I am, and have been on vacation, in the Quebec Eastern Townships ( Canton L’Est ) since wednesday.
Spending quality time with close friends and family, over many good meals, makes you realize that to accomplish a successfull dinner; everything matters!
We put together some recipes that we had made before and to our surprise they tasted different and we also enjoyed them in a much different way, and the fact that there was a very appreciative audience to feed our egos made the experience even better =).
Which brings us to this week's product: Truffle Carppacio; my little sheets of silk. (more…)
The new “Diva” is in town and she is here to stay and rock every plate and party!
Have you ever heard of “Truffled Dwarf Peaches”?
Neither had I, until five years ago when I met with the person that is now supplying Macchi Inc. with this unique and one of a kind product.
All these years that I've been in this business, I have never come across them anywhere else.
This product is based on the same idea as green tomatoes and any other vegetable that is normally pickled.
In the fall, before winter arrives the farmers pick the unripe peaches, so they would not go to waste. Then, they pickle them in vinegar to conserve the peaches and consume them like any other pickle.
Our supplier that is based in Frosolone, Molise in Italy, added his twist to the product by soaking these peaches in sunflower oil and infusing the oil with truffle essence. This last step has created a very different flavor profile.
What does this “gem” taste and look like?
…like something you’ve never tasted before!
Very subtle in its taste, just enough truffle essence to know that this is a truffled product, but not to over power the dish that you are using it on and it adds a pleasant crunch and acidity to any salad or carpaccio.
They look like large green olives but since they are picked before maturity, the pit is not yet developed which makes them a breeze to work with in comparison to olives and since they are so firm in texture it makes them so versatile in presentaton in comparison to caper berries.
Right now we don’t have any stores selling this product to the public since there is not enough knowledge about it out there to create a demand. We are in the process of planning a marketing campaign to launch this product in Montreal and to help our retail clients inform the end consumers about Truffled Dwarf Peaches.
Go and meet her, and make sure you all let me know how you got along.
While Parmigiano Reggiano proudly carries the title of the King of Cheeses, I would like to tell you a bit about my absolute favorite in hard cheeses, the Grana Padano or as I like to call it, The Emperor of Cheeses.
Many of us often believe that the Grana Padano is a lesser quality Parmigiano Reggiano and some even believe that it is called Parmigiano Padano, that is not the case, at least not if we are referring to the authentic product, imported from the specific Provinces and regions of the Grana Padano D.O.P.
While the Grana Padano does have many similarities to the Parmigiano Reggiano, the differences are essential to the flavor and texture, the first one being the place of production. The Grana Padano is produced in a much wider area than the Parmigiano Reggiano in the regions of: Emilia-Romagna, Lombardy, Piedmont, Trentino and Veneto (keep in mind that the Regions are much larger than the provinces, therefore a larger area of production).
In the flavor you can detect the difference in the Grana Padano being creamier and sligtly less saltier that the Parmigiano Reggiano, otherwise they are both just as firm and nutty in flavor.
Here are some more differences between both cheeses:
Since the restrictions are less for making the Grana Padano, the price is slightly lower but as we all know that does not mean that it is not as good.
Grana Padano can be found in three different ripening stages and the more mature the cheese is the nuttier and more pungent the flavor.
The reason why these hard cheeses are used so often in cooking is because they are so versatile, the Grana Padano and Parmigiano Reggiano can be sliced with a cheese slicer (see picture above), it can be grated (most often this is how it's used in cooking or by finishing a pasta plate) it can also be broken off in pieces (see Parmigiano Reggiano post) and personally I have shredded the cheese when wanting larger amounts in cooking.
The best way to store it is cold, in a refrigerator or even in the freezer if not used to frequently. I would suggest to always keep it air tight and low in humidity, if you know you haven't used it for a while and if not vacuum packed when stored, take the cheese out once in a while, pad it dry and change the saran wrap or the plastic bag that it has been stored in.
Grana Padano or Parmigiano Reggiano, which one is your favorite? Maybe you like both just as much but for different purposes. Let me know!
Everyone might not be able to pronounce the name but we have all at one point in time somehow sampled it:
'King of cheeses' – The Parmigiano Reggiano -.
Just like all of the other products I have mentioned so far, the secret always lies within the local vegetation and climat,
in this case for the Parmigiano Reggiano it is the:
The Parmigiano Reggiano has for at least eight centuries been made in the exactly same way, in the same places, with the same appearance. Even the production has remained the same using: milk, rennet, fire and heart.
Parmigiano Reggiano is made from raw cow's milk, milk is pumped into copper-lined vats (copper heats and cools quickly), calf rennet is added to allow cheese to curdle. Temperature is raised and curd is left to settle. Curd is then placed in molds that will produce wheels that are 45 kilos (100 lbs) each. Cheese is placed into stainless steel round forms to retain it's classical shape. After a couple of days cheese gets imprinted several times with the Parmigiano Reggiano name, the number of the plant and the year of production. The 'wheels' are then placed in a brine bath to absorb salt for 20-25 days. Cheeses are then placed on wooden shelves, cleaned and turned once/week for 12 months. At 12 months the consorzio of Parmigiano Reggiano inspects each cheese to make sure it fulfills all of it's requirements. After this procedure each plant can then choose how much longer they would like to age the cheese. The aging process is anywhere from 18, 22 to 30 months.
In the next post I will speak about the Grana Padano, the differences between the Parmigiano Reggiano and the Grana Padano and some tips and tricks.
The product I picked to present to you this week has caused a lot of controversy over the years. Mainly because it has been portrayed as something different than it is, but it has always been very appreciated when consumed in all of its different ways of preparation.
I will, this week, make sure that there is no more confusion with regards to this very useful product and also let you know why I love to use it in my cooking and savor it in cooking prepared by professionals.
Introducing the Black Truffle Oil: ‘A bath of gold’!
Let me introduce to all of you the “Ace of Spades” of cheeses: Buffalo Mozzarella!
It is very often the first plate decorating a dinner table; the first tray emptied at a buffet; and it works wonders with just a few slices of tomatoes added, as a complete and very satisfying lunch!
Therefor the “Ace of Spades”, being the strongest card in a deck, this is in my opinion the strongest product on a menu, even stronger in a summer menu.
….and yes, it did get it’s name because it’s made of buffalo milk, considering it makes such a good tasting cheese, the milk on it’s own is not at all recommended to consume. (more…)
The quality of any spice is usually something that is very difficult for the end consumer to determine. I will do my best to try to give you some valuable tips and tricks to keep in mind when you are purchasing your saffron
So let’s start with this….
How to know a better quality saffron and why should you pay more, when you can pay less.
As I mentioned yesterday; Saffron is slightly bitter in it’s flavor, but if you add the right amount during preparation that flavor does not over power the other ingredients it is actually so subtle that something as mild as cream is enough to “hide” the bitterness of saffron. It is the aroma and the extremely overpowering and magical color that we want to experience.
Saffron is sold in two different “shapes”, you can get it in, tiny “threads” or powdered. I have over the years heard that some people prefer to get the filaments ( threads) because they can ensure the quality and authenticity of the saffron, i would have to disagree. Which ever one you choose to use make sure it is in a a sealed container or a pouch that has the name of a company and a product description in the back and don’t forget to check the best-before-date!
The intensity of the color is usually the first and most accurate “give-away” to know a good quality saffron. Buy buying a lesser quality you will have to use twice the amount and that can sometimes increase the risks of your dish tasting bitter. (more…)
After having spent a great weekend with my family, I am so excited that it’s finally Monday and I can share this week’s product with you!
Say hello to the royalty of spices: SAFFRON or as many others say “The Gold” of spices.
Since Saffron is an ancient, respectable and world spread spice, I felt a lot of pressure in finding the “right” information and have therefore literarily spent a whole week making my research and done a lot of cross referencing before I reached MY conclusion of what I would like to share with you on this exquisite product.
Saffron has apparently been around since the 7th Century BC, in Mesopotamia (Iraq), but then it was mostly used as a colorant/dye and also for medicinal use. With time it was spread around Asia, the Mediterranean basin and Europe and started also being used for aesthetic and cosmetic use as in perfumes, mascaras and potpourris. It is also said that Cleopatra used saffron in her baths so that lovemaking would be more pleasurable!
What’s important to know though is that specific breed, the Saffron Crocus, was a “wilder” version of the one that we are using today and what I, to my surprise, found out is that this specific domesticated breed of the saffron Crocus, was first detected on the island of Crete! (more…)
There are hundreds of different type of summer truffles. The summer truffle we import to Montreal is the one called Tuber Aestivum Vitt and is of Italian origin. Depending on the sub species, truffle in general can be found all year long. The summer truffle can be found from May to November, with it reaching full maturity by mid June, hence its name.
A truffle is from the tuber family (just like a potato). This “mushroom” grows under ground (three inches to a foot) and is always found at the roots of its host tree. Truffles grow in symbiose with oak, poplar, hazel and other types of trees. It prefers neutral to alkaline type soil. (more…)
Not many people in North America know about this product. I have to admit, that neither did I before starting working in the food business.
The Phoenicians were the first to produce bottarga and it was the Carthaginians who helped this product to be known through out the Mediterranean.
It was first documented by Bartolomeo Platina in 1386. In his words: “ I do not remember eating anything more exquisite” , “an honest enjoyment that is healthy for you”.
Until the 1970’s bottarga was considered “The poor man’s food” but today it’s considered as the “Gold of Sardinia”.