Archive for the 'parmigiano' Category

25
Jun
10

Cheese! Cheese! Cheese!


[Eran Elhalal is a chef/Entrepreneur working in Manhattan. An Honors Graduate Culinary Institute of America,  Eran was Executive Chef of two Manhattan restaurants in the past few years and consulted several others. He began educating customers about food and wine pairing and cheese in 2007 while working as the Chef at UES’s BarVespa.

These days, Eran talks about food and wine pairing as the chef for the panel of Meetup, a wine club, dedicated to introduce and educate the American public about Israeli wines. Photos: courtesy of Eran Elhalal. CS]

Cheese comes in a variety of shapes and types

Cheese: 8000 years in the making!
The first chapter in our love affair with manipulating milk

Cheese is one of the most uniquely varied and refined foods in the world. So meticulously formed and perfected in specific regions, we seek them out by origin and romanticize the process and the people making it. We want our Brie and Camembert to be from Île-de-France, our Gouda from Holland, our Parmigiano Reggiano from the Emilia Romana region in  Italy….

Cheese making’s true origins have long been forgotten, but many countries claiming the honors. Archaeological findings show it being made and stored in clay jars as far back as 6000 BC. There are murals depicting cheese making in Egyptian tombs from 2000 BC .

Cheese is mentioned in the Bible. For example, as David escaped across the River Jordan he was fed with ‘cheese of kine’ (cows) (2 Samuel 17:29), and it is said that he presented ten cheeses to the captain of the army drawn up to do battle with Saul (1 Samuel 17:18). Moreover, a location near Jerusalem called ‘The Valley of the Cheesemakers‘.

Legends about its origins abound, but one of the most commonly repeated themes is that cheese was accidentally discovered in the Mediterranean by an Arab nomad traveling through the desert.

Legend speaks of the nomad about to embark on a long journey on horseback, filling a saddlebag with milk to sustain him while crossing the desert. After hours of riding the nomad stopped to quench his thirst only to discover that his milk had separated into solid lumps and a watery liquid.

The combined heat, agitation from riding and rennets [rennet is a natural complex of enzymes produced in any mammalian stomach to digest the mother’s milk, and is often used in the production of cheese. Rennet contains many enzymes, including a proteolytic enzyme (protease) that coagulates the milk, causing it to separate into solids (curds) and liquid (whey). The active enzyme in rennet is called chymosin or rennin but there are also other important enzymes in it, e.g., pepsin or lipase. There are non-animal sources for rennet that are suitable for vegetarian consumption]. The saddlebag, made of an animal’s stomach parts and lining, caused curdling of the milk and separation into curds and whey.

Cheese, cheese, delicious cheese!

The watery liquid, and the floating whey were found to be drinkable, while the curds were edible and nutritious.

What makes some cheeses kosher? First and foremost, the facility producing the cheese has to comply with kosher rules of food handling and preparation-that is obvious! The above legend gives us another reason… Renin, the enzyme that helps fermentation and coagulation, is a meat byproduct and therefore can only be used under certain conditions in the production of cheese, which is a dairy product. Luckily , nowadays, technology has yielded plant based rennets which are used to create styles of cheese we could have before! Some delicious examples of this type are kosher Parmigiano, Grana Padano, Manchego, etc. Yayyyyy!

Eran Elhalal

MORE FROM CHEF ERAN

The Art of Braising

Passover Almond-Pistaccio Cake

22
Jan
10

Noi Due


Noi Due – Us Two (143 W 69th St New York; NY 10023; Telephone: 212. 712.2222)… aah, the memories it brought back! Having traveled extensively through Italy, having taken in the aromas, this restaurant made me feel I had somehow magically returned to il bel paese. With its authentic decor, softly played romantic Italian songs… SYR and I knew almost from the moment we stepped in that the food would also have that authentic, simple, fresh taste. We were not disappointed!

As soon as we sat down they brought us a basket of home made foccaccia bread, with an oil dip. The bread had that fresh delicate scent that easily succeeded in whetting our appetite for what would come.

SYR stated her meal with a Minestrone, while I had a Zuppa di Pomodoro con Ricotta (Cream of Tomato Soup with a Ball of Ricotta).

Minestrone

The aroma of both soups, the simple country look, the freshness… mmmmMMMmm mmmMMmm! My tomato soup was a slight bit more orangeish than I had expected and that made it a greater feast for the eye. The combination of hot soup and the cold ricotta, brought two different flavors to perfectly complement each other. Somehow the contrast brought out both the soup’s and the cheese’s flavors in full force. The aroma of the fresh basil only enhanced the culinary experience.

SYR‘s Minestrone cooked to perfection, allowed her to taste each individual piece of vegetable. She loved it!

She followed it with a grilled Salmone which sat on a bed of potatoes and asparagus, it was topped with onion rings. Between the presentation and the aromas emanating from it it looked very enticing. She described the potatoes as very buttery, the salmon as delicate and not “fishy” tasting in the least, and the onion rings as just perfect.

Salmon with potatoes and onion rings

I had the Carcioffi Ripieni – Stuffed Artichokes. They came with artichoke bottom stuffed with fresh vegetables served in a lemon caper sauce. The flavor was just tart enough to enhance the vegetables without overpowering them.

We then shared a dish of Cheese Ravioli.

Cheese Ravioli with Gorgonzola and Parmigiano

The ricotta filled ravioli came with Gorgonzola, cream, walnuts, sprinkled parmigiano and spices. Being a cheese lover (wifey used to joke that I must have been an Italian mouse in another gilgul) the combination of the three cheeses was – as my mother used to say in yiddish – ta’am fun ganeiden, the taste of paradise!

The dishes went well with a delightful 2008 Goose Bay Sauvignon Blanc.

No meal at an Italian restaurant could be complete without a good cappuccino for me, and an espresso for SYR. Again, the aromas seduced us, and at least in my case this was one the best cappuccinos I ever enjoyed!

By six o’clock, this 40 seat eatery was filled to the gills. Service was prompt, the staff was friendly and enthusiastic, the portions were fair, the prices surprising low. Noi Due‘s motto is “poco ma buono – little but good.” They more than lived to it! We both enjoyed our experience there. We know we’ll be back, we have to!

CS




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