To chop herbs, it is essential to use very sharp knives so that you can cut them without crushing them. It is also important to make the proper hand movement: rest your palm on the cutting board and place your fingers stretched out on the tip of the knife in order to guide the movement.
Here are some tips for chopping specific herbs.
If you preparing a marinade, tear apart the fronds. Otherwise, chop with other herbs. Fennel has a delicate, fresh flavor and makes a lovely decorative element. Fennel pairs lends itself nicely to fish dishes.
If you have to prepare a roast, use the whole sprig. For the other preparations, however, remove the leaves from the sprigs and chop. Widespread in the Mediterranean area, rosemary can be used when marinating the meat and has an intense flavor.
Use whole sage leaves in marinades and roasts. Use chopped sage for the other preparation, baring in mind that chopped sage has a much more intense flavor. It goes well with succulent flavors of some pastas and meat dishes.
Parsley is one of the most frequently used herbs in cooking and is suitable for a variety of uses. Wash parsley before you chop it and always remember to dry it because it spoils easily.
Both fresh and dried marjoram leaves are often used in Italian cooking, giving dishes a strong, but sweet aroma. Marjoram is the ideal herb to flavor pizzas, stews, stuffing, meatballs, quiche, mushrooms, vegetables, sauces, salads, cheeses, shellfish, vinegars and herbed olive oil. Marjoram leaves, whose flavor is intensified by drying, should be stored in a glass or porcelain jar, away from light and moisture.
Grown in the Mediterranean basin, thyme comes in several varieties. From the lemon to purple thyme, it is usually used to flavor fish and vegetables. If the leaves come off easily, they do not need to be chopped before use.
Basil leaves are often used whole. When a recipe calls for chopped basil, try tearing them by hand rather than using a knife to prevent oxidation. Basil is a key ingredient in typical Italian dishes such as spaghetti with tomato sauce and pesto alla Genovese.
Mushrooms 1 cooked peeled bell pepper 1 eggplant parsley garlic Academia Barilla extra virgin olive oil pepper salt
- Use a sharp knife to chop the parsley, cut the mushrooms and chop the peeled garlic.
- Heat the olive oil in a pan with the chopped garlic.
- Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally.
- Then add salt and pepper and finally garnish with parsley.
- Be careful not to overcook the parsley because it tends to become bitter.
- Peel the eggplant and cut into cubes.
- With the flat blade of a knife, crush a clove of garlic and put it to heat in a pan with the olive oil.
- Then add eggplant, salt and pepper.
- Cook, stirring occasionally. Add the parsley and finish cooking, then turn off the heat, remove the garlic and place the eggplant on a plate.
- Press down lightly on the eggplant to eliminate some of the oil.
- Peel and slice a clove of garlic.
- Put the pepper in a shallow dish or in a bowl and cover with oil, then add the garlic, pepper and parsley. - Cover the dish with a sheet of plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for several hours.
Toasting nuts brings out their flavor and can be done in the oven or a pan according to the nut you want toast.
Put pine nuts in a nonstick pan, making sure they are in single layer and are all in contact with the bottom of the pan. Place the pan on the heat and stir with a wooden spoon. Toast until amber in color. Toasted pine nuts give a nice crunch to pasta and salads. They are also to make pesto and various pastries.
Arrange the almonds in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast in a preheated 350°F (180°C). Shake the baking sheet regularly and toast until amber. Almonds are used in pastry recipes, as well as the preparation of recipes with chicken, vegetables and fish fillets.
We recommend toasting other nuts in the oven as you would almonds. Oven-roasting makes it easier to remove the thin skin on nuts like hazelnuts.
The knife is an essential tool in the kitchen, so it must always be sharp and it is important to select the right knife depending on the purpose for which will be used. Wash knives by hand, avoiding the dishwasher, because the high temperature of the water can ruin the blade. If there are gaps between the handle and the blade of your knife, do not use it because germs and bacteria can hide in those gaps.
A brief overview of the main categories of kitchen knives.
A large chef’s knife is a heavy and balanced knife used mostly to make cuts that require stability. You should be used to mince and julienne, but not to for cuts that require pressure.
A small chef’s knife is more accurate than the big carving knife. It is light, easy to use and has a medium thickness. Use this knife to make a very fine julienne
A large serrated knife is suitable for cutting foods with a hard outer surface. It is perfect for cutting bread, for example, because the serrated edge cuts through the crust without exerting excessive pressure on the soft part.
A cleaver is large, heavy and intentionally unbalanced. This knife allows you to come down on an ingredient with force and is perfect for breaking bones.
A salmon knife has a long, thin blade with grooves to reduce friction and create a clean cut.
A boning knife has a hard, short blade and is used to debone and remove fat from meat.
A small serrated knife features a serrated blade that can cut the vegetables without imparting excessive force.
A fillet knife has a thin and flexible blade that can be used to precisely cut various ingredients. It is used primarily for fish and the tip of the knife can be used to separate the flesh from the bones.
A paring knife is a very easy to handle with a short, curved, sharp blade. Its primary use is to peel, cut and trim the vegetables.
Fennel grows in the autumn and winter. When you buy fennel, look for full, compact bulbs that are completely white and green with no brown spots.
- To clean the fennel, remove the stems and slice along the sides.
- With your hands, remove the outer leaves and sprigs, but do not throw them away. They can be used to prepare a tea or infusion.
- Cut the bottom, then cut the fennel in accordance with the purpose for which you need.
- Cut it into thick slices for baking or gratin, or into cubes if you want to prepare a mix of vegetables to be pan-roasted.
There are many varieties of cucumbers: flat, ridged, green or yellow. When you buy cucumbers, remember that they can’t stand the cold and if you buy them out of season they are often imported and treated with wax.
- Therefore, it is important to peel them well.
- Look for cucumbers that are firm and without spots.
- Do not to select those that are too ripe because they tend to have a bitter taste and large seeds.
- Fresh, Italian cucumbers can be eaten with the skin on. If you want to peel them, first wash and dry the cucumber, then cut off the ends with a sharp knife.
- To eliminate the bitter taste, repeatedly rubbed the tip of the cucumber with the tip you cut off, making a light foam.
- Peel the cucumber with a potato peeler and then slice it.
- If you want, remove the seeds. If you want to serve it raw with a dip, cut the cucumber lengthwise.
- If, instead, you want to add to a salad, cut it into cubes or round slices.
For basic icing 2 cups powdered sugar 4 tbsp. water 1 tbsp. lemon or orange juice For chocolate icing 6 oz. dark chocolate shavings 1 ¼ cup sugar ½ cup water ½ tsp. seed oil
For basic icing
- Sift the powdered sugar, collecting it in a bowl.
- Add the warm water and stir briskly with a whisk until creamy and not too runny.
- Add the orange juice to flavor the icing and mix well. This is a basic icing that can be used to give a sweet touch to a dish and improve the look of your dessert.
- Icing can be stored for up to 2 days in an airtight container at about 43° F (6 ° C). Approximately 11 oz. of icing are sufficient to cover a cake with a diameter of about 9 inches.
For chocolate icing
Perfect for giving firmness to your desserts, this icing is the ideal way to cover a Sachertorte.
- To prepare, it is best to use the dark chocolate, because it resists more heat and melts less easily.
- Add the water and sugar to a saucepan. Place over low heat and stir until the sugar is fully dissolved. - Bring the syrup to a boil, then remove the pan from heat and let cool.
- In the meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a bain marie.
- Then add the syrup to the melted chocolate, stirring constantly.
- Once all mixed, remove the mixture from the heat and, stirring constantly, add half a tablespoon of vegetable oil, or 3 tbsp. butter to give luster and creaminess to the icing.
- Keep the chocolate icing in a cool, dry place.
- Do not place it in the fridge because the cocoa butter would separate from chocolate and the icing would loose its characteristic shiny appearance.