Mario Batali’s Grilled Cheese Hack Is Oh So Perfect (Photo)


By Cooking Panda

Mario Batali approaches his Italian-style grilled cheese less like a panini and more like a French-toast sandwich. Stick around to read this, and you’ll soon make yours the same spectacularly delicious way.

As a guest on ABC’s “The Chew,” Batali enlightens the audience with a recipe inspired by the sandwich he ate as a child after long days of “tobogganing and winter merriment.”

“My dear mamma would have a deliciously gooey grilled cheese sandwich waiting for me at every turn,” he says. “But now, it’s time to put a new spin on this cheesy classic, and I promise you’ll never look at a grilled cheese the same way again.”

What’s so “ultimate” about Batali’s grilled cheese? It’s that he dips the sandwiches in an egg batter before he puts them in a hot pan, much like you would with French toast. The result is bread that’s extra crispy on the outside and soft in the middle, and it makes for an even thicker and heartier grilled cheese. In Italian, he explains, it’s called “mozzarella in carrozza,” or a fried cheese sandwich.

Batali begins his sammies with good ol’ sliced white bread, because, at the end of the day, it is an American dish.

He then gets started on his batter, which includes four eggs, plus three egg yolks and whole milk for added richness. He also whisks in Pecorino cheese and thyme. The cheese forms a fine crust on the bread, while the thyme “adds a beautiful herbalness that brings the cheese back to its pasteural birthplace,” Mario explains. (No, those aren’t real words, but a nostalgic chef can get away with that sort of thing.)

Once the pale yellow mixture is thoroughly whisked and flecked with beautifully green bits of thyme, it’s time to dip. The bread has been layered with two kinds of cheese: Fontina and Mozzarella di Bufala.

“The trick again, as with all good Italian things, is not too much of anything,” Batali explains, adding a touch of charred onion to the sandwiches.

“Gently, but with firm intensity,” he presses the top layer of bread onto each sandwich. He dredges each one in the egg mixture before tenderly placing them in a hot pan coated with, of course, olive oil. He cooks them until golden brown, about two minutes on each side.

Most people would be ready to devour the sandwich then and there, but Batali isn’t done yet: He adds onions to a saucepan with orange juice and sugar, making an onion marmalade to go with the sandwich. That seems to be a great call, as one of the guests exclaims, “This tastes like dipping a grilled cheese in onion soup!” Plating each sandwich with a dollop of marmalade, he sprinkles the dish with extra Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Behold, a delicately crispy yet pillowy soft dish that is both a sandwich and savory French toast, filled with oozing Italian cheeses and herbal wonder. You’d likely crave this after a day of tobogganing on a snow-covered hill, too — or maybe just after a long day at the office.

Hungry? Watch the video and read the recipe here.

Source: ABC / Featured Image: Treefort Music Fest/Flickr / Embedded Image: ABC

Tags: cheese, grilled cheese, hack, italian, mario batali, sandwich
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Step Aside, Pizza Rolls, Because Pizza Buns Are In Town


By Cooking Panda

Totino’s Pizza Rolls and Ore-Ida Bagel Bites have been around for years, and DiGiorno finally has an answer: Pizza Buns.

Soft, golden brown and bubbling with rich cheese and zesty sauce are the company’s new snack, rolled up into miniature buns, cinnamon-roll-style, to be eaten by hand. The doughy snacks are brushed with pizza sauce and toppings, baked and eaten while hot, and they’re available in four varieties.

First is a standard yet bold pepperoni flavor, stuffed with pepperoni pieces, mozzarella cheese and DiGiorno’s chunky tomato sauce. I’d suggest dipping the bites in Ranch for a cooling contrast.

Bachelorette number two is a five-cheese variety, sporting Asiago, Romano, parmesan, mozzarella and ricotta cheeses in one convenient bite of crust. Share these with your cheese connoisseur friends.

Then we have spinach-artichoke buns, reminiscent of the popular dip and flavored with the green veggies and a three-cheese blend. They’d make a scrumptious gamed-day snack.

Last is an option for meat lovers only: the Italian-style supreme bun. Those bad boys pack Italian sausage, pepperoni, onions, black olives, mozzarella, and green and red peppers into hearty dough bites. Sounds like dinner.

Pizza Buns mark DiGiorno’s first foray into the bite-size pizza market, and the online reviews are mixed. Some say the buns skimp on flavor, while others say the cheese and tomato sauce taste pretty pleasant. Some complain that the cheese isn’t gooey and melty enough, but that means, fortunately, that the sauce won’t burst and burn your mouth with every bite. Some say they’re not a very filling snack, but they’re easy to make and turn out well both baked and microwaved.

As for how much you might like them? It sounds like that’s something you’ll have to determine for yourself.

You can snag Pizza Buns in boxes of six for around $4 at your local supermarket. If you think you can master them better on your own, here’s a recipe for homemade pizza buns.

Looking for more creatively delicious ways to enjoy the marvelous flavors of pizza? Try our pepperoni pizza braid, pizza waffles or pizza wonton triangles

Photo credit: Pixabay

Tags: digiorno, frozen food, italian, Pizza, pizza buns, Pizza Rolls, snacks
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11 Italian Pasta Dishes You Can Always Count On (Recipes)


By Cooking Panda

There’s something stress relieving about cooking pasta for dinner. It could be because you don’t have to turn on the oven. It could be because it’s ready in about half an hour and only leaves a pot and a bowl to wash. Or it could be because you know it’s going to turn out pretty darn tasty — because that’s just what pasta does. 

No one knows pasta quite like the Italians do, so here is a compilation of scrumptious, simple and Italy-approved pasta recipes. Consider it a plan for your next month of dinners.

1. Orecchiette Bolognese

My mom made this Barefoot Contessa dish at least once a month at home, and my mouth watered an embarrassing amount each time I smelled the tomato sauce wafting from the kitchen. The magic comes from the nutmeg. Or maybe the crushed red pepper flakes. Or it could be the cream. . .

2. Cacio e Pepe

One of Rome’s signature pastas, the inexpensive yet scrumptious cacio e pepe comes together with just five ingredients — two of them salt and pepper and one of them, believe it or not, water. The starchy water you use to cook the pasta is crucial for the cheesy sauce; reserve it until the end, quickly mix with cheese and pepper, and stir into the pasta. You’re left with a rich, peppery white sauce, no cream or butter necessary. 

3. Spaghetti Carbonara

You have not lived until you’ve eaten pasta doused in carbonara sauce: a mixture of guanciale (like pancetta or bacon), eggs (mostly yolks), cheese and pepper. The key is to toss the cooked pasta with the crispy pork cheek so it soaks up its fatty, salty goodness. The additions of egg and cheese make a silky smooth sauce, and the pepper adds a spicier element to cut through the richness. It is utter heaven.

4. Bucatini all’Amatriciana

Onion, garlic and crushed red pepper are a winning combination in this spicy Roman favorite. Combine them with pancetta, cheese and tomato sauce for a pasta dish everyone will love. This handy recipe includes both the “chef” version and an easier version.

5. Penne alla Norcina

Sausage and white wine and cream, oh MY! This flavorful, filling dish from the mountains of Italy comes together in less than half an hour — and its aromas alone will make your day. Tip from the chef: buy a block of cheese, instead of a bag of the shredded stuff, and grate it yourself so it stays fresher. 

6. Lasagna

This crowd-pleasing dish does take a bit of elbow grease, but the luscious layers and comforting taste (and leftovers on deck) are well worth it. Don’t forget that a little extra cheese never hurt nobody.

7. Angel Hair Pasta with Pesto

Sometimes, the simplest recipes just hit the spot. Achieve Food Network-level pesto prettiness with fresh basil, pine nuts and plenty of olive oil.

8. Gnocchi alla Sorrentina

Stir cheesy tomato basil sauce over gnocchi. Top gnocchi with yet more cheese (mozzarella and Parmesan, two superior varieties). Bake until melting and bubbling. Feast until enlightened by this Sorrento-style gnocchi.

9. Pasta with Porcini Mushrooms and Artichokes

This earthy, hearty sauce will please your taste buds and your mind, since you’re sneaking in a serving of veggies with your pasta.

10. Gnudi with Butter and Sage

Gnudi are little balls of ricotta and Parmesan rolled in flour, so making this is quite fun and reminiscent of your Play-Doh days. Roll the gnudi in the morning, let them rest in the fridge while you’re at work, and come home to dinner in no time. Toss the cooked gnudi in buttery, crispy sage leaves, top with extra nutmeg and Parmesan and enjoy straight away.

11. Linguine with Clam Sauce

Feel like you’re basking in the sun on the coast of Italy with this light and fresh, yet highly satisfying pasta with clams. Pair it with a glass of white wine, and you won’t believe you’re not on vacation!

Photo credit: Sara Cagle

Tags: dinner, easy, italian, pasta, recipes
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Homemade Meatballs In Tomato Sauce


By Cooking Panda

Don’t forget to pick up a bottle of Fabio Viviani’s Signature Wines!


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, minced
  • 1/4 cup basil, chopped
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup Grana Padano cheese, grated
  • 1 pound ricotta cheese, the drier the better
  • 2 pounds ground beef, 80/20
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 – 3 cups homemade tomato sauce, for serving
  • Directions

    1) Pre-heat oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit.

    2) Preheat a sauté pan, and sauté the garlic and onions until they are translucent.

    3) Mix all of the ingredients to uniform mass and test the meat for seasoning. Shape the meatball how you see fit. We suggest a 3 to 4 ounce ball.

    4) Place meatballs in a large deep sauté pan. Pour in tomato sauce and heat the pan on medium heat. Cook them for about 25 to 30 minutes on a low simmer with the lid.

    Tags: dinner, Fabio Viviani, italian, meatballs, recipes, Tomato Sauce
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    Relax And Learn With These Literary Wine Bottles


    By Cooking Panda

    For those who indulge, having a glass of wine after a long, hard day is probably one of life’s greatest pleasures. But now one company seeks to up the cathartic pleasures of wine even more — by including a short story on its labels so that you can soak in some literature while you drink.

    Reverse Innovation, the brand and product design agency, decided to join forces with the Matteo Correggia winery to bring bookish wine-lovers their dream come true: a line of wines called Librottiglia that include stories specifically written to enhance your drinking experience.

    Fancy, right?

    Patrizia Laquidara, Regina Nadaes Marques and Danilo Zanelli are the three authors who came on board for the project, and each of the stories penned by them was chosen because the themes and tones supposedly pair (insofar as the written word and libations can pair) together perfectly with the wine.

    The downside, of course, is that for the time being all of the stories are written exclusively in Italian, so if you don’t speak or read the language, the story will quite literally be lost on you.

    “Librottiglia is where great wine and literary pleasure meet. We conceived and realized this product in partnership with the Matteo Correggia winery. The characteristics of each wine are matched to a short story and a narrative genre to create a perfectly balanced oeno-literary experience based on the sensory impressions and scenarios imagined in the stories,” explains the Reverse Innovation website.

     “The range is distinguished by its original “label book”: a small, elegant book that serves as the front label of the bottle. Each story is illustrated with an intriguing image and attached to the bottle with a delicate cord. The cord converts the opening and closing of the book into a ritual and establishes a “common thread” that strengthens the identity of the coordinated product line. We also chose a textured paper stock to enhance the sensual, tactile aspect of the experience.

    “Librottiglia will appeal to a discerning consumer who is attracted by a [collectible] product: adults who are passionate about wine and literature, who like to immerse themselves in a complete experience and enjoy a brief moment dedicated to themselves.”

    So what do you think? Would you give Libbrottiglia a chance?

    Sources: Reverse Innovation / Photo Credit: Reverse Innovation

    Tags: italian, Librottiglia, reverse innovation, short story, wine
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    How To Hold Pizza Correctly, As Told By An Italian


    By Cooking Panda

    Few things about Neopolitan pizza are tragic, except for one storied eating mishap.

    You know the one. You sensuously bring a slice of soft pizza to your lips, anticipating the sensation of burst tomato and fresh burrata on the tongue, only to have the toppings slip from the crust and crash onto the plate with a sloppy slosh. 

    “Why do bad things happen to good people?” you ask yourself.

    “This pizza is broken; it’s wrong,” you think. “Life shouldn’t be like this.”

    Actually, you’re eating it wrong, you pompous fool, and we’ve got word from a pizza expert who knows this stuff to prove it.

    It’s food writer Daniel Young, who has dedicated his time to the worthy task of pizza education. A video on his YouTube account details proper pie-holding technique demonstrated by an actual Italian chef.

    Neopolitan protocol, the duo said, calls for folding pizza up like a wallet — how it used to be served on the streets of Naples. The maneuver prevents topping leakage and makes consumption easy both at the table and on the go.

    Simply fold the pizza in half, fold it again, tuck it in a napkin and cradle it like the precious baby you never had. 

    The wallet technique is practical for many reasons. It eliminates the need for slicing, as one is able to hold an entire pizza in one’s hand, which is in and of itself a dream come true. It renders the snooty method of eating pizza with a fork and knife obsolete. It also does away with the difficulty of trying to hold Neopolitan pizza by the crust, a task no mortal can accomplish.

    Why does the wallet technique not apply to the standard American slice? American pies are made of a stiffer dough that can withstand the forces of gravity to maintain form, even when lifted by a hungry diner. Neopolitan dough is thinner, softer and therefore more prone to messiness; if you hold a slice at either end, you can make it do the worm.

    Interested in living the Neopolitan way? Learn it all on Young’s channel here

    Source: Manchester Evening News / Photo credit: Yuya Tamai/Flickr

    Tags: holding, italian, neopolitan, Pizza, technique
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