Cooking Techniques

Important Techniques for Easy Desserts

Dessert can be as simple as a plate of fruits or a piece of chocolate, or warm baked goods that can take hours to prepare, something sweet to conclude a meal. There are a bunch of easy dessert techniques you can learn such as baking, candy-making, whipping, mixing, melting, tempering, glazing, frosting, piping, decorating, plating, freezing, sifting, topping, layering, flambéing, and frying to make a wide range of desserts and sweet gourmet recipes including cakes, cookies, ice creams, sorbets, pies, tarts, pastries, gelatins, custards, biscuits, candies, crepes, and puddings.

Baking a cake is one of the first things any homemaker or cook should learn to make a special and easy dessert for family and friends. Chocolate cake is one of the most popular types of cake and never fails to impress. Basic gourmet recipes for chocolate cake consists of flour, sugar, water, eggs, melted chocolate, vanilla, salt, shortening, and sour cream. The ingredients are mixed and blended together, placed in a greased and floured cake pan, and baked for 30 to 45 minutes. The cake is cooled completely and covered with chocolate frosting made with melted chocolate, sugar, butter, sour cream, and vanilla.

Baking methods

When baking, it is important to follow the recipe as precisely as possible. The dry ingredients must be sifted and measured then leveled. A weighing scale may also be used to get accurate results. Once you learn how to bake a cake you can easily follow recipes to make different flavors as well as cupcakes, petit fours, and other kinds of cakes like airy sponge cakes or dense cakes.

Measuring techniques

While you can get away with making estimates and adjustments by adding a pinch of this or subtracting a little bit of that during cooking, with baking you need to pay extra attention to the quantity of each ingredient that the recipe specifically calls for or you will get disappointing results. Make sure to use the correct measuring techniques for the dry and liquid ingredients. Sift the four when the recipe requires it to make it fluffy, light, and airy, getting rid of lumps and increasing volume. Some recipes may require you to measure the flour first before sifting while others may require you to sift first before measuring. The order of these steps makes a difference in the final amount of flour and the end result of the recipe.

Dry ingredients

The ‘scoop and sweep’ method is one technique for measuring dry ingredients. You scoop the ingredients into the cup straight from the bag so that the cup is filled to the brim and then sweep off the excess at the top with a spatula or knife to level it off. Another method is to lightly spin the ingredients into the cup and then sweep off the excess with a spatula or knife so that there is better aeration, ideal for measuring light and delicate ingredients like flour.

Liquid ingredients

For liquid ingredients, use a liquid measuring cup and pour the ingredients carefully into the cup until you reach the desired amount. Make sure to place the measuring cup on a flat surface and read the measurement at eye level.

Getting Foods to Stick!

I don’t know about you, but my house has some picky eaters. A lot of the time dinner turns into meatloaf, chicken fingers, mashed potatoes, or any other type of food you can douse in ketchup. Plus I’m always stretched for time, and there are a lot of nights when the kids have to eat food on the go because they have after school activities.

One night I was driving my kids to one of their various activities and I hate to admit it but they were eating frozen corn dogs I pulled out of the freezer.  I thought to myself, there has to be a way to get them to eat better but still eat food they would like. After all, I had given them corn dogs that night because they like them and I don’t have to worry about the kids making a mess in the back seat. I mean, it’s on a stick! So that’s when I decided that I could give the kids full meals – and on a stick!

Vegetable/Side Ideas

Luckily I have my kids convinced that peppers and onions are delicious, so on a stick they shall be! We just need to work on some other vegetables too. I dress these sticks up with different sauces as well, like Dijon. I’ve also been tricking them into eating celery and carrots but skewering them and then sprinkling small amounts of buffalo sauce and blue cheese. I think these caprese skewers sound absolutely delightful! I have my kids convinced on the tomatoes and the basil, I’m just a bit worried about it being a little bit outside their picky zones. We might try it this week!

Main Meal

I thought this would also be a good way to open up their horizons and try something new, but at the same time, I didn’t want to shock their taste buds all at once. Most of my main course ideas still involve chicken, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a little healthier. If I’m skewering chicken for the family, I’ll try to add some different sauces. So far Greek dressing, honey mustard, and pesto seem to be going well. I’ve also tried making beef teriyaki and roasted pork, which have all seemed to go over well. I also really want to try these spicy Moroccan chicken skewers, but I feel like that’s for when my kids reach the expert level, and right now we’re still beginners.

Dessert!

And of course I have to do some dessert for my kids. They both have quite the sweet tooth! For a healthy recipe, I have been layering strawberries, oranges, bananas, melon, and blueberries on sticks. They love the fruits and it’s very colorful!

But sometimes you want something chocolate-y for dessert, and I’ve found that cake pops are a HUGE crowd pleaser.  My cousin Shannon used to send us cake pops from Shari’s Berries.  The kids would tear open the box and devour them.  So I will have to practice making these when they are asleep and hide them so I can enjoy them myself.

Remember! Have some fun with it! March 28th is “Something on a Stick” Day so what better time to play around with food on a stick than in the month of March?!

 

Secrets of Cooking Shrimp For the Best Results

Shrimps are quick and easy to prepare and an affordable choice of seafood compared to other gourmet items like crab or lobster but can taste just as amazing when cooked perfectly. The quickest and simplest way how to cook shrimp is to fill a large saucepan with lightly salted water and bring it to a boil. Add the shrimps to the boiling water and cook for one to three minutes depending on the size, or until the shrimp turn pink and opaque. Drain the cooked shrimp immediately and rinse in a colander under cold running water to stop cooking. You can now peel the shrimps and enjoy as easy appetizers or cocktail. You can also add the cooked and peeled shrimps to salads, soups, pasta, noodles, pizza, rice toppings, toast, wraps, or sandwiches.

Classic-style

Fresh shrimps are deliciously sweet even with little or no seasoning but you can also prepare them in various ways. Some of the most common ways of how to cook shrimp include grilling, sautéing, frying, broiling, steaming, and poaching. Butter and garlic are a classic combination for sautéing shrimps. Serve shrimps sautéed in butter or garlic on top of toast for quick and easy appetizers or toss with pasta and you have a light and unforgettable meal. You can also season the shrimps with lemon juice, white wine, and fresh herbs like parsley, basil, thyme, or coriander.

South American-style

Different cultures have their own ways of preparing and serving shrimps. Shrimps tacos are very quick to make and can also be healthy. Instead of using ground meat, use shrimps along with shredded lettuce, tomato salsa, onions, cilantro, avocado or mango and shredded cheese as filling for tortillas. A popular South American dish, ceviche, can be made with fresh shrimps seasoned with lemon juice, salt, dried or fresh chili peppers and garnished with onions, bell peppers, cilantro, parsley, and cherry tomatoes.

Mediterranean-style

Grilled shrimp is a popular backyard party food and takes only a few minutes to cook. You can thread the deveined shrimps onto skewers to make shrimp kabobs and grill over medium coals until pink and opaque. Grilled shrimps are perfect served with pilaf or couscous. You can also serve them with grilled pita bread together with mango salsa.

Chinese-style

Stir-fry shrimps with vegetables like bok choy, asparagus, or snap peas and season with orange or lemon juice, soy sauce, ginger, and chili-garlic to make a quick and delicious Chinese meal. Serve on top of noodles or rice.

Southern-style

Classic Southern fried shrimps are made with a batter mixture of flour, egg, cream, and cornmeal. Cover the peeled and deveined shrimps in the batter and deep-fry. For a Cajun flavor, cook the shrimps in stewed tomatoes, peppers, garlic, wine, Tabasco sauce, and other spices. Make shrimp jambalaya with rice, tomatoes, garlic, ham, chopper vegetables, shrimps, and southern seasonings. Shrimp Creole is made with celery, onions and tomatoes and served with hot cooked rice. The popular southern staple shrimps and grits is made with stone ground grits and fresh shrimps. It can be topped with bits of bacon and cheese or other flavorful garnish like parsley and green onions.

How a cooking vacation in Tuscany re-kindled a passion for cheese

How often do you hear a writer bemoaning our processed, plastic diets? How far have we strayed from simple ingredients which now appear distant, rare and expensive like jewels. We once cast them aside in search of convenience. Now we are beginning to value nature’s true worth.

Why am I waxing lyrical in this way? I have just returned from a cooking holiday in Tuscany that began as one thing but has actually had a profound transformative effect on me. I booked it for a laugh. I fancied learning a little more about Italian food with a couple of girlfriends and Tuscany seemed a great choice of destination.

I didn’t bargain for having a road to Damascus moment in southern Italy, that’s for sure. We were sitting around in the cooking holiday villa during an al fresco lunch, eating our homemade ravioli we had just produced. The conversation, perhaps unsurprisingly turned to the Italian passion for cheese. One of the chefs suggested we visited one of his family members who makes organic Pecorino cheese. To be honest I was interested but not gripped but went along with the idea.

Watching the flock of sheep wandering in from the Spring countryside across the Tuscan terrain was one thing. Being seduced by the rhythmic milking of contented ewes was quite another. This is not a tale of romance and the impracticalities of cheese making in Surbiton. May I hasten to add, his is not a cri de Coeur. I am not bemoaning the fact we have largely forgotten the simplicity of using fresh produce to make unadulterated and extremely fine cheese on a day-to-day basis. It’s just a polemic for how we must appreciate the simple ingredients in life.

The farm we visited actually uses large cavernous vats and enormous whisks which rush through the milky white curds. They direct whey into another vat where ricotta is made. This is semi-industrialised production. Yet it is evident cheese making is a labour of love and part of an historic tradition that has never been lost; although it did come close in the 1960s.

Natural cheese making is really a miracle. The moisture is expelled by the cheese itself and forms a mould on the top that is scraped away. It’s not something you can hurry or transform; it is what it is and there’s an end to it.

Gone are the days where mani calde or warm hands, were necessary. Still, cheese making requires experience, knowledge and understanding. Things I began to acknowledge would make a difference to my own relationship with food. Certainly I never expected a simple cooking holiday to have such a philosophical impact on me.

I realised many Italians in the country still keep sheep and goats and make their own soft, ricotta style cheese every day which they serve in the afternoon with quince preserve, walnuts or just with fresh rustic bread. Too often we are looking for the latest trends, something different, something exotic. I believe quite strongly that sometimes we should just seek out the best, freshest and simplest ingredients.

Pecorino is aged in cellars and the cool, slightly sweet musty air signals all is ripening well. Balze Volterrane cheese has its rind rubbed with oak ash and olive oil. It has a reminder of the artichoke seeds that are used in the wild artichoke rennet which is used traditionally all over the Mediterranean.

The cheese I ate in Spring in southern Tuscany was something more than product. It spoke of the people, of the terrain of the knowledge and passion of this region. If you import and pasteurize milk you make a bland cheese if you allow the cheese to live and breath you have something very different.

I guess it’s not just the cheese that needs to feel like this. It’s strange what a cooking holiday in Tuscany can unleash. Don’t be shy why not book one and see just what you might discover about yourself and things you may well have taken for granted.

1044

Flavours Holidays is a passionate, specialist tour operator offering quality cooking holidays in handpicked Italian locations.

Time To Pull Out That Grill: 6 Tip To Get All Your Neighbors Knocking Down Your Door

Are you planning ahead for summer grilling season? Do you want to ensure that all your neighbors feel free to drop in without an invitation? Try these six tips to bring all your neighbors to your next barbecue.

Meet and Greet

Making a connection with a neighbor can be as simple as a short conversation while you’re out with the stroller or walking the dog, or taking a meal to a new neighbor. Ideal summer covered dish meals included grilled vegetable kebabs, burgers and hot dogs. Don’t forget tasty homemade vegetable dips or salsa.

Keep Your Yard Attractive

Mow your yard regularly, sweep your sidewalk and keep outside decorations seasonal but subdued. Make it a daily chore for the kids to pick up their outdoor toys. Grill out regularly with your family. This gives you practice in trying different dishes and tells your neighbors that you enjoy entertaining and eating outside.

Get the Bugs Out of Your Yard

Bug zappers aren’t attractive when you’re trying to eat. But there are a lot of different, subtle ways to discourage mosquitoes in your yard or around your patio. Flies and mosquitoes can easily be deterred by the scent of rosemary, peppermint, basil and thyme. Simple solution, plant a herb garden around your eating area outside. And think of all the benefits, no pesky bugs, a natural solution, looks beautiful, and you will have fresh herbs to incorporate in your cooking adventures. Just be sure to leave some on the plants for the bugs.

Light Up the Night

Outside lighting doesn’t have to be expensive or even professionally installed. You can buy solar lights from your local farm supply or lawn and garden store. Use solar lights to light your walkways and mark the perimeter of your patio or the stairs up to your deck.

Anticipate Different Dietary Needs

When you’re throwing an open outdoor barbecue, it’s entirely possible that potential guests may be diabetic, vegetarian, on a gluten-free diet or on the wagon. Provide at least one dish to meet every need and be sure to have non-alcoholic beer and sparkling grape juice on hand. Don’t be afraid to grill traditional meat entrees and provide beer and wine as well. There are so many different options and different recipes you can test out. You can even save money by buying meat online in bulk and in different cuts. Then you will have it on hand for an impromptu get together. You can easily satisfy all your guests with just a few dishes.

Dropping in and Saying Goodbye

Your guests shouldn’t feel any pressure about dealing with their dirty dishes before they leave. Put out two or three garbage cans with bags so that guests can easily clean up after themselves. That way your guests don’t feel obliged to load your dishwasher and you have less to do after the party.

When your neighbors know that your summer barbecues are casual and easy-going, you won’t have to invite them. They’ll show up as soon as you put the meat and veggies on your grill.

Making Tasty Homemade Diet Vegetable Soup Recipe

The vegetable soup diet is one of the most popular diets and is also very nutritious because it provides a lot of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that strengthen the immune system and keep the body strong, healthy and lean. There are endless variations of healthy vegetable soup recipe so you can make a different one everyday without getting tired of it. You can make simple staples or gourmet recipes. You can have a different soup for lunch or dinner and lose pounds in a matter of weeks. When making vegetable soup, skip the loads of butter and cream that add fats and calories and stick to fresh vegetables, whole grains, beans, lentils, mushrooms, and tofu for a satisfying and nutritious meal.

Basic vegetable diet soup

A popular and basic vegetable soup recipe for dieting is made with sautéed onions, carrots, celery and garlic added with canned whole tomatoes with juice. Green beans, cabbage, chicken or vegetable broth, water, salt and pepper are also added and the whole is brought to a boil over high heat then simmered for ten minutes. Sliced zucchini and spinach are also added and simmered or until all the vegetables are tender. This recipe can be varied by adding different herbs, spices and other low-fat ingredients to make gourmet recipes such as Mexican chicken soup, Greek fish Stew, Italian minestrone, spicy Thai shrimp soup, vegetable curry, goulash, and red beans and rice stew.

Famous cabbage diet soup

Another popular diet soup is the cabbage Miracle Soup made with onions, green peppers, fresh or canned whole tomatoes, cabbage, and celery seasoned with dry onion soup mix. The vegetables are cut up, placed in a pot and covered with water then boiled and simmered until tender. This is part of a seven-day diet that involves a strict diet plan but allows you to eat the soup anytime you feel hungry.

Vegetarian versions of meat recipes

You can make vegetarian versions of soups that originally have meat in them. For example, Mexican tortilla soup is typically made with chicken but you can make a vegetarian version and load it with corn, beans, tomatoes, potatoes and carrots. Use earthy chili flavors, herbs, and spices to make a satisfying broth. You can also make vegetarian chili and add minced carrots, zucchini, and tofu instead of using ground beef.

Inspirations from all over the globe

There are countless vegetable soup recipes you can try at home inspired from different parts of the globe. You can make vegetarian or vegan soups as well as gluten-free, salt-free, or fat-free. You can also add a bit of meat for more flavor or substitute with mushrooms or roasted vegetable stock. Chicken stock is also available in low-fat or low-sodium varieties. Other vegetarian recipes you can try are cheddar cauliflower soup, sweet potato-peanut bisque, ravioli vegetable soup, asparagus soup, butternut squash curry soup, cumin lentil soup, white bean and escarole soup, zucchini tortellini soup, tofu and seaweed soup, broccoli-cheese chowder, Hungarian mushroom soup, vegetarian hot pot, sweet potato and black bean chili, potato and leek soup, tomato soup, split pea soup, grapefruit gazpacho, cold cucumber soup, onion soup, tempeh tomato vegetable soup, spicy mango ginger soup, fat-free cabbage soup, black bean and lentil soup, pumpkin soup, vegetarian miso soup with garlic, and three bean soup with pasta.

Stand Out: Five Surprising Ways to Use Your Stand Mixer

Stand mixers are great for replacing several other appliances and cookware items in your kitchen. You can create many new recipes and become a chef by using your stand mixer in a variety of new ways. All you need to do is purchase a few new accessories for your mixer. Here are five ways to use your stand mixer that might surprise you.

Grind Food

When you want fine or coarsely ground meats, cheese, nuts and vegetables, the food grinder attachment is perfect. Create fillings for your ravioli, freshly-made ground beef for hamburgers, crumbs for coating other foods and even Parmesan cheese to put on your pasta. Make your own ham salad as well. You can also add a vegetable puree and strainer attachment to your grinder to make your own jam, jelly, baby food or pasta sauce.

Mill Grain

Create your own flours and fiber-filled goodies by grinding down corn, rice, oats, wheat or other grains. Create flours that are extra fine all the way to cracked-grain style. You can also grind your own flaxseeds to add to your smoothies, pancakes or put on top of just about any food to boost the health benefits.

Make Ice Cream

There is no need to create room for an ice cream maker in your kitchen when you can purchase the added accessories for your stand mixer and make a perfect treat that way. The trick is to make sure your bowl, which is available through Mendingshed.com and other retailers, is very cold before attaching it to the mixer.

Slice and Shred

Whether you want cheese slices and deli meat or sliced vegetables or fruits, the cone-shaped shredder comes with four blades. Two of these are for shredding and two are for slicing, which makes it possible for you to create healthy salads all with your stand mixer. Shred cheese for any meal including pizza also.

Create Pasta

There are actually several attachments besides the genuine KitchenAid mixer parts that allow you to create your own homemade pasta. The pasta roller helps you to make long strands of pasta such as spaghetti noodles and linguine. The pasta extruder helps you to create smaller pastas like macaroni and fusilli that hold sauces well. The ravioli attachment creates perfectly-sized and matching top and bottom layers for you to create your own stuffed ravioli. The pinching tool keeps fillings in and water out.

You can create a wide variety of meals and snacks with your stand mixer by adding accessories such as the the ice cream maker, slice and shred accessories, grinder, tool to mill grains or the variety of pasta attachments so you do not need so many kitchen appliances. Use these five ways to use your stand mixer to mix it up!

Turkey Tricks: Five Ways To Use Turkey That You’ve Never Tried

 

Turkey can be a wonderful star of any meal; however, the traditional turkey dinner is rather labor intensive and the traditional options for serving up turkey can get a bit tiresome. If you seem to have fallen into a routine with how you serve turkey, it may be time to mix things up.

 

Omelets

 

 

When people think of turkey, they generally have a vision of it as a dinnertime food. However, it can be easy to start off the day with turkey incorporated into breakfast in the form of an omelet.

 

 

Turkey-stuffed omelets can kick off your day with a healthy dose of protein while delivering great flavor. Add shitake mushrooms, spinach, cheddar cheese to round things out for a delicious and healthy omelet. If you are feeling like adding a little extra crunch to your turkey omelet, try adding a little bit of bacon.

 

 

Macaroni and Cheese

 

 

When people think of macaroni and cheese, most view it as a side dish. However, adding turkey to it can take it from being an accompaniment to the star of any meal.

 

 

Whether you are preparing macaroni and cheese from scratch or getting a little help from a prepackaged mac ‘n’ cheese, turkey can boost the dish. Make it spicy by adding a bit of crushed red pepper. Create a rather healthy version by loading up the dish with turkey, broccoli, carrots and a variety of other vegetables. Or you can even move it toward a more gourmet dish by adding truffles along with the turkey.

 

 

Burritos

 

 

Kid-friendly and fun, burritos often are made with red meat. However, turkey can provide a healthy twist on this family favorite.

 

 

Serve up with refried beans, and you have an easy and delicious meal that should please even the pickiest of eaters.

 

 

Manicotti

 

 

Often, ground meat such as beef, pork or veal are used in manicotti. However, turkey or a combination of turkey and spinach can transform this traditional dish into a fresh new favorite.

 

 

For a decadent version, try utilizing three cheeses rather than simply the traditional ricotta cheese. This will create a rich-tasting version of the dish.

 

 

For a healthier version, swap out the regular ricotta for a lower fat version. This will provide the flavor with less guilt.

 

 

Tomato Soup

 

While it is not uncommon to incorporate turkey into a variety of soups, less common is the turkey-tomato soup. Chunks of turkey can add a richness of depth. To make it even heartier, add elbow macaroni.

 

 

While turkey may not normally be considered the most exciting ingredient, venders such as Harvestland can offer you turkey options that can really alter your family and friends’ opinions of this sometimes bland white meat.

 

 

Why You Should Eat Organic To Reduce Your Chances Of Food Poisoning

Food poisoning can be a very serious issue, it brings with it major health concerns and can even cause death in some cases. If you think you have food poisoning it can be helpful to make sure you get the proper medical treatment. The last thing you want is to have to treat your sickness all by yourself, getting the proper medical treatment is extremely crucial.

Some of the easiest ways to limit your chances of getting food poisoning are to eat more organic foods, and be aware of where your food is coming from. When you eat higher quality foods these foods will naturally have less exposure to harmful chemicals and other bacterias that are given a chance to pollute less quality foods.

In this article we’re going to cover the reasons you should eat organic food to reduce your chances of getting food poisoning, and the steps you should take if you happen to get food poisoning.

Why do organic foods do better at preventing food poisoning?

Over 40 million people get some form of food poisoning every single year, and that’s just the number of cases that are reported. If you attempt to include unreported cases of food poisoning that number would be much higher. Some of the largest contributors to this number are meats such as chicken and beef. Aside, from meats other greens such as spinach and salad mixes also contribute to that high number.

Foods that are organic have stricter requirements for their growth, production and manufacturing. These regulations end up making it harder for food borne illnesses and bacteria to spread. Also, food that is grown in an organic manner tends to be healthier, due to those same standards.

How can I reduce my risk of food poisoning?

There are a few different ways you can minimize your risk of getting food poisoning. For instance, when you prepare your food always ensure that you wash your hands before and after handling any meat, or even any food whatsoever. Also, make sure that you always wash all fruits and vegetables before you eat or cook them.

Ensure that you always cook your meats to the recommended temperature, undercooked meat is a big contributor to food poisoning. Bacteria’s that cause illness cannot survive past a certain temperature, so cooking your meat past that point will go a long way towards making your food safer.

What steps should I take if food poisoning does occur?

I hope this article has been helpful and you have a better idea of why you need to eat more organic foods in your life. Besides the health reasons of eating more organic foods, they can also lower you and your families chances of contracting a food borne illness, or food poisoning. Remember, if you do get food poisoning seek medical treatment as soon as possible, this will increase your chances of having a smooth recovery.

The biggest contributor to food poisoning is obviously the treatment of your food, so do whatever is in your power to minimize your risk. This includes buying healthier foods, and utilizing safe and effective preparation and cooking procedures.

Sources:

http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/08/health/foodborne-illness-101/

Zane Schwarzlose is a writer at The McMinn Law Firm, a personal injury law firm in Austin, Texas. Zane did not enjoy the last time he got food poisoning at a restaurant.

Our Very Own Food Factory Tour In Italy

As far as food tours go, I must say that one of the best I have ever taken is the Bologna food tour. As a fan of food tours, I have visited many and I was very much looking forward to this one. I had scheduled it as part of my holiday in Italy. I knew that they do some pretty amazing things with ham, cheese and vinegar in this regions but I wasn’t prepared for all the delights that I experienced. To understand why I would recommend this tour to anyone who is visiting Italy, let me take you through exactly how the food tour went.

The Parmesan cheese tour

We had a pretty good guide, Julio, for our tour. He explained to us that in most cases, the Parmesan cheese tour takes place in the morning so that visitors can see the entire process, right from when the milk is delivered. It was true; we set off at about 7.30 in the morning for a factory in Bologna. We were able to see the milk delivery. Julio explained to us that all the milk comes from the region and the cows that produce it are fed on only hay and grass from the region – no chemicals at all. That is why this particular Parmesan cheese has a “”Denomination of Protected Origin” or DOP status. We watched the cheese maker turn the milk into cheese, shape it, brand it and then set it up for curing. We had a cheese tasting right at the end and I must say that this cheese is different from any cheese that I had ever tasted before.

The Balsamic vinegar tour

The most surprising thing about this part of the food tour was that I discovered that what I knew as Balsamic vinegar is nothing like the real thing made in Bologna. It is thick, black, bittersweet and can turn everything, even sugary foods, into a complete delight. The skill of making Balsamic vinegar is passed down from generation to generation and only the makers really know what the secret ingredients are. What Julio was able to tell us is that it was discovered quite by accident when a bottle of wine was forgotten for a long time. The vinegar is made from a combination of grapes and it is aged for years; to be exact, the youngest is 7 years old and there are some that are as old as 45 years. Again, we were able to sample the vinegar at the end of the tour.

The Parma ham tour

This was to be the last stop of the tour and we were able to see why Parma ham is so special. It is made through a painstaking process of cleaning, brining and curing the ham for several weeks. We were able to see the ham makers pressing the ham gently so that all the moisture came out of it and then salting it. We also saw the dark, cold rooms where it is cured and of course we were able to taste it

Featured images:

Gabriele is a dedicated travel and food writer who contributes to the food blog of Emilia Delizia