Thursday, 26 March 2015

Gnocchi

In the recently added chart for spinach you will find a recipe for spinach gnocchi. Today we will tell you more about this delicious Italian dish which is perfect for trying out endless variations.

Gnocchi is a type of pasta made from potatoes. The best potatoes to use for gnocchi are old, floury potatoes. These are suitable as they contain less water and more starch than waxy potatoes, which means you don't have to add as much flour (gluten) and they produce a softer gnocchi. The classic way to prepare gnocchi is to peel the potatoes when cooked and purée them immediately to allow most of the moisture to evaporate. The potatoes are then cooled and mixed with precisely enough flour (usually less than 120 grams per 500 grams of potatoes). Just enough flour is added to absorb the moisture and provide gluten to create a cohesive dough. The dough is shaped into a long thin cylinder that is then cut into pieces. These pieces are boiled in water until they rise to the surface. 

Gnocchi is easy to make and suitable for freezing, allowing you to prepare large quantities at less busy times. Besides spinach gnocchi, you'll also find two other variations at Gastronomixs: green herb gnocchi and potato gnocchi with Parmesan.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Nut oils

Nuts are extremely nutritious ingredients, rich in proteins, vitamins, fibre, and especially fats! The high fat content of nuts is due to the large amount of oil found in them. This blog explains about the different types of nut oil available and what they can be used for.

Oil per nut
Nuts do not store their energy in starch but in oil, which is why they each contain a large amount. The amount of oil also differs per type of nut. These fats, which are predominantly unsaturated, produce a pleasant buttery sensation in the mouth.

Nuts: oil percentage edible weight
Type
Oil percentage %
Almond
54
Cashews
46
Hazelnuts
62
Chestnuts
2
Coconuts
35
Macadamia
72
Pecans
68
Pine nuts
47
Peanut
48
Pistachios
54
Walnuts
59

Production
The higher the percentage of oil in a nut, the greater the amount of nut oil produced when the nut is pressed. The amount of oil also depends on the dryness of the nut; nuts that are too dry will produce a minimum amount of oil. There are two ways of extracting oil from nuts: 

Cold-pressed oils: the nut cells are crushed and release the oil under pressure. These cloudy oils have a strong flavour and are used in cold preparations such as dressings or vinaigrettes. 

Hot-pressed oils: the crushed nuts are treated with a solvent at a temperature of 150°C. The solvent ensures the oil is separated. These clear oils have a mild or neutral flavour and are used in preparation methods based on heat such as frying or deep-frying.

Storage
Nut oils are susceptible to oxidation. They must therefore be stored in a dry, dark, and cool place (7-12°C). Home-made oils must be stored in air-tight, dark-coloured bottles.

Never use oils that do not taste or smell of nuts as these will be rancid and can no longer be used.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Lardo di Colonnata

You can never have too much knowledge about products, which is why today's blog item talks about Lardo di Colonnata.

Lardo di Colonnata is ripened pork lard from the pig's back. In the Netherlands, pork lard is used to line paté dishes, incorporated into sausages, or just thrown away. A special ripened version is produced in Colonnata, Italy.

How is it made? Layer upon layer of pork lard pieces are placed in a marble tub and each layer is liberally sprinkled with dry salt, pepper, rosemary, garlic, and cinnamon. The lard is then left to ripen for between six months and two years. The marble causes the connective tissue to break down, making the lard even softer. The extent to which the lardo is ready is determined by sight. The salt ensures the moisture is extracted whilst also drawing in the flavours of the herbs and spices. By reducing the moisture content and increasing the amount of salt, the lardo can be kept for longer periods.

This pork lard comes from older pigs. Although muscle tissue in pigs becomes tougher with age, the reverse is true for pork lard, which becomes increasingly softer.

This lard is not intended to be used for larding as it melts too quickly. It goes extremely well with fish, as well as asparagus, cherries, and even chips!