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I am trying to learn how to cook italian food! Help!!!

Hi there,
I am an average cook, but i really want to learn how to cook great food!!!! Since Italian is my favorite i figured its where I would start from! So if any one out there could help me out with the basics i would really really appreciate it!!!!!! Give me any recipe-soup, side or main course as long as it is non-vegetarian!!!!!

PS: For main courses please recommend the wine!

Thanks in advance!

Alisha Escoto

  1. Dear Wannabe Italian Cook,

    I’m not sure I can tell you how to be an Italian cook in one response.

    First I would comb the web and search for some “basic Italian food recipes”. Do you have cable and watch the Food Network? Giada is pretty basic. You can view her website http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/show_ei

    You can also go to your library which most likely has some basic Italian cookbooks. Take a few home with you and pick interesting recipes.

    Do you want to make sauce from scratch or buy an existing brand and doctor it up with ground meat and spices? I think it depends on how much time you have. You can add sauteed garlic and onion and some fresh herbs and slow cook it over a low heat for 20 minutes which will vastly improve anything you can buy.

    Do you want to make pasta using a pasta machine? That’s probably advanced. Instead I would buy a good quality pasta and not overcook it. Follow the directions for al dente.

    The one thing you don’t want to skimp on is the cheese. Don’t use pre-grated Parmesan cheese but instead grate cheese fresh at the table. This will elevate any dish you make.

    Also use a good olive oil for sauteeing vegetables/meats or dipping bread. Using excellent quality ingredients is especially important when making simple Italian food because it’s the ingredients that really shine.

    For wine, choose a pinot grigio or chardonnay to go with white sauces or chicken and fish dishes. For rich heavy red sauces made with meat or meat dishes, choose a chianti or similar Italian wine.

    Come back and let us know how it went or if you have further questions.

  2. I’d go along with Karyn regarding Giada. Most of her recipes are pretty simple and tasty.
    I make my sugo (sauce) starting with canned tomato sauce (not spaghetti sauce. I use Hunt’s). I add canned chopped tomatos, one small can of tomato paste, meats (see below) salt, pepper, wine, parmesan cheese and get it cooking real good, then turn the heat way down and cook for three or four hours.
    When it comes to adding the meat I season the meat first – usually some cheap cuts of bone-in pork and then saute it with some chopped garlic until the meat almost cooked thru. Don’t burn the garlic! Put this in your sauce adding the drippings.
    As far as meatballs go – and I apologize for not having any measusrements – I do this:
    ground beef (again not the most expensive or the cheapest)
    seasoned Italain breadcrumbs
    grated parmesan cheese
    Mix it all together, roll in in balls and bake the in the oven at about 300 degrees until just brown add to sauce with drippings.

    Any pasta will do, just remember to add salt to the water.

    It’s hard to put this down in words since I do it so automatically. But if you want other sauces just ask.

    I always like a nice chianti with this sauce

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