My goal is to encourage everyone to get into the kitchen to cook, and have fun! So, this section is all about a few basics tips, and some of the questions I am most frequently asked: Should I add oil to the pasta water? Can you use olive oil for all your cooking? How do I pan fry? And more!
PARMIGIANO REGGIANO: Handle your Parmigiano Reggiano right, and it will keep its flavourand texture for a few weeks. Mishandle it and the cheese will dry out, lose its texture and its flavour, and become extremely tough, if not impossible to grate. To prevent that: once you've taken it out of its original packaging, wrap the cheese tightly in plastic wrap and store it in the fridge. Rewrap the cheese with a fresh piece of plastic wrap after every use to ensure a tight seal. You can also store it in a zip-lock bag with all the air squeezed out. Another important tip: Only grate your Parmigiano Reggiano as you need it. If it's grated in advance, the cheese will lose its flavor.
EGGPLANT BITTERNESS: Eggplants, especially larger, older eggplants can be bitter. To get rid of the bitterness, cut the eggplant into fairly thin slices. Put them in a colander and sprinkle with a generous
amount of salt. Let that rest for an hour, so the bitterness sweats out, then rinse the eggplant slices under cold water and pat dry.
Congratulations! Your eggplant is now bitter-free and ready to use.
EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL:
People always ask me if I use extra virgin olive oil for all my
cooking and frying. The answer is YES! It's all I use.
I would suggest having several on hand. One for frying, and a more
premium Extra Virgin to use on salads and for drizzling lightly over
food just before serving. Some people choose a different olive oil for
each use. Like wines there are different blends, with different flavours.
Just make sure whatever you buy is extra virgin.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil should be used within 18 to 24 months from
the production date. If you want to be absolutely sure, look for olive oil
that has been stamped with the date when the oil was pressed, as
well as the expiry date. Once you get it home, keep your olive oil in
a cool, dry place.
TOASTING PINE NUTS:
It takes no time at all and is worth it: Toasting brings out the
nuttiness. Best method: toast your pine nuts in a dry frying pan
on medium heat. As soon as they start turning slightly brown,
remove the pan from the heat. Keep an eye on it. The pine nuts
can burn very quickly.
Don't clean your mushrooms until you are ready to use
them. Remove any bits of the debris on the surface, and gently
wipe the mushrooms with a damp cloth, paper towel, or soft brush.
You can rinse, if you want, but I don't recommend that. I find they
absorb too much water.
These are full of concentrated flavor and should
be used more like a seasoning than a vegetable. Generally, you'll
need to soak the dried mushrooms for about 30 minutes. Put them
in a bowl and cover them with boiling water. After 30 minutes, take
them out of the water and they're ready to be used in your recipes.
Don't throw out that soaking water. I like to use it in my risottos and
sauces. It adds an intense mushroom flavour.
To prevent Garlic from burning or getting bitter, leave the
garlic skin on the cloves when frying or roasting in oven.