01/04/12 Veal Bocconcini Stew Winter Style

"Pietra mossa non fa muschio." (A rolling stone gathers no moss.) Welcome to another recipe edition from Angela's Organic Oregano Farm!

This week's Italian recipes:
  -Penne with Dried Porcini and Prosciutto
  -Potato Gnocchi with Gorgonzola Sauce
  -Veal Bocconcini Stew Winter Style

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Angela Reina       

 Recipe: Penne with Dried Porcini and Prosciutto

Penne with Dried Porcini and Prosciutto
Penne con Funghi Porcini e Prosciutto


1 and 1/2 ounces dried Porcini mushrooms, soaked in 2 cups lukewarm water for 20 minutes.
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup very finely minced yellow onion
2 or 3 thick slices (3 ounces) speck or prosciutto, finely diced
1 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup heavy cream
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley
1 pound Penne Rigate pasta
1/2 to 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese


Drain porcini mushrooms and reserve soaking water.

Rinse mushrooms well under cold running water and chop them roughly.

Line a strainer with paper towels and strain mushroom water into a bowl to get rid of sandy deposits.

Set aside.

Heat 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.

Add onion and cook, stirring, until onion is lightly golden and soft, about 5 minutes.

Add porcini mushrooms and speck or prosciutto and stir for a minute or two.

Add wine.

Cook, stirring occasionally, until wine is reduced by about half.

Add 1 cup of reserved porcini water and cream.

Season lightly with salt.

As soon as sauce begins to bubble, reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered until it has a medium-thick consistency, 4 to 5 minutes.

Stir parsley and remaining butter into sauce and turn heat off under skillet.

Meanwhile bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Add 1 tablespoon of salt and pasta.

Cook, uncovered, over high heat until pasta is 'al dente'.

Scoop up and reserve about 1 cup of pasta cooking water.

Drain pasta and place in skillet with sauce.

Season lightly with salt, and add about 1/3 cup of Parmigiano cheese.

Toss everything quickly over medium heat until pasta and sauce are well combined. If pasta seems dry, add some of reserved pasta water and stir quickly to incorporate.

Taste, adjust seasoning and serve with remaining Parmigiano cheese. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Potato Gnocchi with Gorgonzola Sauce

Potato Gnocchi with Gorgonzola Sauce
Gnocchi di Patate al Gorgonzola


For the Gnocchi:
4 and 1/2 lbs (2 kg) potatoes
2 eggs, lightly beaten
14 oz (400 grams) plain flour, plus extra for dusting

For the Gorgonzola Sauce:
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/4 pound Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano cheese


Prepare the Gnocchi:
Steam the potatoes for about 20-25 minutes or until tender.

Mash with a potato masher while they are still hot.

Stir in the egg, flour, and a pinch of salt and knead to a soft, elastic dough (note: if there is too much flour, the gnocchi will be hard; if there is too much potato, they tend to disintegrate while cooking).

Shape the dough into long rolls just over 2/3 inch (1.5 cm) in diameter and cut into 3/4 inch (2 cm) lengths.

Press them gently against the underside of a grater and arrange on a tea towel dusted with flour.

Bring a large pan of lightly salted water to a boil, add the gnocchi, a few at a time, and remove with a slotted spoon as they rise to the surface.

Prepare the Gorgonzola Sauce:
Melt butter in a large skillet.

When butter foams, add cream and bring to a boil.

Add Gorgonzola cheese.

Stir and cook 3 to 4 minutes over low heat, until cheese is melted and cream begins to thicken.

Season with salt and pepper.

Place gnocchi in sauce.

Gently stir in Parmigiano cheese.

Cook 30 to 40 seconds or until gnocchi are coated with sauce.

Serve immediately. Makes 8 servings.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Veal Bocconcini Stew Winter Style

Veal Bocconcini Stew Winter Style
Bocconcini di Vitello all'Invernale


2 and 1/2 pounds shoulder of veal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
One (16-ounce) can crushed Italian-style or whole tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
One (10-ounce) package frozen small peas, thawed


Cut veal into 1 and 1/2 to 2-inch cubes.

Place on aluminum foil and sprinkle with flour.

Melt butter with olive oil in a large heavy casserole over medium heat.

When butter foams, add veal and brown on all sides.

Add onion, carrot and celery.

Saute until lightly browned.

Stir in wine and cook until wine is reduced by half.

Add tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper.

Cover casserole and reduce heat.

Simmer 40 to 45 minutes or until meat is tender and sauce has a medium-thick consistency. If sauce is too thin, increase heat and cook uncovered about 10 minutes.

Add peas and cook 5 minutes longer.

Serve hot. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

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:

Italian Cardinal: "Italian Are Not Having Babies"

Rome - September 1, 2010 - The head of the Italian Catholic bishops' conference said this week that Italian society is being "seriously mutilated" by its negative growth birth rate. Angelo Bagnasco, cardinal archbishop of Genoa, said at a Mass in Liguria this weekend that Italy, and Italian democracy, is facing a "serious cultural catastrophe" from its low birth rate.

The Italian birth rate has climbed slightly from an all-time low of 1.23 in 2004, which made Italy the second most infertile country in the industrialized world, to 1.32 this year. It is estimated that 25 percent of Italian women do not have children and another 25 percent will have only one child. The Italian region of Liguria in northwestern Italy now has the highest ratio of elderly to youth in the world and has closed ten percent of its schools since 2000.

The Catholic Church asserts, Bagnasco said, that "demographic balance is not only necessary for the physical survival of a community, which without children has no future, but is also a condition for that alliance between generations that is essential for a normal democratic dialectic."

"It is not only parents that, having children, must change their points of view and styles, they must plan and organize themselves in relation to the children in their various ages."

"A society without babies and children," he continued, "just as a society without the elderly, is seriously mutilated and unable to function."

While government officials are attempting, largely unsuccessfully, to shore up the birth rate with cash payouts, Cardinal Bagnasco looked into the deeper cause of the crisis, saying that falling birthrates are linked to a massive shift in cultural values.

Holding up the Holy Family, Mary, Joseph and Jesus, in the context of life in the small village of Nazareth as the ideal model, Bagnasco said, "In the cultural climate of today, couples and families seem to collapse before the blows of life and of relationships."

"The efforts of every day seem tedious and without meaning, hence unbearable," he said. "The future loses value and polish, the present is emphasized for what it promises of immediate satisfaction."

In the current materialistic context, he said, "fidelity is understood as something repetitive, tedious, deprived of thrills."

While visitors to Italy who bring small children attest that Italians still love children, they are not having their own. Contraceptive use, in this still overwhelmingly Catholic country, is considered routine and some have cited the fulfillment of the demands of the consumerist mentality, that requires that women go out to work, as the reason for the disappearance of the traditional large Italian family.

A 2004 survey by Letizia Mencarini, a professor of statistics at the University of Florence, found that women who work outside the home, and receive little help from their husbands with household chores and childcare, are more reluctant to have a second child. The women, she concluded, cannot face the "dual burden" of going out to work and looking after an extra child.

"Cacchio", we would like to thank the Bishop for all the sunshine blown our way.

Look, Italy’s birth rate is pathetic and it's going to take more than the Bishop's religious rituals to fix it. Our birth rate is 1.33 children per woman.

Don't get us wrong. We love children. We spoil the little critters, dress them up like funny little princes and princesses, over-educate them, and let them stay at home until they're about 32 (give or take 10 years). So, what the hell went wrong?

The problem is there's no state support for Italian women who want to work. Therefore, family policy needs to be designed to support fertility and women's other aspirations. Try doing that in Italy. We break out in a rash when we sense any kind of interference by the state in our family lives. Some of us can still remember the family laws that bald screwball, Mussolini, designed to produce little "Figli del Lupa" (sons of the she-wolf). They were the junior fascist boys brigade.

Hmmm...how cute. "Cacchio", nothing like have little fascists dressed in black, terrorizing the neighborhood cats and Jews.

Italian women can receive generous maternity leave, but they don't care for it. We have shown that fertility rates are often governed by much more complex cultural and social factors. In Italy, culture rules over policy.

"Another child? Che palle, one is enough. I have my vacations and social friends to consider. Besides, I've been married to that cornuto for 6 years but it feels like 15!"

"Oh, mamma mia, nothing like going home to the same person everyday for the rest of my life!"

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