01/23/08 Wild Mushroom and Three Cheese Lasagne from OreganoFromItaly.com

"In un mondo di ciechi un orbo re." (In a world of blind people, a one-eyed man is king.) Welcome to another recipe edition from Angela's Organic Oregano Farm!

This week's Italian recipes:
  -Focaccia alla Cipolla
  -Pasta con Verdure di Primavera e Prosciutto
  -Lasagne con Tre Formaggi e Funghi Selvatici

Enjoy the recipes and the complimentary news article report from "Only In Italy.com".

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Yours Truly,              
Angela Reina       

 Recipe: Focaccia alla Cipolla

Focaccia alla Cipolla
Onion Focaccia


1/4-ounce package (2 and 1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 cup lukewarm water
3 and 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon table salt
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, sliced thin
1 large red onion, sliced thin
1 large shallot, sliced thin
4 scallions, chopped fine
1/4 teaspoon crumbled dried sage
1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmigiano cheese
1 teaspoon coarse salt to taste


In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment proof the yeast with the sugar in the water for 5 minutes, or until the mixture is foamy, add the flour, the table salt, and 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, and combine the dough well.

With the dough hook knead the dough for 2 minutes, or until it is soft and slightly sticky.

Form the dough into a ball, transfer it to an oiled bowl, and turn it to coat it with the olive oil.

Let the dough rise, covered with plastic wrap, in a warm place for 1 and 1/2 hours, or until it is double in bulk. The dough may be made up to this point, punched down, and kept, covered and chilled, overnight.

Let the dough return to room temperature before proceeding with the recipe.

Press the dough evenly into an oiled jell-roll pan, 15 and 1/2 by 10 and 1/2 by 1 inches, and let it rise, covered loosely, in a warm place for 1 hour, or until it is almost double in bulk.

In a large bowl stir together the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil, the onions, the shallot, the scallions, the sage, and pepper to taste and sprinkle the mixture evenly over the dough.

Sprinkle the focaccia with the Parmigiano cheese and the coarse salt and bake it in the bottom third of a preheated 400 F. oven for 35 to 45 minutes, or until it is golden brown.

Let the focaccia cool in the pan on a rack and serve it warm or at room temperature.

That's it!

 Recipe: Pasta con Verdure di Primavera e Prosciutto

Pasta con Verdure di Primavera e Prosciutto
Pasta with Spring Vegetables and Prosciutto


3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes, or to taste
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
A 35-ounce can plum tomatoes, drained and chopped coarse (about 3 cups)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves or 1 teaspoon dried basil, crumbled, plus, if desired, fresh whole basil leaves for garnish
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano cheese
8 asparagus stalks, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
1 bunch of broccoli, the flowerets cut into 1-inch pieces (about 2 cups) and the stems reserved for another use
2 small zucchini, scrubbed, trimmed, quartered, and cut into 1-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
1 cup shelled fresh or frozen petits pois (tiny peas)
1 cup snow peas, trimmed and cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces
1 lb dried pasta such as trenette (fettuccine with one ruffled edge) or spaghetti
1/4 lb prosciutto, cut into thin strips


In a kettle cook the garlic and the red pepper flakes in the olive oil over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is softened, add the tomatoes, and boil the mixture, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until it is thickened and the liquid is reduced to a thick puree.

Stir in the chopped basil and salt and pepper to taste.

In a saucepan combine the butter, the cream, and the broth, bring the mixture to a boil, and simmer it, stirring occasionally, until it is reduced to 1/2 cup.

Whisk in the Parmigiano cheese, whisking until the mixture is smooth, whisk the mixture into the tomato mixture, whisking until the sauce is combined well, and keep the sauce warm.

In a kettle of boiling salted water cook the asparagus for 2 minutes, add the broccoli and the zucchini, and cook the vegetables, for 2 minutes.

Add the peas, cook the vegetables for 1 minute, and add the snow peas. Cook the vegetables for 30 seconds, or until they are all just tender, transfer them with a slotted spoon or sieve to the sauce, and toss them gently to coat them with the sauce.

Return the cooking liquid in the kettle to a boil, in it cook the pasta until it is 'al dente', and drain it well.

In the kettle combine the pasta with the vegetable mixture, the prosciutto, and salt and pepper to taste.

Divide the pasta mixture among 6 heated plates and garnish it with the basil leaves. Serves 6.

That's it!

 Recipe: Lasagne con Tre Formaggi e Funghi Selvatici

Lasagne con Tre Formaggi e Funghi Selvatici
Wild Mushroom and Three Cheese Lasagne


For the sauce:
1 7/8 to one ounce package dried porcini mushrooms
1 cup hot water
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
12 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
6 to 8 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, sliced
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary or 2 teaspoons dried
1/8 teaspoon dried crush red pepper
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes with added puree

For the filling:
2 15-ounce containers ricotta cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano cheese (about 1 and 1/2 ounces)
1/3 cup purchased pesto sauce
2 eggs
1 egg yolk

12 (about) lasagne noodles
20 ounces soft mild goat cheese (such as Montrachet), crumbled
1 tomato, seeded, chopped
Fresh basil or rosemary


For the sauce:
Rinse porcini mushrooms briefly under cold water. Place in small bowl. Pour 1 cup hot water over and let soak 30 minutes to soften.

Remove mushrooms from soaking liquid, squeezing excess liquid back into bowl; reserve soaking liquid. Chop mushrooms, discarding any hard stems.

Heat olive oil in heavy Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes.

Add porcini, button and shiitake mushrooms and garlic. Saute until mushrooms begin to soften, about 5 minutes.

Add rosemary and crushed red pepper and saute 30 seconds. Add wine.

Pour in reserved mushroom soaking liquid, leaving any sediment behind. Increase heat to high and boil until liquid is reduced by half, about 5 minutes.

Add canned tomatoes. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until sauce is thick, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

For the filling:
Combine ricotta cheese, Parmigiano cheese and pesto in medium bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Mix in eggs and yolk. (Sauce and filling can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover separately and refrigerate.)

Cook pasta in pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain. Rinse under cold water to cool; drain.

Oil 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish. Spread 1/4 of sauce over bottom of dish.

Arrange 3 or 4 noodles over, trimming to fit as necessary.

Spread half of filling over. Spoon 1/4 of sauce over. Sprinkle with 1/3 of goat cheese.

Top with 3 or 4 noodles, trimming to fit.

Spread remaining filling over noodles.

Spoon 1/4 of sauce over. Sprinkle with 1/3 of goat cheese.

Top with 3 or 4 noodles, trimming to fit.

Press gently to compact. Spread with remaining sauce. Sprinkle with remaining goat cheese. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Let lasagne stand 1 hour at room temperature before continuing.)

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Cover lasagne with foil and set on baking sheet. Bake 35 minutes.

Uncover and continue baking until sauce bubbles and cheese melts, about 35 minutes.

Garnish with tomato and let stand 15 minutes. Garnish with herbs and serve. Serves 8.

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:

Italian Women Willing To Pop the Question

Rome - February 28 - One in three Italian women are prepared to get down on one knee and pop the question if a marriage proposal from their partners is not forthcoming, a new Internet survey revealed on Thursday.

Online community Badoo.com sampled the opinions of 1,500 Italian women for the survey. Around 44% of singles said they planned to get married at some point, with 33% insisting they would be prepared to do the asking themselves emulating Hollywood stars such as Renee Zellweger and Halle Berry.

Of those not afraid to take the initiative, 29% said they would like to propose by posting a video on the Internet so that friends could watch and comment on their performance. A further 16% would prefer to propose on live television, while 10% would opt for a large advertising billboard on the streets.

Some 22% said they would ask for an "I do" on a special occasion, such as Valentine's Day or a birthday, while 16% said they would make their move in more private surroundings like the top of a mountain.

"Hey cornuto! Mi sposi o no?!"

The compelling reason why these unfortunate Italian women are forced to propose is because most Italian men take advantage of long-term relationships to avoid matrimonial responsibility.

The motto: "Nobody buys the cow when they can milk it for free." The cow is understandably disappointed to be abandoned by a man who paces himself like a slug with whom she has been "engaged" for six, seven or nineteen years.

The 20th century introduced the comical use of the "fedina" (from the term "fede di matrimonio" for a wedding band). This is a ring similar to a wedding band but thinner and less expensive that young, clueless unmarried lovers exchange to indicate an "engagement." In reality, these are not formal engagements but just extended romances.

Engagements in Italy today which often span five to ten years result from irritating customs and circumstances. Nowadays, when non-marital sex is commonplace, it gives more assurance to a couple's relationship to say that they are "engaged," even if they are not.

It should be painfully remembered that most Italians live with their parents until marriage, unless there's a compelling reason (such as a job in a distant city) for moving out. The parents of the so-called happy couple exchange flowers and get to know each other. It is quite possible that they already know each other on a phony and superficial level. Usually, but not always, a date is set for the wedding, though in some cases this is two or three years away.

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