One of America’s Favorites – Pesto

December 16, 2013 at 9:31 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | 2 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , ,
Pesto alla genovese is made from basil leaves..

Pesto alla genovese is made from basil leaves..

 

 

Pesto (Italian pronunciation: [ˈpesto], Genoese: [ˈpestu]) is a sauce originating in Genoa in the Liguria region of northern Italy (pesto genovese), and traditionally consists of crushed garlic, basil, and European pine nuts blended with olive oil, Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan cheese), and Fiore Sardo (cheese made from sheep’s milk). The name is the contracted past participle of the Genoese word pestâ (Italian: pestare), which means to pound, to crush, in reference to the original method of preparation, with marble mortar and wooden pestle. The ingredients in a traditionally made pesto are ground with a circular motion of the pestle in the mortar. This same Latin root through Old French also gave rise to the English word pestle.

 

 

...and pine nuts...

…and pine nuts…

 

The ancient Romans ate a paste called moretum, which was made by crushing cheese, garlic and herbs together. Basil, the main ingredient of modern pesto, likely originated in India and was first domesticated there. Basil took the firmest root in the regions of Liguria, Italy and Provence, France. The Ligurians around Genoa took the dish and adapted it, using a combination of basil, crushed garlic, grated hard cheese (a mix of parmigiano-reggiano and pecorino or just one of the two), and pine nuts with a little olive oil to form pesto. The first mention of recipe for pesto as it is known today, is from the book La Cuciniera Genovese written in 1863 by Giovanni Battista Ratto. In French Provence, the dish evolved into the modern pistou, a combination of basil, parsley, crushed garlic, and grated cheese (optional). Pine nuts are not included.

 

... which are ground up with the other ingredients.

… which are ground up with the other ingredients.

 

In 1944, The New York Times mentioned an imported canned pesto paste. In 1946, Sunset magazine published a pesto recipe by Angelo Pellegrini. Pesto did not become popular in North America until the 1980s and 1990s.

Pesto is traditionally prepared in a marble mortar with a wooden pestle. First, garlic and pine nuts are placed in the mortar and reduced to a cream, then the washed and dried basil leaves are added with coarse salt and ground to a creamy consistency. Only then is a mix of Parmigiano-Reggiano and Pecorino added. To help incorporate the cheese a little extra-virgin olive oil is added. In a tight jar (or simply in an air-tight plastic container), covered by a layer of extra-virgin olive oil, pesto can last in the refrigerator up to a week, and can be frozen for later use.

 

 

 
Pesto is commonly used on pasta, traditionally with Mandilli de Sæa (Genovese dialect – literally “silk handkerchiefs”), trofie or trenette. Potatoes and little green beans are also traditionally added to the dish, boiled in the same pot in which the pasta has been cooked. It is sometimes used in minestrone. Pesto is sometimes served on sliced beef tomatoes and sliced boiled potatoes.

"Fettuccine with Pesto alla genovese"

“Fettuccine with Pesto alla genovese”

Because pesto is a generic term for anything that is made by pounding, there are various other pestos, some traditional, some modern. Pesto alla genovese is made with Genovese basil, salt, garlic, Ligurian extra virgin olive oil (Taggiasco), European pine nuts (sometimes toasted) and a grated cheese like Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano and pecorino Sardo or pecorino romano.
A slightly different version of the sauce exists in Provence, where it is known as pistou. In contrast with pesto genovese, pistou is, in general, made with olive oil, basil, and garlic only: While cheese may be added, usually in a traditional pesto no nuts are included because no pine trees grow in there to provide the nuts. Pistou is used in the typical soupe au pistou, a hearty vegetable soup with pistou flavour. The sauce did not originally contain basil, however. Instead, cheese and olive oil were the main constituents.
Sometimes almonds are used instead of pine nuts, and sometimes mint leaves are mixed in with the basil leaves.
Pesto alla siciliana, sometimes called pesto rosso (red pesto), is a sauce from Sicily similar to pesto genovese but with the addition of tomato, almonds instead of pine nuts, and much less basil. Pesto alla calabrese is a sauce from Calabria consisting of (grilled) bell peppers, black pepper and more; these ingredients give it a distinctively spicy taste.
Outside Italy, the household name “pesto” has been used for all sorts of cold sauces or dips, mostly without any of the original ingredients: arugula (instead of or in addition to basil), black olives, lemon peel, coriander, or mushrooms. A German variety uses ramson leaves instead of basil. In the 19th century, Genovese immigrants to Argentina brought pesto recipes with them. A Peruvian variety, known as “tallarines verdes” (meaning green noodles, from Italian tagliarini), is slightly creamier, lacks pine nuts (because of their rarity and prohibitive cost in Peru), may use spinach and vegetable oil (in place of olive oil), and is sometimes served with roasted potatoes and sirloin steak.
In Singapore, an Italian-Peranakan fusion version called laksa pesto is popular. The recipe has the flavour of the local curry noodle soup, laksa but is made using the pesto method.
Vegan variations of pesto can include mixes of fresh basil, nuts such as walnut or pine nut, olive oil, and the addition of miso paste and nutritional yeast to provide additional flavor enhancement to the dish.

Cheese of the Week – Parmesan

September 27, 2012 at 9:34 AM | Posted in cheese, cooking, Food | 2 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Parmesan cheese is the name of a few kinds of Italian extra-hard cheeses. It is usually the cheese to go with Spaghetti and other typical

Parmesan cheese (Parmigiano Reggiano)

Italian pasta, but it also has many other uses. Parmesan is a part of Italian national cuisine and is usually grated.
Usually, Parmesan cheese is either Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano cheese. Both cheeses are AOC. This means that the way they are made, and the region they come from are strictly regulated.
Only these brands (Parmigiano Reggiano, Grana Padano) are protected. In many parts of the world, cheese is sold as Parmesan cheese that has nothing to do with the true (Italian) Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano. The biggest producers of such cheeses are the United States and Argentina.
The original Parmesan cheese is one of the most expensive cheeses in the world.

 
Parmigiano-Reggiano

Country of origin Italy
Region, town Provinces of Parma,
Reggio Emilia, Modena,
Bologna (west of the Reno),
Mantua (south of the Po River)
Source of milk Cows
Pasteurised No
Texture Hard
Aging time Minimum: 12 months
Vecchio: 18–24 months
Stravecchio: 24–36 months
Certification Italy: DOP 1955
EU: PDO 1992

Parmigiano-Reggiano also known in English as Parmesan is a hard, granular cheese, cooked but not pressed, named after the producing areas near Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, and Bologna (all in Emilia-Romagna), and Mantova (in Lombardia), Italy. Under Italian law, only cheese produced in these provinces may be labelled “Parmigiano-Reggiano”, while European law classifies the name as a protected designation of origin.
Parmigiano is the Italian adjective for Parma. Reggiano is the Italian adjective for Reggio Emilia. Parmesan is the French name for it and also serves as the informal term for the cheese in the English language. The name Parmesan is also used for cheeses which imitate Parmigiano-Reggiano, with phrases such as “Italian hard cheese” adopted to skirt legal constraints. The closest legitimate Italian cheese to Parmigiano-Reggiano is Grana Padano.

Parmigiano-Reggiano is made from raw cow’s milk. The whole milk of the morning milking is mixed with the naturally skimmed milk (it

Parmigiano-Reggiano factory

is left in large shallow tanks to allow the cream to separate) of the previous evening’s milking, resulting in a part skim mixture. The milk is pumped into copper-lined vats (copper heats and cools quickly). Starter whey is added, and the temperature is raised to 33–35 °C (91–95 °F). Calf rennet is added, and the mixture is left to curdle for 10–12 minutes. The curd is then broken up mechanically into small pieces (around the size of rice grains). The temperature is then raised to 55 °C (131 °F) with careful control by the cheese-maker. The curd is left to settle for 45–60 minutes. The compacted curd is collected in a piece of muslin before being divided in two and placed in molds. There is 1100 L (291 US gallons or 250 imperial gallons) of milk per vat, producing two cheeses each. The curd making up each wheel at this point weighs around 45 kg (100 lb). The remaining whey in the vat was traditionally used to feed the pigs from which “Prosciutto di Parma” (cured Parma ham) was produced. The barns for these animals were usually just a few yards away from the cheese production rooms.
The cheese is put into a stainless steel, round form that is pulled tight with a spring-powered buckle so the cheese retains its wheel shape. After a day or two, the buckle is released and a plastic belt imprinted numerous times with the Parmigiano-Reggiano name, the plant’s number, and month and year of production is put around the cheese and the metal form is buckled tight again. The imprints take hold on the rind of the cheese in about a day and the wheel is then put into a brine bath to absorb salt for 20–25 days. After brining, the wheels are then transferred to the aging rooms in the plant for 12 months. Each cheese is placed on wooden shelves that can be 24 cheeses high by 90 cheeses long or about 4,000 total wheels per aisle. Each cheese and the shelf underneath it is then cleaned manually or robotically every seven days. The cheese is also turned at this time.

At 12 months, the Consorzio Parmigiano-Reggiano inspects each and every cheese. The cheese is tested by a master grader whose only instruments are a hammer and his ear. By tapping the wheel at various points, he can identify undesirable cracks and voids within the wheel. Those cheeses that pass the test are then heat branded on the rind with the Consorzio’s logo. Those that do not pass the test used to have their rinds marked with lines or crosses all the way around to inform consumers that they are not getting top-quality Parmigiano-Reggiano; more recent practices simply have these lesser rinds stripped of all markings.
Traditionally, cows have to be fed only on grass or hay, producing grass fed milk. Only natural whey culture is allowed as a starter, together with calf rennet.
The only additive allowed is salt, which the cheese absorbs while being submerged for 20 days in brine tanks saturated to near total salinity with Mediterranean sea salt. The product is aged an average of two years. The cheese is produced daily, and it can show a natural variability. True Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese has a sharp, complex fruity/nutty taste with a strong savory flavor and a slightly gritty texture. Inferior versions can impart a bitter taste.
The average Parmigiano-Reggiano wheel is about 18–24 centimeters (7.1–9.4 in) high, 40–45 centimeters (16–18 in) in diameter, and weighs 38 kilograms (84 lb).

Parmigiano-Reggiano is commonly grated over pasta dishes, stirred into soups and risottos, and eaten on its own. It is often shaved or grated over other dishes.
Slivers and chunks of the hardest parts of the crust are sometimes simmered in soup. They can also be just roasted and eaten as a snack.
The hollowed-out crust of a whole wheel of Parmigiano can be used as a serving pot for large groups.

Blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.

Traveling In My Kitchen

Exploring the world - one recipe at a time

Hungry Pandas

Dinner, Desserts, and Drinks

Miss Raven's Kitchen

Be creative by flying blind

liz kimchii

Your weekly digest of good eats

Nikole's Kitchen

Live a fulfilling life free of deprivation and full of nourishment.

Peckish Couple

Tasty home-cooked recipes

Missy J White

Food | Motherhood | Lifestyle

Web Bloggers United

We are on a mission to bring together all the favorite bloggers' posts on the web in one place...

Orleans County Cuisine

Let us make beautiful food together

Professional Moron

Daily Doses of Silly Humour & Culture