We’re thrilled to welcome Terroni’s Giovanna Alonzi to FoodiePages.ca. We caught up with her about her favourite Italian recipes and top 10 tips for cooking Italian dishes.
I can’t pinpoint exactly when my passion for cooking started, but when was about 5 years old, I remember waking up on Sunday mornings to the aroma of my mom making sugo. I’d go to the kitchen and ask to stir the meat as it was browning. and I would help her season it, tasting it at every step. I loved seeing the effect of each new ingredient as we went along. From that point, I learned the few recipes that my parents made and once I learned those, I began to research new recipes and practice making them until I had them down.
The first thing I remember cooking is”Suppli“which are rice balls that come from my region of Italy. When I was 10 years old there weren’t any places that sold them as good as the ones I remembered so, soon after we arrived here in Toronto, I began trying to reproduce them. My mom recalls that I started off by cooking kilos and kilos of rice, but eventually I figured it out it and my family was so happy. It became my trademark dish and I made them all the time.
If I could pick one classic Italian recipe that everyone should try, it would be Tortellini in Brodo, which is a unique handmade dish and each bite tells the history of it’s region. They’re from Bologna composed of all of the best ingredients of Emilia-Romagna – mortadella, prosciutto, parmigiano. Also, they are absolutely delicious.
Lardo is the one ingredient that I would bring home from Italy in my suitcase. It is cured back fat and it makes any dish outstanding. It is one of my favourite things on toasted bread.
I feel that at Terroni we’ve always used the methods, traditions and ingredients that define small batch and artisanal. I generally shy away from using those terms as they seem to have become trendy catch-alls used to describe every current food but they are part fundamentals of what we do naturally each and every day.
My top 10 tips for cooking Italian dishes are:
- Use only authentic quality ingredients. Never sacrifice the quality of your olive oil, flour or salt for instance.
- Keep it simple, don’t complicate recipes by adding ingredients or procedures.
- When making classic dishes always search for the most authentic, traditional recipes. They have been made fool proof by centuries of practice.
- When cooking dry pasta, always remove it from its boiling water at the half point of its cooking time and finish cooking it in the sauce you will dress it in. This will ensure all your pasta is full of flavour and you won’t need as much.
- Never use “parmesan” in a recipe that asks for “parmigiano reggiano.
- Always finish everything with a light drizzle of olive oil.
- When making fresh pasta always let your dough rest before rolling it out.
- Never finish sauces that require a long cook or braise like a bolognese with fresh herbs like basil or parsley.
- Always keep handy a container of bread crumbs that have been gently fried in olive oil with herbs to finish dishes that need a little umph.
- Always be careful when using things like garlic, pepper or herbs. In most Italian recipes they are meant to be tasted ever so lightly; they should not be used liberally, we are all about delicate balance.