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  • A Quick Introduction to Italian Christmas Food

    Christmas (or ‘Natale’ as it’s known locally) is as big of a deal in Italy as it is here in the UK. However, it does have a decidedly Italian twist, with each of the various regions having their own traditional dishes which they prepare over the festive period.

    We all know Italy is renowned for its food, so we’re going to take a look at some of their favourite holiday dishes and some of the traditions that are observed, hopefully giving you some inspiration to do something a little different for your own Christmas dinner.


    Christmas Eve Dinner

    The night before Christmas, Italians start off the Natale festivities with a lighter meal, usually consisting of lots of seafood and no other meats.

    Usually, a salad will be served up with swordfish, tuna, salmon octopus, or baccalà (salted cod), which is a regional favourite.

    Simple pasta dishes and antipasti (starters) are also cooked, but again, usually without meat.

    The idea of abstaining from meat comes from an old Roman Catholic tradition of fasting from meat for certain periods of the year and in the US, the practice has led to the ‘Feast of the Seven Fishes’, where Italian-Americans make their way through seven different seafood dishes.


    Christmas Day Lunch

    Just like here in the UK, the midday Christmas meal is the big one in Italy and can go on for many hours!

    After ‘fasting’ the night before, Christmas Day is very meat-heavy. Things start off with a selection of antipasti such as dry-cured meats, cheeses, olives, artichokes and salumi (cold cuts).

    Next up there’s a pasta-based course, which will vary depending on where abouts in the country you’re sitting down to Christmas dinner.

    For example, in the North, lasagne is a popular choice, as are filled pasta dishes such as ravioli and manicotti, but in the South, you’re more likely to enjoy a pasta bake dish.

    The main course will be heavy on meat, with the likes of veal, chicken and braised beef being preferred to our traditional Christmas meat such as turkey or ham.


    Santo Stefano’s Lunch

    Finally, on Santo Stefano’s Day (Boxing Day to you and me), Italians gear up for their third feast in as many days, with more distant friends and family being invited for a slightly less indulgent meal than the one they’ve enjoyed the day before.

    There are no particular traditions for the Santo Stefano’s Lunch, but like in the UK, leftovers from the previous day will probably be used up.

    With less of a focus on tradition, Italians use this meal to get a little bit more creative and many will use it as an excuse to get out of the kitchen and enjoy a nice meal in a restaurant.

    If you want to mix things up a little and add some Mediterranean flair to your own Christmas meals this year, here are some Italian recipes for you to have a go at, or if you’d rather take it easy, here’s a flavour of the kind of fare you can expect from a Christmas menu at a top Italian restaurant, courtesy of Bella Cosa in London.

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  • A Quick Guide to Choosing Kitchen Knives

    Knives are probably the most important kitchen utensil, and as such, you’ll usually wind up spending quite a bit of money on them.

    For this reason, it’s crucially important that you make sure that you buy knives that are of a good quality, but that are also going to do what you need them to.

    With that in mind, we’re going to run through some of the most popular types of kitchen knives, some of which are essentials, and others which are more specialist luxuries.

    The Essentials

    Chef’s Knife

    The chef’s knife is the cornerstone of any knife collection and will handle the majority of general preparation tasks, from chopping vegetables and herbs to larger jobs such as cuts of meat or even hard veg like butternut squash.

    They’re a great multi-purpose knife and are usually available in a wide range of sizes so that you can find one which really suits your hand.

    The advice from is that: “Bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better, and you’ll ultimately want one which has a bit of weight about it, but that still sits nicely in your hand, and has a nice balance to it.”

    If there’s one knife we recommend spending that little bit extra on, it’s this one, because it’s definitely the one which you’ll be using the most.


    Vegetable Knife

    Also known as a paring knife, these knives are much smaller than a chef’s knife, and are usually used for the small, tricky tasks which are done in your hand, rather than on a board.

    These include deveining prawns, seeding chillies, coring fruit, and many other fruit and veg tasks which can get a little bit fiddly.


    Bread Knife

    As the name suggests, these knives are used for slicing bread, and also for cakes too. They have a serrated edge and a long blade which allows them to easily slice through bread without squashing the crumb. You can also use this as an alternative to a carving knife if you’d rather not own both.


    Tomato Knife

    These small, serrated knives, are mainly used for peeling citrus fruit such as oranges and lemons, although as their name suggests, they’re also capable of general vegetable prep, such as thinly slicing tomatoes.


    Specialist Knives

    Filleting Knife

    If you want to fillet your own fish, we recommend buying a specialist filleting knife. These knives have a flexible blade, which helps with the delicate motions needed to successful fillet a fish and remove its skin.

    Filleting can be tricky, so if you need a bit of a hand, check out this article from wikiHow for some tips.


    Boning Knife

    If you want to take things a little bit further, and do some DIY butchery, you’ll want a boning knife at home.

    These narrow knives are shaped a bit like a dagger, and are designed for cutting through ligaments, and removing bones without damaging the meat.


    Carving Knife

    Carving knives and forks aren’t used anywhere near as much as they used to be, but they can still serve a purpose, especially if you still enjoy a good old traditional roast on a Sunday.

    The knife blade is designed to be very fine and sharp to ensure that you get nice even slices of meat when carving.


    Santoku Knife

    Japanese knives are becoming more popular in Western kitchens, and you don’t need to eat lots of Asian food for one to be useful.

    They have a blunt end, and are designed to be used for slicing, dicing and chopping, with small holes or dimples on the blade to help release food once it’s been cut.

    For a more detailed run on the Santoku knife and its purpose, check out this post from The Spruce.

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  • A Quick Introduction to Sous Vide Cooking

    Sous vide is an increasingly popular cooking technology which originated in France - the direct translation of ‘sous vide’ from French to English is ‘under vacuum’. The technique was initially only implemented in top-notch restaurants, but now it’s frequently used in homes all over the world.SVT


    The basics

    Sous vide cooking essentially involves vacuum packing your food, or sealing it in a Ziploc bag, and cooking it in a water bath. One of the major benefits of sous vide cooking, other than your food being cooked evenly and to perfection every time, is that you don’t have to constantly monitor your food in the same way that you do when using conventional cooking methods.

    This is because the food is cooked at such a low temperature that you don’t have to worry about it burning. The low but consistent cooking temperature which falls hand in hand with the sous vide technique allows you to cook your food thoroughly without it becoming dry and because the method is so versatile, you are able to cook anything from steak to fruit.


    The process

    Step one: set the temperature

    The sous vide cooking technique gives you the ultimate temperature precision, so you can set the temperature to the exact point which will create perfectly cooked food. So, the first step to creating your meal is finding out at which temperature it needs to be cooked and setting your circulator accordingly.

    You can find a comprehensive list of foods and their corresponding sous vide cooking times here.


    Step two: heat the water

    With so many options when it comes to heating a sous vide bath, you will be able to find something to match your budget. You could use a high-end circulator, but you could even use your stove (however, using your stove is likely to be less precise).


    Step three: seal your food

    The next step is to seal your food (most commonly using a vacuum sealed bag), which ensures that the flavour of your food is preserved and that no food can get into the sous vide bath.


    Step four: heat the food

    When cooking food, you’re looking to do at least one of three things: heat it, tenderise it, and ensure that it’s safe to eat. Because of this, timing is crucial when cooking sous vide. Luckily, with sous vide, it doesn’t really matter if you leave your food to cook in the water bath for an extra hour or so, as long as your food isn’t undercooked.

    To find out for how long you need to cook your food, check out the sous vide cooking time calculator.


    Step five (optional): sear

    Many people love the crispy coating which comes about from cooking food with more conventional methods. Although sous vide can’t provide you with this, it’s easy to achieve by searing your food after you’ve taken it out of the water bath. You can do this by using a torch, a hot pan or grill, or even deep frying.

    If you want more information on searing food, this guide will give you some pointers.

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  • What Is In A Bottle Of Wine

    Wine is composed of unmodified grape juice which was fermented to develop an alcohol that many people appreciate all over the world. In several nations, supper or even lunch is not total without a container of wine. Celebrations usually require a bottle of wine and also this is accompanied by joys and saluts.

    Normally, there are 2 types of wines; the red wine as well as the white wine. Both wines are made from grapes, although, different varieties of grapes and also both are additionally fermented to create the wine.

    Make-up of a Container of Wine

    A container of wine is mainly comprised of grape juice. The grapes made into wine are the crucial aspects to the taste of the beverage.

    Yeast is likewise contributed to the wine composition to ferment the grape juice. The fermentation might take a few months to attain the right taste f the wine. Water is likewise one of the major components of a bottle of wine and certainly the most abundant component in it. Alcohol additionally consists of wine and the alcohol material depends upon what type of wine we are discussing.

    Making uses of Wine

    A container of wine is frequently made use of for drinking, certainly. It is additionally made use of in liturgical events or various other spiritual based occasions. Many use wine to celebrate success and also to drown out getting rids of. A bottle of wine can also be used in cooking, cooking and to produce cuisine around the world. It is generally made use of to taste stocks (beef, hen etc) or braising the food.

    A container of wine could also be used to unwind the body; because of this it has gotten a credibility of being medicinal and also an aphrodisiac. Some scientists have actually specified that re wine might be much more beneficial for stopping cancer cells compared with white since red wine has a lot more poyphenols.

    Generally, there are two kinds of wines; the red wine as well as the white wine. Both wines are made from grapes, although, various ranges of grapes as well as both are likewise fermented to create the wine. The 2 kinds of wines additionally have several kinds of wines. They are usually named after the area they come from in the world or the type of grape utilized to make the bottle of wine. Alcohol additionally consists of wine and also the alcohol material depends on what kind of wine we are speaking around.

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  • Cabernet Sauvignon - Satisfaction Of California Wine

    Cabernet Sauvignon is an incredibly popular sort of red grape. It is commonly utilized for wine manufacturing around the world. It shares the top placement with Chardonnay which is a green skinned grape varieties. Cabernet Sauvignon is commonly cultivated in practically every wine-producing areas of the globe. This grape range needs a prolonged expanding season to be ripened appropriately yet the major imperfection of this particular grape is-- it generates quite low.

    The Cabernet Sauvignon berries have extremely tough skin which guards it from various diseases and also waste and also provides it electrical power to tolerate the fall rainfalls. As a result of these specific buildings and exceptional fragrance, Cabernet Sauvignon has ended up being world wide prominent.

    The most effective expanding places for Cabernet Sauvignon remain in semi-arid regions, accommodating a lengthy-growing season with well-drained and also not-high-fertile soils as well as with reasonably cozy climate. The best instances of Cabernet Sauvignon creating areas are Sonoma Nation's Alexander Valley, broad locations of Napa Valley and also Paso Robles location of Central Coastline.

    Like other imperial wine grape classifications, Cabernet Sauvignon is also of the Vitis vinifera varieties. According to the genetic science, it is the resultant impact of a cross in between Cabernet Franc and also Sauvignon Blanc.

    This certain grape is made use of in practically every Bordeaux wines. Numerous red wines are compiled with Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, such as Red Bordeaux which is thought about as globe best red wine.

    Cabernet Sauvignon got the leading location in America's popular merlots graph in early-60s. It seized the starting point from "burgundy" as well as till now it is the "numero uno" of American wine lover's list.

    The Cabernet Sauvignon grape has thick skin which results high tannin in wine. This gives the wines structure and also ageability. This property with regular scent and a rewarding finish additionally has the tendency to lack mid-palate splendor and also it is commonly joined much less tannin, yet "pulpy" preference grapes; such as Merlot and also Shiraz or Syrah which are discovered specifically in Australia.

    Cabernet Sauvignon handles a wide variety of aromas and flavors. This intends to the floral aspect when it not entirely rips with capsicum, yet when it tears-- it predispositions to the flavor of blackcurrant. In California as well as Chilean cabernet, the flavors of mint or eucalyptus are found. It has a wonderful fragrance. In the old wines it was qualified with black existing, violets and seasoning scents. In the brand-new globe wines the flavors of delicious chocolate, ripe jammy berries, oak are likewise found in addition to that old days flavors. Cabernet Sauvignon preferences dynamic in the mouth as well as teems with richness, yet it is bit acidic.

    Cabernet Sauvignon is an extremely prominent type of red grape. Cabernet Sauvignon is widely cultivated in nearly every wine-producing areas of the globe. The Cabernet Sauvignon grape has thick skin which results high tannin in wine. Cabernet Sauvignon deals with a large array of scents as well as flavors.

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