May 072012
 

While enjoying a fantastic glass of your favorite fine Italian wine with dinner, consider also using the nectar of the gods as an ingredient in your favorite dish. Cooking with wine has never been more popular and endless recipes abound that incorporate all different types of wine into favorite dishes and unique spins on classic cuisine. When you cook with Italian wine, the alcohol evaporates, so the dish will be appropriate for individuals unable to consume alcohol, underage eaters, or individuals who do not wish to imbibe any alcohol. Many international dishes include wine, especially Italian, French, and Spanish favorites. You can use any type of wine or alcohol to cook with, but Italian wine has substantial fan following when it comes to cooking with wine. Whether you want to add a unique flavor or a powerful zest to your dishes, adding your favorite Italian wine will have everyone raving over your cooking skills and the dishes you serve.


1. Choose Good Quality Italian Wine
The key to cooking with wine is to choose good quality Italian wine. Just as quality directly affects the drinking enjoyment of a glass of Italian wine, the quality will also affect the end taste of dishes that are prepared using wine as an ingredient. Remember, quality wines are not necessarily the most expensive wines, so avoid associating price with taste. It is safe to say that if you enjoy drinking a particular vineyard’s wine, you will also enjoy cooking with the same wine.

2. Cooking with Red Wine vs. White Wine
Also, you should carefully choose an Italian wine appropriate for the dish. Generally, the recipe you choose will come with the appropriate Italian wine included, but the traditional rules for serving wine with food applies to including the wine as ingredients with food. Many individuals choose to cook with white wine for a tangier, crisp taste and choose red wines for heartier dishes, including those filled with tasty cuts of meats.

3. Why You Would Boil Wine
Even though water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit, alcohol has a much lower boiling point, around 175 degree Fahrenheit. For this reason, you can quickly remove alcohol in Italian wine, in fact, approximately 40 percent of the alcohol is boiled out in approximately 15 minutes. Eventually, the Italian wine will turn into a thick syrup if boiled long enough. This syrup is perfect for use as a glaze with meats or vegetables. Once the alcohol has been evaporated, the flavors are emphasized. Also, alcohol, including Italian wine, brings out the flavor of tomatoes and other ingredients. Consider adding a bit of white Italian wine to tomato sauces to bring out the flavors.

4. Cooking Wine – A Bad Idea?
There are a variety of cooking wines on the market, but you should avoid these products, since they are of lower quality than a fine Italian wine and usually contain a high amount of sodium. However, if you are a collector of fine Italian wine, save these delicious drinks from the heat, since the alcohol will only be evaporated and the importance of the wine will be lost. There are a variety of quality Italian wines on the market that are perfect for cooking.

5. Cooking Tips for Red and White Wine
Choose rich, fruity wines for dessert dishes and strong white wines for sautéed or baking dishes.  Also keep in mind the red wine will turn your chicken purple, so when cooking chicken or fish, white wine is probably best.

Jan 032012
 

Most of us have found some sort of Italian cuisine that has become a favorite for our families and ourselves. Unfortunately, far too many of us discount the possibility of bringing Italian cooking into our very own American kitchens for fear that many of the recipes are far too difficult. Learning to cook Italian food just might make your home the favorite drop in dining spot for friends and family all over.

Believe it or not, most great Italian recipes have an easier version that can be made with very similar effects when it comes to flavor and aroma. Also, despite the commercials of old, all Italian cooking does not require an entire day of simmering in order to achieve great flavor. You do not have to let your friends and family in on that little secret though.. You do not have to let anyone in on your best-kept secrets when it comes to preparing these often simple dishes.

The biggest challenge that most Americans face when it comes to Italian cooking is basically learning a new set of essential ingredients. The cheese, meats, or grains that are used in their creation most often identify or define Italian cuisine. It’s the combination of these primary ingredients that create some of the most distinctive flavors on earth. Learn about these ingredients. Identify the flavors and study the combinations of flavors and you should be able to not only follow many great Italian recipes but also to invent a few of your very own Italian inspired recipes.

The greatest thing when it comes to cooking Italian food is that most of these dishes are rather difficult to destroy. This of course does not indicate that it cannot be done, only that it isn’t as simple as with some of the more delicate cuisines around the world. Italian food is durable and flavorful but for the most part not too terribly delicate when it comes to flavor. You can go a little heavy with some spice or cheese without completely ruining the dish in most instances. If you are anything like me, this is a regular occurrence when cooking and one of the reasons I enjoy cooking Italian food so much. Fresh ingredients is the key to an authentic Italian meal. Fresh herbs like basil can be purchased in most chain grocery stores. You don’t have to grow it yourself or even stop by a farmer’s market. Fresh basil, fresh garlic and some good quality extra virgin olive oil and you are well on your way to success.

Another thing you should keep in mind when cooking Italian food is that nothing seems to bring out the flavor of Italian food better than a good bottle of wine to match. Perhaps this is the reason that it is difficult to ruin an Italian meal, no matter how bad it is, the good wine paired with it, will erase all ill will and tastes in very short order. You will want to spend a little time researching and studying the science (though some will argue that this is truly an art form) that goes along with pairing a good bottle of wine with the right flavor combination when it comes to Italian cooking. Once you’ve mastered this, there is nothing to prevent you from being the diva of all things Italian when it comes to food preparation.

The most important thing for you to remember when cooking Italian food is not to take the cooking too seriously. Good Italians know that the enjoyment of the meal is far more important than the process of preparing the meal. Make your meal an event with plenty of time for pleasant conversation and enjoyment of your company in between courses. You should also never rush a good Italian meal or you will find that all your efforts cooking Italian will be for naught as the true pleasure of Italian cuisine has been lost somewhere in translation. For now check out this extremely easy “Grilled Chicken Penne al Fresco” that is posted on my site – more will come later.

Easy Boeuf Bourguignon

 Beef, Easy Recipes, Entrée  Comments Off on Easy Boeuf Bourguignon
Oct 312011
 

•       2 pounds lean stew beef
•       1 cup red wine (marinade)
•       3 cups full-bodied, young red wine , such as a Chianti (sauce)
•       4 sprigs fresh parsley
•       1 sprig fresh thyme
•       1 bay leaf, preferably fresh
•       6 ounces bacon
•       4 tablespoons butter
•       1 onion, sliced
•       1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
•       1 tablespoon tomato paste
•       2 garlic cloves, pressed (you may choose to add more)
•       3 cups full-bodied, young red wine , such as a Chianti (sauce)
•       1/4 cup beef broth
•       salt and ground black pepper to taste
•       2 tablespoons butter
•       4 ounces bacon, chopped
•       12 small onions
•       4 ounces button mushrooms, sliced

Directions
1.      In a medium bowl, combine beef, wine, parsley, thyme and bay leaf.
Let marinate for 3 hours.
2.      Remove beef; strain. Heat 4 tablespoons butter in a large heavy
casserole (preferably cast iron) over medium high heat. Sauté the
sliced onion until tender. Remove onions and add bacon to pot. Simmer
bacon for 10 minutes.  Remove bacon from pot and add in beef, and cook
until evenly brown. Do not cook too much at a time or browning will be
difficult. Remove beef and set aside. Add flour to pan, and cook,
stirring, until brown. Slowly stir in the wine making sure to get all
the yummy bits from the bottom of the pot. Now enough stock or
bouillon so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste,
garlic, herbs, and bacon. Bring to simmer on top of the stove. Then
cover the casserole and set in lower third of preheated oven. Regulate
heat so liquid simmers very slowly for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The meat is
done when a fork pierces it easily.

Skim fat off the sauce. Simmer sauce for a minute or two, skimming off
additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce
thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If too thin, boil it down
rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons of stock or canned
bouillon. Taste carefully for seasoning. Pour the sauce over the meat
and vegetables. Recipe may be completed in advance to this point.

For immediate serving: Cover the casserole and simmer for 2 to 3
minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times.
Serve in its casserole, or arrange the stew on a platter surrounded
with potatoes, noodles, or rice, and decorated with parsley.

For later serving: When cold, cover and refrigerate. About 15 to 20
minutes before serving, bring to the simmer, cover, and simmer very
slowly for 10 minutes, occasionally basting the meat and vegetables
with the sauce.

3.      While the beef is cooking or the day you plan to serve, prepare the
onions and mushrooms. Set them aside until needed.  Heat 2 tablespoons
butter in a medium skillet over medium high heat, add the small
onions, and sauté until onions are tender. Add mushrooms, and continue
cooking until mushrooms are golden brown. Serve as a garnish.

 

Table and Wine Suggestions

Boiled potatoes are traditionally served with this dish. Buttered
noodles or steamed rice may be substituted. If you also wish a green
vegetable, buttered peas would be your best choice. Serve with the
beef a fairly full-bodied, young red wine, such as Beaujolais, Côtes
du Rhône, Bordeaux-St. Émilion, or Burgundy.

Oct 312011
 

 

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 slices bacon chopped
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons
  • 2 pounds chicken tenders, cut into 1 1/2 to 2-inch pieces
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 ribs celery from the heart of the stalk and leafy tops, chopped
  • 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 bay leaf, preferably fresh
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme, 4 to 5 sprigs
  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2 cups white French wine, 1/3 bottle
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup frozen pearl onions
  • 1 pound extra-wide egg noodles

Directions

Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat with extra-virgin olive oil. Add bacon and cook until crisp, about 5 minutes, remove with slotted spoon.

Heat a pot of water to boil for egg noodles.

While bacon crisps, scatter 1/2 cup flour on a shallow dish. Season the chopped chicken with salt and pepper and add to flour. Toss the chicken to coat and shake off the excess as you add it to the hot bacon drippings. Lightly brown the chicken about 3 minutes on each side then remove. Add to the pan the celery, carrots and onions as you chop them. Season with salt, pepper and thyme. Cook vegetables 5 to 6 minutes to tenderize them. Scoot vegetables off to the sides of the pan forming a well. Add 2 tablespoons butter to the well and melt them whisk in 2 tablespoons flour. Whisk wine into roux, shake pan to combine then stir in stock. Add chicken back to the pan and stir in the onions. Simmer the chicken 10 minutes. Adjust seasoning.