Italians use garlic extensively in the preparation of many of their recipes. Garlic is actually packed with essential vitamins that help maintain a healthy heart and help the body resist other infections. The content of vitamins A, B, and C are extremely beneficial. Garlic is an onion like plant cultivated in southern Europe and is bulbous in shape and breaks into cloves when opened. It has a distinctive powerful aroma and flavour. Garlic can be bought in quantity as it is easy to store in a fridge or cupboards for a length of time.
The mainstay of Italian cuisine is olive oil and it is most widely used in Mediterranean countries. Extra virgin olive oil is high quality oil which is due to the means by which it is processed. Extra virgin olive oil is naturally quite expensive and it is use is preferred to other olive oils. However, as this is somewhat of a luxury item you may prefer to use ordinary olive oil if it is more affordable, but always ensure you choose the best quality you can find. There are many different types and quality of oil and it is important to choose the right one. A dedicated chef specialising in Italian cooking will never compromise on the type of oil he use. The recipes contained in this book include the use of extra virgin olive oil. Though preference is given to the use of butter by some chefs they will often add a little olive oil because of its authentic sublime flavour.
Herbs and Spices
In an Italian kitchen, the use of herbs and spices is essential and they will always be prevalent. Basil, Italian flat leaf parsley, all of the fresh variety, and oregano which can be used dried or fresh, are the most widely used in Italian recipes. Herbs such as basil and parsley are so often needed in the preparation of recipes that it is a good idea to have plenty in your kitchen, or even cultivate them yourself. They can easily be grown in pots or planters on a shelf as long as there is plenty of natural light. In Italy oregano is sold dried on the stem and it is the only herb that it is preferable to use in its dried state. This should be stored in an airtight container for the best results. Rosemary is another herb that is very aromatic in the use of Italian cooking and works well in many recipes. If you need to create a spicier dish you should consider dried red pepper flakes.
[tag] Italian cooking spices[/tag]