Chinese cooking expert Eileene Yin-Fei Lo shares recipes and life lessons she learned from her grandmother with the Early Show’s Tracy Smith.
Chinese cooking expert Eileene Yin-Fei Lo shares recipes and life lessons she learned from her grandmother with the Early Show’s Tracy Smith.
By stocking your kitchens with a few basic ingredients, you will be ready to prepare many Tuscan and Italian recipes. These days, most major grocery stores carry many items imported from Italy, so spend some time looking and see what you can find. Other sources for those necessary ingredients would be Italian specialty stores in your area, or possibly you may consider online ordering.
High-quality ingredients are essential to Italian cooking: the better your olive oil, tomatoes, and cheese, the better the simple dishes will be.
In most good Italian kitchens, you will find most if not all of the following items in the pantry:
OLIVE OIL – One of the essential ingredients of Italian cooking, olive oil is used not simply as a cooking oil but for the flavor it adds to a dish. For this reason, it’s important to use only extra-virgin olive oil — it has the most flavor. If you splurge on any one item, I would suggest you buy the best you can find.
DRIED PASTA – Use pasta imported from Italy such as Barilla and De Cecco. Generally, any imported pasta products made from semolina flour are good choices. For egg pasta, avoid the “fresh” pasta sold in refrigerated cases. Either use homemade or buy the dried noodles packaged in nests.
TOMATOES – When fresh, ripe tomatoes are not available, use good canned tomatoes (unless the recipe specifically calls for fresh). Choose whole, peeled tomatoes rather than chopped or crushed. Use imported Italian San Marzano tomatoes if you can find them; they’re the best.
ONIONS AND GARLIC – Generally, white onions for cooking and red onions for salads and dishes that do not require cooking because they are milder. Garlic is used, but it is not generally an overwhelming presence.
PARMIGIANO-REGGIANO – Only cheese that is produced in a limited area surrounding Parma according to strict guidelines may be sold as Parmigiano-Reggiano. It’s a cheese of incomparable flavor, texture, and richness that make it not only an excellent grating cheese but also one of the world’s great table cheeses.
CHEESES – Cheeses are also important for Italian dishes. There are so many varieties but the most commonly used include Parmigiano-Reggiano, pecorino Romano, mozzarella, ricotta and provolone.
LEGUMES – In our house we generally have on hand dried cannellini beans, borlotti beans, ceci and lentils to use mainly in soups.
CORNMEAL – Use a medium textured cornmeal for polenta. Keep it in a tightly closed container, and it will last for months. I also use cornmeal to dust my pan when making pizza, and to add texture to some of my baked goods.
RICE - Arborio is the most common rice used in making risotto, but other varieties, such as Carnaroli or Vialone Nano which are just now becoming available in America, are perhaps even better. One characteristic they all share is a translucent, starchy exterior that melts away in cooking to give risotto its distinctive creamy consistency.
BALSAMIC VINEGAR - There are a variety of different balsamic vinegars. Depending on its age, it can be extremely expensive. You can use an inexpensive one for salads, as long as the quality is good.
ANCHOVIES – Although I’m not an anchovy fan, I keep a jar packed in oil in my fridge to add a special zip to certain dishes. You can also find anchovy paste in a tube, which is milder in taste and is quite convenient.
DRIED PORCINI MUSHROOMS – Look for packages that have large slices of whole mushrooms. They add a wonderful rich flavor to risottos, pasta sauces, and stews, and can infuse cultivated white mushrooms with their robust flavor. Although they can be an expensive item, a little goes a long way, and if kept in an airtight container, they’ll keep for a long time. Keep the water used to rehydrate them. Strained, it will add a depth of flavor to many soups, sauces and stews.
CAPERS – You can find two types of capers. The smaller ones that are pickled in vinegar, and the larger ones that come packed in salt. The larger ones are very flavorful, require rinsing of the salt before using, and tend to be a little more difficult to locate. A few chopped capers can add a punch of flavor to dishes that seem to need just a little something.
OLIVES – Both the black and green varieties are good, if packed in brine and imported from Italy even better.
HERBS AND SEASONINGS – Generally fresh herbs are preferred in everyday cooking, but it is also important to keep dried oregano, rosemary, thyme, and sage available. Whole black pepper to be ground at the moment of use, sea salt and red pepper flakes are also important seasonings to have on hand.
FLOUR – We usually have both an all-purpose flour for making pasta and pizza dough and bread flour for cakes and desserts. Semolina flour is also very useful.
Although these are the bare basics to have in an Italian kitchen, stocking these basic staples in your pantry will ensure that you are ready to begin cooking Tuscan and Italian recipes. All you’ll need to add is a few fresh ingredients and you’ll be all set to prepare your Tuscan and Italian dishes that will impress your friends and family.
Whether you are a seasoned chef and able to create dishes from different cuisines or an average person cooking tips are something valuable and it is very possible to learn something new, by looking at different cooking tips from top chefs. The following tips are not related to different cuisines, but just everyday cooking tips that might prove to be valuable to you.
• Smaller items in an oven will be baked at higher oven temperatures for perfect end results.
• Never store your spices close to heat or your stove, but a cool and dark place to retain flavor.
• Making stock in large quantities is better as you can freeze it in plastic bags.
• Never cook pasta for the stipulated time as label instructions reads, but one minute less and cook it to softness with the sauce you want to serve.
• Remove garlic odor from your hands by rubbing your hands on a stainless steel sink, then wash your hands.
• Creamy and rich dressings are made healthier with half mayonnaise and half Greek yoghurt.
• Improve your baking results by leaving eggs and butter at room temperatures.
• Onions must be rinsed in cold water to avoid the sulphurous gas that ruins guacamole and fresh salsas if you do not eat it immediately.
• If you use oil in the pasta cooking water, the sauce you serve with it will not stick to the pasta, so avoid the oil.
• Sliced garlic for sautéing is better as it will not burn like minced garlic.
• To avoid a knife and cutting board to smell of garlic, you crush it with the back of a knife inside a plastic bag.
• Using high-quality olive oil brings out the flavor in meat, fish, pasta and pizza.
• Do not use citrus in meat marinades as it gives the mealy texture, rather squeeze lemon if you want after cooking.
• Always rest your meat after cooking and before carving or dishing up.
• To maintain the bright color of vegetables, just plunge them in ice cold water after you boiled or blanched them.
What Influences a Cuisine?
Food has never been only available and used to fill your stomach and get rid of hunger pangs. Different cultures, religions and regions define the different cuisines we have come to know today. Cooking practices and ingredients are also associated to different cuisines. Different types of cuisine include Regional, National and Ethnic cuisine.
A Look at Asian Cuisine
The ingredients of Asian cuisine always include tofu, soy, rice, dried onion, chillies, sesame seeds, ginger and garlic. Asian cooking almost always involves rice and different regions often vary in the type of rice used. The subcontinent usually uses Basmati rice, the southeast uses Jasmine, China is popular for long-grain, while Korea and Japan favours short-grain rice. Their cooking methods are commonly deep frying, steaming and stir frying. Looking at cooking tips when making an Asian dish however you will find that you can use any type of rice. Southern Asia is also very popular for their curry dishes and India and South Asia prefers to use yogurt in their curries, whereas Eastern and South-eastern cooking tips recommend coconut milk.
A Caribbean cuisine is a fusion of Dutch, Indian, French, Spanish, British, Amerindian and West African cuisines and certainly one of the most interesting. This region’s population brought from different homelands created cooking styles very unique and found only in the region. The different islands have their own specialities and seafood is a common cuisine type throughout.
Attempting to pen down different cuisines is nearly impossible as there are thousands from all corners of the world. Thousands of cookbooks and websites with food blogs are the proof of that. Everybody’s culture characterizes the different food styles and ingredients and cooking techniques. Cuisine does not vary from country to country, but in many instances also from one region to another. People do not have to distinguish another by clothes or language, but simply by food.
Everybody eats – regardless of age, size, religion or culture and most of us eat a minimum of three times a day. The problem is that we are also spoilt and food can get quite boring, especially when you are the one who has to do all the preparation and cooking. We are all looking for ways to spice up ordinary food or try different cuisines.
Many are born chefs and cooks and it is as if they were born with a pot and ladle in each hand and others cook from cook books. It doesn’t matter in which category you fall; there is always the need to learn more and getting cooking tips from famous chefs around the world is something everybody values.
From a very young age women and also men start collecting recipes from books and magazines and to be handed down a cooking book from an older family member is off great value. Since the Internet took over the old fashioned library there are more people opening food blogs on a daily basis and the visitors to blogs and cooking websites grows enormously.
Finding a site that offers different cuisines or just cooking tips on how to make a special meal from a reputable chef, brings a smile on any cook’s face. Many young cooks do not realize what some of the popular cuisines such as Mediterranean, Mexican or Lebanese consist of. They would like to prepare a Mediterranean meal maybe for a party to make it special, but they do not even know what it consists off or the cooking methods.
Now it is possible to enhance current cooking capabilities as well as learning new and different techniques you never would have possible. Different combinations of flavours and spices come to life in your taste buds with the help of the expert chefs.
ADA Recipe of the Day
The American Diabetes Association posts a new recipe each day for those with deabetes. This is a great site and very informative. I recommend anyone with diabetes visit here.
Children with Diabetes
It is very sad that anyone has to have diabetes, but especially children. I think this site is unique and a wonderful information source for both the parents and child suffering from diabetes. Not only will you find lots of recipes here, that are on individual pages to make them easier to print, you will also find a lot of valuable information for the child with diabetes.
Diabetic Lifestyle On Line magazine
Diabetic-Lifestyle offers recipes, menus, medical updates, entertaining, travel and practical information to enhance life while managing diabetes on a daily basis.
Diabetic: Pie Recipes
Berkeley has all kinds of sites with recipes and they all appear just a like. You should be able to find about any pie recipe you need here.
Jeanine’s Sugar-Free Recipes
Desserts and sweets with out sugar? It’s possible, with fruit and Jeanine’s recipes.
Kyoung’s Recipes for Diabetics Everything you thought was forbidden – from Candy-Bars to Blueberry Crepes and double fudge balls.
Sneaker’s Recipe Page
This site is done by a mother that has a child with diabetes. There are over 50 great sounding recipes. This is a must visit site for anyone with diabetes, but especially if you have a child that is one.
Sweet’N Low® Recipes
Have you ever wondered just how much Sweet N’ Low to use in place of that sugar? Well find the answer here. The recipes sound great, I can’t wait to try some of them.
Great Vegetarian Recipes
A great selection of recipes, includes a low fat section and also has a couple of recipes for those following the Zone diet.
Small Household Vegetarian Recipe Index
Great site consisting of a family’s vegetarian recipes. She also has a section on silly questions that she has been asked about being a vegetarian. I know I am guilty of those silly questions, you you might want to check this section out just so you don’t make the same mistakes.
The Recipe Folder
Has some nice recipes, page has not been updated since 1997, but recipes don’t out date so thought I would include it.
Vegetarian Fat-Free Passover Recipes
A large collection of vegetarian recipes to be used during Passover.
Your on line guide to Vegetarianism. I am not a vegetarian and it is hard for me to judge such a site but it appears to have all the information you need and it full or recipes. If I were to be thinking of becoming a vegetarian this is where I think I would start checking for information.
Fleischmann’s Bread World
If you are a bread baker this is a must see site for you. It has wonderful recipes for both traditional breads and bread machines. Also contains a tips, tricks and trouble shooting section. Site is designed for both novice and experienced bakers. Also has a search feature to help in finding that special recipe.
Bread Machine Magic
This is a very exciting site for those that own bread machines, there isn’t a big archive of recipes but there are several. They also have (3) three books for sale with recipes and info about bread machines. Over all I like this site and when I get a bread machine plan on returning.
Great site has several sections on bread, sourdough, bread machines, breads for the diabetic, cornbread and fruit breads.
This cornbread recipe is all that is here but, WOW, it is my kind of bread, us southerns don’t like sugar in our corn bread and this recipe doesn’t have any. Try it you might like it.
The Bread Letter
A place on the web where bread bakers come to really enjoy their bread baking hobby.
The Village Bakery
Rarely do I find a site that I just simply love but this is one of those for sure. You will find everything you need or want to know about baking bread here. There are message forums, recipes, a beginners guide to bread baking and tips and tricks. This is a must visit for you bread bakers out there.