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Italian cooking tips from Como Lake

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If there’s one thing I’ve learnt about Italian cooking over the past 50 years, it’s to use fresh ingredients and extra-virgin olive oil. By so doing, you are already guaranteed a more delicious and authentic outcome. Here are a couple more tips that I hope you will find useful.

The best tomato paste

The first dish that I’d like to share with you is a very traditional, simple and healthy one, ideal for lunch or dinner – Spaghetti Pomodoro and Basilico (Tomato and Basil Pasta).

For this dish, the most important thing is to make a good tomato sauce. Firstly, combine extra-virgin olive oil and chopped garlic in a pan on a medium heat. Once the garlic is half cooked, add a little unsalted butter, mix together and then add a few slices of fresh basil. (If you can’t get fresh basil, leave making this dish to another day.) Finish by adding fresh tomatoes that you have diced in a blender. Season to taste.

The pasta you use doesn’t have to be spaghetti, the important thing is that it is al dente (firm to the bite). Boil it for no more than one-and-a-half minutes. Drain well, combine with the sauce and serve.

Talked about Tiramisu

And now for the Tiramisu – a Como Lake favourite. This delicious dessert is a winning combination of whipping cream, sugar, mascarpone cheese, espresso, ladyfingers and Italian liquor (either Sambuca or Amaretto). All the recipes you read in books or online will be similar but I want to share two techniques with you that will make your Tiramisu the best of the best.

Firstly, before you stir in the cream, chill it at around 5°C. You want the cream to be a bit solid when you add it to the other ingredients. Secondly, soak the ladyfingers in the espresso for just one or two seconds – if you get them too wet, your Tiramisu will be runny.

Indeed, Italian cooking is relatively easy (as well as very healthy). There are no big secrets to it. I hope you enjoy sharing these dishes with your families.

To contact Chef Giampiero, or book a table at Como Lake, call 2984 0009. You’ll find Como Lake at Stall Nos. 2 and 4, Mui Wo Cooked Food Market, Mui Wo.

Image: Terry Chow

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