Thursday, June 27, 2013

Now Eat This: Rocco Dispirito Cooks "Light Style" Italian

By: Anne M. Raso

In celebration of Rocco Dispirito's Now Eat This Italy cookbook and his new AOL Travel show of the same name, AOL publicists invited several journalists to cook with the outgoing Jamaica, Queens native in the test kitchens of the International Culinary Institute in Nolita. I was one of the lucky three dozen journos who got to cook light versions of Caprese Salad, Pollo Al Forno, Spaghetti Vongole and Instant Italian Ice (which Dispirito whipped up with Rachael Ray on her show about 1 ½ years ago).
Chef Rocco in Action

To be perfectly honest, we all were a little slow in the kitchen so Rocco actually made all the strawberry flavored instant Italian Ice in front of us as we sat at the dinner table eating the other three dishes we prepared. I also noticed that once our food was plated by the Culinary Institute Staff, it looked a helluva lot neater than when we plated it in the kitchen—so we indeed did have a bit of help making our food presentable, LOL!
Low Calorie Strawberry Ice
Dispirito not only helped us cook--we were divided up into six teams of five wannabe chefs and we all had our own stoves and counter space—but regaled us with stories of traveling around Italy and meeting with “Italian mamas” in all regions of the country including Sorrento and Campagna, where his ancestors are from. It sounds like a couple of ladies got fresh with him, but I did not get any of the fine details on that, LOL! Dispirito gave us a lot of general tips for keeping Italian cooking light, including using emulsified xanthan gum in place of olive oil over our Caprese salad in order to save the calories of Olive Oil.
Preparing the Chicken
Dispirito had use use quinoa spaghetti for the Spaghetti Vongole to save calories and time—not to mention that it is gluten free! We were shown tricks on how to shuck clams by the famous TV chef including how to tap them with a thick knife to get them to open faster while they’re still hot. When we got to the roast chicken, aka Pollo Al Forno, we were lucky that Dispirito and the Culinary Institute staff had already roasted the chickens with lemon slices and rosemary under the skin and all we had to do was make neat slices and make sure that each bird served four people for portion control. We did use the natural juices from the roasting pans to pour on our ribbon style zucchini strips but only after rendering the natural chicken juice via two plastic containers with holes punched into the center of one, then poured into the other.
Pollo Al Forno
The Strawberry Instant Italian Ice was whipped up in less than 30 seconds in a food processor and it was composed of just frozen strawberries, stevia, water, lemon juice, agave nectar and xanthan gum. Dispirito served it in fun cocktail glasses and paired it with Prosecco (he admitted that it was not such a healthy pairing but it was delightful, LOL)!
Spaghetti Vongole
At the end of the evening, Mr. D sat down at our table, signed copies of his Now Eat This Italian book for each of us, took photos with us and even tweeted live to some of the guests. It was a fun evening and now xanthan gum has actually found a way into my kitchen even though I was initially making faces when Dispirito said we would be using it instead of EVOO on our caprese salad! It was the first time in 15 years that Dispirito did what he called “a cooking class,” so we were honored to spend the evening with him and learning his many tricks for keeping things light!

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...