and most expensive Modena balsamic takes 25 years to age. Families produce a barrel as soon as they have a baby because their future and wealth depend on it. We will see regional and honest vinegar disappear if we don’t change now. We cannot allow counterfeit or imitation products to continue to find their way into the market to replace the true, PDO and DOC products in this way. The more demand we can sustain, the more value the new generation sees in the business, and they will be encouraged to modernize their family’s brands. Otherwise, these products will be near extinction, and soon.

What has been the effect of pandemic-related restaurant closures, reduced seating capacities and drastic drops in tourism on the availability of Italian food products in the U.S.?

GN: Restaurants play a major role in importing and serving Italian food and beverage products, as well as in educating consumers. With the multiple threats to the industry of higher tariffs, greater shipping costs, growing numbers of restaurant closures, and pandemic guidelines limiting restaurant capacity, it is becoming increasingly more complicated to experience Italian food authenticity.

Imitation products, those we call "Italian sounding" products, run rampant. The widespread imitation of Italian products is tremendously severe: Italian sounding products account for 100 billion Euro vs 42 billion Euro, which is the value of authentic Italian food production.

Over the past decade, the number of imitation products has grown by 70% and has Italian producers extremely worried. Italy boasts the highest number of products (794) protected by EU food labels, which guarantees their authenticity. Labeling something as “Italian” has become a byword for quality, making it more profitable for “Italian sounding” producers to make money from the strength of the "Made in Italy" label.

Many American-based chefs advocate for true Italian ingredients on their plates, taking pride in the far-flung ingredients they research and source. And then, quite frankly, there are others in the industry who just don’t get it. They are trapped in cost concerns that cause them to serve inauthentic versions that they portray as Italian-style and give them a platform. This has the adverse effect of mutating consumers’ experiences of authentic Italian fare.

By the way, how are restaurants in Italy faring? Will they be there when we return?

Spritz cocktail aperitivos

GN: A recent decree by the Italian government invokes a wide range of urgent measures to support and revive the country’s economy. Approved in August 2020, it provides several million Euros of direct support to aid the recovery of the restaurant industry. Specifically, restaurants and catering companies that recorded an income drop of 25% between March and June 2020 (compared to the same period last year) are entitled to Euro 2,500 to purchase ingredients (food and wine products) that must be made in Italy. This initiative is aimed at helping both restaurants, and food and wine producers recover.

How can Americans best identify and find authentic Italian products to bring in their kitchens now?

Symbols of authentic Italian products

GN: Italy is the country with the highest number of PDO (Protected Denomination of Origin) and PGI products (Protected Geographical Indication) products recognized by the European Union, totaling 573, which include 167 food products and 406 wines. These can be recognized by the round, sun-like red and yellow symbol.

Our IGP products currently total 249 (131 food products and 118 wines). They can be recognized by the blue and yellow symbol.

The EU Geographical Indications system helps producers and the local economies. It prioritizes environmental protection thus safeguarding the ecosystems and biodiversity of that specific land. It also supports social integration within the community. Lastly, these certifications offer consumers a higher level of traceability and quality standards.

Through the True Italian Taste campaign – funded by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and coordinated by Assocamerestero – IACCW has been producing events and educational activities aimed to help media, buyers, and consumers recognize authentic Italian food & beverage products.

A few tips: always look for the PDO or PGI symbols make sure the package states it is a “Product of Italy.” Don’t be fooled by the Italian sounding brand names and the Italian flag symbols on packages.

Note: This conversation has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.


Gnocchi: Its Pillow Talk!

PILLOW TALK – THE ART OF MAKING GNOCCHI!

Finished Gnocchi – ready to cook or store

Let’s make GNOCCHI – Step by Step!

Gnocchi – my favorite thing! Exactly how many “favorite” things will you catch me claiming? Careful… when it comes to Italian food my list is just out of control! Making Gnocchi at home is such a rewarding experience for fun in the kitchen, as well as, sheer bliss on a plate that I look for any opportunity to create those tasty little “pillow-like” nuggets.

What is Gnocchiexactly? Gnocchi can be made of many different things but most often potatoes. They are thought to have originated in the Middle East, but Italy definitely put them on the map! Many countries offer a dumpling-like dish that is similar but usually do not include eggs in their recipes.

When I was growing up, very few people outside of Italians knew about or spoke about Gnocchi. Now they are common on most good Italian menus. In Rome, they are traditionally served on Thursday nights. In areas of South America which have a strong Italian influence, such as Argentina, they serve them on the 29th of the month. It is said that if this practice is followed, one is assured of having enough cash for the rest of the month. I have nothing to add in the way of personal experience in that regard! However, in our home, Gnocchiwas not reserved for holidays or special times. It was a regular Tuesday night kind of dish. My mother would make them quickly and with little fuss – many times with a simple sauce of fresh tomatoes and basil.

The word Gnocchi means lump or knot or sometimes referred to as “little pillows”. It is one of the most mispronounced Italian words I think I have ever encountered. In Italian, the letters gn appearing together is pronounced as if they were nywith the y treated as a consonant.Thus, the pronunciation “ny-okey”.

The style and appearance of Gnocchi differs in Italian kitchens depending upon region and preference. Some are ridged like little shells. Others look somewhat like Cavatelli pasta with a slight roll to them causing a pocket which always holds just a tiny bit of extra saucy goodness. Some cooks leave them as the simple pillow shape that is created when they are cut and prefer not to include the last step of rolling or ridging them. In our home, my mother, Loretta, did not ridge them. She simply and quickly rolled them with seemingly lightening speed in flour with her 2 fingers, creating the famous “pocket” which collect the sauce. Pow, pow, pow – they would fly as if on a cushion of air and always “knew” to land in the growing hill of Gnocchirapidly mounting on the other side of the small table. Personally, I have adopted the ridged look for the Gnocchi I make in my kitchen. I think the ridges add just a little extra interest and texture when eating them.

When prepared well, Gnocchi are light and rich – to the point of being almost addictive. You should be able to bite through them softly not like a piece of cheese that needs extra chewing – and not like hockey pucks from the addition of too much flour. Loretta used to instruct that the Gnocchi should not hit the stomach like “lead bombs” while at the same time, should not be mushy and pasty like mashed potatoes. Little bits of heaven, Gnocchishould approach the tongue as soft, light puffs that seem to marry with any sauce to which you introduce them. In Firenze, they were called “strozzapreti” or priest stranglers – maybe because they could not stop eating them or ate them to quickly. Are they that good? Yes indeed they are! Let’s get to it!

5 Large Potatoes – skins on (IMPORTANT: use a starchy potato like russet or baking)

Boil in salted water about 30 minutes til tender (longer if potatoes are larger)

Remove potatoes from water and peel the skins off while hot. Using a fork helps. Also, I sometimes like to use surgical gloves to keep from burning my hands. (OUCH! This is why I often refer to Gnocchi Makingas the “Agony and the Ecstasy” – just a little pain to achieve a magnificent result.)

Put hot peeled potatoes through a ricer and set aside.

Mix flour and salt together.

Mix 1/2 of flour/salt mixture with riced potatoes.

Mix slightly and add rest of flour and mix together.

Knead just until you have a smooth dough. Add flour if needed in scant tablespoons. Do not over work your dough, as this will toughen it and make your Gnocchi heavier. Do all of this while potatoes are hot so that dough will still be warm when finished.

Divide your dough into quarters.

Roll each quarter into a rope and cut in 1 inch pieces.

Some like to call it “a day “ at this point and accept the Gnocchi as pillow shaped. I much prefer the extra step of taking each little pillow and rolling it on the back of a floured fork. This makes the famous little ridges and the little “pocket”.

When finished, you can throw them immediately into boiling water, waiting for them to surface, and then cooking for 2 more minutes. Drain – Add your sauce and serve.

TO FREEZE: lay the Gnocchi in a single layer on a pan and freeze. When frozen, drop them into freezer bags for later use. Do not defrost to cook – just drop directly into boiling water from the freezer.

**NEXT WEEK ON MY ITALIAN DISH – my favorite sauce for Gnocchi based on an old Tuscan tradition.

**Also: Coming in November to RECIPE OF THE MONTH on LINDA’S ITALIAN TABLE – another great sauce recipe for GNOCCHI!



PIZZA — THAT’S AMORE!!

Buon Giorno!

Looking for that great new Pizza Recipe?Perhaps Pizza Dough?

When it comes to PIZZA, the feeling of most aficionados is best described by Dean Martin in his infamous song. Indeed – That’s Amore!

Italians, Americans, – let’s face it – the whole world is in love with PIZZA!!The international favorite! This is the Italian standard that everyone can relate to on some level. This is the Italian dish that probably started as mere sustenance and became a craze worldwide. There is probably not a city of stature in the world without a pizza joint – New York’s Little Italy, in my opinion, being the best of the best in the USA in that arena.

To illustrate, here is my husband, Tom, enjoying a slice in the heart of this famous arena of Italian food. Street food is king in Little Italy, and there it nothing quite like it anywhere.

Da ting back to ancient times, many existing cultures served pizza in some form and prepared it with the hot stone method that has returned to us in our modern times. Traditional pizza, as we know it today, using the tomato, which was previously believed to be toxic in earlier centuries, had its origins in Naples, Italy, native land of my father, Attilio. (He would tell you that most good “eats” got their start in Napoli!) Pizza, thought to have originally evolved as a staple among the poorer classes, would fall into the category of what my mother, Loretta, called “peasant food” – food simply prepared, with simple ingredients, and enjoyed without thought to class and rank. (Read more about Attilio and Loretta at Linda’s Italian Table click here ) Pizza has evolved into many forms today from the sweet and fruity to the savory and spicy and sometimes to the very unlikely in terms of toppings.

I remember pizza growing up as the “Saturday Night Special”. My parents would either make their own dough or short-cut it by procuring it from the reliable Dirienzo Brothers Bakery in my hometown, Binghamton, New York. The preparation for their dough was very simple: flour, yeast, salt, water with 2 rounds of rising. After the second rise they rolled out the dough on their tiny round kitchen table. I loved to be around for this. It was truly a family affair with everyone gathering around to watch and throw in his or her preference as to what should be included in the toppings– and then the agonizing wait for the finished product. Do you have a pizza story? I would wager there are many.

Pizza is not just the “Saturday Night Special” anymore, making its way into even the most sophisticated of cocktail menus. It happens to be one of my favorite cocktail appetizers when cut in little squares with endless imaginative toppings from mushrooms to salmon and caviar. Pizza, as an appetizer, is a great accompaniment to drinks, especially the MARTINI served “Dry as dust” as Nora Roberts wrote in “Morrigan’s Cross”, and in particular – my personal choice, Tom’s Bada Bing Bada Boom! Click here for recipe

I thought it might be fun to discuss a more unusual version of pizza and mix it up a little. Today we’ll explore PIZZA WITH ARUGULA, SAUSAGE, SUN DRIED TOMATOES, AND GOAT CHEESE– red, white, and green for the Italian flag!!

I can’t say Arugula without smiling and thinking of Steve Martin in “My Blue Heaven” where he speaks of “A-ROO-gula” and pronounces it a “veg-et-a-ble”! Nutritionally speaking, Arugula is a source of protein, thiamin, riboflavin, Vitamin B6, minerals and a good source of dietary fiber.

This delicious pizza is kind of a take-off on the tradtional dish, “Pasta with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe”, found on many Italian restaurant menus. Here we substitute the light, tender, and peppery Arugula for the bitter Broccoli Rabe (the rabe is an acquired taste I have found).

And now we begin either by purchasing a perfectly fine dough at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods or another of your favorite places — OR MAKING YOUR OWN!

PIZZA DOUGH

(courtesy of Mama Loretta with a slight twist from me!)

Makes 4 loaves of pizza dough for a thinner crust – 1 to use – 3 to freeze! (Makes 2 loaves if you like a thicker crust.) There is nothing like craving pizza and being able to go right to your freezer for a loaf of dough just waiting for you!

Each loaf will also make 2 individual “pizzettes”.

7 cups Flour (Loretta used all purpose flour and it is just fine!)

1 envelope dry yeast dissolved in 1/2 c. lukewarm water

Put flour, sugar, and salt in large bowl. Make well in center. Add yeast/water mixture, then, the hot water & oil.

Mix with hands until dough pulls together to form a lovely ball of dough.(You can also use a food processor or dough hook – but I love getting my hands in it like Loretta did!) Knead and rub a couple of drops of oil over ball. Let rise in a bowl rubbed with a few drops of oil for 2 hours in a warm place. Mom used to put a towel over the bowl and put it in the oven – not heated.

After the first rise, it’s “aggression time”. Punch that sucker (aka ball of dough!) down like it was your worst enemy and give it a quick knead. Ahhh – stress reliever!

Now place the dough back in the bowl to let rise one more time for about another hour. Then divide to form 4 balls (loaves) and chill to use or freeze for later.

When ready, roll out or stretch your dough on a floured surface to your desired shape and thickness – round if using a stone. Use your fingertips to assist in shaping. Lift it, turn it, shape it.

I like to use the pizza stone method which I think provides a crispier crust. I discuss this here.

Preheat the stone at 450” for about 15 minutes until crust is crisp and golden or a little longer depending upon your oven. Note – some like to bake their pizzas at 500 or 550. This is fine – but your cook time will be shorter.

When you are ready to add the pizza to the stone – sprinkle the stone with some cornmeal to keep the pizza from sticking.

I use a peel to slide the pizza onto the stone which also has cornmeal on it under the raw pizza. I use the peel again to remove the cooked pizza from the stone.

Caution: Do not prepare your pizza and leave it sitting on the peel, or anywhere for that matter, to cook later. Your crust may become soggy. Always rub the dough with a little olive oil before topping, as this will help to seal your crust and inhibit any sogginess. Then add your toppings and pop the pizza into the oven immediately.

PIZZA WITH ARUGULA, SAUSAGE, SUN DRIED TOMATOES AND GOAT CHEESE

(aka: Not Your Mother’s Pizza)

1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (depending on your palate)

2 links Italian sausage (I like to use 1 mild and 1 hot) each link about 5 inches

8 Sun Dried Tomatoes packed in oil and sliced in strips

1 c. grated Fresh mozzarella (fresh a must – buffalo all the better)

While preheating the stone, heat the garlic cloves in the oil til golden and add the arugula, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Gently toss until arugula is just wilted (just a couple of minutes) and covered in the flavorful oil. Remove garlic cloves.

Remove the sausage from the casings in small pieces about an inch wide and saute in a tbsp of olive oil til just browned. Discard the casings, reserve the sausage, as in “leave the gun, take the cannoli”.

Put about a tablespoon of olive oil on your rolled dough and spread around with your fingers. Add the grated mozzarella by sprinkling around the dough. Distribute the arugula next and follow with the sausage pieces, sun dried tomatoes, and goat cheese broken into small bits. A sprinkle of good Parmigiano-Reggiano is always a nice finish.

Bake in 450 oven for about 15 minutes or until bottom is crispy and golden.

Serves about 4 depending upon the appetite.

I suggest serving this with a St. Bernardus ABT12 Belgian Abbey Ale – a strong full bodied, flavorful Belgian ale which stands up well to the strong flavors in the pizza – Not Italian – but good anyway! Of course, a fine Chianti is always a good pick.

PARLA COME MANGI!

Reminder: Be sure to visit my website, Linda’s Italian Table , for the new Recipe Of The Month!


How to make this recipe

In a medium bowl, whisk the 00 flour and the 1/2 cup of semolina flour with the salt. In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the olive oil and 1/4 cup of water. Mound the flour mixture on a work surface and make a well in the center. Add the beaten yolks to the well and gradually incorporate the flour with a fork, starting with the inner rim of the well and working your way out until all of the flour is incorporated and a soft dough forms. Knead the dough until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Cut the dough into 8 equal pieces and cover with a kitchen towel. Lightly dust 1 piece of dough with semolina flour and flatten slightly. Run the dough twice through a pasta machine at the widest setting. Run the dough twice through successively narrower settings until it is 1/8 to 1/16 inch thick and 14 to 16 inches long. Lay the pasta sheet on a semolina-dusted baking sheet and generously dust with more semolina. Repeat with the remaining 7 pieces of dough. Keep the pasta sheets covered with a damp kitchen towel.

In a food processor, pulse the almonds with the garlic and olive oil until smooth. Add the basil and pulse until finely chopped. Add the Parmesan, the 1 1/4 cups of pecorino and the mascarpone and pulse until smooth. Season the pesto with salt and scrape into a large bowl.

In a food processor, pulse the tomatoes with their juices until almost smooth. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until fragrant, 1 minute. Add the pureed tomatoes and the sugar, season with salt and bring to a simmer. Cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 30 minutes keep warm.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450°. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. In a very large pot of salted boiling water, cook 2 pasta sheets until al dente, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, lift out the pasta sheets and let them drain slightly, then turn gently in the pesto to coat. Lay one of the pasta sheets on a prepared baking sheet and dollop 1/4 cup of the ricotta near one end. Fold one-third of the pasta sheet over the ricotta, then fold the rest of the sheet over onto itself. Repeat to fill the second pesto-coated sheet, then repeat the entire process with the remaining pasta sheets, pesto and ricotta. Cover the folded handkerchief pasta with foil and bake for 10 minutes, until hot throughout.

Spoon the marinara sauce into shallow bowls. Top with the stuffed pasta handkerchiefs, garnish with pecorino and serve.


Love, bolognese style: Patience key to perfect sauce

La Trattoria chef-owner Carlo Molinaro said it best: Italian cuisine is the art of eating well.

While traveling through Italy, in fact, I did nothing but eat well, and guiltily. Instead of sampling varied dishes, I just kept ordering my favorite &mdash pasta with ragu alla bolognese.

The seed was planted decades ago as I followed my first cookbook recipe &mdash Betty Crocker's, to be exact &mdash for spaghetti with meat sauce. I cooked it countless times, tweaking the recipe as the years flew by.

I adored the lipstick-red sauciness of the long-simmering ragu. Draped generously over spaghetti, it seduced me not one plateful but often three at one sitting. To me, it was the perfect Italian meal.

After college, though, I realized that what I thought was authentic Italian cooking actually was an American derivative of northern Italy's ragu alla bolognese. At a trattoria in Rome a decade ago, I ordered spaghetti bolognese. The proprietress bent down to whisper that the sauce is traditionally served in Bologna with ribbonlike, fresh egg pastas, such as tagliatelle, fettucine or pappardelle.

A durum-wheat pasta from Naples, spaghetti was better suited for tomatoey Neopolitan ragu, flavored with whole pork chops, beef ribs, Italian sausages and meatballs, rather than Bologna's sauce with ground meats (usually beef or combinations of beef, veal and pork). But these days, few Italians will raise their eyebrows if you serve bolognese on spaghetti, penne or tortellini.

They still frown, however, at Americans' tendency to drown pasta in too much sauce. Italians lightly coat the noodles with a fine sheath.

After this trip, I came to appreciate less sauce and more pasta. I also launched my search for the perfect bolognese sauce. Over time, I realized there isn't a single ideal one but many. Each person has his favorite. Some perfume their sauces with thyme, oregano and basil others, like Molinaro, prefer cloves and bay leaves.

His recipe, he said, comes from the chefs he has worked with in northern Italy. It takes about four hours to prepare and simmer the result is a sauce with incredible depth, reminiscent of caramelized roasted tomatoes fragrant with ripe, citrusy, smoky notes. For such a complex-tasting sauce, the recipe isn't at all complicated. It just requires patience.

Molinaro uses sugar to round out the acidity in the tomatoes. Other cooks, he said, use milk or cream. For my "quick" bolognese recipe, which takes an hour to prepare, I used sugar and milk.

The key to good bolognese is lengthy simmering, usually a minimum of two hours and as long as six. This not only nurses the flavors of the vegetables and meats but rounds the acidic edge and marries the flavors to create a symphony rather than a solo.

No problem on weekends, but for weeknights I needed something less time-consuming. Borrowing an avid cook's technique for quick marinara, I rapidly concentrated flavors by cooking over high heat, rather than low. Instead of a deep sauce pot, I used a braising pan, which provided more surface area to reduce and caramelize tomatoes and vegetables. I further enriched the sauce by throwing in finely chopped mushrooms for a meaty earthiness.

In 1982, the Accademia Italiana Della Cucina declared that authentic bolognese sauce should have onions, carrots, celery, tomato paste, beef, pancetta, meat broth and red wine. Milk and cream are optional. However, I've sampled wonderful recipes in Italy containing pork, veal, chicken liver, porcini mushrooms, white wine and cinnamon.

Some are saucy, whereas others use just tomato paste. I learned, too, that ragu alla bolognese is extremely versatile. In addition to tossing it with pasta, you can use leftovers in an easy lasagna with béchamel sauce.

"It's such an important sauce in Italy," Molinaro said. "If you mess it up, you go back to washing dishes."

CLASSIC SPAGHETTI BOLOGNESE

Chronicle-tested recipe from La Trattoria Italian restaurant

2 cups fruity red wine (divided use)

1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 (6-ounce) cans tomato paste

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley (see note)

2 pounds pasta of choice, cooked according to package directions

In a large pot, heat oil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and add carrot, onion, celery and bay leaves sauté until onion caramelizes to a deep, golden brown, about 35 minutes. Deglaze with 1 cup wine, stirring constantly to remove brown bits from bottom of pan. When the wine evaporates, stir in the beef, veal and pork, breaking up the pieces as you go to prevent clumps. When the meats have browned, add remaining wine, stirring to deglaze pan and remove brown bits from bottom of pot. Cook until the wine evaporates, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Meanwhile, purée tomatoes in a blender. With a strainer or a slotted spoon, skim and remove any seeds and tomato skins. Reduce heat to medium and add purée along with cloves. Season with salt and pepper. After 20 minutes, reduce heat to low and stir in the tomato paste. After 30 minutes, add garlic and sugar. Cook for another hour before adding the parsley. Cook for another 10-15 minutes before serving over cooked pasta.

Note: To minimize the bitterness in parsley, chef Carlo Molinaro places it in a cheesecloth and squeezes out the juice before adding it to his sauce. A paper towel also will work.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.

QUICK SPAGHETTI BOLOGNESE

Chronicle-tested recipe developed by Dai Huynh. Double-concentrated tomato paste, available at Central Market, is preferable. Otherwise, any good paste will do.

1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes

2 1/2 cups finely chopped baby bella brown mushrooms

4 tablespoons tomato paste (divided use)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Red-pepper flakes, to taste

4 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano (divided use)

3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed

1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley

2 tablespoons fruity, extra-virgin olive oil

1 pound pasta of choice, cooked according to package directions

Drain crushed and diced tomatoes, reserving liquid.

In a large braising pan, heat regular olive oil over medium-high heat. When it's hot, add onion and sauté until caramelized, stirring to prevent burning. Reduce heat to medium and add 2 tablespoons tomato paste, stirring constantly.

When tomato paste caramelizes, increase heat to high and add wine to deglaze. With a wooden spoon, remove brown bits from bottom of pan.

When the wine evaporates, add crushed and diced tomatoes stir constantly to prevent splattering. Cook for 10 minutes, then add milk and sugar. Reduce sauce to a stewlike consistency, another 8 minutes.

Add beef, veal and pork, breaking chunks with a fork to prevent clumping. Season with red-pepper flakes, salt and black pepper.

After 20 minutes, stir in 3 tablespoons oregano, garlic and remaining tomato paste and season to taste with salt and black pepper. After 5 minutes, add parsley and season with salt and black pepper to taste. After 5 minutes more, drizzle in extra-virgin olive oil and remaining oregano. Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Serve hot with pasta and Parmesan.

Makes 6 servings.

BAKED BÉCHAMEL LASAGNA

Chronicle-tested recipe developed by Dai Huynh

12 no-boil or regular lasagna sheets

1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg

Freshly ground white pepper, to taste

5 cups Bolognese sauce (divided use)

1 1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

If using regular lasagna sheets, prepare as instructed on package. Lay cooked noodles on a clean, damp towel. Cover with another damp towel until ready to use.

Heat butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and nutmeg. Cook, stirring constantly, until bubbly and golden. Whisk in a steady stream of milk. Bring to a simmer, whisking occasionally until sauce thickens. When sauce coats the back of a spoon, season with pepper and salt to taste. Remove from heat.

To assemble lasagna, spread 1 cup Bolognese sauce over the bottom of an 8-by-11-inch baking dish, then cover with 3 lasagna sheets. It's OK if sheets overlap. Top with another cup of Bolognese sauce, followed by 1/4 cup of béchamel, then 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano. Repeat the layering process 3 more times.

Place in the oven to bake. After 15 minutes, reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake another 20 minutes.


Italian Pot Roast (Stracotto)

I also include slow cooker directions for those who prefer that method for this recipe.

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 lb chuck roast
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
8 oz Cremini mushrooms, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 cups dry red wine
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons sage leaves, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 cup beef stock
1 container crushed tomatoes (26-28 ounces)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Polenta, recipe below, or Spaghetti

Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Salt and pepper the roast, then brown it on both sides.

If using a slow cooker, put the roast in the cooker. If you’re using a Dutch oven, put the roast on a plate.

Sauté the vegetables in the oil that remains until they’re soft and a little browned.

Add the wine to stir up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan and bring to a boil for 2-3 minutes.

Add the herbs, tomato paste, tomatoes and beef stock.

For the Dutch oven put the roast back in the pot and bring the mixture to a simmer and keep at just a simmer for 2 ½ to 3 hours.

If the liquid begins to boil, you may need to place the lid ajar. You don’t want a rapid boil, just a few lazy bubbles or the meat will get tough.

If you’re using a slow cooker, add the vegetables, wine, stock, herbs, tomato paste and tomatoes to the cooker and turn on low for 6-8 hours.

When the meat is tender, remove and cut into thin slices. To thicken the sauce, especially if made in the slow cooker, boil for a few minutes. Remove the bay leaf before serving.

Serve the sliced beef with creamy polenta or spaghetti and a green salad. An Italian red wine, like Masciarelli Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, will be great to use in the recipe and to drink with dinner.


Watch the video: Gennaro Contaldo in the land of Parmigiano Reggiano (June 2022).


Comments:

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  2. Vurr

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  3. Marlon

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