03/29/04 Lasagna Carlofortina from OreganoFromItaly.com

Buon Giorno! Come stiamo oggi? How are we today?

Ever spend Easter in Italy? It's a Holiday season marked by fabulous traditional ceremonies and events!

A huge explosion will be detonated Easter Sunday in front of the magnificent green and white marbled neo gothic church in Florence's "centro storico" (historic center). Instead of running in fear from a terrorist's bomb, though, thousands of spectators will cheer the noise and smoke, for they will be witnesses to the annual "Scoppio del Carro" (explosion of the cart).

For over 300 years the Easter celebration in Florence has included this ritual, during which an elaborate wagon, a structure built in 1679 and standing two to three stories high, is dragged through Florence behind a fleet of white oxen decorated in garlands. The pageantry ends in front of la Basilica di S. Maria del Fiore, where Mass is held. During the midday service, a holy fire is stoked by ancient stone chips from the Holy Sepulcher, and the Archbishop lights a dove shaped rocket which travels down a wire and collides with the cart in the square, setting off spectacular fireworks and explosions to the cheers of all. A big bang ensures a good harvest, and a parade in medieval costume follows.

Tradition and ritual play a strong role in Italian culture, especially during celebrations such as Easter, the Christian holiday based on the pagan festival called Eostur-Monath. No matter what date Easter falls on, there are many ceremonies and culinary customs that are religiously upheld. Some traditions are regional, for instance the art of palm weaving, in which decorative crosses and other designs are created from the palms received on Palm Sunday.

Keep a lookout for our very next issue which will feature various Easter ceremonies celebrated in different regions of Italy.

Hope you enjoy this week's recipes. Beleive me, the Lasagna Carlofortina is not that difficult to make.

This week's complimentary news article from "Only In Italy.com" is dedicated to people who have intentions of visiting Venice soon. Be careful where you walk!

Thanks again for subscribing!

Yours Truly,              
Angela Reina       

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 Recipe: Patate Alla Contadina

Patate Alla Contadina
Farmer's Potatoes


1 lb boiling potatoes
Pinch of coarse salt
1 large clove garlic
10 springs Italian parsley
2 basil leaves chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and freshly pepper to taste


Place a flameproof casserole containing the potatoes, about 7 cups of cold water, and coarse salt on a medium flame. Simmer until the potatoes are soft (about 35 minutes).

Meanwhile, finely chop first the garlic, then the parsley plus basil. Place them in a serving bowl, along with the olive oil and salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. When the potatoes are ready, peel them while still very hot and cut them into pieces about 1 inch square.

Add the potato pieces to the bowl and mix with the other ingredients, using a wooden spoon.

That's it!

 Recipe: Baccala With Polenta

Baccala With Polenta
Codfish with Cornmeal

This recipe is for the traditional Italian seafood called baccala, which is simply dried, salted cod. In this recipe, it is cooked in a tasty tomato sauce and served over soft polenta. It is a very hearty, filling dish that reminds one of simpler times. The only trick to this dish is to remove as much of the salt as possible from the cod before cooking. You do this by soaking in fresh water for two days prior to use, changing the water three times a day.


Salted Cod (About 1/2 lb Prepared Per Person)
1 (28) oz can of Crushed Tomatoes (I prefer Pomi Brand)
3 Cloves of garlic Minced
1 Small Onion, Finely Chopped
1 Stalk of Celery Finely Chopped
1 Carrot, Chopped
3 Tbs. Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper (Add Salt Only At The End If Needed!)
1 Bay Leaf
Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
Fresh Parsley

9 Cups of Cold Water
2 Tablespoons Salt
2 Cups Cornmeal


Prepare the baccala by soaking in the refrigerator in fresh water for two days prior to cooking, changing the water three times a day. Rinse, and pull out any bones with tweezers, and cut into pieces.

To make the sauce heat the olive oil in a medium sized saucepan and add the onion and carrot. Cook until tender, and then add the garlic. Cook only 1 minute and add the tomatoes and seasonings to the pot. Stir well, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes.

While the sauce is cooking, begin to prepare the polenta. Bring the water to boil in a separate pot over medium heat. Add the salt and reduce the heat to medium low. Once the water is simmering, slowly start pouring in the cornmeal in a thin stream, stir constantly to prevent lumps. Once all the cornmeal has been added, keep the mixture at a slow simmer and cook stirring occasionally until soft, about 30-40 minutes. Place a large scoop in each serving bowl and let sit 5 minutes.

After the tomato sauce has cooked for 30 minutes. add the cod to the sauce and simmer for an additional 20 minutes. Check for seasonings and serve over each bowl of polenta, garnished with fresh parsley.

That's it!

 Recipe: Lasagne Carlofortina

Lasagne Carlofortina


1 lb durum flour
2 ounces all-purpose flour
4 eggs
2 egg yolks
Juice of one half a lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt to taste

2 quarts milk
3 ounces all-purpose milk
3 ounces butter
One-half teaspoon nutmeg, grated
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in a saucepan. Add all-purpose flour and mix together for about 1 to 2 minutes. Add milk and mix with a whisk. Cook for 10 minutes.

1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch basil
1 bunch parsley
2 ounces pine nuts
One-half ounce walnuts
1 ounce pecorino cheese, cut in cubes

Put all ingredients in a blender (except the oil). Add the extra virgin olive oil gradually until well blended.

To be used in the assembly stage:
1 lb ricotta cheese
2 ounces grated Parmigiano cheese


Roll the pasta very thin and cut into rectangular pieces about 4 inch by 2 and one-half inches. Blanch pasta in a salted boiling water and cool in ice salted water. When it's cool, layer the pasta on top of a clean towel (alternating pasta and towel) to dry.

Strain the pesto to take out the oil and add to the ricotta cheese.

In a 12 by 14 inch lasagne pan, spread the bechamel to cover the bottom of the pan. Layer the pasta on top of the bechamel, then add the ricotta pesto mixture, more bechamel and then the grated Parmigiano cheese. Repeat the layers until everything is used. Top with Parmigiano cheese.

Bake in preheated over at 425 degrees for 40 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes and serve.

That's it!

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 Only In Italy!

"Only In Italy" is a daily news column that translates and reports on funny but true news items from legitimate Italian news resources in Italy. Each story is slapped with our wild, often ironic, and sometimes rather opinionated comments. And now, for your reading pleasure, a sample of today's edition:

Venice to Fine Those Who Go Against the Flow.

Venice, Italy - Reuters - February 05 - Venice may not have cars but it's no longer a pedestrian's paradise. The canal city has designated some narrow streets "one-way alleys" and plans to fine those who walk against the flow.

The new penalties for violators are high enough to bring tears to the eyes of a well-heeled motorist, let alone a strolling back-packer. They run from 25 to 500 Euros (up to $600).

Venice becomes increasingly crowded during the carnival season which has already begun in the lagoon city. More than 100 000 people, many in carnival costumes, are expected to cram in on the last day, "Fat Tuesday", February 25.

How is this supposed to be written in travel books? "Don't walk the wrong way in Venice?"

Yes, Venice is beautiful but we have to give our sympathies to all the tourists who get sick and tired of being overcharged just because they're obvious tourists.

We once heard a story about a famous American novelist who took his wife on a gondola ride in Venice. The guy charged him $12,500, plus tip, plus he made him autograph one of his books!

He told the captain of the gondola, "That's the last time I pay over $12,000 for a half hour boat ride!"

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