Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Do you want real Parmesan cheese? Don’t buy it in a can.  Cheese isn’t the only thing in that can.  There can even be cellulose (not cellulite, mind you), a safe additive that’s allowed to avoid clumping, in it, as this 2016 article from Bloomberg reports.  I grew up knowing nothing but the cheese (or “cheese”) in those cans.  The real thing is as far from the canned variety as my Nebraska home was from Italy.  And the real thing is called Parmigiano Reggiano.

Every aspect of “The King of Cheese” is strictly monitored.  As the Bloomberg article states:

Of all the popular cheeses in the U.S., the hard Italian varieties are the most likely to have fillers because of their expense. Parmesan wheels sit in curing rooms for months, losing moisture, which results in a smaller yield than other cheeses offer. While 100 pounds of milk might produce 10 pounds of cheddar, it makes only eight pounds of Parmesan. That two-pound difference means millions of dollars to manufacturers, according to Sommer.

Each of those cheeses has to be turned daily and wiped to get moisture off, a dangerous job now done by machine.  Real Parmigiano Reggiano must have a variety of markings on the outside including these obvious and distinctive ones:

Stenciling band, placed entirely around the wheel, which has:

  • pre-punched dots bearing the inscription PARMIGIANO-REGGIANO acronym DOP and the inscription CONSORZIO TUTELA
  • identification number of dairy
  • production month and year

Here’s what a real big cheese looks like. (I especially like this one as it has my birthday on it!)  Grate it yourself for an incomparable taste.  If you find it on sale, freeze a chunk and grate as needed.  And toss the can!

© janet m. webb 2017

We were all kneading our pasta dough.  One after another, people began getting ready to make whatever type of pasta we were making.  I was frustrated.  My dough still wasn’t ready.  Loretta Paganini, of the eponymous cooking school in Chesterland, Ohio, saw my frustration.  She said she was told she should be a pastry chef, as her hands were always cold.  Cold is good for pastry, not as good for pasta.

Although it takes a bit of time, pasta isn’t difficult to make.  Filled shapes take more time than those just cut, such as linguine.  Although little Italian grandmothers may roll the dough out with a rolling pin, it’s much easier to use a pasta machine.  And by the way, noodles are a type of pasta, not pasta itself.  Here’s the recipe I’ve been using since I learned to make ravioli, along with some photos from my ravioli-making day and the link to Loretta’s Italian grandmother’s walnut sauce.

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Nancy’s challenging us to show something edible this week and although I love her choice of berries (a favorite of mine as well), I also love bread.  In a world filled with no-carb diets, I crave them.  Pasta is another of my choices. I saw these beautiful loaves at a French farmer’s market. They beg for a bit of cheese or some Normandy butter and a lovely glass of red.

© janet m. webb 2014

 

 

When a holiday or other special event comes around, it’s always good to have a recipe or two that tastes great and takes little time and effort to prepare.  Here are two I’ve been making for years. My dark chocolate of choice is Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Pound Plus Bar, which will make two batches of bark or one of peanut-raisin clusters.

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© janet m. webb 2016

© janet m. webb 2016

© janet m. webb 2016

Dessert

Posted: September 14, 2016 in Food
Tags: , , , ,

When in France, eat!   You can get good meals in little local restaurants as well as in five-star establishments.  But my eyes, and stomach, are drawn to pâtisseries and boulangeries once the meal is over or when exploring towns.  The former specializes in pastries, cakes, and the like, while the latter sells various sorts of bread.  If you’re fortunate, you may find the two in one spot, a combination I love.

We found one such combination while in Luxeuil.  After taking in all the history we could get, we were ready for refreshment and people-watching, so we stopped for a coffee (cappuccino for me).  Afterwards, I ducked into a shop to pick up these tasty raspberry tarts for dessert after our dinner at home.  Not too sweet, in the style of most European pastries, they came in a wonderful box that was elegant, but with a riff of the 60’s, at least to me.  And the taste (of the tarts, not the box)?  Divine!

© janet m. webb 2016

© janet m. webb 2016

One of the joys of being in France is eating, especially eating out, although my b-i-l is a master with the grill and my s-i-l an excellent cook.  When Plombières-les-Bains was recommended to us, my s-i-l looked online for restaurants, which thankfully led our steps and hungry stomachs, to the Brasserie Montaigne. Although there were tables outside, on this first trip (yes, we ate there again), we opted to eat inside, just barely making it before they stopped serving lunch.

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It was hot, so a beer sounded good, although their idea of a dark beer and mine were obviously not the same.  🙂  But it was refreshing.

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We both chose a “small” salad, which was a delicious mix of warm and cold.  Lettuce on the bottom, tomatoes, cheese, half a hard-boiled egg, and croutons were cold or room temperature.  Potatoes, bacon, and dressing were warm and there was some cream on top (not sweet) that blended with the dressing.  The disc on top was cheese grated and then fried.  Delish!

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Even though the salad was filling, we decided to give dessert a try and were we glad we did!  You can see the size of the berry tart compared to the spoon behind it.  It was light (the tart that is, not the spoon) and, like the rest of the dessert, just barely sweet.  In the foreground on the left was homemade ice cream and above that, a scoop of whipped (real) cream, again very not sweet and just right (and light.)

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Once we’d paid our bill (not on this beauty), we were refreshed and ready for more exploring and photos.

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Today, I’m on my way to Wyoming for an unexpectedly early week in the mountains, the date change due to some issues at work.  I’ll be on the road today (10+ hours) and Saturday (8+ hours to Sheridan, WY, then shopping for food, and another hour or so up the mountain to the cabin.)  Needless to say, my internet presence will be almost nil and although there’s internet at the cabin, it’s slow and I’ll be busy riding, hiking, and relaxing.  Don’t worry.  I’ll also be taking lots of photos and they’ll eventually show up here. I don’t imagine I’ll be having any lunches like this and on the road, I’ll be eating as quickly to get to my destination as soon as possible.  But I can’t wait.  See you soon!  In the meantime, enjoy lunch!