04/25/12 Mussels with Fennel and Sausages

"Il denaro un buon servo e un cattivo padrone." (Money is a good servant, but a bad master.) Welcome to another recipe edition from Angela's Organic Oregano Farm!

This week's Italian recipes:
  -Fig and Onion Bruschette
  -Mussels with Fennel and Sausages
  -Roast Chicken with Pancetta

"Buon weekend!" Thanks for reading! We appreciate you stopping for a moment in your busy day to take a look at what Italian recipe could light up your kitchen with wonderful sights and aromas. Enjoy this week's recipes!

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Yours Truly,              
Angela Reina       

 Recipe: Fig and Onion Bruschette

Fig and Onion Bruschette
Fig e Cipolla Bruschette


For the Figs:
1/2 cup dried black figs, stemmed, halved
1 cup boiling water
3/4 cup dry red wine
2 tablespoons sugar
1 small bay leaf
1/8 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

For the Onions:
1 and 1/2 teaspoons butter
1 and 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium red onion, halved through core, cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch thick strips
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Coarse salt

For the Ricotta Cheese:
1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil plus additional for drizzling
1 teaspoon heavy whipping cream
Coarse salt
Eight 1-inch thick slices ciabatta bread (about 4 and 1/2 x 2 inches)
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano


Prepare the Figs:
Place figs in small bowl.

Pour 1 cup boiling water over; let soak 45 minutes.

Drain figs; place in small saucepan.

Add wine and next 3 ingredients; bring to boil, stirring to dissolve sugar.

Reduce heat to medium.

Simmer until figs are tender and liquid is syrupy, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes.

Add vinegar; cook 1 minute longer.

Remove pan from heat; cool.

Prepare the Onions:
Melt butter with olive oil in medium skillet over medium-high heat.

Add onion; saute until beginning to soften and brown, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes.

Reduce heat to low; add vinegar and sugar, then sprinkle with coarse salt and pepper.

Stir until vinegar has almost evaporated, about 1 minute.


Prepare the Ricotta Cheese:
Whisk ricotta, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and cream in medium bowl until fluffy.

Season with coarse salt and pepper.

Preheat broiler.

Drizzle ciabatta with some olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt and pepper.

Broil bread on both sides until toasted.

Transfer to serving plate.

Spread 2 tablespoons ricotta cheese mixture on each bread slice.

Spoon glazed figs with some of syrup over; top with onion mixture.

Sprinkle with Parmigiano cheese and oregano.

Drizzle with olive oil and serve immediately. Makes 8.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Mussels with Fennel and Sausages

Mussels with Fennel and Sausages
Cozze con Finocchio e Salsicce


2 pounds sweet or hot link sausages, divided
2 large onions, sliced (about 6 cups), divided
2 large fresh fennel bulbs, sliced (about 6 cups), divided
6 garlic cloves, crushed, divided
1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper, divided
3 cups dry white wine (about one 750-ml bottle), divided
6 pounds mussels, scrubbed, debearded
One 16-ounce crusty French baguette, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices, divided
Extra-virgin olive oil (for drizzling)
Chopped fresh Italian parsley


Preheat oven to 450F.

Using fork, pierce sausages all over.

Heat each of 2 large cast-iron skillets or other large ovenproof skillets over medium-high heat.

Add half of sausages to each skillet and cook meat until browned, turning occasionally, about 5 minutes.

Add half of onions, half of fennel, half of garlic, and half of dried crushed red pepper to each skillet.

Add 1 cup white wine to each skillet and bring to boil.

Cover and simmer until sausages and vegetables are cooked through, about 12 minutes.

Add 1/2 cup wine, then 1/2 of mussels to each skillet.

Transfer skillets to oven and roast uncovered 5 minutes.

Carefully remove skillets from oven; top each skillet with enough baguette slices to cover completely.

Return skillets to oven; bake uncovered until mussels open and bread slices begin to brown, about 5 minutes longer.

Discard any mussels that do not open.

Drizzle bread in each skillet with extra-virgin olive oil, then sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Serve mussels and sausages directly from skillets. Serves 8.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Roast Chicken with Pancetta

Roast Chicken with Pancetta
Pollo Arrosto con Pancetta


Two 4-pound chickens, rinsed, patted dry
Chopped hearts, livers, and gizzards reserved from chickens (optional)
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, divided
3/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup small cubes peeled carrot
2 large fresh sage leaves, minced
1 large garlic clove, halved
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 cup small cubes crustless country bread
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1 large egg, beaten to blend
1 tablespoon grated Parmigiano cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
12 thin pancetta slices
3 large fresh fennel bulbs, trimmed, each cut into 6 wedges


Preheat oven to 400F.

Melt 1/4 cup butter in large skillet over medium heat.

Add giblets (if using), onion, carrot, sage, and garlic.

Saute until carrot is tender, about 10 minutes.

Add wine; simmer until evaporated, scraping up browned bits.

Remove from heat.

Mix in bread, walnuts, egg, Parmigiano cheese, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

Spoon stuffing into cavities of chickens; skewer cavities closed.

Rub each chicken with 2 tablespoons butter; sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Arrange in roasting pan.

Lay 6 pancetta slices atop each to cover.

Surround with fennel.

Roast chickens and fennel 45 minutes.

Turn fennel over.

Roast until chickens are golden and thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 165F, basting with pan juices, about 30 minutes.

Transfer chickens and fennel to platter.

Let rest 10 minutes.

Tilt roasting pan; spoon fat from pan juices.

Serve chickens with pan juices. Serves 8.

That's it!

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 Only In Italy!

"Only In Italy" is a daily news column that translates & 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:

Pope Sets Up Criminal Investigative Crack Team To Stop Vatican Leaks

Vatican City - March 18, 2012 - The Pope has taken the unusual step of setting up an internal, criminal investigation to identify the source of damaging leaks of compromising Vatican documents.

The inquiry will seek to punish the insiders who leaked the papers, whom the Vatican hierarchy regard as "disloyal and cowardly".

Pope Benedict XVI had been hurt by the leaks, said Archbishop Angelo Becciu, the Vatican's deputy secretary of state and third most powerful Vatican figure.

Documents leaked to the Italian press over the last few weeks have shed light on dark power struggles between senior cardinals, alleged corruption and nepotism in the running of the Vatican administration, and a mysterious prediction that the 84-year-old pontiff would die within a year, possibly as a result of an assassination attempt.

Msgr Becciu described whistle-blowers as "cowardly" and "deeply disloyal" and warned that they would face the full force of the law from Vatican prosecutors. They had abused the trust placed in them by leaking the documents, he said.

The investigation will be conducted by a tribunal and will probe all departments in the Vatican administration.

Msgr Becciu also defended the reputation of the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy, saying it was wrong to depict it as a hotbed of "plots and careerism".

The investigation will draw on an inquiry already opened by the Vatican's own police force, the Gendarmerie, into how the leaks happened.

The Pope also decided to launch a special commission into the affair, composed of cardinals whom he had chosen personally, in order to re-establish "trust" within the Holy See.

"TOP SECRET" For Pope's eyes only:

1. There could be life on other planets:
In 2006, Father Jose Funes, director of the Vatican's observatory, states that the Vatican acknowledges that life on other planets is theoretically possible. (However, whatever the life forms would be, the Vatican feels that they would be one of God's creations...vulnerable to spiritual blackmail and bribery, especially if they are Communist aliens running for office or Supreme Leader.)

2. Vatican Post Office is remarkably efficient, fast and profitable:
Beyond the many tourist souvenirs, the postage stamps contribute to the largest export of the Vatican serving as one of the primary sources of internal revenue. (Romans and tourists also find that the Vatican mail system is faster and more efficient than the typical Italian postal office...where they're used to dealing with postal workers who have spent more time together than the 12 Apostles but still have trouble remembering each other's name and the cost of mailing a postcard to Chicago.)

3. Vatican Radio waves covers the world twice over:
Located in a tower inside the Vatican Gardens, the Vatican has a radio station that broadcasts in 45 different languages across the world. In 2010 a court-ordered study has found that electromagnetic waves beamed by Vatican Radio leave residents living near the station’s giant antenna towers at a higher risk of cancer. (The radio’s director, Federico Lombardi, disputed the report, saying: "Vatican Radio is astonished to hear the news on the results of the study." And so was Tom Hanks with "Wilson" on that deserted island. "Am I going crazy or am I picking up the Third Sermon of Lent on a volleyball?")

4. Turn water to wine, taxes to donations:
Instead of paying their taxes to the Italian government, Italians are allowed to donate 8% of their yearly taxes to the Vatican. (Makes you want to pour your marinara sauce over your head, doesn't it?)

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