How to Make your own Wine at home. 

      Making wine might seem like a complicated process better left for the experts, but it’s actually pretty easy. Making your own Wine is a fun hobby to get into to impress your friends and after a while save you some money.
      Wine making is a tradition passed down thousand of years. Being perfected every step of the way. The process, however, is an easy one. The science behind it is simple enough. A fruity sugary liquid is made and yeast added. The yeast eats the sugars and makes alcohol and carbon dioxide as byproducts. 
    I would reccomend buying a 5 gallon wine making kit off of the internet. They usually include a fermenter, a hydrometer, an airlock, a wine corker and other essential equipment for wine making. Brew stores are becoming a common place now, so you could find one near you and get even more advice on the process and what to get there. 
      First off, you’ll have to determine the wine you’ll want to make. I would actually reccomend buying grape juice from your homebrew store, or buy a different kind of juice at the store. Any fruit, or juice, can be fermented usually. If you’re going to buy juice at the store however make sure it comes with no preservatives. Just the juice and vitamin c are okay. Any preservatives can kill the yeast. Right now I have apple wine going. I found some nice apple cider from an orchard nearby and I’m making apple wine. 
       

Once you determime the flavor of wine you’ll be fermenting you need to add sugar to increase what’s called the gravity. The gravity is the density of sugar in your wine. The hydrometer that comes with your wine kit is the tool you’ll need. Fill up the test tube and place the hydrometer in it. It’ll have numbers down the side like 1.100, 1.050 and so on. The gravity will determine a few things. It’ll determine the alcohol potential of your wine. For example a liquid with a starting gravity of 1.050 could ferment to 6.5%. You can add more sugar to get a higher ABV. You’ll also want to take into account how sweet you want your wine. 

      The yeast is a living microorganism. It’s goal is to eat all the sugars it can until the alcohol level is high enough that the yeast is killed. Yeast comes in many strains. I when making wine use lavlin wine yeasts, because it’s easy and there are many charts on which strain to use for what. If you have a wine with a 12% ABC potential, but your yeasts tolerance is 14% than you’ll have a totally dry wine. If you have a wine with a 16% ABV potential and the same yeast you’ll be left with a sweet wine. You just need to determine what kind of wine you want and edit the sugar levels from there. 

      Once you have your sugary juice to the sweetness you want according to the hydrometer dump it into your fermenter. Now you’ll want to vigorously shake the fermenter to incorporate all the oxygen you can, this will help in the first few hours of fermentation when the yeast is rapidly reproducing.  

This you’ll want to place in a warm place, the yeast packet will tell you what range is best for it. Once your wine is around that tempature pitch your yeast, just sprinkle it on top. Now put in the airlock and let sit. The airlock is a small device that lets the carbon dioxide escape, bit doesn’t allow air in. You’ll see carbon dioxide bubbles within a few days or hours passing through it. 

     Now every step along the way you’ll want to make sure that everything is clean and sterile. I use starsan that comes with a lot of kits. It’s a sanitizer made for brewing that you don’t need to rinse off. Sanitation is big when making your own alcohol. You want to avoid bacteria that can make your wine sour or into vinegar. 
      I usually let my wines ait for about 2 months in 5 gallon increments. This gives it enough time to ferment and the yeast to clean up after itself. It’ll mellow out in this time as well, young wine is incredibly sharp. 
      Now take another gravity reading and this is your final gravity. Go on Google and look up an ABV calculator and enter both numbers into the box and it’ll tell you what your ABV is. I find 14% to be a nice number for most wines. 

     At this point pool at your wine to make sure it’s clear. If it’s still cloudy let it sit longer and clear or buy some fining agent to clear it much quicker. Then it’s good to bottle. When bottling make sure to avoid the bottom one inch of your fermenter. This is where your yeast cake will be and you don’t want any of that making it’s way into your bottles. It can cloud it up, but it’s not dangerous. 

      Once I’ve bottled it I let it sit for another month and drink. It’s really easy, especially once you’ve done it once. Don’t be afraid to make some mistakes along the way it happens. 
     For more patient people I reccomend making a batch of mead. Mead is honey wine. Just dissolve honey into warm water until it’s the proper gravity for what you want and add your yeast in the same way. I say this requires patience, because you need to let this sit for a year. It’s like jet fuel for a long time then by the year mark it’s a golden delisuous beverage. 

     Fermenting your own Wine is a really fun project. It’s easy especially after your first time and you can make 5 gallons of wine for a significantly cheaper margin than buying at the store. This is after you’ve bought your equipment. You have complete control over flavors and preference. You get to make wine the way you like it and you get the knowledge of the science of fermentation. 
      I reccomend anyone give this a try. If anyone has any questions let me know, or if you’d like a more detailed look on any steps or equipment. 

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Tips for a better pizza 

Pizza is one of the most popular food items in the United States and other places in the world. So many kinds, so many variations. The debates they create like does pineapple belong on a Pizza, thick vs thin crust and how much sauce and cheese is too much? I’m here to give you some tips for making and ordering a better pizza.
First of all my number 1 pizza tip especially when your making it is this. Make every component equal. Make a decent crust, make a tomato sauce like the one i wrote a recipe for in a previous blog and don’t go overboard on the toppings. You want a pizza where every component comes together to make it a great pie, not just a little crust with toms of sauce and cheese and toppings. 
The crust is very important. I like to go with a medium thickness. Too thin and it will lack that texture you want. You want a little crunch a little bite. Too thick and it’s too bready and the pizza will just be unbalanced. Also a medium crust is good for cook time. 
The sauce is important. I have a recipe for a good tomato sauce in a previous blog post that can be easily modified for the purpose of a pizza. I never reccomend using a pasta tomato sauce. It never tastes right. You can also use a white sauce, pesto, or even just olive oil with some salt and pepper. Choose what sauce you’re going to select by what toppings and cheese is going on top of it. Be careful not to oversauce your pizza. This is very common and it will overpower the other components and make your crust soggy faster. 
Most of the cheese used for pizzas are mozzarella or provolone. I suggest using a mix. Mozzarella and provolone melt easy and have a nice mild flavor, this is why I always add parmesan or Asiago to give it some salty sharpness. Smoked cheeses are also a nice touch. Baratta is a stuffed mozzarella that’s nice to finish a pizza with as a topping too. 
This is where most of the debates begin. I personally really dislike pineapple on a pizza, but if that’s what you like go for it. As far as toppings go, keep it simple. Don’t just throw things on. Pick 3 or 4 things that go really well together and put those on proportionally. Try mixing some different textured ingredients. A little crunch, smooth and soft go well together. Maybe try something salty, something mildly spicy and something creamy. Maybe pancetta, pickled peppers and baratta. Balance is key when making a pizza. 

My easy shrimp Alfredo recipe 

Alfredo by nature is an incredibly easy thing to cook. Your basic Alfredo consists of just butter, garlic, cream, pasta and salt. This makes for an easy great dish, however it is pretty boring that way. Prawns with a relatively strong, mildly sweet flavor does well with the richness of the cream. What you’ll need:

Butter
Garlic 
Salt/pepper 
Italian seasoning 
Shrimp 
White wine
Parsley 
Heavy cream 
Linguini pasta 
Asiago cheese 
First of all you’ll heat your butter and add your garlic. Let this toast for a second and add your shrimp. Add a little white wine and simmer. Season and add your Italian seasoning.
When the white wine is almost gone add your pasta and heavy cream and reduce. Once your cream has reduced add your shaved Asiago cheese and stir off the heat. Never stir in your cheese on the heat, it’ll give it an off texture and become gummy. Finish with parsley and stir. 
I use linguini pasta for my shrimp Alfredo. It’s relatively thick and stands up to the heavy cream sauce better than a thinner pasta. 

Tips and ideas for shrimp 

Shrimp are a fan favorite, ask my fiance. Packed with flavor and numerous ways to enjoy them cooked or raw. Every part of the shrimp can be used. I really dislike food waste.
Shrimp go very well with pasta dishes. I reccomend shelling your shrimp and making a stock out of the shells and heads, you can make the stock into a sauce, cook your pasta in it for a unique flavor or poach your prawns in it. If non of that suites your fancy than you can make shrimp oil. Take some neutral oil, such as canola oil and simmer your shells in it. Smash the shells with a potato masher and drain the oil from the shells. You can also make a compound butter out of shrimp stock simmered way down. 
Shrimp also go well with things like tacos and fajitas. Be gentle with your shrimp when sauteeing them for things like fajitas. They don’t take long to cook at all. Shrimp can go rubbery quick. If you cook them too long they also begin to lose some of their flavor. When making shrimp fajitas I season them gently with salt and cumin and add them once my onions and bell peppers are about halfway their. Also you can sautee your veggies in shrimp butter or oil if you made it. 
Try them on their own. Sautee them in a compound butter. Maybe add a little white wine and lemon juice. Finish with some herbs. All this in mind try to buy good shrimp that really helps. The shell bring good is important.

Tips for better roast chicken and taking the guess work out of It

Chicken is something that almost everyone eats at least a time per week. I have a few tips for how to get a more flavorsome, moist and less stressful chicken cooking experience. 
A beautiful roast chicken is one of my favorite things. The crispy skin, the dark meat and the moist breast meat. When roasting a chicken, like with all chicken I cook, I brine it. This helps the chicken brown better, stay moist and impart more flavor. I pull my whole chicken out of the brine and pat it dry. 
Loosen the skin around the breast and thigh areas by running your hands under the skin their. Take some softened butter, I use compound butter, and rub it under the loose skin. Take the rest of your butter and rub it on top of the bird. Try filling the cavity with aromatic herbs and vegetables like onions, thyme and parsley. This will also help keep the chicken moist. And if there is any little stick that pops up when the chickens done like a turkey, take it out and throw it away. They don’t work well. In my experiences they’ve always been over or underdone. Always use your digital thermometer instead. 
When you pull your chicken out of the oven always let it rest. Resting your cooked meats keeps them moist. Pull the aromatics out of the cavity and serve. You can make w gravy out of the aromatic and the drippings. 

Make your own infused oils 

Infused oils can add a wonderful flavor to wherever you’re cooking. You can cook with it or use it to finish a dish as a drizzle. I see infused olive oil sell for a spendy amount. It’s easy and cheap to do it at home let me tell you a few ways how. 
You can heat your basic olive oil up gently and add your desired flavors. Garlic or herbs or vegetable. Gently simmer on a very low heat and set aside to cool. I always use a mid shelf olive oil. 
When I make my infused oils I cold infuse them. I get my bottle and put my flavors in it and let it sit for a while. I think I get a crisper and cleaner flavor this way. It’s also less fuss. Overtime the oil will absorb more and more flavor. So be weary the flavor will change overtime. Aging it is a good thing.
I prefer to do this myself, because it’s cheaper and it looks really nice sitting on the shelf. I also like having complete control over what flavors I infuse with my oil.

Porchetta one of my favorite Italian Dishes 

I really do love Italian food, the flavors, the ideas, the simplistic beauty of it. Of all the Italian Dishes Porchetta is one of my favorites. The most beautiful roast of a stuffed pork belly. It looks incredible and tastes amazing. It’s actually fairly easy to make too. What you’ll need: 
Pork belly
Pork sausage 
Butcher’s twine
Onion
Fennel
Celery 
Oregano
Basil

Thyme
Olive Oil 
Salt/pepper 
The first step is optional. I like to brine my pork belly. It gives it more flavor, moistness and it crisps up better I think. I can make a post all about brines if you’d like let me know. 
Next you’ll want to skin and butterfly your pork belly. Now that your pork belly is open I leave it like that for a minute. You’ll need to cook your onions, celery and fennel with your herbs. Just sweat them down well. Make sure to season your mix and ssusage. I lay this mixture on my pork belly. Then I lay my pork sausage over that and spread evenly. Then roll it tight onto itself.
The your pork at this point. Have a local butcher or YouTube video show you how to do this it’s pretty simple. Just a simple roast tie. Once it’s tied tight I score my belly making sure not to cut my twine. Then I rub Olive Oil and a little salt over top. 
When it comes time to roast I start it in a 500 degree oven for about 20 minutes, then drop it down 350 until it has a nice crispy crust and temps to the right temp in the middle. Remove from the oven and let rest. Slice into rounds and serve. 

Regional Food opposed to Food by Country

Different regions of a country typically have very different styles of cooking. With Italian cuisine, for example, the Northern region is very much different than the Southern region. The Central region is far different than the islands.

The Northern region of Italy borders France, so they cook with more cream and butter. This is the part of Italy generally speaking where you would see more Alfredo type sauces. Most of the Northern region is land locked as opposed to surrounded by water so you would see less seafood and more game.

The Southern region uses a lot more tomato based sauces. Also, being surrounded by the ocean, the food in the Southern region tends to comprise of more seafood than game. Location in proximity to other country’s massively affects the food they cook. Also, the physical location of the region affects what they cook. Different climates dictate what can and can’t be grown and in turn cooked.

One factor I hadn’t thought of until quite recently was a mixture of peoples occupying the same area. They all bring their own style to the region. When the new world was being settled, many different foods and cuisines made their way here. Due to that America has a wealth of culinary knowledge.

It’s this way with almost every country. The different regions of the country have different cooking styles. Italian food is not the same region to region. Not many country’s have one cooking style.italy

What is traditional cuisine?

Traditional cuisines are very open ended. What really is traditional cuisine? Most people think of traditional cuisine as essentially just being authentic to the country of origin and how they would make it. Is what they cook now though really what they would have been cooking 500 years ago? 100 years ago even?

Take Spain for instance. Spanish influenced food is among my favorite cuisines. I refuse to call it traditional though. Modernization and time have made the phrase traditional cuisine obsolete. Spain’s cuisine was far different before the Americas were ventured too and new ingredients and influence flowed over the sea to Spain. Imagine Spanish cuisine without tomatoes and chili peppers. It changed drastically after the Colombian Exchange.

Lets go back even farther. The spice trade. Imagine Spanish food without most of the flavor packing spices used in the process of making it and without new world produce.

A lot of chefs will say that something isn’t traditional, because they used an ingredient not “traditional”. Adding cream when you stir in the Parmesan in on a risotto isn’t considered traditional, but it adds richness and cuts down the salt from the cheese. It makes it a better dish.

If you cook Italian food with a tomato sauce its not “traditional”. All the cream sauces used in Italian cuisine are French influenced. Influence from other country cuisine or cooking techniques are almost inevitable. So many times while learning other cuisines I wasn’t familiar with I reverted back to using French cooking techniques, but staying to the recipe. It works though (most of the time). What is traditional cuisine then? I don’t think traditional is a good term to use whilst talking about food culture. Everyone’s definition of the word is different.New_World_Domesticated_plants