fresh Parmesan please

DSC08693A little bit of information

Many people think that the massive wheels of Grana Padano, the semi-aged hard Italian cheese, are maybe a cheaper knock-off of better known Parmigiana-Reggiano, says Lou DiPalo, part of the fourth generation to run DiPalo’s Fine Foods in Little Italy. In fact, he says, Grana is a great cheese in its own right and well-known in Italy. Grano Padano is a subtler and less nutty and salty than Parmigiano, says DiPalo, with a more delicate flavor that he prefers on risotto or when you don’t want to overpower a dish.

via Know your Italian cheeses: Grana Padano vs. Parmigiana-Reggiano – New York Daily News.

The above link does not exist anymore… will up-date soon.

Fresh is best

None of that dried Parmesan cheese that you get in packets will ever find its way into my cooking, you cannot compare the flavour against  fresh Parmesan. Sometimes I like having more visible Parmesan cheese in my food, so shaving the Parmesan cheese with my swivel vegetable peeler makes it an easy job.

So easy

Run a swivel vegetable peeler along the narrow side of a chunk of Parmesan to obtain thin shavings of cheese.

Add a burst of flavour and make your food look good:

  • Top a caesar salad with some Parmesan shavings or toss them with a green leafy salad with fresh strawberries and balsamic dressing
  • Scatter some Parmesan shavings over a freshly baked pizza before serving
  • Before serving I like to garnish risotto and pasta dishes with a small bundle of Parmesan shavings, piled on top of the food.

Chocolate Curls

Quality counts. Chocolate… dark, milk or white always buy good quality. Room temperature chocolate gives the best results when making these easy chocolate curls.

How to curl the chocolate: Not wanting to melt the chocolate with my warm hands I used the wrapper to hold onto the bar of chocolate while running the swivel vegetable peeler firmly along the narrow side of the bar of chocolate, this gave me lots of lovely delicate chocolate curls to use for my culinary requirements. Sometimes I make the chocolate curls in advance and store them in a covered container in the fridge, chilling also makes them easier to handle.

A few ways of using the chocolate curls 

  • Cupcakes decorated with a generous mound of chocolate curls
  • Hot chocolate topped with whipped cream and a sprinkling of chocolate curls
  • Add a touch of chocolate indulgence… pile chocolate curls on top of cheesecakes, trifles, mousse, pavlova and cakes
  • Pile some chocolate curls on top of ice cream before serving

It really is so easy to make chocolate curls and they add a touch of glamour to your sweet treats… so take out your vegetable peeler and get curling.

Dried Orange and Lemon Rinds

Getting rid of the guilt… do not throw out orange and lemon rinds!

I always felt a bit guilty throwing out the rinds of oranges and lemons after juicing. So now when I know that I will be juicing lots of oranges and lemons, I make plans to recycle the citrus rinds instead of throwing them into the rubbish (at least the bin smelt nice), it just seemed such a waste of so much scent and flavour.

Recycle

choose fruit that feels firm and free of blemishes

One of my favourite ways of recycling citrus rinds is to dry them or make candied orange peel. It’s a simple process and much more rewarding than having a rubbish bin that smells nice! Always choose citrus fruit that feels firm and free from any blemishes.

I always wash the citrus fruit in hot water and gently scrub with a vegetable brush, this  helps to remove the wax coating. Organic citrus fruit don’t always have this wax coating.

Removing the rind

When removing the rind of citrus fruit I use my swivel vegetable peeler ( y-shaped ) for the task, resulting in thin parings of citrus rind with none of the bitter pith. Avoid using a knife, it’s harder to get the same results.

Drying

Before juicing the citrus fruit,  pare the rind using the swivel vegetable peeler. I have a small dehydrator (not a necessity)  which I use for drying citrus rinds, but you can use an oven.

drying orange rind in a dehydrator

Take the prepared citrus rind and lay skin side down in a single layer on a baking tray. Place the tray into the oven and turn the temperature to its lowest setting. Drying the citrus rinds can take anywhere between one and  two hours, depending on how low the temperature of your oven can go. Aim for about 50C/122F setting or lower by propping the oven door open with a wooden spoon. Once the citrus rinds feel dry and crisp to touch, they are done.

OR

Take the prepared citrus rind and lay skin side down, in a single layer on a baking tray. Leave the citrus rinds to air dry for a day or two until dry and crisp.

Store the dried citrus rind in a clean jar or airtight container until needed. A great store cupboard item to have.

Ways of using the dried lemon and orange rind:

  • I like to add a few pieces of dried lemon or orange rind into some of my marinades and dressings, infusing them with citrus flavours.
  • When making a fruit salad I like to add some dried pieces of lemon and orange to marinate with the fruit for a few hours, removing them before serving.
  • Sometimes I like to add dried lemon to my green tea.
  • I like to infuse a jug of water with some dried lemon, giving a slight citrus taste to the plain water.
  • At Christmas when making mulled wine my dried citrus rinds come in handy.
  • When I am roasting fish, meat, poultry or vegetables I will throw in a few pieces of the  dried citrus rind into the roasting pan to add a citrus note to the food…e.g. I add lemon with white fish, orange with salmon, lemon with lamb and chicken, orange with duck and orange with carrots and pumpkin.

This list could go on but hopefully I have given you enough good reasons for ”  not throwing out your orange and lemon rinds”.

Do you dry citrus rinds? What is your favourite way of using them?

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