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Shallow Poaching

This technique calls for a small amount of liquid that does not cover the item resulting in food cooked by both steam and liquid. Often the liquid is used in the preparations of the sauce-cuisson as there is a significant amount of flavor transferred between …


An emulsion is the even dispersal of one liquid throughout another immiscible liquid. If the drops of the dispersed liquid are small enough and well separated from each other, the mixture will be thicker than either liquid and will remain in solution, for a time. …


Cuttlefish, often mistaken for calamari or squid, has its own characteristics. The cuttlefish, with its shorter tentacles and relatively large, wide body, is also distinguished by the “cuttlebone (calcified cartilage, which is often given to caged birds). It has more flavor than its cousins and its ink sacs are highly prized in Italy and Spain.

            To clean the cuttlefish: Hold the sac in one hand and gently pull the tentacles out with the other. They will come out with most of the insides attached. Cut the tentacles where they join the head and discard the rest. Rinse well and cut into 3cm lengths.

            Pull out the cuttlebone and any remaining innards and discard. Peel off the cuttlefish’s outside skin, which comes off quite easily under running water, and discard. Rinse cuttlefish well and chop into small strips.


Polenta has similarities to the hominy grits that are popular in the Southern United States. In this way polenta, grits and other “mush” type foods share a common link as the food of poverty. However in ancient times, what would later be called polenta started …

Porcini Mushrooms

Porcini belong to the Boletus genus of mushrooms, characterized by a soft, meaty white body that does not change color after it is cut (Boletus that change colors to blue when cut or bruised should not be eaten. Porcini grow in association of specific trees …


Capers are the unopened green flower buds of the Capparis spinosa (Capparidaceae – caper family – closely related to the cabbage family), a wild and cultivated bush that is grown mainly in Mediterranean countries (southern France, Italy, and Algeria) and also in California.

Manual labor is required to gather capers, for the buds must be picked each morning just as they reach the proper size. After the buds are picked, they are usually sun-dried, then pickled in a vinegar brine.

Capers can range in size from that of a tiny peppercorn (the petite variety from southern France, considered the finest) to some as large as the tip of your little finger (from Italy).

Capers generally come in brine but can also be found salted and sold in bulk. Either way, rinse before using to flush away as much salt as possible.

The taste is slightly astringent and pungent, and they can lend piquancy to many sauces and condiments; they can also be used as a garnish for meat and vegetable dishes.


Anchovies are small saltwater fish; about 3 inches long and are related to Herring. There are about six distinct species of the fish worldwide and are all are harvested for consumption. They can be cooked fresh in areas close to their natural habitat such as …


Mascarpone is a rich, sweet, double- or triple-fat, fresh cow’s milk cheese, milky white in color and with the aroma of milk and cream. It spreads easily and is similar in texture to stiff whipped cream, making it great for pastry fillings, or served simply …


This fresh, soft, creamy white cheese is made from the whey after it is separated from the curd during heating. The strained whey is then heated again (ricotta means “re-cooked” in Italian). In Italy, ricotta is made from sheep’s milk, while ricotta made in the United States is from whole or partly skimmed cow’s milk. Ricotta cheese has sweet nutlike flavor and can range from moist to dry in texture. Ricotta is perishable and will keep in the refrigerator up to one week. Avoid ricotta cheese that smells sharp or fruity, since this indicates the cheese is no longer fresh.

Pecorino Cheese

In Italy, cheese that is made from sheep’s milk and then aged is known as pecorino. Pecorino cheeses originate from the islands of Sardinia and Sicily. These cheeses are mild-tasting when they are young and develop a sharp flavor and a hard, granular texture as …