An easy to use dictionary to understand Italian Food terms
Otherwise known as tacconnelle, this short pasta is shaped like a lozenge. To make taccozze, semolina flour and water are combined until a dough forms; some cooks add eggs to make the pasta more supple and rich. The dough is rolled out into sheets, cut into long strips, and then cut into diamond-shaped pieces measuring between ½" and 1". Typical of the Molise region and much of central Italy, taccozze pair beautifully with creamy vegetable or olive oil-based sauces; aglio e olio and pancetta-laced sauces are also ideal partners for taccozze's rustic texture.
Otherwise known as tagliolini, this thin, ribbon pasta has a flat, rectangular cut - a thinner version of tagliatelle. Industrial taglierini are typically made with semolina flour and water, whereas homemade taglierini are made from a rich egg dough. Although taglierini, like tagliolini and tagliatelle, are most often associated with ragù, they can be enjoyed with any variety of vegetable-based or seafood sauces.
A Piedmontese variant on tagliatelle, shaped by hand and cut a little thinner than tagliatelle. The soft dough is made of flour, eggs, a little water, and freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, and it requires careful handling in kneading and rolling out. Tajarin are usually served topped with freshly grated white truffle or meat gravy; other recipes call for presenting the silken pasta in a strong broth with beans.
These are crisp, black pepper-laced, pretzel-shaped snacks made in Southern Italy, mostly Campania. Some versions are slightly sweet, others decidedly salty. The dough is yeasted and contains lard; once shaped, it is sometimes topped with slivered almonds.
Alba, a small town in the province of Cuneo (Piedmont), is famous for its good food, fine wines and, in particular, for its white truffle, the Tuber magnatum. The truffle is a subterranean fungus, white in color with shading that verges on yellow, light brown or grey. The inside varies from pink to beige to light brown, with delicate veins of a lighter shade. Its perfume is pronounced and while the flavor is intense, it is also particularly delicate. The truffle varies in dimension and, on rare occasions, can weigh up to 14 ounces.
When you purchase a truffle, it should be strongly scented and feel firm like a potato to the touch; therefore, if it is hard, almost woody, it means it has become dried out; on the other hand, if it is soft to the touch, it means that it has gone off. Moreover, the truffle should be very clean; if it is covered with soil, it might turn out to be cracked. When you are purchasing a number of truffles, it is very important to check each one of them individually so that you can spot a truffle of inferior quality.
To serve truffle, shave it directly at the table, using a special truffle-slicer. It should not be cut in advance as it will lose its aroma. It can be served with "gnocchetti alla fonduta," or in a salad of boiled lobster/crawfish. Finely diced, it jazzes up soft-boiled eggs. It also adds an extra-special touch to "carpaccio," steak tartare, Russian salad, and boiled fish with mayonnaise. Truffles will last for a couple of days if wrapped in a sheet of impermeable paper, which in turn is enclosed in two sheets of damp paper and then in a further three sheets of dry paper; the wrapped truffle can then be stored in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator.
tahr-TOO-foh dee NOHR-tchah
Norcia, a town in the Umbrian province of Perugia, is famous for its pork, cured meats, Pecorino cheese, but above all for its highly-esteemed black truffle, Tuber melanosporum, Vittadini. A subterranean fungus, it is covered with small pyramid-shaped protuberances of a leathery texture that form a sort of thin shell around the truffle. When sliced, it is black in color, sometimes with purple tinges, and has white veining that turns pink when exposed to the air and black when cooked. The perfume is intense and penetrating, while the taste is rich and full, and remains pronounced even after cooking. It can grow to 1.1 pounds in weight, but in general it is smaller and only very rarely reaches the size of a clementine.
It should not be confused with the lesser-prized Tuber aestivum, Vittadini, which is commonly known as "summer truffle" or "scorzone." It has a similar outer shell but its flesh is a yellowish-bronze in color and its light-colored veining disappears when cooked. The black truffle should be firm and clean, and the skin should be intact. It is gathered from the end of November to March.
The Roman word for tondarelli, tonnarelli is another name for Abruzzo's famous maccheroni alla chitarra. They are long, slightly square spaghetti made by hand or industrially, most commonly served with amatriciana sauce, lamb ragù, or a chili pepper-laced tomato sauce.
A rustic dish with roots in shepherding, torcinelli are made by rolling lamb or kid liver and lights in caul fat, tying them, and roasting them. In Abruzzo and Molise torcinelli are flavored with minced parsley, garlic, and dried ground diavolillo. Depending on their size and shape, torcinelli can also be called alenoto, marro, gnumerieddi, mazzacorde, and so on.
Most often associated with Christmas, torrone is nougat, made with beaten egg whites into which honey (cooked to a hard-ball stage), vanilla, and hazelnuts or almonds are stirred in. Variations with cocoa, pistachios, and so on are common. The torrone of Cremona, Alba, Siena, Benevento, Sicily, Abruzzo, and Calabria is very well known. Abruzzo's differs from the others because it tends to be softer in consistency.
The term tortelli typically refers to stuffed savory pastas, although sweet tortelli also exist. The word tortelli comes from torta, or 'cake'. Tortelli enjoy a centuries-old tradition in Italy; recipes for meat-stuffed tortelli are mentioned in recipes dating back to the twelfth century, and were celebrated by poets in the Middle Ages.
In many cities of Emilia - the heartland of tortelli production - tortelli are often stuffed with ricotta and spinach, although versions filled with potatoes or a combination of cured meats abound. In the Lombard cities of Cremona and Mantua, the stuffing calls for pumpkin and crushed amaretti cookies, perhaps with a touch of Mostarda di Cremona. A Milanese version of sweet tortelli is made for Carnevale, when bits of sugary egg dough are fried for a toothsome treat. In central regions like Molise and Abruzzo, tortelli made with a shortcrust pastry dough are filled with chestnuts, jam, or ricotta and offered for dessert.
These cookies hail from the region of Latium (of which Rome is the capital), but they are also baked in homes and pastry shops in nearby Umbria. Eggs are beaten with sugar, aniseed, white wine (or anise liqueur), and toasted almonds and hazelnuts. A touch of flour and baking powder is added, and the batter is spread on a buttered baking sheet and baked until firm; after a few minutes, the batter is cut into strips, and returned to the oven to dry out into crunchy biscotti. If they are kept in hermetic containers, tozzetti conserve well for long periods of time.
The Italian name for sandwich (other than panino). The word was invented by the Fascist regime to replace the commonly used foreign expression sandwich (the Fascists wished to eliminate all foreign influence). Literally 'in between the middle,' from tra ('in between') and mezzo ('middle'), tramezzini are typically triangular and stuffed with ham, cheese, tuna, or vegetables.
These Apulian rustic tagliatelle are made of semolina flour and eggs, then cut with a special tool called a troccolo or torcolo, which looks like a grooved rolling pin. They are similar to the maccheroni alla chitarra of Abruzzo and the Pici of Umbria and Tuscany. To make troccoli at home, roll out fresh pasta sheets on the second-to-thinnest setting with the pasta machine; cut into long strands about 1/8" wide. Serve this pasta topped with rich tomato, lamb, or seafood sauces.
These tiny dumplings are a specialty of Recco in Liguria, but their preparation has spread to other towns in the region. The dough is prepared with water, salt and flour, kneaded by hand for about 10 minutes, then broken into tiny pea-sized bits and rolled under the palm to create an elongated shape with curling ends. Recently, people have begun making trofie with the same dough used for potato gnocchi, although the practice is not widespread. Trofie are typically served with pesto; green beans and cubed potatoes are sometimes added to make a richer dish.
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