Archive for September, 2008


Posted in Photography with tags , , , on September 30, 2008 by taralceleste



Introduction to Digital SLR Photography

The ideal starting point for new Digital SLR camera owners and anyone
considering Digital SLR photography. Intro to Digital SLR photography
will help you achieve a good understanding of the basics of photography
using creative techniques that help you get great shots. You’ll learn
important menu choices, what lenses to use, looking at light,
composition, framing, how to use a browser to download, edit, store and
backup all your great digital images… and more.

Who Should Attend?

Those new to digital Single Lens Reflex (SLR) photography, or those coming back to photography after many years away.

Color, Light, Technology

For those ready for the next level, you will learn about current
industry trends and technology advances. Learn how to plan, prepare and
pack for a photo trip. In-depth explanation of color management, from
color spaces and calibration tools to conversion and soft proofing.
Creating and controlling light using multiple wireless flash units.
Using Nikon Capture NX 2
to get the most from your images and see how different software can
affect the look of RAW images. The seminar includes preparing photos
for output, from sizing and sharpening to soft proofing… and more.

Who Should Attend?
Experienced digital SLR photographers and those comfortable with the
basics of digital SLR photography and camera controls.



Posted in Photography with tags , , on September 30, 2008 by taralceleste

Love picture - animals, ducklings, by Lab2112


Posted in Photography with tags , , on September 30, 2008 by taralceleste


Posted in FOOD with tags , , on September 30, 2008 by taralceleste

Cheese in Italy

MarzolinoEver since the first cheese
was unwittingly produced in the Neolithic, people have been relying
on cheese for sustenance and pleasure, nutrition and delight. Culinary
historians postulate that cheese came to be as the result of a happy
accident: roughly 12,000 years ago, a nomadic shepherd in the Mediterranean
poured the day’s milk into a calf’s stomach, the pouch he used for
transporting goods on his journeys. After a day or so, the shepherd
opened the calf’s stomach and found that the milk it contained had
solidified, forming a spoonable substance. And while that shepherd
might have been dismayed by his finding at first, he certainly realized
that the milk, in its solidified state, not only tasted good, it
kept for longer as well. Thousands of years later, we still use
rennet obtained from calf’s stomach to separate the whey from the
curds in milk; in other words, to make cheese.

While cheesemaking was first developed around the Middle East, as
shown by cave paintings in the Libyan Sahara dating to 5000 B.C. and
traces of cheese in the tomb of a king of the Egyptian First Dynasty
dating to 3000 B.C., all cultures around the Mediterranean basin soon
took up the task. Today, Italy is one of the world’s leading cheese
producers, and boasts a venerable tradition of cheesemaking that
predates the days of the Roman Empire. The Etruscans who settled in
central Italy more than 3,000 years ago were already making sheep’s
milk cheese; experts postulate that they grated it over boiled strips
of pasta (no, pasta did not reach Italy after Marco Polo went to the
Far East: it had been made locally since 1000 B.C. or so), ate it with
bread, and more. Both the ancient Greeks and Romans relied on cheese as
a staple; again, sheep’s milk cheese was most common in these pastoral
societies. Homer mentioned cheese in the Iliad, and the Roman cookbook
writer Marcus Apicius talked of cheese in his first-century book.

Italy produces hundreds of different cheeses. Each region relies on its
livestock to create a variety of cheeses for the table and for the
kitchen. In general, northern Italian regions (Val d’Aosta, Piedmont,
Liguria, Lombardy, Trentino-Alto Adige, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, The
Veneto, and Emilia-Romagna,) have a terrain better suited to cows, so
most of their cheeses are made of cow’s milk. Central Italian regions
(The Marches, Tuscany, Umbria, Latium, Abruzzo, and Molise) and
southern Italian regions (Apulia, Campania, Basilicata, Calabria,
Sicily, and Sardinia) have long been the domain of shepherds, so
sheep’s milk cheeses prevail. Goat’s milk cheeses and cheeses made from
the milk of water buffaloes are also made (the latter especially in
southern regions). Today, calf’s rennet and a variety of vegetable
extracts (including wild cardoon) are used to coagulate milk and
precipitate the separation of the curds from the whey.

The Character of Italian Cheese

How a given cheese tastes is the result of a number of factors.
First and foremost, of course, is the type of milk used: a cow’s milk
cheese tastes different from a sheep’s milk cheese, and a cheese
obtained from a combination of water buffalo’s milk and goat’s milk has
its own personality. The place where the cheese is produced (more on
this below), the season in which it is produced, and how long it is
aged are also major determinants of flavor: in general, summer cheese
tends to be more flavorful, because the animals feed on aromatic fresh
grass and wild herbs rather than dry fodder; and the longer a cheese
ages, the sharper and saltier it becomes.

The place where a given cheese is produced is fundamental to
determining its flavor and character. Because Italian dairies tend to
process milk only from a delimited, and often quite small, area, the
regional specificity of Italian cheeses is quite pronounced. Cows,
goats, sheep, and water buffaloes munch on grass and hay in their
natural microenvironment; the grass and hay confer a specific taste to
the animals’ milk, yielding cheeses with unique characteristics. Simply
put, cow’s milk around Novara (Piedmont), say, tastes different from
cow’s milk around Bari (Apulia); therefore, a cow’s milk Ricotta
produced in Novara will taste different from one produced in Bari. This
is akin to the soil specificity of grape varietals in winemaking: the
same grape varietal planted in two different locations will yield
different fruit, and therefore, different wines. Not surprisingly, just
as for Italian wine, Italian cheeses are safeguarded and protected by a
denomination system: roughly 30 Italian cheeses are now labeled DOP
(Denominazione di Origine Protetta, or Denomination of Protected
Origin). These DOP cheeses must be made within a given production area
according to strict guidelines, and owe much of their character to
their place of origin. The DOP cheeses are Italy’s most widespread
cheeses, and, thankfully, nearly all are available in North America.

Cheese in the Italian Kitchen

The Italian word for cheese, formaggio, may be derived from the
Latin formaticum (which describes the reed baskets in which curds were
set to drain and mature) or from the Greek formos, for shape (meaning
the mold used to shape cheese). The texture of cheese depends largely
on its water content: the more water is drained out, the drier the
cheese will be. Some cheeses, like Crescenza, are runny, almost liquid,
while others, particularly the grainy grating cheeses like Grana
Padano, are dry and crumbly; of course, the younger, fresher cheeses
are moister, and the aged ones are drier and more friable.

A number of Italian cheeses are best suited to eating at the table,
and others are ideal for cooking. But most are versatile enough that
they can be savored raw or cooked. Keep in mind that cooking a cheese
(or a cured meat such as Prosciutto, for that matter) will tend to
attenuate its unique character: if you really want to savor that
perfectly aged Robiola, you might be better off eating it with a hunk
of country bread than stirring it into a pot of Quattro Formaggi (Four
Cheese) sauce for your pasta.

Cheese Tips

The Italian word for cheese, formaggio, may be derived from the
Latin formaticum (which describes the reed baskets in which curds were
set to drain and mature) or from the Greek formos, for shape (meaning
the mold used to shape cheese). The texture of cheese depends largely
on its water content: the more water is drained out, the drier the
cheese will be. Some cheeses, like Crescenza, are runny, almost liquid,
while others, particularly the grainy grating cheeses like Grana
Padano, are dry and crumbly; of course, the younger, fresher cheeses
are moister, and the aged ones are drier and more friable.

A number of Italian cheeses are best suited to eating at the table,
and others are ideal for cooking. But most are versatile enough that
they can be savored raw or cooked. Keep in mind that cooking a cheese
(or a cured meat such as Prosciutto, for that matter) will tend to
attenuate its unique character: if you really want to savor that
perfectly aged Robiola, you might be better off eating it with a hunk
of country bread than stirring it into a pot of Quattro Formaggi (Four
Cheese) sauce for your pasta.
spicy mozzarella

In Italy, cheese appears at nearly every meal: sometimes it is served
as a course on its own, after the main course in place of dessert;
other times it is incorporated in dishes as diverse as pizzas or
risottos. Of all Italian cheeses, the most famous is
Parmigiano-Reggiano, a crumbly, grainy, nutty-flavored raw cow’s milk
cheese that hails from Emilia-Romagna; there are few Italian kitchens
that don’t keep a wedge of this cheese on hand at all times.
Mozzarella, Pecorino, Grana Padano, Fontina, Gorgonzola, and Taleggio
are also prized across the country. But despite the prevalence of these
cheeses across Italy, Italians are fiercely proud of the cheeses
crafted in their own villages, towns, and provinces, relying on these
less widespread cheeses to create their most characteristic dishes.
Locally produced cheeses often lend that haunting, undefinable note to
pasta stuffings, fillings or toppings for savory pies, and more. They
are an integral, colorful part of the mosaic of the Italian regional

Fresh ricotta cheese

The list below comprises Italy’s most important, as well as most
interesting, cheeses. Many of these cheeses are available only in
Italy, and some are known only in their zone of production. Make it a
point to explore Italy’s cheeses both on their native soil and here: in
Italy, head to a salumeria (the Italian equivalent of the delicatessen,
where cured meats, cheeses, and more are sold) and to the local dairies
whenever you can; and at home, take a trip to a well-stocked cheese
shop with this list in hand.


Cavatelli con Ricotta, Pomodorini e Basilico

Cavatelli with Ricotta, Grape Tomatoes, and Basil

Substitute 1 and ½ pounds dried cavatelli for the fresh cavatelli below if time is short.

For the cavatelli:

  • 1 pound semolina flour, plus extra for the counter
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Hot water

For the sauce:

  • 2/3 pound fresh whole-milk Ricotta
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 bunch basil, leaves only, cut into fine strips
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

For the chili oil:

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon chili flakes

To cook and serve:

  • 2 tablespoons salt

Make the cavatelli: Place the semolina on the counter and mix in the
salt. Make a well in the center and add enough hot water to make a
dough that comes together; it will take about 1 cup of water. The dough
should be firm and form a solid mass. Add more water if the dough is
ragged and does not come together (keep in mind that this dough should
be quite firm, almost hard, so as to pass through the rollers of the
cavatelli machine without sticking together).

Knead vigorously
5 to 10 minutes, or until very smooth. Cut into 16 pieces and roll into
¼-inch-wide logs. Roll through a cavatelli machine. Toss with semolina
flour and spread out on a flour-dusted tray for up to 24 hours.

Make the sauce: In a large bowl, combine the Ricotta, tomatoes, basil, and salt. Stir gently and set aside.

the chili oil: Combine all the ingredients in a small skillet and heat
over a low flame until the garlic and chili are aromatic, about 2

To cook the cavatelli: Bring 6 quarts of water to a
boil. Add the cavatelli and the 2 tablespoons of salt; cook until the
cavatelli are al dente, about 5 minutes, tasting often to determine
doneness. Reserve ½ cup of the pasta cooking water.

Stir the reserved pasta cooking water into the Ricotta sauce in the
bowl. Stir in the cavatelli and the chili oil and adjust the seasoning
if needed. Serve hot.
Serves 8

Crostata Ripiena di Carciofi, Zucchine e Formaggio

Polenta-Crusted Artichoke, Zucchini, and Cheese Pie

This pie is best served warm just after baking, when the crust is
especially crisp. The use of buttermilk in the dough is not
traditionally Italian (Italians would use more butter instead) but it
allows you to cut down on the fat in the recipe and obtain a luscious,
crisp, crumbly crust.

For the dough:

  • 1 and ¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for the counter
  • ½ cup polenta (not instant)
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoons baking powder
  • ¾ stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, chilled and cubed, plus extra for greasing the pie pan
  • ¾ cup buttermilk, plus extra for brushing the top

For the filling:

  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 medium zucchini (about 1 pound), scrubbed and cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon plus ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large leeks, white part only, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • One 10-ounce package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and coarsely chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 and ½ tablespoons polenta (not instant)
  • 1 and ½ cups coarsely grated Fontina from Val d’Aosta or crumbled young goat cheese

Make the dough: Place the flour and polenta in a bowl and add the
salt and baking powder. Mix well. Add the butter and quickly combine
with your fingertips; it is essential that you work as fast as possible
so that you avoid melting the butter (this would result in a heavier,
less flaky pastry dough once baked). When the mixture resembles coarse
meal, add the buttermilk and quickly gather into a mass; there will be
lumps of butter visible. Add a little more buttermilk if needed to form
a mass. Cut into 2 pieces, one slightly larger than the other, shape
into 2 flat disks, and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate 15 minutes.

Make the filling: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

the eggs in a small pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Remove
from the heat, cover the pot, and set aside 13 minutes. Drain, rinse
under cool water, and shell the hard-boiled eggs. Cut into thin slices.

Place the zucchini in a colander set over a plate. Sprinkle
with 1 tablespoon of the salt and set aside for 30 minutes; this purges
excess liquid from zucchini, making the filling less watery later.
Rinse and blot dry.

Heat the olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over a medium flame.
Add the leeks and garlic, and cook 10 minutes, or until the leeks are
wilted. Add the zucchini and artichokes, season with ¼ teaspoon of the
salt and the pepper, and sauté 8 minutes, or until the vegetables are
crisp-tender. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the basil, polenta, and
Fontina. Adjust the seasoning if needed. Cool to room temperature.

Assemble the pie: Butter a 9 and 1/2 -inch glass baking
dish. Roll out the larger piece of chilled dough on a lightly floured
counter into an 11-inch circle. Roll out the smaller piece of chilled
dough into a 10-inch circle.

Line the prepared baking dish with the larger dough circle
and top with half of the hard-boiled eggs; season with 1/8 teaspoon of
the salt. Spoon in half of the filling. Top with the remaining
hard-boiled eggs and season with the remaining 1/8 teaspoon of salt.
Spoon in the remaining filling. Cover with the smaller dough circle.

Crimp the edges to seal well and use excess dough to create
a pretty border around the pie. Tear a hole in the middle of the top
crust and brush with buttermilk.

Bake in the preheated oven 45 minutes, or until the crust is a deep golden color and crispy. Serve warm,
in wedges, with green salad tossed with lemon juice and olive oil. Serves 4 as a first course, 8 as an appetize

Torta Salata al Formaggio con Asparagi

Savory Cheese and Asparagus Pie

Store-bought phyllo dough works beautifully in this lovely
springtime pie. Look for phyllo dough in the freezer section of
well-stocked supermarkets, and defrost overnight in the refrigerator
before assembling the pie. The pie can be prepared (but not baked) up
to 12 hours ahead; pour on the egg custard mixture just before baking.

For the filling:

  • 1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
  • 1/2 pound fresh Mozzarella, coarsely grated
  • 1/4 pound fresh Ricotta
  • 1/4 pound French Feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 bunches asparagus, woody ends trimmed, stalks cut into 1/4-inch lengths, tips reserved

For the pie:

  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 10 sheets phyllo dough, thawed

For the custard mixture:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup club soda

Make the filling: Combine all the ingredients in a bowl (remember to
reserve the asparagus tips to garnish the top of the pie).

Make the pie: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Lightly oil a rectangular glass baking dish (9 inches x 13 inches is ideal).

Cut the phyllo dough in half, making 20 rectangles that will line the baking pan nicely.
Line the baking pan with 1 phyllo rectangle and brush very lightly with the olive oil,
keeping the other phyllo rectangles covered with a dry towel while you work (otherwise the phyllo will dry
out and crack, becoming very difficult to work with).

Top with another phyllo rectangle; continue in this manner, brushing lightly with olive oil and
stacking phyllo rectangles, until you have used 7 phyllo rectangles.

Spoon on half of the asparagus and cheese filling and spread well, covering the dough.

Layer another 6 phyllo rectangles over the filling, brushing between the layers with olive oil.

Spoon on the remaining asparagus and cheese filling, spreading it well and covering the dough nicely.

Top with the remaining 7 phyllo rectangles, brushing between the layers with olive oil.

Arrange the reserved asparagus tips in a pretty pattern over the top of the pie.

Make the custard mixture: Whisk the ingredients together in a bowl.
Pour the custard mixture over the pie. As the pie bakes, the custard
will puff and turn into a delicately creamy topping.

Bake in the preheated oven 45 minutes, or until golden, set, and crisp. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.
Serves 4 as a first course, 8 as an appetizer

Cannoli Profumati all’Arancia

Orange, Mascarpone, and Ricotta Cannoli

Look for cannoli shells at Italian markets and pastry shops.

  • ½ pound fresh whole-milk Ricotta
  • ½ pound Mascarpone (preferably imported Italian)
  • ¼ cup honey (preferably orange blossom)
  • grated zest of 1 orange
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped unsalted pistachios
  • 24 mini cannoli shells

Make the cream filling: Beat the Ricotta and Mascarpone with the
honey, orange zest, and cinnamon until it is perfectly smooth with a

Refrigerate up to 1 day. (Do not process the mixture in a food processor, or it will liquefy.)

Stuff the cannoli: Pipe the cream filling through a pastry bag fitted with a flat tip into the hollow cannoli shells.

Dip both ends in the
chopped pistachios and arrange on a serving platter. Chill the cannoli for 2 to 12 hours and enjoy. Makes 24 miniature cannolis

Triangoli Croccanti ai Quattro Formaggi

Crispy Four-Cheese Phyllo Triangles over Baby Greens

Look for phyllo dough in the freezer section of most well-stocked
supermarkets, and allow at least 12 hours to defrost in the

For the triangles:

  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped tarragon
  • 2 tablespoons chopped mint
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon hot Hungarian paprika
  • 1/3 pound Fontina from Val d’Aosta, rind removed, coarsely grated
  • 1/3 pound coarsely grated smoked Mozzarella
  • 1/3 pound coarsely grated fresh Mozzarella
  • 1/3 pound young goat cheese, crumbled
  • 11 sheets phyllo dough, thawed
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

For the greens:

  • 4 packed cups mixed baby greens
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Pinch freshly ground black pepper

Make the triangles: In a bowl, combine the herbs, pepper,
nutmeg, and paprika. Add the Fontina, smoked Mozzarella, fresh
Mozzarella, and goat cheese, and mix well.

Place the phyllo
dough on a large cutting board, and slice into 4-inch wide strips (you
will have 3 strips per sheet). Place under a dry towel while you work.

one strip of dough in front of you, keeping the others covered. Brush
it lightly with the olive oil, cover with another strip of dough, and
brush that strip with olive oil as well.

Place 2 heaping
tablespoons of filling along the bottom edge of the dough. Roll the
phyllo dough over the filling to enclose, folding it up away from you
as if you were folding a flag.

Seal with a little additional
olive oil, place seam-side down on a parchment paper-lined 11-inch x
17-inch baking sheet, and lightly oil the top.

Continue to
roll triangles in this way, arranging them in a single layer on the
baking sheet. (The triangles can be frozen on the baking sheet at this
point; when they are solid, transfer to freezer-safe bags. Do not
defrost before baking.)

bake: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees (preferably set on convection
bake). Bake the triangles for 20 minutes, or until golden and crisp.

Make the greens: Toss the greens with the lemon juice, olive
oil, salt, and pepper. Mound on 8 plates. Top each with 2 triangles and
Makes 16 four-inch triangles (serves 8)

Grana con Miele di Castagne e Noci

Grana Padano with Chestnut Honey and Walnuts

Grana Padano is a nutty, buttery cow’s milk cheese from Lombardy,
where it has been produced for a thousand years. Italians use it as
often as they use Parmigiano-Reggiano and it is excellent both grated
and as a table cheese. Look for Grana Padano with a smooth,
golden-yellow rind stamped with the Consortium’s distinctive seal, and
a compact, dense inner structure without holes or color striations.
Wrap Grana Padano tightly in a double layer of plastic wrap and
refrigerate it up to 1 month; wedges can also be frozen if desired. If
using Grana Padano as a grating cheese, it’s always best to grate it
just before savoring it—if you really must grate it days before you are
going to use it, freeze it to better preserve its aroma. Serve the
elegant dish below as a combined cheese and dessert course. If you
can’t find chestnut honey (which has a pleasantly bitter falvor), use
any honey you like; clover or orange blossom are fine substitutes.

  • 3/4 pound Grana Padano, cut into 1/4-inch-thick wedges
  • 36 walnut halves
  • 1/2 cup chestnut honey

Arrange the Grana Padano on 6 plates. Top with the walnuts and drizzle with the chestnut honey. Enjoy immediately. Serves 6

Frittata di Salsiccia e Pecorino

Italian Sausage and Pecorino Frittata

Use zucchini, asparagus, or mushrooms instead of pepper if you
prefer, and omit the sausage for a vegetarian frittata. Store leftover
frittata in the refrigerator and enjoy at room temperature, or warm a
few minutes in a preheated 350° oven.

  • 1 teaspoon plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 pound Italian sausage, casings removed and crumbled
  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 12 basil leaves, torn
  • 4 sage leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano

Preheat the broiler.

Heat 1 teaspoon of the olive oil in an ovenproof 10-inch skillet.
Add the sausage and cook 5 minutes over medium-high heat, stirring; the
sausage should be cooked all the way through and lightly browned (cook
a little longer if it is not). Add the red pepper, basil, sage, 1/4
teaspoon of the salt, and 1/8 teaspoon of the pepper, and cook 5 more
minutes, or until the red pepper is wilted.

Beat the eggs with the Pecorino, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt,
and the remaining 1/8 teaspoon of the pepper in a large bowl. Stir in
the hot sausage-pepper mixture, beating and stirring quickly to avoid
scrambling the eggs, and pour into the same skillet, dribbling in the
remaining 2 tablespoons of the olive oil first. Cook over medium heat
10 minutes, or until set and golden on the bottom.

Transfer the frittata to the preheated broiler and cook until set
and lightly browned on the top, about 5 minutes. Serve hot, warm, or at
room temperature. Serves 2 as a main course or 6 as an appetizer.

Barchette di Indivia al Gorgonzola

Endive Boats with Gorgonzola and Walnut Mousse

Select a mild, buttery Gorgonzola for this rich appetizer, and cut off its rind to ensure the mousse won’t be bitter.

  • 1/2 pound mild Gorgonzola, rind removed, cut into large pieces
  • 1/2 cup shelled walnut halves, plus extra to garnish
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, plus extra if needed
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 large Belgian endives, separated into spears
  • 1/4 cup honey

In a food processor, combine the Gorgonzola, the walnut halves, the
cream, and the pepper until smooth; add more cream if needed to thin it
out. The mousse should be as thick as jam. Refrigerate 30 minutes (or
up to 2 days) to firm it up; this makes piping easier.

Arrange the endive spears on a platter with the tips facing in
toward the center. Spoon the Gorgonzola mousse into a pastry bag fitted
with a star tip.

Pipe the Gorgonzola mousse on the bottom half of each endive spear
in a pretty rosette pattern. Top each rosette of Gorgonzola mousse with
a walnut half. Drizzle the Gorgonzola mousse lightly with the honey and
serve within 15 minutes. Serves 12

Stuzzichini di Fontina, Pomodoro e Rucola

Fontina, Tomato, and Arugula Triangles

While hardly traditional in the Italian kitchen, flour tortillas
provide a lovely thin shell for the cheese and vegetable stuffing. In
Italy, thin, pliable flatbreads called piadine–made from flour and
lard–would be used instead, but tortillas are a fabulous substitute.
Be sure to buy Fontina from Val d’Aosta, a nutty cow’s milk cheese that
melts beautifully, for this easy finger food.

  • 8 flour tortillas (8-inch diameter)
  • 1/2 pound Fontina from Val d’Aosta, rind removed, thinly sliced or coarsely grated
  • 4 plum tomatoes, very thinly sliced
  • 1 large bunch arugula, leaves only, cut into chiffonnade
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

Place 4 of the tortillas on a work surface. Top each with
one-quarter of the Fontina, tomatoes, and arugula; season evenly with
salt and pepper. Cover with the remaining 4 tortillas.

Heat 1 teaspoon of the olive oil in each of two 10-inch omelet pans.
Slip in one of the tortillas in each skillet, and cook over medium-high
heat until golden on the bottom; turn and cook the other side until
golden. It will take about 5 minutes total.

Cook the 2 remaining tortillas in the remaining olive oil in the same manner.

While the second batch of tortillas cook, serve the first batch, cut into 8 triangles each. Makes 32 pieces

Crostini con Peperoni Arrostiti e Caprino

Crostini with Roasted Peppers and Goat Cheese

roast the peppers cut side down

You can top the baguette slices with slices of fresh Mozzarella instead of goat cheese for a milder flavor.

  • 24 thin slices baguette (1/4-inch-thick)
  • 2 red peppers, halved, seeded, stems and membranes removed
  • 2 yellow peppers, halved, seeded, stems and membranes removed
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 12 basil leaves, torn
  • 1/2 pound young goat cheese, at room temperature (such as Coach Farm Low-Fat Goat Cheese Sticks)

Preheat the oven to 450°.

Arrange the baguette slices in a single layer on an 11- x 17-inch
baking sheet. Toast in the preheated oven until golden on top, about 5

Raise the oven temperature to broil.

Line the same baking sheet with aluminum foil; place the peppers on
it, cut side down, and broil in the preheated oven until they are
blistered and black, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven; wrap in
the aluminum foil that lined the baking sheet and set aside for 15 to
30 minutes; the steam in the foil packet will loosen the skin of the
peppers, making them easier to peel. Unwrap the peppers, then peel and
remove the seeds; cut into strips and toss with the olive oil, salt,
pepper, garlic, and basil in a medium bowl (this can be done up to 4
days ahead and refrigerated).

Spread the goat cheese on the crostini; place on a platter, top with
the roasted peppers (discarding the garlic cloves first), and serve.
Makes 24

Crostini con Salmone Affumicato ed Erba Cipollina

Crostini with Smoked Salmon and Chive Mousse

Try to buy imported Italian Mascarpone (rather than domestic) for
this and other recipes: the flavor is richer and creamier, the texture

  • 1/2 pound Mascarpone
  • 1 bunch chives, snipped, plus 6 chives, cut into 1-inch lengths
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 thin slices pumpernickel bread (1/4-inch-thick), cut into 6 triangles each
  • 12 thin slices smoked salmon, halved

In a food processor, purée the Mascarpone with the snipped chives,
salt, and pepper until smooth and pale green. Spread on the
pumpernickel bread triangles and top each triangle with a half-slice of
smoked salmon.

Garnish each bread triangle with a 1-inch-length of chive. Serve within 15 minutes. Makes 24

Cheese Table

Alto Adige
Fatty cheese with a compact
texture; aged 3 to 5 months.
Asiago DOP
The Veneto/
Alto Adige
Produced since the year 1000.
Asiago Pressato made from whole milk and pressed in metal or plastic
molds, then aged a maximum of 40 days, is more widespread, while Asiago
d’Allevo, made from partly skim milk and aged up to 2 years, is the
experts’ favorite.
Bagiotto or Formaggio di Senigallia
The Marches
Firm table or grating cheese.
Trentino-Alto Adige, Lombardy
Sharp mountain cheese; good
for grating. When aged up to 2 years, it acquires greenish streaks.
Baita Friuli
Venezia Giulia
Firm mountain cheese
Alto Adige
The shepherd’s cheese, aged
a minimum of 2 months.
Mountain cheese. The most
flavorful is made at an altitude of 6,000 feet, neat the Gries glacier.
When it is aged 3 to 4 months, it resembles Fontina.
Bitto DOP
Cow and up to 10% goat
Matured at least 70 days and
up to several years.
Blu del Moncenisio
Creamy, compact, large-holed
blue cheese.
Boscaiola del Gargano
Laced with chili pepper; aged
2 to 3 weeks.
Cow with the possible addition of sheep and/or
Aged 45 days to 6 months.
Ideal for melting, aged from
2 to 7 months, similar to Fontina and Bitto.
Spiced, preserved cheese made
by adding butter, spices, herbs, and grappa, Génepy, or white wine
to fresh cheese and fermenting it for weeks or months.
Bruzzu or Bruzza
Sheep or cow
Ricotta that becomes sharp
as it ages and is sometimes preserved in olive oil with peppercorns.
An aged version with worms that is considered a delicacy.
Bufalino del Matese
Water buffalo
Fresh Mozzarella; best eaten
the day it is produced.
Mozzarella stuffed with cream;
best eaten within 24 hours of being made. The most famous is from
the town of Andria.
Fresh Provolone with a heart
of butter; tied in pairs and eaten with celery and fennel, or enjoyed
at meal’s end for dessert.
Cheese with a heart of butter;
best made from the milk of cows that gave birth 1 year before.
Marcetto or Cacio Punto
Pecorino fermented in sheep’s
milk until tiny flies still at the larval stage develop; production
is now banned.
Pear-shaped, hung to age on
ropes for a minimum for 15 days; excellent melted.
Caciocavallo Podolico
Delicate, fatty cheese made
from milk obtained from the ancient Podolica species of cattle, brought
to Italy by barbarian invaders between the fourth and sixth centuries;
aged 6 months to 1 year.
Caciocavallo Silano DOP
Firm cheese tied with ropes
and hung to age a minimum of 15 days.
Caciofiore Aquilano
Caciotta coagulated with vegetable
rennet obtained from wild cardoons; colored and flavored with saffron.
Goat and sheep
Dry-salted, served fresh after
days of aging or aged for months and used for grating over pasta.
Cacioricotta Abruzzese
Ricotta flavored with coffee
and lemon zest, eaten on feast days.
Caciotta al Tartufo
Black truffle-laced cheese;
semifirm, milky, made mostly in Norcia.
Caciotta d’Abruzzo
Cow or sheep
Firm cheese; young or aged,
sometimes flavored with chili pepper.
Caciotta di Montefeltro
The Marches
Sheep and cow
Semifirm cheese from the town
of Montefeltro; has a thin rind and is aged about 2 months.
Caciotta Romana
Sheep with the possible addition of cow
Round and flat aged up to 2
weeks or cylindrical aged up to a few months; flavored with saffron.
The Marches
Unique cheese from Osimo, somewhere
between a Ricotta and a firm cheese in texture.
Cheese set to drain in straw
baskets until firm.
Canestrato di Moliterno
Goat and sheep
Handmade and straw-yellow in
color, pungent.
Canestrato Pugliese DOP
Sharp, firm cheese aged from
2 to 10 months; it owes its name to the fact that it is shaped in
molds called canestri.
Venezia Giulia
Pungent, firm cheese from the
Carnic Alps.
Casciotta d’Urbino DOP
The Marches
Mostly sheep with the addition of cow
Michelangelo bought land in
Urbino just to have a steady supply of his beloved cheese. It has
a thin yellow rind and fresh flavor.
The Marches
Cow and sheep
Wrapped in walnut leaves, aged
up to 12 months in terra-cotta jugs.
Casieddu di Moliterno
Similar to Cacioricotta, but
flavored with calamint; sold wrapped in ferns, tied with a piece of
Alto Adige
Traditionally made at home
from casa, meaning “home.” Tastiest aged 6 months.
Casolet dell’Adamello
Light and delicate, usually
shaped into a triangle.
Castelmagno DOP
Cow with the possible addition of sheep and/or
Similar to Gorgonzola; aged
2 to 6 months in caves, it sports bluish streaks when mature.
Casu Axedu
This cheese tastes like the
essence of sheep’s milk; it is made only from milk and rennet, without
salt, and is delicious with honey.
Aged only a few days; creamy,
soft, white, slightly tangy, and spreadable.
di Pecora
The Marches
Tangy, spreadable blue-veined
Goat and sheep
Clean and decided in flavor,
for eating or grating.
Venezia Giulia
Full-fat cheese from Fagagna,
near Udine; soft, fresh, and mild.
Fior di Latte
Fresh Mozzarella, sometimes
Fiore Sardo DOP
Made from raw milk; soaked
in a salt brine, then aged from 1 month to 9 months. Perfect for grating
when mature.
Fiore Sicano or Tumazzu ri Vacca
Soft, raw milk cheese aged
in stone cellars until it acquires a fine gray mold on its surface.
Fontina DOP
Val d’Aosta
for centuries; one of Italy’s preeminent melting cheeses, it has a
nutty aroma and compact flesh.
Formaggella della Val di Scalve
Subtle when young, becomes
more penetrating as it ages.
Formaggella di Monte
From the mountains around Brescia;
matured for 1 month. Sports a thin yellow rind with grayish striations,
a smooth, white flesh, and a delicate flavor.
Cow, sheep, or goat
When fresh, excellent doused
with olive oil and a sprinkling of black pepper or for stuffing focaccias
and for cooking; when aged, good for grating.
Formaggio di Bufala
Water buffalo
Semifirm cheese, aged a few
months. Sometimes flavored with oregano, paprika, or lemon leaves.
Formaggio di Capra
Across Italy
White, barely salted, creamy
when young; sharper when aged, straw-yellow in color. Can be spiced
or flavored with herbs.
Formaggio di Fossa or di Tufo
The Marches
Cheese ripened in tufaceous
pits since the 1400s. Sharp, firm, with a grassy scent.
Formaggio Salato
Venezia Giulia
Literally, “salted cheese,
this cheese is firm, cured in a brine of water, salt, and cream for
a minimum of 2 months.
Formai de Mut DOP
A specialty of the mountains
near Bergamo, aged 45 days to 6 months.
Similar to the Stracchino of
Lombardy when fresh; best for grating when aged.
Similar to Feta, this cheese
is often eaten with sliced tomatoes and olive oil or dropped into
vegetable soups. It melts nicely.
Santo Ste
From Santo Stefano d’Aveto;
it has a pleasantly sharp taste and flavorful rind because as it ages
it is rubbed weekly with olive oil.
Salted, dry Ricotta. Sharp
and crumbly.
Gorgonzola DOP
most beloved blue-veined cheese, matured 2 months when Dolce and 3
months or longer when Piccante. Creamy in texture and pungent in flavor;
melts nicely.
Grana Alto Adige
Alto Adige
Grainy grating cheese with
a nutty aroma; aged only 2 months.
Grana Lodigiano
Little-known grainy-textured
cheese made near Lodi, excellent for grating and eating at the table;
aged 2 to 4 years, it has greenish striations and moisture seeping
from its flesh.
Grana Padano DOP
cheese aged a minimum of 1 year. It exists in two versions, Maggengo,
summer cheese, and Vernengo, winter cheese. Maggengo has the most
intense aroma. It has a grainy structure
Grana Trentino
Alto Adige
Firm, grainy cheese; aged at
least 15 months, best for grating.
Grasso d’Alpe
Tender, fresh cheese that is
the ancestor of Bettelmatt.
Alto Adige
Lean, marbled, yellow-fleshed
cheese without a rind; aged up to 2 weeks until it is sharp and tangy,
Juncata or Sciungata
Creamy, fresh cheese similar
to Ricotta; delicious on bread.
di Fagagna
Venezia Giulia
Soaked in a salt brine for
2 days, rubbed with oil, and aged for at least 2 months. Eaten as
a table cheese or cooked.
Venezia Giulia
Trieste’s spreadable cheese,
made by combining Ricotta and butter with anchovies, onion, capers,
mustard, paprika, chives, and parsley.
Pressed, salted, and aged under
a layer of herbs to acquire its distinctive flavor.
Blue-veined cheese; creamy,
compact, melts nicely.
Sheep with the possible addition of goat
Firm, dry-salted, aged in grottoes
or caves for a minimum of 8 months, then rubbed with olive oil.
Rare cheese, amber-yellow,
aged on mats of woven reeds and then in glass bottles.
Produced in March (hence its
name); aged briefly, it has a reddish rind and is compact, semifirm.
Fatty, creamy, spreadable cheese
obtained by adding a souring agent to fresh cream and letting it ferment
for 24 hours; ideal in desserts.
Montasio DOP
Venezia Giulia
Straw-yellow in color, crumbly,
and firm; aged from 6 weeks to over 1 year.
Monte Veronese DOP
The Veneto
Produced in the southern portion
of the province of Verona. Sold young from whole milk and aged from
skim milk.
The Veneto
Rare unpasteurized cheese from
Alpine pastures. Tender, creamy, offered only by a handful of producers;
historically, it was buried under hay in the cowshed to age.
or Treccione di Lucania
Creamy, fresh Mozzarella; also
sold in 3′-long braids.
Mozzarella di Bufala DOP
Water buffalo
Fresh Mozzarella.
Mozzarella di Bufala Campana
Water buffalo
Part of the provinces of Rome,
Latina, and Frosinone produce Campania’s famed Mozzarella.
Mozzarella di Bojano
Fresh Mozzarella; best eaten
the day it is produced.
Mozzarella Pugliese
Creamy, fresh Mozzarella; best
enjoyed the day it is produced.
Murazzano DOP
Sheep with the possible addition of goat
Soft and white, it has no rind
since it is aged only 4 to 10 days.
Rare cheese with greenish mold.
Spherical cheese, small and
Padraccio del Pollino
Fresh raw milk cheese with
white flesh and no rind.
In the plastic curd family;
soaked in a salt brine, aged 1 month or longer.
Pallone di Gravina
Semifirm Provolone shaped like
a ball.
An unusual cheese made entirely
without salt from raw milk; soft and mild with a delicately bitter
King of grating cheeses, this
nutty cheese is produced on an artisanal level in 650 tiny dairies
scattered across the region.
a Pasta Molle
Very young Pecorino, often
savored with cured meats as an antipasto.
Pecorino Affumicato
Smoked cheese; sometimes studded
with black peppercorns, aged about 6 months.
Pecorino Ciociaro
From the Ciociaria; aromatic,
light, aged at most 2 months.
Pecorino Crotonese
Sheep with the possible addition of goat
From Crotone; dry-salted or
soaked in a salt brine, aged from 3 months to more than 1 year.
Pecorino d’Abruzzo
Older specimens can be aged
2 years and are quite pungent.
Pecorino delle Navette
Has a glorious scent of grass.
Pecorino di Amatrice
Dipped in a salt brine; delicate,
aged 3 to 6 months.
Pecorino di Guglionesi
Pungent, aromatic, and firm.
Pecorino in Foja de Noce
The Marches
From Carpegna; intensely aromatic,
wrapped in walnut leaves.
Pecorino Lucano
Firm, crumbly, and straw-yellow
in color; aged 2 months to 1 year.
Pecorino Misto di Filiano
Sheep and goat
Firm cheese; aged in underground
Pecorino Romano DOP
From pasteurized milk; salted
over a period of 2 months, rubbed with olive oil, and aged 8 to 12
months. Despite its name, Sardinia is the biggest producer of this
classic cheese.
Pecorino Sardo DOP
The young is aged up to 2 months,
the aged up to 6 months. Both are wonderful on the grill.
Pecorino Siciliano DOP
Firm, crumbly cheese; pale
straw-yellow in color, salty, and pungent.
Pecorino Toscano DOP
Mild and milky in flavor when
young, pungent and crumbly when aged.
Pepato Siciliano
Firm Pecorino studded with
peppercorns; crumbly, firm, and sharp.
Plastic curd cheese similar
to Scamorza; often grilled.
Piacentino or Piacintinu
Scented with saffron and studded
with black peppercorns; firm and sharp.
The Veneto
Straw-yellow in color, cured
in a salt brine; considered Fresco after 2 months of aging, Mezzano
after 6 months, and Stravecchio after 10 months, yet retains its mild,
delicate flavor even as it ages.
Uniquely Ligurian dairy product
halfway between cheese and soured milk that is used in pesto and in
sauces; tasty on bread, dusted with sugar for breakfast.
Pressato di Merano
Alto Adige
Salt brine-cured cheese; aged
up to 2 years and has marvelous melting potential.
Primo Sale
Sheep or goat
Salted once. In Apulia it is
typically sold very young, while in Sicily it is usually aged.
Provala di Bufala
Water buffalo
Fresh Provolone with a porcelain-white
color and creamy texture.
Water buffalo
Similar to Mozzarella but saltier
and more decided in flavor.
Provola dei Nebrodi e delle
Pear-shaped cheese aged 3 to
4 months. It can also be formed to resemble animals.
Provola Siciliana
Plastic curd cheese; pear-shaped,
smaller than Caciocavallo, semifirm and good for melting.
Provolone Valpadana DOP
Belongs to the family of pasta
filata, or “plastic curd cheeses; molded by hand into its classic
pear shape and tied by a short noose. It melts beautifully.
Puzzone di Moena
Alto Adige
Compact, elastic cheese aged
from 6 months to 2 years; quite pungent. It is sometimes sold under
the name of Spetz Tsaori.
Quartirolo Lombardo DOP
Resembles Taleggio; aged from
5 days to 1 month, it is soft and creamy, becoming slightly bitter
as it ages.
or Caciocavallo Ragusano DOP
Has a smooth, thin skin, no
rind, and creamy color. When young, it is excellent on the grill;
as it ages, it becomes better suited for grating.
Raschera DOP
Cow with the possible addition of goat or sheep
Aged at least 1 month, it is
firm but elastic, with a thin grayish-red rind. Melts very nicely
and is similar to Fontina.
The Marches/
Cow, sheep, or goat
Flat, creamy, Ricotta-like
cheese; aged 5 days, it is spreadable, buttery, and creamy.
Val d’Aosta
Rich, fresh cheese produced
in small artisanal dairies; traditionally eaten dusted with sugar
and a pinch of cinnamon.
Full-fat cheese; the rind is
rubbed with flour. It vaguely recalls Brie.
Across Italy
Cow, goat, or sheep
sold fresh, when it is creamy and spreadable. Versions that are spiced,
aged, or smoked also exist.
Ricotta Affumicata
Venezia Giulia
Smoked, firm Ricotta obtained
from the leftover whey from making Montasio; good for grating.
Ricotta Calabrese
Sheep and/or goat
Unusual Ricotta obtained not
from the leftover whey from cheese-making, but from milk, whey, and
salt; aged from 2 to 6 months.
Ricotta di Capra della Sabina
Creamy, white Ricotta; used
mostly for cooking and baking.
Ricotta di Fregona
The Veneto
Smoked Ricotta.
Ricotta Forte
Sheep and/or goat
Sharp, spreadable, fermented
Ricotta; sometimes flavored with pepper and vinegar.
Ricotta Infornata
Baked Ricotta that develops
a thin reddish-brown rind in the oven; sometimes flavored with black
Ricotta Marzotica
Cow or sheep
Ricotta whose fermentation
starts in March; it sports a light coating of mold after 1 month of
aging and can be smoked.
Ricotta Mista and Ricotta Forte
Sheep or goat
Ricotta that becomes sharp
with age; the Forte, “strong, is aged up to 3 months and is best grated.
Ricotta Romana
Ricotta sold fresh (Fresca)
for desserts and pastries or salted (Salata) for grating.
Ricotta Salata
Sheep or cow
Salted Ricotta; firm, crumbly,
meant for grating.
del Bec
Rare cheese, sharp yet milky
in flavor, with a grassy scent.
Robiola di Pecora
Robiola that sports a reddish
rind when aged; it has a soft flesh and mild, creamy flavor.
Robiola di Roccaverano DOP
Cow, sheep, and goat
Made near Asti, this creamy,
spreadable Robiola is aged only a few days; it is often conserved
under a layer of olive oil.
Pecorino whose rind is rubbed
with olive oil, acquiring a lovely red color as it ages.
Val d’Aosta/
Spreadable Ricotta flavored
with pepper, caraway, chili, or fennel seed.
Salted Ricotta aged at least
1 month.
Pear-shaped plastic curd cheese;
buttery and delicate, it is best within 3 days of production. The
smoked version is usually grilled or spit-roasted.
Scamorza di Bufala
Water buffalo
Firmer than Mozzarella, softer
than Caciocavallo; aged a few days after a soak in salt water.
The Veneto
Cheese obtained from the curds
that seep out of molds used for making other cheeses.
Goat or cow
Classic mountain cheese, soft,
creamy in flavor, and mild, matured 3 to 4 weeks.
Piedmontese Ricotta; fresh,
creamy, and spreadable.
Ripened from 6 months to 1
year; recalls Friuli’s Montasio.
The Marches
Fresh, creamy cheese without
a rind, similar to the Crescenza of Lombardy and Squaquarone of Romagna;
wrapped in walnut or fig leaves after 7 days.
Alto Adige
Aromatic cheese produced from
winter milk; aged as long as 2 years.
Similar to the Stracchino of
Lombardy, this cheese is creamy, mild, and fresh.
The rich, creamy stuffing of
Burrata served in majolica pots.
Creamy, spreadable, and slightly
tangy; similar to Crescenza.
di Monrupino
Venezia Giulia
Semifirm cheese that acquires
a pleasantly pungent flavor when aged.
Taleggio DOP
around the turn of the second millennium in the Val Taleggio, this
cheese is aged about 40 days and has a buttery taste and a rind with
an aroma of truffles.
Val d’Aosta/
Family of cheeses produced
from raw or pasteurized milk; aged from 3 to 18 months.
Toma Piemontese DOP
Cylindrical cheese with a delicate,
creamy flavor, yellow-to-reddish rind, and compact flesh; aged from
15 days to 2 months.
Toma di Pecora or Toma Mista
Sheep with the possible addition of goat
From unpasteurized milk; cured
in a salt brine, delicate in flavor, and aged 2 months or longer.
Val d’Aosta/
Cow with the possible addition of sheep or goat
Small cheeses, fresh and white,
usually drizzled with wine vinegar and flavored with garlic and chili.
Large wheel of Pecorino Toscano;
aged 6 months, sometimes spiced with black peppercorns.
Alto Adige
Unique cheese from the Valle
del Primerio; matured a mere 2 to 3 days.
Raw milk cheese aged 5 months
in wooden barrels, repeatedly doused with wine, and flavored with
the lees of Sciacchetrà (a raisined dessert wine).
Fresh, white, semi-firm cheese.
Valle d’Aosta Formadzo DOP
Val d’Aosta
Firm cheese with a milky flavor
and grassy scent; salt-brined, then aged 2 to 10 months.
Valtellina Casera DOP
The Valtellina’s most important
cheese; ripened at least 70 days, ivory in color and soft.
Vastedda del Belice
Plastic curd cheese; melts
Vastedda Palermitana
Plastic curd cheese; shaped
into an oval and eaten after 2 days of salting.
Alto Adige
Compact, elastic mountain cheese
aged from 6 months to 2 years, produced at an altitude of 3,000 feet

Cheese Tips

Saving Parmigiano Rinds

Italian cooks are renowned for their ability to make the most of any
ingredient: ingenuity and frugality are part and parcel of everyday
Italian cooking. So when a chunk of Parmigiano is reduced to little
more than the rind, cooks in Italy don’t dare throw it away: they drop
it into bubbling soups or saucepots, where it releases its delicious,
nutty flavor. Only then is the rind discarded… You can save
Parmigiano rinds in freezer-safe plastic bags in the freezer for up to
2 months, then drop them into soups or sauces whenever you want to lend
your dish a deep, lingering Parmigiano note.

Parmigiano - the king of Italian cheeses

Grating Cheese Easily

There are some fantastic cheese graters out on the market that will
help you grate cheese more quickly and efficiently–the Microplane
grater immediately comes to mind. But even if you have the best grater
in the world, you will have a difficult time grating a soft cheese if
it’s at room temperature. Keep your cheese in the refrigerator until
you’re ready to grate it. This is especially important for soft cheeses
like Mozzarella and Fontina, which tend to fall apart when too much
pressure is applied as they are rubbed against a grater. Another
advantage to grating cold cheese is that it “sweats” less than warm or
room-temperature cheese, making it less slippery and easier to hold in
your hands.

Pancake covered with Parmigiano, ready to be rolled

Preventing Mozzarella from Drying Out

In Italy, Mozzarella-producers will frown if you eat their creamy,
fresh cheese even a day after it’s been made: they say (and I agree)
that Mozzarella is best savored right after it’s been lovingly shaped
by hand, and that it loses aroma and becomes drier and stringier with
every passing hour. Most gastronomy shops and cheesemongers in Italy
sell Mozzarella produced that very day under a sign proclaiming
“Mozzarella del Giorno” (“Today’s Mozzarella”). The Mozzarella is sold
in plastic bags in which it floats in a lightly salted, briny water
solution that prevents it from drying out. And while many North
American gourmet stores and specialty shops sell Mozzarella imported
from Italy, it’s nearly impossible to buy it the same day it’s been
made: after all, there’s an ocean between us and the cheese’s homeland.
When you purchase imported Italian Mozzarella, ask when it arrived from
Italy: if the answer is a week ago, you know it’s not worth the price.
If possible, ask the cheesemonger to pack it in a container with a
little cool salt water for you (unless, of course, it’s still in its
unopened package, happily floating in salt water). Eat it as soon as
you get home, preferably at room temperature, draining it mere minutes
before setting it on the table. Should you have any leftover
Mozzarella, store it in the refrigerator in lightly salted water to


Posted in NEWS with tags , , on September 30, 2008 by taralceleste

Meet a deer little handful called Rupert who was delivered by Caesarean section after his mother was killed by a car

He is growing up without a mother’s love. But this tiny muntjac fawn appears to have a lucky streak nonetheless.

He was born three weeks early after his mother was hit by a car.

Vets battled to save her but she died soon afterwards.



Orphan: Muntjac fawn Rupert was delivered by Caesarean section after
his mother was killed by a car. He was just six inches tall and weighed
500 grams



Sleepy head: The male has short antlers, usually four inches or less,
and uses them to push enemies off balance so he can wound them with his
two-inch upper canine teeth. The small deer is also called the barking

The little orphan, delivered by Caesarean section, was just six
inches tall and, at 500 grams, weighed little more than a bag of sugar.

It looked like he, too, would face a tough fight for survival.

staff at Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital in Buckinghamshire believe
Rupert, as he has been named, will make a full recovery after his
dramatic arrival.

At five days old, he is being kept in an incubator and has just opened his eyes.



Wee thing: Rupert is growing into quite a handful. The muntjac grows to
37 inches in length, and weighs between 22 and 40lbs when fully grown

Les Stocker, founder of Tiggywinkles, said: ‘Rupert’s mother had
very severe injuries. We brought him out and got him breathing and then
he went into an incubator on oxygen. He is now being fed by a tube.’

‘Deer are very, very tricky but this one has spirit. He’s an extremely feisty little guy and quite pushy,’ he added.

are the oldest known deer, appearing 15-35 million years ago, with
remains found in Miocene deposits in France and Germany.



First steps: An unspecified species of muntjac was introduced to the
grounds of Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire in the 19th century by the then
Duke of Bedford



Alien species: Larger numbers of muntjac escaped from Whipsnade Zoo,
and they are the more likely ancestors, in addition to other releases

The present-day species are native to south-east Asia and can be
found from India and Sri Lanka to southern China, Taiwan, Japan and
Indonesian islands.

Reeves’s Muntjac has been introduced to England and is now common in some areas there.

Inhabiting tropical regions, the deer have no seasonal rut and mating can take place at any time of year.

However, this behaviour is retained by populations introduced to temperate countries.

Males have short antlers, which can regrow but they tend to fight for territory with their tusks.



Widespread: Muntjac colonies exist throughout England below Derbyshire,
and the population continues to grow. Small groupings of muntjacs have
been seen in large urban parks in the Islington, Highgate, East Ham,
Finchley and Greenwich areas of London



Posted in FOOD with tags , , on September 30, 2008 by taralceleste


Rare, handmade green tea woven into the form of a ball that blossoms into an elegant grouping of jasmine, lily, and osmanthus flowers.
3 Flower Burst

Rare, handmade green tea woven into the form of a ball that blossoms
into an elegant grouping of jasmine, lily, and osmanthus flowers.

Rating: ***** 4.9
Caffeine: Low
1/4 lb $37.00

Pure Damiana leaf.

Pure Damiana leaf.

Rating: ***** 4.5
Caffeine: None
1/4 lb $5.00

An excellent amber oolong from the island of Taiwan (Formosa).
Formosa Oolong

An excellent amber oolong from the island of Taiwan (Formosa).

Rating: ***** 4.6
Caffeine: Moderate
1/4lb $6.00

A true classic with plenty of heat.  Our Texas Steak Rub combines matcha salt, black pepper, paprika, chili powder, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, cumin, oregano, and thyme for a red hot Texas flavor without a hint of sugar.
Texas Steak Tea Rub

A true classic with plenty of heat. Our Texas Steak Rub combines matcha
salt, black pepper, paprika, chili powder, cayenne pepper, garlic
powder, cumin, oregano, and thyme for a red hot Texas flavor without a
hint of sugar.

Rating: ***** 0.0
Caffeine: None
spice jar (2 oz) $3.00



Posted in shopping with tags , , on September 30, 2008 by taralceleste

Caboodle is a stylish alternative to traditional cat furniture and cat condosSpacious three floor design. Assembled dimensions
20″ x 30″ x 20″

Heavy-duty double wall corrugated cardboard design supports cats of all sizes

Optional “knock out” passages between floors

All natural materials and non-toxic soy based inks

100% recyclable and made in the USA!

Edges designed to inspire natural grooming habits, rubbing, and scratching

Cats Love Caboodle!

Caboodle is a stylish, durable and easy to assemble green alternative to bulky and awkward cat furniture.

slide the pre-cut corrugated cardboard pieces together and stack to
create a spacious, durable and playful structure your cat will love to
lounge on and play in!

Let’s face it – cats love cardboard! And so do we! Why?
Because Caboodle is 100% recyclable and it’s a great way to stay green,
renewable and resource friendly!

As a bonus, we’ve also taken the opportunity to incorporate our Tumblorz™ cat toys into Caboodle byproduct. Cats love these wobbly rollers!


Cats love Caboodle!

Caboodle is a stylish, durable and easy to assemble alternative to bulky and awkward cat furniture
or plastic condos.

Simply slide the pre-cut pieces together and stack to create a playful structure your feline friend will love to lounge in!


Spacious three floor design. Assembled dimensions
20″ x 30″ x 20″
Heavy-duty double wall corrugated cardboard design supports cats of all sizes
Optional “knock out” passages between floors
100% recyclable and made in the USA!
All natural materials and non-toxic soy based inks
Edges designed to inspire natural grooming habits, rubbing, and scratching

Cats find