One of America’s Favorites – Spaghetti

September 24, 2012 at 10:14 AM | Posted in pasta, spaghetti | Leave a comment
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Spaghetti is a long, thin, cylindrical pasta of Italian origin. Spaghetti is made of semolina or flour and water. Italian dried spaghetti is

Spaghetti hung to dry

made from durum wheat semolina, but outside of Italy it may be made with other kinds of flour. Traditionally, most spaghetti was 50 cm (20 in) long, but shorter lengths gained in popularity during the latter half of the 20th century and now spaghetti is most commonly available in 25–30 cm (10–12 in) lengths. A variety of pasta dishes are based on it, from spaghetti alla Carbonara or garlic and oil to a spaghetti with tomato sauce, meat and other sauces.

Spaghetti is the plural form of the Italian word spaghetto, which is a diminutive of spago, meaning “thin string” or “twine”.

Pasta in the West may first have been worked to long, thin forms in Southern Italy around the 12th century. The popularity of pasta spread to the whole of Italy after the establishment of pasta factories in the 19th century, enabling the mass production of pasta for the Italian market.

In the United States around the end of the 19th century, spaghetti was offered in restaurants as Spaghetti Italienne (which likely consisted of extremely soggy noodles and a tomato sauce diluted with broth) and it wasn’t until decades later that it came to be prepared with garlic or peppers. Canned spaghetti, kits for making spaghetti and spaghetti with meatballs became popular, and the dish has become a staple in the U.S.

Spaghetti is cooked in a large pot of salted, boiling water then drained in a colander (scolapasta in Italian).

In Italy, spaghetti is generally cooked al dente (Italian for to the tooth), just fully cooked and still firm. Outside Italy, spaghetti is sometimes cooked to a much softer consistency.

Spaghettoni is a thicker spaghetti which takes more time to cook. Spaghettini and vermicelli are very thin spaghetti (both of which may be called angel hair spaghetti in English) which take less time to cook.

An emblem of Italian cuisine, spaghetti is frequently served with tomato sauce, which may contain various herbs (especially oregano

Italian spaghetti and bread

and basil), olive oil, meat, or vegetables. Other spaghetti preparations include using Bolognese sauce, alfredo and carbonara. Grated hard cheeses, such as Pecorino Romano, Parmesan and Grana Padano, are often added. It is also sometimes served with chili.

Consumption of spaghetti in Italy doubled from 14 kilograms (30.9 lb) before World War II to 28 kilograms (61.7 lb) by 1955. By that year, Italy produced 1,432,990 tons of spaghetti, of which 74,000 was exported, and had a production capacity of 3 million tons.

The world record for largest bowl of spaghetti was set in March 2009 and reset in March 2010 when a Buca di Beppo restaurant in Garden Grove, California, successfully filled a swimming pool with more than 13,780 pounds (6,251 kg) of pasta.

Cheese of the Week – Mozzarella

August 29, 2012 at 9:25 AM | Posted in cheese | Leave a comment
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Mozzarella is an Italian Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG) food product. The term is used for several kinds of Italian cheeses that are made using spinning and then cutting (hence the name, as the Italian verb mozzare means “to cut”):

* Mozzarella di Bufala (buffalo mozzarella), made from domesticated water buffalo milk
*mozzarella fior di latte, made from fresh pasteurized or unpasteurized cow’s milk
*low-moisture mozzarella, which is made from whole or part skimmed milk, and widely used in the food-service industry
*mozarella affumicata (smoked mozzarella)

Fresh mozzarella is generally white, but may vary seasonally to slightly yellow depending on the animal’s diet. It is a semi-soft cheese. Due to its high moisture content, it is traditionally served the day after it is made, but can be kept in brine for up to a week, or longer when sold in vacuum-sealed packages. Low-moisture mozzarella can be kept refrigerated for up to a month, though some shredded low-moisture mozzarella is sold with a shelf life of up to six months. Mozzarella of several kinds is also used for most types of pizza and several pasta dishes, such as lasagna, or served with sliced tomatoes and basil in insalata caprese.

Mozzarella di bufala campana is a type of mozzarella made from the milk of water buffalo raised in designated areas of Lazio and Campania, Italy. Unlike other mozzarellas—50% of whose production derives from non-Italian and often semi-coagulated milk[8]—it holds the status of a protected designation of origin (PDO 1996) under the European Union.

Fior di latte (written also as one word) designates mozzarella made from cow (and not water buffalo) milk, which greatly lowers its cost. Outside Italy “mozzarella” not clearly labeled as deriving from water buffalo can be presumed to derive from cow milk.

Mozzarella is available fresh or partly dried. Fresh it is usually rolled into a ball of 80 to 100 grams (2.8 to 3.5 oz), or about 6 centimetres (2.4 in) in diameter, sometimes up to 1 kilogram (2.2 lb), or about 12 centimetres (4.7 in) diameter, and soaked in salt water (brine) or whey, sometimes with citric acid added. Partly dried (desiccated) its structure is more compact, and in this form it is often used to prepare dishes cooked in the oven, such as lasagna and pizza.

When twisted to form a plait mozzarella is called treccia. Mozzarella is also available in smoked (affumicata) and reduced-moisture packaged varieties. “Stuffed mozzarella”, a new trend as of 2006, may feature olives or cooked or raw ham, or small tomatoes (pomodorini)

Mozzarella di bufala is traditionally produced solely from the milk of the domestic water buffalo. A whey starter is added from the previous batch that contains thermophilic bacteria, and the milk is left to ripen so the bacteria can multiply. Then, rennet is added to coagulate the milk. After coagulation, the curd is cut into large, 1″–2″ pieces, and left to sit so the curds firm up in a process known as healing.

After the curd heals, it is further cut into 3/8″–1/2″ large pieces. The curds are stirred and heated to separate the curds from the whey. The whey is then drained from the curds and the curds are placed in a hoop to form a solid mass. The curd mass is left until the pH is at around 5.2–5.5, which is the point when the cheese can be stretched.

The cheese is then stretched and kneaded to produce a delicate consistency—this process is generally known as pasta filata. According to the Mozzarella di Bufala trade association, “The cheese-maker kneads it with his hands, like a baker making bread, until he obtains a smooth, shiny paste, a strand of which he pulls out and lops off, forming the individual mozzarella.” It is then typically formed into ball shapes or in plait. In Italy, a “rubbery” consistency is generally considered not satisfactory; the cheese is expected to be softer.

Mozzarella—which is derived from the Neapolitan dialect spoken in Campania—is the diminutive form of mozza (‘”cut”), or mozzare (“to cut off”) derived from the method of working. Scamorza cheese is a close relative, which probably derives from scamozzata (“without a shirt”), with allusion to the fact that these cheeses have no hard surface covering typical of a dry cured cheese. In Italian, and in the English use of the word mozzarella, the vowel at the end of mozzarella is pronounced, despite some people incorrectly dropping the vowel, erroneously rendering the word “mozzarell”.

The term mozzarella is first found definitively mentioned in 1570, cited in a cookbook by Bartolomeo Scappi, reading “milk cream, fresh butter, ricotta cheese, fresh mozzarella and milk”.

Bocconcini (Italian pronunciation: [ˌbokɔnˈtʃiːni]) (singular Bocconcino, [ˌbokɔnˈtʃiːno]) are small mozzarella cheeses the size of an egg. Like other mozzarellas, they are semi-soft, white and rindless unripened mild cheeses which originated in Napoli and were once made only from milk of water buffaloes. Nowadays they are usually made from a combination of water buffalo and cow’s milk. Bocconcini are packaged in whey or water, have a spongy texture and absorb flavours. This cheese is described by its Italian name which means small mouthfuls. It is made in the pasta filata manner by dipping curds into hot whey, and kneading, pulling and stretching. Each cheese is about the size, shape and colour of a hardboiled egg: indeed an alternative name used is Uova di bufala, or “Buffalo eggs”. Baby (“bambini”) bocconcini can also be purchased; these are a smaller version about the size of large grapes. Bocconcini of water buffalo’s milk are still produced in the provinces of Naples, Caserta and Salerno, as bocconcini alla panna di bufala, in a process which involves mixing freshly made Mozzarella di Bufala Campana DOP with fresh cream. A Bocconcino di Bufala Campana DOP is also made, which is simply Mozzarella di Bufala Campana DOP, produced in the egg-sized format. Bocconcini of whole cow’s milk are also manufactured, where the higher liquid content, in comparison to standard mozzarella, lends them the soft consistency of fior di latte. Bocconcini can be bought at most Italian supermarkets and is often used in tomato, red onion and basil salads to accompany pasta.

Mozzarella

Country of origin Italy
Region, town traditionally Campania, Abruzzo, Molise and Puglia
Source of milk water buffalo in Campania or cow’s milk in Puglia
Pasteurised Sometimes
Texture Semi-soft
Aging time None
Certification Mozzarella di Bufala Campana
STG and DOP 1996

One of America’s Favorites – Pizza

August 6, 2012 at 10:07 AM | Posted in cooking, Food, pizza | 2 Comments
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Pizza is an oven-baked, flat, round bread typically topped with a tomato sauce, cheese and various toppings.
After its invention in Naples, the dish has become popular in many parts of the world. An establishment that makes and sells pizzas is

Pizza with gorgonzola, spinach and bacon

called a “pizzeria”.

Pizza (Italian pronunciation: [ˈpittsa], from the Latin verb pìnsere, to press) is Greek in origin. The Ancient Greeks covered their bread with oils, herbs and cheese. In Byzantine Greek, the word was spelled πίτα or pita, meaning pie. The word has now spread to Turkish as pide, and Bulgarian, Croatian and Serbian as pita, Albanian as pite and Modern Hebrew pittāh. The Romans developed placenta, a sheet of dough topped with cheese and honey and flavored with bay leaves. Modern pizza originated in Italy as the Neapolitan pie with tomato. In 1889, cheese was added.
In 1889, during a visit to Naples, Queen Margherita of Italy was served a pizza resembling the colors of the Italian flag, red (tomato), white (mozzarella) and green (basil). This kind of pizza has been named after the Queen as Pizza Margherita.

The bottom of the pizza, called the “crust”, may vary widely according to style—thin as in a typical hand-tossed pizza or Roman pizza, or thick as in a typical pan pizza or Chicago-style pizza. It is traditionally plain, but may also be seasoned with garlic or herbs, or stuffed with cheese.
In restaurants, pizza can be baked in an oven with stone bricks above the heat source, an electric deck oven, a conveyor belt oven or, in the case of more expensive restaurants, a wood- or coal-fired brick oven. On deck ovens, the pizza can be slid into the oven on a long paddle, called a peel, and baked directly on the hot bricks or baked on a screen (a round metal grate, typically aluminum). When made at home, it can be baked on a pizza stone in a regular oven to reproduce the effect of a brick oven. Another option is grilled pizza, in which the crust is baked directly on a barbecue grill. Greek pizza, like Chicago-style pizza, is baked in a pan rather than directly on the bricks of the pizza oven.

Pizza types

*Neapolitan pizza (pizza napoletana): Authentic Neapolitan pizzas are typically made with tomatoes and Mozzarella cheese. They can be made with ingredients like San Marzano tomatoes, which grow on the volcanic plains to the south of Mount Vesuvius, and mozzarella di bufala Campana, made with the milk from water buffalo raised in the marshlands of Campania and Lazio in a semi-wild state (this mozzarella is protected with its own European protected designation of origin).

 
According to the rules proposed by the Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana, the genuine Neapolitan pizza dough consists of wheat flour (type 0 or 00, or a mixture of both), natural Neapolitan yeast or brewer’s yeast, salt and water. For proper results, strong flour with high protein content (as used for bread-making rather than cakes) must be used. The dough must be kneaded by hand or with a low-speed mixer. After the rising process, the dough must be formed by hand without the help of a rolling pin or other machine, and may be no more than 3 millimetres (0.12 in) thick. The pizza must be baked for 60–90 seconds in a 485 °C (905 °F) stone oven with an oak-wood fire. When cooked, it should be crispy, tender and fragrant. There are three official variants: pizza marinara, which is made with tomato, garlic, oregano and extra virgin olive oil, pizza Margherita, made with tomato, sliced mozzarella, basil and extra-virgin olive oil, and pizza Margherita extra made with tomato, mozzarella from Campania in fillets, basil and extra virgin olive oil. The pizza napoletana is a Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (Specialità Tradizionale Garantita, STG) product in Europe.

 
*Lazio style: Pizza in Lazio (Rome), as well as in many other parts of Italy, is available in two different styles. Take-away shops sell pizza rustica or pizza al taglio. This pizza is cooked in long, rectangular baking pans and relatively thick (1–2 cm). The pizza is often cooked in an electric oven. It is usually cut with scissors or a knife and sold by weight. In pizzerias, pizza is served in a dish in its traditional round shape. It has a thin, crisp base quite different from the thicker and softer Neapolitan style base. It is usually cooked in a wood-fired oven, giving the pizza its unique flavor and texture. In Rome, a pizza napoletana is topped with tomato, mozzarella, anchovies and oil (thus, what in Naples is called pizza romana, in Rome is called pizza napoletana).

 
Other types of Lazio-style pizza include:
*Pizza romana: tomato, mozzarella, anchovies, oregano, oil

A pizza just removed from the oven

*Pizza viennese: tomato, mozzarella, German sausage, oregano, oil
*Pizza capricciosa: mozzarella, tomato, mushrooms, artichokes, cooked ham, olives, oil
*Pizza quattro formaggi (“four cheese pizza”): tomatoes, and the cheeses mozzarella, stracchino, fontina, and gorgonzola. Sometimes ricotta is swapped for one of the last three.
*Pizza bianca In Rome, the term pizza bianca refers to a type of bread topped with olive oil, salt and, occasionally, rosemary sprigs. It is also a Roman style to add figs to the pizza, the result being known as pizza e fichi
*Pizza alla casalinga (“Grandma pizza”) consists of a thin layer of dough is stretched into an oiled, square “Sicilian” pan, topped sparingly with shredded mozzarella, crushed uncooked canned tomatoes, chopped garlic and olive oil, and baked until the top bubbles and the bottom is crisp.
*Pizza is available frozen. Ways have been developed to overcome challenges such as preventing the sauce from combining with the dough and producing a crust that can be frozen and reheated without becoming rigid. Modified corn starch is commonly used as a moisture barrier between the sauce and crust. Traditionally the dough is partially baked and other ingredients are also sometimes precooked. There are frozen pizzas with raw ingredients and self-rising crusts. A form of uncooked pizza is available from take and bake pizzerias. This pizza is created fresh using raw ingredients, then sold to customers to bake in their own ovens and microwaves.

Due to the wide influence of Italian immigrants in American culture, the US has developed regional forms of pizza, some bearing only a casual resemblance to the Italian original. Chicago has its own style of a deep-dish pizza, Detroit also has its unique twice-baked style, with cheese all the way to the crust, whereas New York City has developed its own distinct variety of thin crust pizza.

Cheese of the Week – Gorgonzola

June 27, 2012 at 9:04 AM | Posted in baking, cheese, Food | 2 Comments
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Gorgonzola is a traditional, creamery and co-operative, blue cheese. The greenish-blue penicillin mould imparts a sharp, spicy flavor and provides an excellent contrast to the rich, creamy cheese. Gorgonzola is made in the northern Italian village, according to which the cheese has its name, either from unpasteurized or pasteurized milk to which the mould is added. At about four weeks the cheeses are pierced with thick needles to encourage the spread of the mould. Gorgonzola ripens in three to six months. The cheese is usually wrapped in foil to keep it moist. Its color ranges from white to straw-yellow with an unmistakable marbled green or bluish-green mould. The taste ranges from mild to sharp, depending on age. Gorgonzola is also excellent in salads and dips.

Country: Italy
Milk: cow milk
Texture: soft
Fat content: 48 %

Gorgonzola has reportedly been produced in the town of the same name since AD 879, acquiring its greenish-blue marbling in the eleventh century. However, the town’s claim of geographical origin is disputed by other localities.

Today, it is mainly produced in the northern Italian regions of Piedmont and Lombardy. Whole cow’s milk is used, to which starter bacteria is added, along with spores of the mould Penicillium glaucum. Penicillium roqueforti, used in Roquefort cheese, may also be used The whey is then removed during curdling, and the result aged at low temperatures.

During the aging process metal rods are quickly inserted and removed, creating air channels that allow the mold spores to grow into hyphae and cause the cheese’s characteristic veining. Gorgonzola is typically aged for three to four months. The length of the aging process determines the consistency of the cheese, which gets firmer as it ripens. There are two varieties of Gorgonzola, which differ mainly in their age: Gorgonzola Dolce (also called Sweet Gorgonzola) and Gorgonzola Piccante (also called Gorgonzola Naturale, Gorgonzola Montagna, or Mountain Gorgonzola).

Under Italian law, Gorgonzola enjoys Protected Geographical Status. Termed DOC in Italy, this means that it can only be produced in the provinces of Novara, Bergamo, Brescia, Como, Cremona, Cuneo, Lecco, Lodi, Milan, Pavia, Varese, Verbano-Cusio-Ossola and Vercelli, as well as a number of comuni in the area of Casale Monferrato (province of Alessandria).

Gorgonzola made with goat’s milk is firm and salty. It is made usually in the Prealpi area of Piedmont and Lombardy, especially in the provinces of Lecco and Alessandria.

Gorgonzola may be eaten in many ways. It may be melted into a risotto in the final stage of cooking, or served alongside polenta. Pasta with gorgonzola is a dish appreciated almost everywhere in Italy by gorgonzola lovers; usually gorgonzola goes on short pasta, such as penne, rigatoni, mezze maniche, or sedani, not with spaghetti or linguine. Because of its distinctive flavor, it is frequently offered as pizza topping. Combined with other soft cheeses it is an ingredient of pizza ai quattro formaggi (four-cheeses pizza).

 
Caramelized Onion and Gorgonzola Pizza

Ingredients

1/8 cup butter
2 large Vidalia onions, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 (10 ounce) package refrigerated pizza dough
1 pound Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

Directions

In a large saute pan, melt butter over medium heat. Saute onions in butter until the onions are soft and dark brown, approximately 25 minutes. Stir in sugar, and continue cooking for 1 or 2 more minutes.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
Grease a pizza pan or cookie sheet, and press out the dough to desired thickness. Spread onions evenly over the dough, and top with crumbled Gorgonzola.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until done.

Nut of the Week – Hazelnut

January 30, 2012 at 11:38 AM | Posted in diabetes, Food, nuts | 2 Comments
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A hazelnut is the nut of the hazel and is also known as a cob nut or filbert nut according to species. A cob is roughly spherical to oval,

Hazelnuts, with shell (left), without shell (right)

about 15–25 mm long and 10–15 mm in diameter, with an outer fibrous husk surrounding a smooth shell. A filbert is more elongated, being about twice as long as it is round. The nut falls out of the husk when ripe, about seven to eight months after pollination. The kernel of the seed is edible and used raw or roasted, or ground into a paste. Hazelnuts are also used for livestock feed, as are chestnuts and acorns. The seed has a thin dark brown skin, which is sometimes removed before cooking.

Hazelnuts are produced in commercial quantities in Turkey, Italy, Greece and in the American states of Oregon and Washington. Turkey is, by far, the largest producer of hazelnuts in the world.

Hazelnuts are used in confectionery to make praline, and also used in combination with chocolate for chocolate truffles and products such as Nutella. Hazelnut oil, pressed from hazelnuts, is strongly flavoured and used as a cooking oil.

Hazelnuts are rich in protein and unsaturated fat. Moreover, they contain significant amounts of thiamine and vitamin B6, as well as smaller amounts of other B vitamins.

Common hazel is widely cultivated for its nuts, including in commercial orchards in Europe, Turkey, Iran and the Caucasus. The name “hazelnut” applies to the nuts of any of the species of the genus Corylus. This hazelnut, the kernel of the seed, is edible and used raw or roasted, or ground into a paste. The seed has a thin dark brown skin, which has a bitter flavour and is sometimes removed before cooking. The top producer of hazelnuts, by a large margin, is Turkey, specifically the Ordu Province. Turkish hazelnut production of 625,000 tonnes accounts for approximately 75% of worldwide production.

In North America: in the United States, hazelnut production is concentrated in Oregon; they are also grown extensively just to the north, in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia, Canada. In 1996, the in-shell production in Oregon was about 19,900 tons, compared to 100 tons in Washington. Hazelnuts are also found in the Pangi valley of Chamba district in India, where they are known as thangi. The hazelnut is growing in popularity in the U.S., where the Hazelnut Marketing Board was established in 1949 by Federal Hazelnut Marketing Order section 982. The harvesting of hazelnuts is done either by hand or by manual or mechanical raking of fallen nuts.

There are many cultivars of the hazel, including ‘Barcelona’, ‘Butler’, ‘Casina’, ‘Clark’ ‘Cosford’, ‘Daviana’, ‘Delle Langhe’, ‘England’, ‘Ennis’, ‘Fillbert’, ‘Halls Giant’, ‘Jemtegaard’, ‘Kent Cob’, ‘Lewis’, ‘Tokolyi’, ‘Tonda Gentile’, ‘Tonda di Giffoni’, ‘Tonda Romana’, ‘Wanliss Pride’, and ‘Willamette’. Some of these are grown for specific qualities of the nut; these qualities include large nut size and early and late fruiting cultivars, whereas others are grown as pollinators. The majority of commercial hazelnuts are propagated from root sprouts. Some cultivars are of hybrid origin between common hazel and filbert. One cultivar grown in Washington state, the “DuChilly”, has an elongated appearance, a thinner and less bitter skin, and a distinctly sweeter flavor than other varieties.

Hazelnuts are harvested annually in mid-autumn. As autumn comes to a close, the trees drop their nuts and leaves. Most commercial growers wait for the nuts to drop on their own, rather than use equipment to shake them from the tree.

Hazelnuts are used in confectionery to make some pralines, in chocolate for some chocolate truffles, and in some hazelnut paste products (such as Nutella). In the United States, hazelnut butter is being promoted as a more nutritious spread than its peanut butter

Bowl of hazelnuts

counterpart, though it has a higher fat content. In Austria and especially in Vienna, hazelnut paste is an ingredient in the making of tortes (such as Viennese hazelnut torte) which are famous there. In the Kiev cake hazelnut flour is used to flavor its meringue body and crushed hazelnuts are sprinkled over its sides. Hazelnuts are also the main ingredient of the classic Dacquoise liqueur. Hazelnut liqueurs, such as Frangelico, are Vodka-based.

Hazelnut-flavored coffee seems (to many users) to be slightly sweetened and less acidic, even though the nut is low in natural saccharides. The reason for such perception is not yet understood.

In Australia, over 2,000 tons are imported annually, mostly to supply the demand from the Cadbury company. Hazelnut oil, pressed from hazelnuts, is strongly flavored and used as a cooking oil. Hazelnuts are also grown extensively in Australia, in orchards growing varieties mostly imported from Europe. It is also grown in New Zealand and Chile.

Common hazel is used by a number of species of Lepidoptera as a food plant.

Hazelnuts have a significant place among the types of dried nuts in terms of nutrition and health because of the special composition of fats (primarily oleic acid), protein, carbohydrates, vitamins (vitamin E), minerals, dietary fibres, phytosterol (beta-cytosterol) and antioxidant phenolics such as flavan-3-ols.

Lean-O Cioppino

January 27, 2012 at 7:08 PM | Posted in diabetes, diabetes friendly, Food, low calorie, low carb, seafood, shrimp | Leave a comment
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Today’s Menu: Lean-O Cioppino w/ Sourdough Bread

When I seen this being made on Hungry Girl the other day it looked and sounded too good not to try! I went earlier today to stock up on the inredients and also picked up a loaf of freshly Sour Dough Bread, from the Kroger Bakery. It looked delicious but I had never heard of Cioppino so I looked it up and here’s what I found:

Cioppino is a fish stew originating in San Francisco. It is considered an Italian-American dish, and is related to various regional fish soups and stews of Italian cuisine. Cioppino is traditionally made from the catch of the day, which in the dish’s place of origin is typically a combination of dungeness crab, clams, shrimp, scallops, squid, mussels and fish. The seafood is then combined with fresh tomatoes in a wine sauce, and served with toasted bread, either sourdough or baguette. The dish is comparable to cacciucco and brodetto from Italy, as well as other fish dishes from the Mediterranean region such as bouillabaisse, burrida, and bourride of the French Provence, suquet de peix from Catalan speaking regions of coastal Spain.

This recipe from Hungrey Girl called for Clams and Shrimp. The recipe also called for Amy’s Organic Light In Sodium Chunky Tomato Bisque but they were out of stock of that so I went with a can of  Amy’s Organic Light In Sodium Cream of Tomato and when preparing it I added a half a can of Tomato Paste to it to thicken it up a bit. It’s very easy to make and every bit as delicious as it sounded! What a great combination to make a healthy and hearty Soup and it’s only 185 calories and 20 carbs. I topped it with some crumbled John Wm Macy’s Cheese Sticks and I had a side of Sour Dough Loaf Bread. This is a fantastic recipe, give it a try! I left the recipe along with the link to “Hungrey Girl” at the end of the post. For dessert later a 100 Calorie Breyer’s Ice Cream Bar.

Lean-O Cioppino

2011 Hungry Girl

Ingredients

Two 15-oz. cans reduced-sodium creamy tomato soup with 4g fat or less per serving (like the Light in Sodium version of Amy’s Chunky Tomato Bisque)

One 10-oz. can whole baby clams, drained
6 oz. (about 30) cooked ready-to-eat medium-small shrimp
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil
Salt and black pepper, to taste
Optional garnish: fresh basil leaves

Directions

Place a nonstick pot on the stove, and set temperature to medium heat. Pour in the soup.

Add clams, shrimp, oregano, and basil. Stirring often, bring to desired heat, about 2 minutes.

If you like, season to taste with salt and pepper and garnish with basil leaves. Enjoy!
MAKES 4 SERVINGS
PER SERVING (1/4th of recipe, 1 generous cup): 185 calories, 3.5g fat, 885mg sodium, 20g carbs, 2g fiber, 13g sugars, 19g protein

http://www.hungry-girl.com/show/under-five-minutes-lean-o-cioppino-recipe

A little about Pizza!

January 20, 2012 at 1:37 PM | Posted in baking, cheese, pizza | Leave a comment
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Pizza is an oven-baked, flat, round bread typically topped with a tomato sauce, cheese and various toppings.

Originating in Italy, from the Neapolitan cuisine, the dish has become popular in many parts of the world. An establishment that makes and sells pizzas is called a “pizzeria”. Pizza is one of the national foods of Italy and the Italian people.

The Ancient Greeks covered their bread with oils, herbs and cheese. In Byzantine Greek, the word was spelled πίτα or pita, meaning pie. The word has now spread to Turkish as pide, Serbo-Croatian and Bulgarian as pita, Albanian as pite and Modern Hebrew pittāh. The Romans developed placenta, a sheet of dough topped with cheese and honey and flavored with bay leaves. Modern pizza originated in Italy as the Neapolitan pie with tomato. In 1889, cheese was added.

In 1889, during a visit to Naples, Queen Margherita of Italy was served a pizza resembling the colors of the Italian flag, red (tomato), white (mozzarella) and green (basil). This kind of pizza has been named after the Queen as Pizza Margherita.

The bottom of the pizza, called the “crust”, may vary widely according to style—thin as in a typical hand-tossed pizza or Roman pizza, or thick as in a typical pan pizza or Chicago-style pizza. It is traditionally plain, but may also be seasoned with garlic, or herbs, or stuffed with cheese.

In restaurants, pizza can be baked in an oven with stone bricks above the heat source, an electric deck oven, a conveyor belt oven or, in the case of more expensive restaurants, a wood- or coal-fired brick oven. On deck ovens, the pizza can be slid into the oven on a long paddle, called a peel, and baked directly on the hot bricks or baked on a screen (a round metal grate, typically aluminum). When made at home, it can be baked on a pizza stone in a regular oven to reproduce the effect of a brick oven. Another option is grilled pizza, in which the crust is baked directly on a barbecue grill. Greek pizza, like Chicago-style pizza, is baked in a pan rather than directly on the bricks of the pizza oven.

Neapolitan pizza (pizza napoletana): Authentic Neapolitan pizzas are typically made with tomatoes and Mozzarella cheese. They can be made with ingredients like San Marzano tomatoes, which grow on the volcanic plains to the south of Mount Vesuvius, and mozzarella di bufala Campana, made with the milk from water buffalo raised in the marshlands of Campania and Lazio in a semi-wild state (this mozzarella is protected with its own European protected designation of origin).

According to the rules proposed by the Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana,[6] the genuine Neapolitan pizza dough consists of wheat flour (type 0 or 00, or a mixture of both), natural Neapolitan yeast or brewer’s yeast, salt and water. For proper results, strong flour with high protein content (as used for bread-making rather than cakes) must be used. The dough must be kneaded by hand or with a low-speed mixer. After the rising process, the dough must be formed by hand without the help of a rolling pin or other machine, and may be no more than 3 millimetres (0.12 in) thick. The pizza must be baked for 60–90 seconds in a 485 °C (905 °F) stone oven with an oak-wood fire. When cooked, it should be crispy, tender and fragrant. There are three official variants: pizza marinara, which is made with tomato, garlic, oregano and extra virgin olive oil, pizza Margherita, made with tomato, sliced mozzarella, basil and extra-virgin olive oil, and pizza Margherita extra made with tomato, mozzarella from Campania in fillets, basil and extra virgin olive oil. The pizza napoletana is a Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (Specialità Tradizionale Garantita, STG) product in Europe.

Lazio style: Pizza in Lazio (Rome), as well as in many other parts of Italy, is available in two different styles. Take-away shops sell pizza rustica or pizza al taglio. This pizza is cooked in long, rectangular baking pans and relatively thick (1–2 cm). The pizza is often cooked in an electric oven. It is usually cut with scissors or a knife and sold by weight. In pizzerias, pizza is served in a dish in its traditional round shape. It has a thin, crisp base quite different from the thicker and softer Neapolitan style base. It is usually cooked in a wood-fired oven, giving the pizza its unique flavor and texture. In Rome, a pizza napoletana is topped with tomato, mozzarella, anchovies and oil (thus, what in Naples is called pizza romana, in Rome is called pizza napoletana).

Other types of Lazio-style pizza include:

Pizza romana: tomato, mozzarella, anchovies, oregano, oil
Pizza viennese: tomato, mozzarella, German sausage, oregano, oil
Pizza capricciosa: mozzarella, tomato, mushrooms, artichokes, cooked ham, olives, oil
Pizza quattro formaggi (“four cheese pizza”): tomatoes, and the cheeses mozzarella, stracchino, fontina, and gorgonzola. Sometimes ricotta is swapped for one of the last three.
Pizza bianca In Rome, the term pizza bianca refers to a type of bread topped with olive oil, salt and, occasionally, rosemary sprigs. It is also a Roman style to add figs to the pizza, the result being known as pizza e fichi
Pizza alla casalinga (“Grandma pizza”) consists of a thin layer of dough is stretched into an oiled, square “Sicilian” pan, topped sparingly with shredded mozzarella, crushed uncooked canned tomatoes, chopped garlic and olive oil, and baked until the top bubbles and the bottom is crisp.

Pizza is available frozen. Ways have been developed to overcome challenges such as preventing the sauce from combining with the dough and producing a crust that can be frozen and reheated without becoming rigid. Modified corn starch is commonly used as a moisture barrier between the sauce and crust. Traditionally the dough is partially baked and other ingredients are also sometimes precooked. There are frozen pizzas with raw ingredients and self-rising crusts. A form of uncooked pizza is available from take and bake pizzerias. This pizza is created fresh using raw ingredients, then sold to customers to bake in their own ovens and microwaves.

In the 20th century, pizza has become a globally accessible dish mainly due to Italian immigrants that have brought their dishes to new people with resounding success and many times in racially and culturally resistive environments.

Due to the wide influence of Italian and Greek immigrants in American culture, the US has developed regional forms of pizza, some bearing only a casual resemblance to the Italian original. Chicago has its own style of a deep-dish pizza, Detroit also has its unique twice-baked style, with cheese all the way to the crust, whereas New York City has developed its own distinct variety of thin crust pizza.

1905 – Gennaro Lombardi claims to have opened the first United States Pizzeria in New York City at 53 1/2 Spring Street. Lombardo is now known as America’s “Patriaca della Pizza.” It wasn’t until the early 1930s that he added tables and chairs and sold spaghetti as well.

1943 – Chicago-style deep-dish pizza (a pizza with a flaky crust that rises an inch or more above the plate and surrounds deep piles of toppings) was created by Ike Sewell at his bar and grill called Pizzeria Uno.

1945 – With the stationing of American soldiers in Italy during World War II (1941-1945) came a growing appreciation of pizza. When the soldiers returned from war, they brought with them a taste for pizza.

1948 – The first commercial pizza-pie mix, “Roman Pizza Mix,” was produced in Worcester, Massachusetts by Frank A. Fiorello.

1950s – It wasn’t until the 1950s that Americans really started noticing pizza. Celebrities of Italian origin, such as Jerry Colonna, Frank Sinatra, Jimmy Durante, and baseball star Joe DiMaggio all devoured pizzas. It is also said that the line from the song by famous singer, Dean Martin; “When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that amore” set America singing and eating pizzas.

1957 – Frozen pizzas were introduced and found in local grocery stores. The first was marketed by the Celentano Brothers. Pizza soon became the most popular of all frozen food.

21st Century

December 9, 2009 – The European Union established a ruling to protect Naples’ Neapolitan pizzas. The EU’s ruling said Neapolitan pizza was now part of Europe’s food heritage, and that all pizzerias aspiring to supply and make the real Neapolitan pizzas must comply to strict traditional standards regarding ingredients and preparation that include using only San Marzano tomatoes and fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese. This protect status will enable producers to not only boast about their exclusivity, but also charge a premium for the pizza.

Pizza can be high in salt, fat and calories. There are concerns about negative health effects. Food chains, such as Pizza Hut, have come under criticism for the high salt content of some of their meals, which were found to contain more than twice the daily recommended amount of salt for an adult.

European nutrition research on the eating habits of people with cancer of the mouth, oesophagus, throat or colon showed those who ate pizza at least once a week had less chance of developing cancer. Dr Silvano Gallus, of the Mario Negri Institute for Pharmaceutical Research in Milan, attributed it to lycopene, an antioxidant chemical in tomatoes, which is thought to offer some protection against cancer. Carlo La Vecchia, a Milan-based epidemiologist said, “Pizza could simply be indicative of a lifestyle and food habits, in other words the Italian version of a Mediterranean diet.” A traditional Mediterranean diet is rich in olive oil, fiber, vegetables, fruit, flour, and freshly cooked food. In contrast to the traditional Italian pizza used in the research, popular pizza varieties in many parts of the world are often loaded with high fat cheeses and fatty meats, a high intake of which can contribute to obesity, itself a risk factor for cancer.

Fruit of the Week – Tomato

November 14, 2011 at 11:32 AM | Posted in diabetes friendly, Food, fruits | Leave a comment
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Tomato may refer to both the plant (Solanum lycopersicum) and the edible, typically red, fruit which it bears. Originating in South America, the tomato was spread around the world following the Spanish colonization of the Americas, and its many varieties are now widely grown, often in greenhouses in cooler climates.

The tomato fruit is consumed in diverse ways, including raw, as an ingredient in many dishes and sauces, and in drinks. While it is botanically a fruit, it is considered a vegetable for culinary purposes (as well as by the United States Supreme Court, see Nix v. Hedden), which has caused some confusion. The fruit is rich in lycopene, which may have beneficial health effects.

The tomato belongs to the nightshade family. The plants typically grow to 3–10 ft in height and have a weak stem that often sprawls over the ground and vines over other plants. It is a perennial in its native habitat, although often grown outdoors in temperate climates as an annual.

The tomato is native to South America. Genetic evidence shows the progenitors of tomatoes were herbaceous green plants with small green fruit and a center of diversity in the highlands of Peru. One species, Solanum lycopersicum, was transported to Mexico, where it was grown and consumed by Mesoamerican civilizations. The exact date of domestication is not known. The first domesticated tomato may have been a little yellow fruit, similar in size to a cherry tomato, grown by the Aztecs of Central Mexico. The word “tomato” comes from the Nahuatl word tomatl, literally “the swelling fruit”.

Spanish explorer Cortés may have been the first to transfer the small yellow tomato to Europe after he captured the Aztec city of Tenochtítlan, now Mexico City, in 1521, although Christopher Columbus, a Genoese working for the Spanish monarchy, may have taken them back as early as 1493. The earliest discussion of the tomato in European literature appeared in an herbal written in 1544 by Pietro Andrea Mattioli, an Italian physician and botanist, who named it pomo d’oro, or “golden apple”.

Aztecs and other peoples in the region used the fruit in their cooking; it was cultivated in southern Mexico and probably other areas by 500 BC. The Pueblo people are thought to have believed that those who witnessed the ingestion of tomato seeds were blessed with powers of divination. The large, lumpy tomato, a mutation from a smoother, smaller fruit, originated in Mesoamerica, and may be the direct ancestor of some modern cultivated tomatoes.

After the Spanish colonization of the Americas, the Spanish distributed the tomato throughout their colonies in the Caribbean. They also took it to the Philippines, from where it spread to southeast Asia and then the entire Asian continent. The Spanish also brought the tomato to Europe. It grew easily in Mediterranean climates, and cultivation began in the 1540s. It was probably eaten shortly after it was introduced, and was certainly being used as food by the early 17th century in Spain. The earliest discovered cookbook with tomato recipes was published in Naples in 1692, though the author had apparently obtained these recipes from Spanish sources. In certain areas of Italy, such as Florence, however, the fruit was used solely as a tabletop decoration before it was incorporated into the local cuisine in the late 17th or early 18th century.

The earliest reference to tomatoes being grown in British North America is from 1710, when herbalist William Salmon reported seeing them in what is today South Carolina. They may have been introduced from the Caribbean. By the mid-18th century, they were cultivated on some Carolina plantations, and probably in other parts of the Southeast as well. Possibly, some people continued to think tomatoes were poisonous at this time; and in general, they were grown more as ornamental plants than as food. Thomas Jefferson, who ate tomatoes in Paris, sent some seeds back to America.

Because of the long growing season needed for this heat-loving crop, several states in the US Sun Belt became major tomato-producers, particularly Florida and California. In California, tomatoes are grown under irrigation for both the fresh fruit market and for canning and processing. The University of California, Davis (UC Davis) became a major center for research on the tomato. The C.M. Rick Tomato Genetics Resource Center at UC Davis is a gene bank of wild relatives, monogenic mutants and miscellaneous genetic stocks of tomato. The Center is named for the late Dr. Charles M. Rick, a pioneer in tomato genetics research. Research on processing tomatoes is also conducted by the California Tomato Research Institute in Escalon, California.

In California, growers have used a method of cultivation called dry-farming, especially with Early Girl tomatoes. This technique encourages the plant to send roots deep to find existing moisture in soil that retains moisture, such as clayey soil.

The tomato is now grown worldwide for its edible fruits, with thousands of cultivars having been selected with varying fruit types, and for optimum growth in differing growing conditions. Cultivated tomatoes vary in size, from tomberries, about 5 mm in diameter, through cherry tomatoes, about the same 0.4–0.8 in size as the wild tomato, up to beefsteak tomatoes 4 in or more in diameter. The most widely grown commercial tomatoes tend to be in the 2.0–2.4 in diameter range. Most cultivars produce red fruit, but a number of cultivars with yellow, orange, pink, purple, green, black, or white fruit are also available. Multicolored and striped fruit can also be quite striking. Tomatoes grown for canning and sauces are often elongated, 3–4 in long and 1.6–2.0 in diameter; they are known as plum tomatoes, and have a lower water content. Roma-type tomatoes are important cultivars in the Sacramento Valley.

Tomatoes are one of the most common garden fruits in the United States and, along with zucchini, have a reputation for outproducing the needs of the grower.

Quite a few seed merchants and banks provide a large selection of heirloom seeds. The definition of an heirloom tomato is vague, but unlike commercial hybrids, all are self-pollinators who have bred true for 40 years or more.

About 130 million tons of tomatoes were produced in the world in 2008. China, the largest producer, accounted for about one quarter of the global output, followed by United States and Turkey. For one variety, plum or processing tomatoes, California accounts for 90% of U.S. production and 35% of world production.

Tomato varieties are roughly divided into several categories, based mostly on shape and size.

“Slicing” or “globe” tomatoes are the usual tomatoes of commerce, used for a wide variety of processing and fresh eating.

Tomatosoup

Beefsteak tomatoes are large tomatoes often used for sandwiches and similar applications. Their kidney-bean shape, thinner skin, and shorter shelf life makes commercial use impractical.
Oxheart tomatoes can range in size up to beefsteaks, and are shaped like large strawberries.
Plum tomatoes, or paste tomatoes (including pear tomatoes), are bred with a higher solids content for use in tomato sauce and paste, and are usually oblong.
Pear tomatoes are obviously pear-shaped, and are based upon the San Marzano types for a richer gourmet paste.
Cherry tomatoes are small and round, often sweet tomatoes generally eaten whole in salads.
Grape tomatoes, a more recent introduction, are smaller and oblong, a variation on plum tomatoes, and used in salads.
Campari tomatoes are also sweet and noted for their juiciness, low acidity, and lack of mealiness. They are bigger than cherry tomatoes, but are smaller than plum tomatoes.

The tomato is now grown and eaten around the world. It is used in diverse ways, including raw in salads, and processed into ketchup or tomato soup. Unripe green tomatoes can also be breaded and fried, used to make salsa, or pickled. Tomato juice is sold as a drink, and is used in cocktails such as the Bloody Mary.

Tomatoes are acidic, making them especially easy to preserve in home canning whole, in pieces, as tomato sauce or paste. The fruit is also preserved by drying, often in the sun, and sold either in bags or in jars with oil.

Tomatoes are used extensively in Mediterranean cuisine, especially Italian and Middle Eastern cuisines. They are a key ingredient in pizza, and are commonly used in pasta sauces. They are also used in gazpacho (Spanish cuisine) and pa amb tomàquet (Catalan cuisine).

Though it is botanically a berry, a subset of fruit, the tomato is a vegetable for culinary purposes, because of its savory flavor.

Lycopene has also been shown to protect against oxidative damage in many epidemiological and experimental studies. In addition to its antioxidant activity, other metabolic effects of lycopene have also been demonstrated. The richest source of lycopene in the diet is tomato and tomato derived products. Tomato consumption has been associated with decreased risk of breast cancer, head and neck cancers[28] and might be strongly protective against neurodegenerative diseases. Tomatoes and tomato sauces and puree are said to help lower urinary tract symptoms (BPH) and may have anticancer properties. Tomato consumption might be beneficial for reducing cardiovascular risk associated with type 2 diabetes.

Tomatoes that are not yet ripe are optimally stored at room temperature uncovered, out of direct sunlight, until ripe. In this environment, they have a shelf life of three to four days. When ripe, they should be used in one to two days. Tomatoes should only be refrigerated when well ripened, but this will affect flavor.

Botanically, a tomato is a fruit: the ovary, together with its seeds, of a flowering plant. However, the tomato has a much lower sugar content than other fruits, and is therefore not as sweet. Typically served as part of a salad or main course of a meal, rather than at dessert, it is considered a vegetable for most culinary purposes. One exception is that tomatoes are treated as a fruit in home canning practices: they are acidic enough to be processed in a water bath rather than a pressure cooker as “vegetables” require. Tomatoes are not the only foodstuff with this ambiguity: eggplants, cucumbers, and squashes of all kinds (such as zucchini and pumpkins) are all botanically fruits, yet cooked as vegetables.

This argument has had legal implications in the United States. In 1887, U.S. tariff laws that imposed a duty on vegetables, but not on fruits, caused the tomato’s status to become a matter of legal importance. The U.S. Supreme Court settled the controversy on May 10, 1893, by declaring that the tomato is a vegetable, based on the popular definition that classifies vegetables by use, that they are generally served with dinner and not dessert. The holding of the case applies only to the interpretation of the Tariff Act of March 3, 1883, and the court did not purport to reclassify the tomato for botanical or other purposes.

Tomatoes have been designated the state vegetable of New Jersey. Arkansas took both sides by declaring the “South Arkansas Vine Ripe Pink Tomato” to be both the state fruit and the state vegetable in the same law, citing both its culinary and botanical classifications. In 2009, the state of Ohio passed a law making the tomato the state’s official fruit. Tomato juice has been the official beverage of Ohio since 1965. A.W. Livingston, of Reynoldsburg, Ohio, played a large part in popularizing the tomato in the late 19th century; his efforts are commemorated in Reynoldsburg with an annual Tomato Festival.

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