Cook Italian like Italians! We’ve had nice chats with our Italian editorial intern here at Easy Food and she shared her family cooking tips, why you should NEVER add pineapple to pizza and other tricks for foodies who want to test themselves with homemade Italian dishes.
It’s hard to cook a great homemade pizza without a wood-fired oven. Whatever you topping will be, never have pineapple or chicken on your pizza. Also, cutting pizza into segments and eating it with a fork, rather than folding slices, is also a big NO.
TOP TIP: The saying goes “If you can fold it in four, that is a good pizza”.
The “mantecatura” is what turns a regular risotto into a great risotto. Mantecatura is the stage when the rice is nearly done cooking and the stock absorbed. At this stage, take off the rice from the heat and add the final ingredients for the mantecatura. Whether it’s butter or grated Parmesan, stir the risotto for about 1 to 2 minutes vigorously: this renders the risotto creamy and smooth.
- Polpette (Italian meatballs)
Add to your polpette some finely chopped mortadella or salame to make them tastier, and some breadcrumbs to make them softer.
Always remember to use the egg whites and whisk them until they form soft peaks and added to the custard lighter texture. Add the cocoa powder just before serving to stop it from getting soggy.
- Moka coffee
Making a good a “caffé” moka it’s really simple, but it does take some practice. In a few words: use cold water, low flame, be sure not to overheat the coffee and remove the pot from heat just when coffee starts to gurgle. Mix the coffee with a spoon before pouring into cups.
TOP TIP: Rinse the coffee maker with only hot water and no dish soap.
Cook pasta like a pro
You can make your next pasta dinner a lot better (and easier!) by trying these quick tricks. Because you don’t need many ingredients or great tools to cook a good pasta dish.
- Cook pasta in lots of salted, boiling water
- Drop and stir. As soon as you drop your pasta in the water, stir it.
- Drain, don’t dry.
- Use the right shape of pasta with the right sauce (e.g. penne and fusilli with tomato sauce, tagliatelle with bolognese, elbow macaroni with legumes).
- To make pasta al dente, drain a minute or two before the time indicated on the package.
- For sauces, prefer extra virgin olive oil to butter.
- For the late night snack, the super quick spaghetti aglio, olio e peperoncino (garlic, oil and pepper spaghetti) is always a good idea.
- Soffritto is the key of a great bolognese sauce. Then, use a mix of beef and pork mice (not to dry, not too fatty).
TOP TIPS: cook the Bolognese sauce the night before for 3 hours. Then, let it rest. Cook the sauce for a further a couple of hours before serve with pasta. For the “regular” tomato sauce, use a few drops of milk instead of sugar.
- Never trust the estimate cooking time on the pasta box (even when it’s an Italian brand). Always taste it.
- Do not add oil to pasta water
- Do not add cooking cream to Carbonara sauce. If you do not have it, add some Parmesan but do not tell anyone
- Pasta is a very versatile, but it doesn’t fit with chicken at all. Chicken is a main course and pasta an entrée. Do not mix them!
- Ketchup is not a pasta sauce
- Never serve you guests pasta with drinks like tea, orange juice, coffee, cappuccino. Wine and water only allowed.
- Don’t eat bread with pasta – that’s carbo-loading
- Do not put Parmesan on every kind of pasta (i.e crab linguine or a shrimp tagliatelle).
When it comes to Italian food, the rule of the rules is: less is more. Don’t economise on ingredients and stay simple.
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