Cheese: What is the Difference Between Parmigiano Reggiano and Parmesan

There are more types of cheese on the market today than ever, but one thing remains indisputable: Parmesan is the “King of Cheeses.” This Italian cheese not only makes chicken Parmesan sing, but it adds a boost to your Caesar salads, dresses up your popcorn and turns a regular baked potato into a work of art.

You might be confused at the price difference between Parmigiano Reggiano and Parmesan at the store, though. Is there an actual difference between the two?

Parmigiano Reggiano vs Parmesan

If your cheese has the words Parmigiano Reggiano stenciled on the side of the rind, it’s the real deal.

Italy has a law called DOP (Denominazione d’Origine Protetta) which specifies how and where Parmigiano Reggiano can be produced. It’s similar to the rules governing the production of Champagne or tequila. It has to be produced in the provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Mantua or Bologna in Italy and follow a very specific recipe to receive the official seal.

That means that anything called by another name (like Parmesan or Reggianito) is an imposter! This “fake” cheese might taste Parmesan-esqe, but it’ll lack the complexity of the certified kind. You can ask your local cheesemonger for a side-by-side tasting; the Parmesan will taste more acidic and saltier when compared to the deeply rich, nutty flavor of the Parmigiano Reggiano.

It’s well worth the price difference!

What About Pre-Grated Parmesan?

If you feel the urge to pick up a bag of pre-grated Parmesan, I recommend that you don’t. There are a couple reasons why you should grate your own cheese. It’ll not only taste better, but it melts more smoothly, too. You should specifically avoid the shelf-stable stuff. That dried cheese has very little flavor and it may contain plant cellulose and chemicals as anti-clumping agents.

We recommend using a rasp grater (like a Microplane) on hard cheeses like Parmesan. The fine teeth create a super-fine shred that’s light and fluffy. You won’t have to use as much cheese, either, stretching that expensive block so it lasts longer. As a bonus, these handheld graters are much easier to clean than the huge box graters, too!

Source: FoodBeast

Advertisements

A Light Version of Fettuccine Alfredo

Ingredients

5 ounces grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, plus more for sprinkling
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 large egg
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest (optional)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound fresh fettuccine, or 12 ounces dried fettuccine
1 teaspoon minced garlic (about 1 medium clove)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
minced fresh parsley or chives

Method

  1. Combine cheese, heavy cream, egg, cornstarch, olive oil, and lemon zest (if using) in a large bowl. Season lightly with salt and heavily with black pepper and whisk to combine. Set aside.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add pasta and cook, stirring frequently to prevent sticking, until cooked but still very firm (not quite al dente), about 45 seconds for fresh pasta or 1 minute less than package directions indicate for dried pasta. Drain pasta into a colander set over a large bowl. Transfer 2 cups of cooking water to a liquid measuring cup and discard the rest.
  3. Transfer pasta to the now-empty bowl. Add garlic and butter and toss to coat.
  4. Whisking constantly, slowly add 1-1/2 cups of pasta cooking water to bowl with cheese mixture. Transfer cheese mixture to the now-empty pasta cooking pot, scraping the bottom to make sure you get everything. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula, until mixture comes to a boil and thickens, about 45 seconds. Season sauce to taste with more salt and pepper as desired.
  5. Transfer pasta to sauce mixture and turn to coat. Just before serving, stir in more pasta water to thin sauce out as necessary.
  6. Serve immediately, sprinkled with minced herbs, black pepper, and cheese, and drizzled with additional olive oil.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Serious Eats

Hybrid Pastry: The Croncha


A Combination of French Croissant and Mexican Concha Bread

Too Much TV Might Dull the Aging Brain

Dennis Thompson wrote . . . . . . . . .

The old saying, “TV rots your brain,” could have some validity for folks as they age.

In a new study, middle-aged people who watched television for more than 3.5 hours a day experienced a decline in their ability to remember words and language over the next six years, British researchers found.

What’s worse, it appears that the more TV you watch, the more your verbal memory will deteriorate, researchers said.

“Overall, our results suggests that adults over the age of 50 should try and ensure television viewing is balanced with other contrasting activities,” said lead researcher Daisy Fancourt. She’s a senior research fellow at University College London.

For the study, researchers relied on data from a long-term study of aging involving more than 3,600 residents of England.

Participants reported the amount of hours of TV they watched daily. They also had their thinking and reasoning skills regularly tested as part of the study.

People who watched less than 3.5 hours of TV a day didn’t seem to suffer any deterioration in their brain power, Fancourt said.

But more than that amount, people became increasingly apt to struggle with words or language in tests conducted six years later.

The decline in language skills is similar to that experienced by the poor as they age, Fancourt said.

“We already know from a number of studies that being of low socio-economic status is a risk factor for cognitive decline,” Fancourt said. “If we compare the size of association for watching television for greater than 3.5 hours a day, it has a similar-sized association with verbal memory as being in the lowest 20 percent of wealth in the country.”

The worst deficits occurred in those people who watched more than seven hours of television daily, researchers found.

While only an association was seen in the study, there are a couple of potential reasons why this might happen.

“Due to the fast-paced changes in images, sounds and action, yet the passive nature of receiving these — i.e., television does not involve interaction as gaming or using the internet does — watching television has been shown in laboratory studies to lead to a more alert, but less focused, brain,” Fancourt explained.

Some TV viewing is also stressful, and stress has been associated with a decline in brain power, she added.

The specific effect on verbal skills indicates that avid TV viewing could be replacing other activities that would be better for the brain, said Rebecca Edelmayer, director of scientific engagement at the U.S.-based Alzheimer’s Association.

“You’re spending more time not engaging with your family, your friends and having social conversations, because they’re specifically reporting a decrease in verbal recall,” Edelmayer said. “We know engagement with others in conversation is something that supports and protects verbal recall.”

People who want to protect their thinking skills need to socialize often and engage in other activities that “stretch” their brain, Edelmayer said.

In fact, a long-term study published just last week in the journal Neurology found that exercising both the brain and body during middle age may guard against dementia. Such mental exercise includes reading, playing music, sewing or painting, according to the report.

“The recommendation would always be to stretch yourself and stay as engaged as you can be, whatever the connection is,” Edelmayer said. “We’re asking you for best brain health to go outside your normal passive box.”

The new study was published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Source: HealthDay

Comparing Antioxidant Levels in Tomatoes of Different Color

Naturally occurring antioxidants have been of great interest in recent years due to their recognizable health benefits. A study out of Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana in Mexico has clarified differing antioxidant levels by focusing on eight tomato genotypes with different-color fruit.

Laura Pérez-Flores led a team of researchers in an evaluation of the variation in carotenoid, polyphenol, and tocopherol content among selected hybrid and native tomato lines as well as assays for antioxidant capacity of the fruit. In addition, the expression of isoprenoid metabolism-related genes and two pigmentation-related transcription factors were determined.

Pérez-Flores explains, “Tomatoes are the major dietary source of antioxidants; however, little is known about their contents and regulation in genotypes of different colors, shapes, and sizes. The association of greater levels of specific antioxidants with particular colorations of tomato fruit suggests a ‘balance’ between these compounds.”

The findings of these researchers are illuminated in their article “Antioxidant Balance and Regulation in Tomato Genotypes of Different Color”, found in the current issue of the Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science.

Tomato fruit are an excellent source of antioxidants and contribute significantly to human health because of their anti-inflammatory, antiallergenic, and antithrombotic properties. The results of this study support either the direct commercialization of tomatoes with different color fruit or use of their genotypes in breeding programs to increase antioxidant levels among existing cultivars.

Carotenoids and tocopherols are among the major lipophilic antioxidants present in tomatoes. Polyphenols are powerful antioxidants that have been reported to interfere with the initiation, promotion, and progression of cancer. The main tomato polyphenols are hydroxycinnamic acids, flavanones, flavonols, and anthocyanins.

In recent years, the biosynthetic pathways of carotenoid, tocopherol, and chlorophyll have been studied because of their importance in understanding the regulatory cross-talk that contributes to the nutritional quality of tomato fruit.

The study was conducted in Mexico, which is a center of diversification and domestication of tomato and thus offers a wide range of native genotypes with fruit of different colors, shapes, and sizes. These genotypes could be integrated into breeding programs aiming to increase the nutraceutical properties of commercial cultivars and recover antioxidant compounds that have been lost through the selection process.

All genotypes used in this study were part of the Mexican Network of Plant Genetic Resources. The studied lines, native and hybrid, were planted in a completely randomized block design with three replications, and each experimental unit comprised 10 plants.

The researchers found that greater levels of specific antioxidants were associated with particular colorations of tomato fruit. These genotypes could be used either directly as food or in breeding programs to recover greater levels of functional compounds such as carotenoids, tocopherols, anthocyanins, and vitamin C.

Source: American Society for Horticulture Science


Today’s Comic