04/15/09 Spicy Sausage and Gorgonzola Pizza from OreganoFromItaly.com

"Amicu ca non ti duna, parendi ca non ti mpresta, fuili comu la pesta." (Friend who won't give, relatives who won't lend you a hand, avoid them like the plague.) Welcome to another recipe edition from Angela's Organic Oregano Farm!

This week's Italian recipes:
  -Tuscan Beans
  -Spicy Sausage and Gorgonzola Pizza
  -Risotto with Chicken Livers, Sherry and Truffle Oil

We sincerely hope all our subscribers and their families enjoy their recipes.

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Yours Truly,              
Angela Reina       

 Recipe: Tuscan Beans

Tuscan Beans
Fagioli Toscana


2 and 1/2 cups dried white beans such as Great Northern or navy (1 lb), picked over and rinsed
10 cups water
2 fresh sage sprigs
1 bay leaf
1 head of garlic
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt

Extra-virgin olive oil (preferably Tuscan)
Terra-cotta bean pot or heavy saucepan


If using a terra-cotta pot for the first time, soak it in water to cover at least 6 hours, then drain.

Put beans, water, sage, bay leaf, and whole head of garlic in bean pot.

Cover and slowly bring to a simmer over low heat; this can take 2 and 3/4 hours in bean pot or 1 hour in saucepan.

Simmer beans until tender and soft but not mushy, about 45 minutes in bean pot or 35 to 40 minutes in saucepan.

Remove from heat and cool beans, covered, 15 minutes. Stir in sea salt.

Drain almost all cooking liquid from beans (reserve for making soup if desired) and season beans with sea salt and pepper to taste.

Dress beans with oil at the table. Makes 6 servings.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Spicy Sausage and Gorgonzola Pizza

Spicy Sausage and Gorgonzola Pizza
Pizza con Salsiccia Piccante e Gorgonzola


3 Italian hot sausages (about 12 ounces), casings removed
One 10-ounce purchased fully baked thin pizza crust
1 and 1/4 cups purchased refrigerated marinara sauce
1 and 1/4 cups grated mozzarella cheese (about 5 ounces)
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
1 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese (about 4 ounces)
1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives or other brine-cured black olives, halved
4 thin rounds green bell pepper, halved


Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 425įF.

Saute sausage in large skillet over medium-high heat until just cooked through, breaking into 1/2-inch pieces with back of spoon, about 10 minutes.

Drain off fat; set sausage aside.

Place pizza crust on rimless baking sheet.

Leaving 3/4-inch plain border, spread 1 cup sauce over crust.

Top with 3/4 cup mozzarella, 3/4 of basil, sausage, 1/2 cup Gorgonzola, olives, 1/2 cup mozzarella, bell pepper and 1/2 cup Gorgonzola.

Drizzle remaining 1/4 cup sauce over.

Bake pizza until crust is crisp and topping is heated through, about 13 minutes.

Sprinkle with remaining basil. Makes 6 servings.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Risotto with Chicken Livers, Sherry and Truffle Oil

Risotto with Chicken Livers, Sherry and Truffle Oil
Risotto con Fegatini di Pollo, Sherry e Olio di Tartufo


30 ounces chicken broth
2 cups water

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 green onions, chopped
1 and 1/4 cups Arborio rice or medium-grain white rice (about 8 ounces)
2 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup dry Sherry

1 tablespoon butter
3/4 lb chicken livers, trimmed, lobes separated, patted dry
All purpose flour
2 tablespoons truffle oil


Reserve 1/2 cup broth.

Combine remaining broth and 2 cups water in heavy medium saucepan and bring to simmer.

Remove from heat. Cover to keep warm.

Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium heat.

Add green onions; saute 1 minute.

Add rice; saute 2 minutes.

Add 2 tablespoons Sherry and stir until absorbed.

Add 3/4 cup warm broth mixture and stir until liquid is absorbed.

Continue adding remaining broth mixture, 3/4 cup at a time, stirring occasionally, until rice is tender, about 30 minutes.

Season risotto with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat.

Sprinkle livers with salt and pepper and dust with flour.

Add livers to skillet and saute until pink in center, about 2 minutes per side.

Transfer to plate.

Add 1/4 cup Sherry and reserved 1/2 cup broth to skillet.

Boil until reduced to glaze, stirring up any browned bits, about 4 minutes.

Return livers to skillet and stir to coat.

Divide risotto among plates; spoon livers and pan juices over. Drizzle with truffle oil. Make 6 (first-course) servings.

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:

Frustrated Italian Gov't: 100 Billion Euros Of Taxes Evaded Every Year

Rome - October 28, 2008 - The figure for 2007 was a record. Inspectors recovered a total of 6.3 billion euros in a single year from tax evaders, up 50% on 2006. There was another record in the first four months of 2008 as the tax agency clawed back 800 million euros, an increase of 24% over the previous year. It sounds like a lot but in fact it is very little, considering that according to official figures from the ministry of the economy, total annual tax evasion in Italy amounts to a staggering 100 billion euros.

Naturally, the figures underestimate the reality. According to the ISTAT statistics institute, the black economy accounts for at least 20% of the countryís gross domestic product, or 280 billion euros. Other sources put the figure even higher. Whatever the truth, tax evasion in Italy is three times the level of those countries in Europe that combat the informal economy most effectively, and twice the European average. If Italy managed to make everyone pay taxes, or even to collect only half of the 100 billion euros evaded, it would be a very different country.

For example, Italy could double the amount spent on research, which is lowest of all the industrialized countries, or increase every single pension by 45%. Sadly, it is likely that all this will remain a pipe dream. The scale of the phenomenon, and the incredible ingenuity expended by Italians on dodging the taxman, do not leave much room for hope. Cunning and chutzpah are the main weapons used in the battle with the taxman and over the years, Italians have applied their proverbial imagination to a range of scams, swindles and expedients that is unrivalled anywhere else.

What can you say about the free mattresses given away with a magazine at a cover price of 2,000 euros, to exploit the special tax regime enjoyed by publishing and pay VAT at 4% instead of 20%? Or the social clubs that leverage their privileged tax status to act as fronts for business enterprises with an annual turnover of 800,000 euros, like the Oristano customs police social club? Italian creativity knows no bounds. When a business needs customers, it simply makes them up. At Giulianova, a mobile phone company managed to evade 26 million euros thanks to false invoices. And to look credible in the taxmanís eyes the business claimed a tax rebate for a cool five million euros. This sort of brass-necked cheek is far from unusual. It goes on even in the best families.

A couple in San Donŗ di Piave faked a gift to their daughter of two plots of land. The value was the same as the taxable capital gain, 250,000 euros. It was a shame that only a few days later, the astute young woman sold the land on for the same amount without generating any capital gain or tax liability. The homemade scam was uncovered, but only because the trio deposited the checks from the final purchasers straight into mom and dad's bank account.

In Italy, itís not hard to find casual workers who drive Porsches, or a 75-year-old pensioner with a declared income of 1,000 euros a month who has just ordered a 30,000-euro swimming pool, or a plumber declaring 3,000 euros a year who turns out to be pocketing 350,000. Perhaps these are isolated cases. Nevertheless, the sector studies used to make the self-employed pay taxes on the basis of presumed income tell a different story.

They report, for example, 100,000 taxpayers who claim for the purchase of capital goods but apparently do not own them. Among them are 3,329 restaurants with no kitchen or tables, 480 pharmacies without shelves, 555 laundries with no washing machines, more than 5,000 installation engineers with no pliers or screwdrivers and 360 analysis laboratories with no equipment. There are even 137 taxi drivers with no taxi. Tax inspectors are also honing their wits to staunch Italyís hemorrhaging tax revenue. In Liguria, almost 10,000 taxpayers ended up in the cross-hairs of the tax authorities, which are completing checks at the moment. How were the "suspects" identified? Income tax returns were cross-checked against customer databases gleaned from 33 travel agencies and the regionís auction houses, flying clubs and beauty centers.

The not-so-indigent poor can be unmasked by blanket checks, like the one carried out by the Liguria tax agency, but targeted investigations offer another option. A check of 250 doctors in Sicily revealed that 100 were guilty of tax irregularities. The customs police also regularly makes similar checks on receipts issued by shops but there was little to be done in the case of the Sardinian pastry shop owner who always gave his customers a receipt. He couldn't be faulted except for one tiny detail: he had omitted to present a tax return for fully seven years, evading half a million euros in the process. It has to be said that the likelihood of a visit from the taxman is small. Some studies say that tax evaders run a serious risk of inspection once every sixteen years. Nor is there any social stigma attached to tax evasion. This was shown again last spring, when the authorities published details of every Italianís tax returns on the web. The information was immediately blacked out to protect confidentiality.

In other words, there is no civic conscience to aid the taxman. The inspection machinery is making enormous progress but it still can't keep up with evasion. We only have to look at the legal backlog. Even when the taxman wins in court, it takes an inordinate amount of time to get the money. A final verdict in tax-related cases emerges after an average of four years and when the figures are totted up, they are pitiful. Out of 44 billion euros of evaded taxes, the authorities actually managed to recover only 7.3%. Or to put it another way, 92.7% of evaders who are caught still get away with it.

Politicians: "Cazzo, Italians evade 46% of income tax!"
Italians: "Mi scusi, who better to "mangiare" (eat) my hard earned tax money than myself?"

Italy's Stupendous Tax-Evading Facts:
- Italian blue chip companies do not pay taxes on half of their income.
- In the 2006 fiscal year, only 500,000 Italians declared an income of over 70,000 Euros (89,600 USD).

The Italian government, politicians, and even the Church are advocating that Italians meet their civil responsibilities by paying their taxes. Isn't it sweet and warm how they worry about the Italian people and how they should conduct themselves? It brings a tear to the eye. And most of them have the nerve to denounce this with a straight face in public while keeping still and not picking fleas off themselves.

Italians are vigorously more cynical and skeptical about politician's motives than Americans and fellow Europeans are. Our rat-bastard conniving politicians tend to act with a air of authority even though they have no clue whether or not it is the case.

You see, they're like the lines in a parking lot. They're constantly there but they don't affect how one parks a car. They have some kind of function but nobody knows what it is nor do we care.

But when they do begin to affect your parking (ex. a global financial crisis that brings a call for needed cash for government spending), then life has changed. You either park out in the street or leave the car in the garage and take out the 'Vespa'!

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