Tag: mistakes

Eat at school. Canteens: the 10 most common mistakes – Italian Cuisine

Eat at school. Canteens: the 10 most common mistakes


From the experience of Foodinsider, Claudia Paltrinieri analyzes the menus of school canteens in a book and reveals the lights and shadows of the meals offered to Italian children

Eat at school it is a book that was born from the experience of Foodinsider, or a group of parents who joined in 2015 to "transform the school canteen into a health tool for children and for the planet". They are those who actively participate in the so-called "canteen commissions", giving votes, proposing improvements, sometimes fighting to get them. On the other hand, school catering is a phenomenon with significant numbers, if we count that in Italy there are 380 million meals served in canteens every year.
In addition to being a founding member of Food Insider, Claudia Paltrinieri, author of the book, is the creator of the canteen rating, or a grid for judging the meals offered to children. In the book Eat at school has selected the experiences, skills and case histories collected in these five years of work. And there is no lack of critical issues on which parents must watch and, if necessary, intervene.

Protein share too high

An example: pasta with meat sauce, cooked ham and peas, three protein sources in the same meal. Added to this is a tendency to abound with red meats, which however Paltrinieri notes as it is gradually being reduced. Added to this is the use of preserved meats, or cured meats, which are recommended to be totally eliminated from the menus. Also because the same reasoning can be applied to cured meats that Paltrinieri does with regard to cheeses: it is not correct for canteens to offer meals that are not actually cooked internally, such as cold cuts and cheeses, which on the contrary can be save-dinners for parents often in trouble at the end of the day. Add to this the attention that Paltrinieri emphasizes towards "hidden" proteins that are often not counted in the balance of the menu, such as egg in the dough or parmesan on the pasta.

Improper combinations

Another common mistake, adds Paltrinieri, are the improper combinations, which end up unbalancing the children's diet. First course pasta and side potatoes, first course with pasta or rice and pizza or polenta as a second course: in this way children are weighed down with carbohydrates. Conversely, the reverse also occurs, perhaps with a first course of legumes combined with a second one based on eggs or cheese, which involves an excess of protein.

Poor variety of cereals and legumes

"Pasta and rice are dominant on menus with a 4 to 1 ratio." Apart from a few exceptions related to the territorial characteristics, the velvety, the past, the Roman dumplings, the dumplings are almost unknown in the canteens of Italian children. We find barley and spelled only in central Italy and the polenta practically stops in the north and does not exceed the Rubicone. As for the wholemeal versions of pasta and rice, despite being recommended by the WHO guidelines, in Italian canteens they are almost unknown.

Monotony in vegetables

Vegetables are often the weak link in the food chain for children. Yet little is done to make them appreciate, often offering them as unattractive side dishes, including salads, carrots or raw fennel. The result is that the pot ends up being discarded evenly. Already if they were offered as an appetizer, suggests Paltrinieri, it would be possible to take advantage of the pull of the hunger of the children. Or make them become a second course in an intelligent way, perhaps combined with the easiest potatoes, or in strudel, patties or other "smart" dishes for children.

Fish and eggs: too easy if packed

As far as the difficulties of managing large numbers and food safety can be understood, Paltrinieri stresses how often products already pasteurized are used to prepare eggs and fish is almost always breaded and frozen. The result is that children end up eating anything but homemade products and that the menus are too repetitive, with omelettes that make up the lion's share and fish that becomes hopelessly stick-shaped.

End of meal: no to sweets and fruit

That the fruit should be eaten is not in question, but the end of the meal is not the ideal time to offer it to children. Rather, its ideal location, suggests Paltrinieri, is the mid-morning snack. On the contrary, desserts should really be banned from schools, especially if we talk about snacks, puddings and fruit yogurt. Yes instead with white yogurt and, if you really want to gratify the children every now and then, Paltrinieri suggests desserts made internally with a low sugar content.

Underrated bread

"Too often," says the author, "the importance of bread quality is underestimated in the canteen." On the contrary, he adds, this should play a crucial role, since it constitutes a sort of "safe haven" for children that children can count on when they do not like the other proposals on the menu. We hardly speak of a short chain or we know the flours or we propose breads that are perhaps made with wholemeal and organic flours.

Condiments not disclosed

Even if it is not said that there are flaws in this sense in school canteens, the mistake is nevertheless not in informing families about the condiments used. A good quality extra virgin olive oil must be communicated, also to convey to the parents a sense of tranquility on the general quality of the raw materials used in the canteen.

Dried fruit, seeds and olives, these unknown

It is true that in the school catering guidelines, warns Paltrinieri, they are not present, yet it is the WHO that promotes these foods for a number of good reasons: «They educate children on new flavors, they are good for health and should be included in habits even at home . As the author suggests, they can be used as condiments for main courses, or as a "crunchy note" in salads and vegetables.

Organic on the rise, but not everywhere

The increase in attention to organic food is evident, yet a little leopard-like. In the canteens analyzed by Paltrinieri in 27% of cases the use of bio exceeds 70%, but in contrast 19% does not even reach 30%. What the author points out is that, in cities where there is an important organic presence, such as in Bologna, there has been an important intervention by the parents, who actively collaborated in the definition of the specifications.

Tiramisu: 10 common mistakes – Italian Cuisine – Italian Cuisine


Tiramisu is the dessert most loved by Italians, there is no doubt. You are sure you can do it in a workmanlike manner!

In doubt about the cake to prepare, make tiramisu which is always a certainty. Everyone likes it, even children, and it's easy, fast and cheap.

Savoiardi or Pavesini?

The choice is yours, even if the answer is only and always one for the lovers of this dessert: Savoiardi.
In fact, the result is completely different if you use these biscuits which are taller and spongier and absorb less coffee. The consistency will therefore be less creamy and slightly more compact.
The only precaution is not to wet them too much because otherwise the excess coffee wets the mascarpone cream.
How to place them in the baking dish? Simply straight, with the sugared part facing up.

With a little sugar …

Sugar should not simply be whipped with eggs, but should be dosed following the half and half rule.
Then one part will be whipped with the yolks and another with the egg whites.
In this way the cream will be soft and compact at the same time and the sugar will leave no trace of itself.
You can also use it loose, boiling and slightly caramelized if you want to pasteurize the eggs.

Yes or no cream?

In the classic recipe, there is no mention of whipped cream, but someone likes to use it instead of egg whites.
If you decide to use it to give more coverage and flavor to the cream it is fine, but if it is only to remove a part of eggs because you do not like the aftertaste we suggest you to take other tricks, for example add marsala to the yolks while you mount them with the sugar.

Coffee, tea …

There is no doubt, in tiramisu there is coffee, and it must be good and restricted.
To make the dessert less strong, you can dilute the coffee with a little water or you can use it decaffeinated, while we do not recommend American coffee which is less tasty and therefore not too suitable for this preparation.
And if there are children at the table, opt for barley, but this is the only exception.
For all the variants of tiramisu that include fruit, instead, choose tea, milk or apple juice which has a delicate taste that goes well with everything.
And to give it an extra boost, add some liquor! Limoncello is good with fruit, and rum with classic tiramisu.

Everyone has their own secrets when it comes to preparing an excellent tiramisu, but sometimes small mistakes can be made. We offer you at least 10. Pay attention!

How to make the perfect polenta: 5 mistakes to avoid – Italian Cuisine

How to make the perfect polenta: 5 mistakes to avoid


It is one of the most traditional dishes of northern Italy and is perfect paired with fish, cheese or meat. Preparing it in a workmanlike manner is a question of proportions and times, of flour, pot and salt. Find out how to do it without making these 5 mistakes

Polenta (from the Latin puls, farinata di farro) is a food whose history is lost in the mists of time. In the Middle Ages it was one cream made from chopped beans cooked with oil, onions and sometimes with the addition of cereals such as buckwheat and spelled. It has always been a food for the poor, even when the beans were replaced corn meal, and starting from 1700 it became a typical meal in the regions of northern Italy. Polenta has always been served as a substitute for bread, as a side dish, accompanied by other foods, or sliced ​​and toasted or fried. For a very long time it was a subsistence food, so much so that due to its continued consumption, without the addition of other nutrients, it has contributed to the spread of a disease called pellagra, due to a lack of vitamins. Currently, polenta, like many other poor foods, is experiencing a period of rediscovery like gourmet dish and tradition. And like all traditional dishes, you can prepare them at home, provided you don't fall into these common mistakes. Let's see them together.

Polenta: 5 mistakes not to be made

Don't give her time
Polenta is a dish that needs patience, to cook well, to become that soft and smooth mixture, perfect to accompany a meat stew, a tasty fish or a cream cheese. After pouring the flour into the pan with water and salt, the secret to obtain a homogeneous mixture, without lumps, is to mix the flour, slowly, for a long time, with a whisk, while it slowly thickens and cooks. Resist for at least an hour. If constancy does not belong to you, change the menu.

Choose any flour
The polenta has been preparing for about 400 years with the flour of longed corn (large grains). You can choose a full one if you like a more intense aroma. Also there buckwheat flour it is perfect, and is used above all in the valleys around Sondrio, in Lombardy: it has a darker color than that of corn, a rougher consistency, suitable for local cheeses. If you are not so foolhardy, you can try a mixture made from buckwheat flour and corn flour, to get what is called polenta taragna. In Veneto, instead, white corn is used, for a polenta accompanied by cuttlefish or cod. In the south, between Naples and Foggia, polenta is made with well-ground maize flour: it is fried, cut into slices and becomes street food.

Use any pan
Polenta has always been cooked in cauldron, that pot with high sides and a convex bottom, made of copper (or cast iron), able to spread heat evenly and cook the corn perfectly. All the others don't even consider them. The pot has only one tilting handle, because in the past the polenta was cooked in the fireplace. Fashions have changed, but the good habit of cooking polenta in the copper pot remains.

Miss the doses of flour and water
Only the veterans of polenta are allowed to enjoy the luxury of going to the eye. For all others, the doses to consider are: 4 liters of water for each kg of flour. Bearing in mind that the more raw the flour is, the more it will absorb water. So, if you use one of buckwheat, add liquid at your discretion. Indicatively then, 500 g of flour is enough for 4 people, unless you have invited the greatest admirer of polenta to dinner.

Abound with salt
The hand that prepares the polenta must be slight. There is no exact dose of salt that must be put into the water while it is warming up, but eating a too tasty polenta is really unpleasant. Keep in mind that often the foods to which it is accompanied are very savory (see cheeses): for this reason it is better to be light, so as not to ruin such a job. Salt can also be added once the polenta is cooked.

How to combine polenta

Discover in the tutorial our recommendations for a dish based on polenta.

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