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Video: Giada cooks with cheese

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    >>> to parmesan , pecorino, many great italian meals include cheese. "today" contributor and italian chef giada de laurentiis is here with the best ways to enjoy those cheeses. giada, this is right up my alley.

    >> why do you think i'm doing this spot?

    >> i love this. and we start with parmesan .

    >> yes.

    >> i like it in chunks. the crunchier, the better.

    >> first of all, the difference between parmesan and pecorino --

    >> because it's kind of used interchangeably in a lot of recipes.

    >> yes. parmesan is a cosmo cheese, pecorino is a smoked cheese . that's the difference.

    >> is there a difference in taste?

    >> there is. parmesan is aged longer, 12 to 24 months, which gives you the granular crunchiness.

    >> which i like.

    >> and it mellows out the flavor. pecorino is only ages 8 to 12 months, so it's a sharper cheese.

    >> so if you're making pasta dishes, is there one that calls for parmesan and one calls for pecorino?

    >> i use them interchangeably. in fish dishes, traditionally, my grandfather will say, you can't put cheese at all, because it kills the flavor of the fish. a lot of people will add parmesan . pecorino's really strong, so something like that you wouldn't.

    >> people go to the supermarket and buy pre- grated cheese . you're turning your nose up already. you don't like that?

    >> listen, i get it, it's convenient. the problem is, any time you buy something packaged that's pregrated, you don't know what's in it, fillers, preservatives, additives, whatever it is. so you know what you're getting with a block of cheese, it's less expensive and lasts longer.

    >> but how long can they keep it in the refrigerator? and did you ever get the cheese out of the refrigerator and you have the teeny spot that looks like mold, do you throw the whole thing off?

    >> with a hunk of cheese like parmesan , cut it off and you're good to go. wrap it well, air-tight in a container, it will last three, sometimes six months.

    >> and in terms of serving it, always room temperature some.

    >> always. any cheese, any cheese platter, always room temperature , 30 to 40 minutes before you're going to serve it, pull it out.

    >> now cheese platters. what are some of your favorites here?

    >> the whole idea with a platter is i like to think, a hard cheese, medium cheese and a soft cheese.

    >> so textures.

    >> flavor and texture's important. so i have a guda, which is a medium cheese, a bree , which is a soft cheese --

    >> and that's important to have it at room temperature so it melts a bit.

    >> plus, if it's cold, you don't taste anything. your taste buds just get cold. then i have a cheddar cheese , but this is sort of treated like a blue cheese , so it's kind of a combination. a parmesan and a goat.

    >> okay. i'm just -- i love the parmesan , that's why.

    >> oh, and with the goat, a great way to cut it, use unflavored dental floss .

    >> why not a knife?

    >> because it usually falls apart , especially at room temp .

    >> good advice. moving on.

    >> nice little sides. so i have a balsamic reduction, balsamic vinegar , sugar and rosemary. let it reduce down. it gets nice and thick. and i like to either drizzle it over the cheese or dip the cheese in it.

    >> now, this particular -- the balsamic vinegar for certain kinds of cheeses?

    >> no, you can use any cheese. i love it on the hard cheeses, on the parmesan . don't double dip .

    >> no, i promise you.

    >> then i also have a honey.

    >> it's really good. it offsets --

    >> yeah. then i have a honey that i just added orange peel to it and let it sit for a half hour. oh, and there they come. there they come.

    >> someone said cheese. quickly, what about the nuts?

    >> sweet and salty nuts. i like crunchy, so i make them with chili oil , salt and sugar. then an array of breads, some toasted breads, which is great for the soft cheeses, then fresh breads and meats, prosciutto, salami --

    >> do you have favorites of cheeses?

    >> i like the blue.

    >> you like blue?

    >> stilton.

    >> that's an english cheese.

    >> that soft stuff?

    >> you're making it up.

    >> can i touch your peck again?

    >> let's not be cheesy, guys, come on.

    >> if you have the mortadella and the salamis and that, which cheeses do you tend to serve with all these or is it interchangeable?

    >> interchangeably, but if you're making a sandwich and take a piece, i like the bree . it has a softness to it. there's bree . we've got cheddar with blue in it for both al and ann.

    >> ooh!

    >> yes, there you go. and with the cheese platter, i picked those cheeses -- yes, they're my favorites, but they're also accessible to everybody. you can find some sort of cheddar, some sort of blue at any store.

    >> a lot of people think cheese is bad for you.

    >> you know what, nothing's bad for you if you don't eat too much of it. if you eat tons of cheese every day, yeah, like everything else in life. everything in moderation.

    >> you were saying your grandfather said this. i see this happen in restaurants all the time. the waiter comes over offering the grated cheese and there is a pasta dish with mussels or shrimp in the dish. is there always no cheese with seafood in the pasta dish?

    >> traditionally, it's no cheese, but the new generation says you can have a little cheese , it's okay. you know, we change. we change. but yes, my grandfather, who is 90 --

TODAY recipes
updated 10/9/2009 9:13:59 AM ET 2009-10-09T13:13:59

Recipe: Rosemary Balsamic Syrup

This is a great item to serve with cheese.

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 small fresh rosemary sprig

Combine the sugar, balsamic vinegar, and rosemary for the Balsamic Syrup in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer until the sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes.

Discard the rosemary sprig and let the syrup cool.


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