In Italy, food is culture. It is part of the history of the Country as well as the Italian lifestyle. Italy is a place with sophisticated taste. One of the most famous types of food in Italy is fresh Italian cheeses. There is nothing like an authentic savory Italian cheese, paired with some sweet juicy fruit and a glass of Chianti wine. If you try Italian cheeses just once, I promise that you will fall in love forever.
|My Grandfather Julius|
my Dad's father
|My Grandfather Julius and myself at |
my grandfathers' 75th Birthday
Mozzarella: is made from Buffalo milk in southern Italy (Campania region) and has a taste that is mild and delicate. It is now made world wide from cow’s milk. Its texture is soft and chewy. Mozzarella is the key ingredient in Italian pizza and lasagna, it can also be fried in a stick shape which is a popular appietizer in some restaurants.
Ricotta: is a traditional, creamy mild whey cheese made from cow’s or sheep’s milk. It is white and moist but not sticky. Ricotta should be firm, but not solid. It is primarily used in lasagna, can be used as a white pizza and is widely used in many other Italian specialty dishes. (I love it just plain on a slice of toast)
Mascarpone: is a soft, white, fresh, vegetarian, cream cheese made in the Lombardy region of Northern Italy. In fact, it really is not considered a cheese at all, but rather the result of a culture being added to the cream skimmed off the milk, used in the production of Parmesan. It has a mild flavor and it is used as a substitute for whipped cream. It is spreadable and it is added to famous Italian desserts, sometimes accompanied by cognac. Mascarpone is the secret of a good Tiramisu recipe.
Parmesan: is named after the town of Parma in Northern Italy. Parmesan or Parmigiano Reggiano is one of the world’s most popular and widely enjoyed cheeses, also known as the King of undisputed cheeses. It is a traditional, unpasteurized, hard cheese made from cow’s skimmed milk. It is generally aged for 2-3 years. It has a sharp, salty, and full flavor. It comes in the shape of a drum with a sticky hard, yellow rind. The aroma is sweet and fruity, and it is ivory or pale yellow in color. Parmigiano Reggiano is primarily a grating cheese used as toppings for soups, pasta dishes, salads and also can be used for chicken or veal. This cheese is sold in chunks or wedges and then can be grated or shaved.
Pecorino: is the name given to all Italian cheeses made from sheep’s milk. Pecora in Italian means sheep and it is one of Italy’s oldest cheeses. Pecorino Romano is the name given to cheeses from the Rome area, Pecorino Sardo is from Sardinia, Pecorino Siciliano is from Sicily. Also known as Locatelli which is the brand name of Pecorino Romano. It is a traditional creamery, hard, drum cheese made from sheep’s milk. The smooth hard rind is pale straw to dark brown in color. The interior color is white to pale yellow. It takes 8 to 12 months to mature, during which time it develops its characteristic flavor which is salty, with a fruity tang that becomes steadily more robust. Pecorino is a very tasty product and it is used in recipes like baked ravioli, grated or shaved in sauces and on pasta dishes.
So enjoy your cheeses with your bottle of Chianti wine and as we say in Italian,
“Gustare il formaggio e il vino” (enjoy your cheese and wine)
This weekend’s recipe celebrates a lovely refreshing dish made with Mozzarella Cheese, called:
Ingredients:1 pound of fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced ¼ inch thick
2-3 large vine-ripened tomatoes, sliced ¼ inch thick
Fresh basil leaves (about 10)
Salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tablespoons of drained capers (optional)
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Directions:In a circular design around the side of a serving plate, alternate fresh mozzarella slices on a large platter with sliced tomatoes, overlapping for effect. Tear fresh basil leaves and sprinkle liberally over the slices. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Sprinkle capers over the top if using them. Just before serving
Drizzle on top with quality extra-virgin olive oil.
Note: Insalata Caprese should never be allowed to sit in oil for any length of time and become soggy, and no vinegar of any kind goes on true Insalata Caprese!
Can be served with Italian bread and an array of other appetizers. Enjoy !!!
Till next time……..
Copyright © 2011 All Rights Reserved