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Archive for Pasta-Pizza

TODAY IN FOOD: It’s National Tortellini Day

TortelliniHeavenly Porcini Mushroom Tortelloni from Bertagni.   We don’t have to twist arms to get people to celebrate National Tortellini Day at THE NIBBLE. In fact, we’re lunching on several flavors of the wonderful tortellini from Bertagni (the topic of a prior post). Tortellini (tor-teh-LEE-nee) are small pastas stuffed with a variety of fillings, and a favorite pasta dish worldwide (wontons are cousins). They are served in soups—as in the classic dish, tortellini in brodo—or with sauce. We also serve them as hors d’oeuvres and snacks—with dipping sauces, on skewers with complementary meats, cheeses and veggies. Tortellini originated in Bologna and are accompanied by a legend: When the goddess Venus stayed in a tavern on the outskirts of the city, the innkeeper spied on her through the keyhole of her room, but could catch only a glimpse of her navel. Spellbound, he went to the kitchen and, to capture this vision, shaped fresh egg pasta into the bite-sized, navel-shaped tortellini. Larger bites, called tortelloni, are also made.
Tortellini and tortelloni are made by adding a filling to a circle of dough, then folding it in half, making a semicircle of the half and pinching the ends together to form the shape. By the way, the word for navel is not tortellini but ombelico; torte is the past participle of the verb torcere, meaning filled.

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PRODUCT REVIEW: Bertagni Ravioli And Tortellini

Bertagni Ravioli and Tortellini
An 8-ounce package, that feeds 4 people as a side, is $5.99 (suggested retail price).
  Want a quick, delicious lunch or dinner? Look for the all-natural filled pastas—ravioli and tortellini—from Bertagni (pronounced burr-TOHN-yee), the oldest filled pasta producer in Italy. They’re found in your grocer’s refrigerator case, and at fine food stores nationwide. The company also does a vigorous private label business, so even if you don’t see the name “Bertagni” on the package, if it has the your store’s name on it and “Product Of Italy” on the package back, it may well be theirs. You’re in for a treat—the products are so good, we enjoyed them with just a dab of butter or olive oil (filled pastas are meant to be enjoyed simply dressed, because the filling is the center of attention). The pastas cook in four minutes or less, after the water boils—a benefit of fresh pasta. Feast on flavors like Basil Ravioli With Char-Grilled Vegetables; Fire-Roasted Tomato, Mozzarella and Basil Ravioli; Arugula and Cheese Tortelloni; Porcini Mushroom Tortelloni; and perhaps our favorite (though it’s tough to pick just one), Ricotta and Parmigiano Reggiano Tortelloni.
Do these pastas taste so good just because they’re made in Italy (a country that has some of the best food in the world, because they use the finest, freshest ingredients)?
– Read our full review of Bertagni pasta.
– If your ravioli sticks together when cooking, read how to cook fresh pasta.
– There’s more in the Pasta Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.

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FREEBIE: Italian Cookbook From Barilla

Pumpkin PastaFettuccine With Pumpkin and Bread Crumbs will be a hit at your table.   Last year, Barilla created a free downloadable cookbook featuring Italian recipes from celebrities and prominent chefs. For every cookbook downloaded, Barilla donated $1.00 to America’s Second Harvest—The Nation’s Food Bank Network, which helps the needy. This year, five celebrities—Chris Daughtry, Debra Messing, Natalie Portman, Marisa Tomei and Stanley Tucci—contributed their favorite recipes, which were further developed by Mario Batali into this year’s cookbook. Party planner David Tutera contributed table setting concepts. The cookbook is available through the end of this month at CelebrityItalianTable.com. So download your free copy and feast on Eggplant Involti With Ricotta and Scallions, Farfalle with Pancetta, Rucola and Truffle Paste, Penne Alla Vodka, Penne In Spicy Sauce With Capers and Olives, Rigatoni with Basil and Gorgonzola, Sicilian Chickpea Fritters, Spaghetti al Tonno and Steamed Cockles in a Haban?ero Chive Broth.
Follow the main course with desserts like Cherry Jam Tart, Chocolate Hazelnut Fritters and Torta di Cioccolato Abruzzese.

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TODAY IN FOOD: It’s Pizza Pie Day

Pizza RomanaOur favorite frozen gourmet pizzas, from Pizza Romana.   While National Pizza Week is celebrated the second week of January, today is Pizza Pie Day. Most of us aren’t old enough to remember that pizzas were formerly called pizza pie—you can catch the reference in movies from the 1950s. The history of pizza is relatively recent, given how ancient flat breads and cheese are in man’s cuisine. The key element that turned them into what we know today as pizza is the tomato, which was brought to Europe from the Americas in the 16th century. This was the yellow cherry tomato, and as a member of the Nightshade family of plants, it was believed by many Europeans to be poisonous. The tomato was enjoyed as a houseplant. However, famine in the 18th century caused the fruit to be eaten by the poor, and no one died. The poor in the area around Naples then add tomato to their flat bread, often serving as their main meal with melted cheese and/or anchovies, and so the pizza was born. (So was tomato sauce for pasta and other dishes.)
Pizza gained in popularity, sold from open-air stands by street vendors, and soon became a tourist attraction. Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba in Naples is regarded as the world’s first pizzeria. It began as a pizza bakery in 1738, providing street vendors with pizzas, but in 1830 expanded to include a pizza restaurant with chairs and tables. It remains in business today. Pizza arrived in the U.S. with the first wave of Italian immigrants in the late 19th century.
– See our favorite line of frozen gourmet pizzas, Pizza Romana—imported from Italy.
– Try something different: An apple, cheddar and bacon pizza recipe.

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TODAY IN FOOD: It’s National Fettuccine Alfredo Day

Fettuccine Alfredo is rich comfort food, made from fettuccine, ribbon-shape strands of pasta (fettucce means “small ribbons” in Italian).

Wider than the other popular flat shape, linguine, fettuccine provide a better surface for catching rich and creamy sauces. (Fettuccine is similar to tagliatelle, the flat pasta from the northern Italian region of Emilia-Romagna, but is narrower. See our Pasta Glossary for more shapes.)

To make Fettuccine Alfredo, the pasta is tossed with cream, butter and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese; the cheese melts when tossed with the hot pasta, cream and butter, creating a sauce (at home, the ingredients are simply stirred on the stovetop. In a restaurant, tossing at tableside is part of the experience.

The original recipe was created in 1914 by Alfredo Di Lelio, owner of Alfredo alla Scrofa, a restaurant in Rome. It is simply a variation of traditional Italian recipes, fettuccine al burro (fettuccine with butter) and fettuccini al burro e panna (with butter and cream)—both served, of course, with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Alfredo tweaked the traditional recipe slightly.

When butter is added both before and after fettuccine is put in the serving bowl for tossing, it is known as doppio burro, double butter.

Di Lelio doubled the amount of butter in the bowl before the fettuccine was added, creating a triplo burro, triple butter, recipe: more butter made more of a sauce.

Why? The chef created the dish to entice his pregnant wife, who had lost her appetite. He served it with egg fettuccine, hoping that the “nutritious dish” would do the trick.

Today, we know that a typical serving of the “nutritious dish” has 455 calories, 38g of fat, 291mg of sodium and 143g of cholesterol. But for people who love rich, creamy food, it hits the spot!

By the way, in Italy, fettuccine Alfredo and Alfredo sauce are not common terms. Instead, orders fettuccine al burro e panna—triplo burro.

 

Fettuccine Alfredo

Fettuccine Alfredo

[1] The original Fettuccine Alfredo was a triple butter and cream sauce (photo courtesy Cooking Classy). [2] In the U.S., green peas were added to give some color to the dish (photo courtesy Three Bell Peppers).

 
For something different, try these recipes:

  • Fettuccine Alfredo with Goat’s Milk and Goat Cheese—if you like goat cheese, you’ll like this variation.
  • Blue Cheese Alfredo (a recipe for traditional Alfredo sauce is included).
  • Dessert Fettuccine Alfredo, with crème anglaise instead of cheese sauce.
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