Giuliano Hazan's classes and his newest book, Every Night Italian , are full of useful advice. Among his tips:
The flavor of olive oil goes better with fish than butter does.
If you soak dry porcini mushrooms, strain the soaking water to use in cooking.
If you don't have enough porcini mushrooms, use regular mushrooms with soaked dry porcini. After you soak dry porcini, cook the liquid to reduce it, then cook the regular mushrooms in that water. The mushrooms will absorb the porcini flavor.
A green shoot means that garlic is sprouting and is therefore old. If you discard the green shoot, you are simply throwing away the freshest part. Throw out the garlic and buy fresh garlic.
Premium pasta brands he likes include Latini, Martelli, Rustichella and Giuseppe Cocco. More commonly available brands he likes are Barilla and DeCecco.
Rice for risotto should not be rinsed. The starch on the surface makes the risotto creamy. Saute rice lightly before adding liquid, but don't toast it until it browns. That destroys the outer starch layer.
Add hot broth to the rice just a ladle at a time. Stir and simmer until the liquid is absorbed before adding more.
If too much liquid is added at once, the result is boiled rice rather than risotto. Frequent stirring creates friction between the rice grains, releasing more starch, which produces the desired creamy texture.