02/03/10 Mussels Soup

"Quando il gatto manca, i topi ballano." (When the cat is missing, the mice dance. When the cat's away, the mice will play. ) Welcome to another recipe edition from Angela's Organic Oregano Farm!

This week's Italian recipes:
  -Mussels Soup
  -Fettuccine with Asparagus and Mushrooms
  -Penne with Pancetta and Tomato-Cream Sauce

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Yours Truly,              
Angela Reina       

 Recipe: Mussels Soup

Mussels Soup
Zuppa di Cozze


2 pounds live mussels
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 heaping tablespoon chopped garlic
2 tablespoons chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons fine, dry, unflavored bread crumbs
1/3 cup grated Fiore Sardo or Pecorino Romano or other hard, grating sheep's milk cheese
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup tomatoes cut up with their juice, either ripe, firm, fresh plum tomatoes
Grilled crusty bread, 1 or more slices per serving


Cut away any protruding tufts from the mussels.

Set aside any whose shells are even slightly open and tap them sharply.

Check them after 2 or 3 minutes and throw out all those that are still open.

Drop the mussels in a basin or large bowl full of cold water, move them around a little bit, then let them settle for a few minutes.

Retrieve them without stirring up the water.

Pour the water out slowly to see if any sand has collected at the bottom. If any has, rinse out the container, refill it with fresh cold water, and drop the mussels into it again.

Repeat this procedure until the water runs clear.

Pour the olive oil into a 6-quart saucepan, add the garlic, turn on the heat to medium high, and cook the garlic, stirring occasionally, until it becomes colored a light gold.

Add the parsley, stir two or three times, then add the bread crumbs, stirring for a few seconds.

Put the drained mussels in the pot, turn them around a bit, then cover the pot.

Uncover after a few minutes, add the grated Pecorino cheese, stirring it well into the pot.

Add the white wine, let it bubble away briskly for two to three minutes, then put in the tomatoes and the chili pepper.

Turn the contents of the pot over two or three times and continue to cook for 10 to 15 minutes.

Place a slice or two of toasted or grilled bread in each individual soup bowl, distribute the contents of the pot over the bread, and serve piping hot. Serves 4.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Fettuccine with Asparagus and Mushrooms

Fettuccine with Asparagus and Mushrooms
Fettuccine con Asparagi e Funghi


Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red onion cut into small dice
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, wiped clean with a damp cloth and thinly sliced
1/2 cup homemade vegetable stock or vegetable broth
1/2 pound thin or pencil asparagus, thinly sliced on the bias, tip end left about 1 and 1/2 inches long
3/4 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons pine nuts
1 pound dried fettuccine or pappardelle pasta
2 tablespoons shredded basil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese


Bring 6 quarts water to a boil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over high heat, then add 2 tablespoons salt.

While waiting for the water to boil, heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat.

Add the onion and pepper flakes and saute quickly to keep the ingredients from scorching.

Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and saute until the mushrooms darken slightly in color and are softened but still holding their shape, about 5 minutes.

Add the broth and asparagus and cook, stirring gently, for 2 minutes.

Stir in the cream, immediately reduce the heat to keep it from scorching, and cook for several minutes.

Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts in a saute pan over low heat, shaking the pan, just until they are warm and fragrant, about 2 minutes.

Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until 'al dente', 7 to 9 minutes from the time the water returns to a boil (10 minutes if you are using pappardelle).

Add the basil, butter, pine nuts, and cheese to the pan with the mushrooms and toss well.

Reserve a cup or so of the pasta's cooking liquid, then drain the pasta and add it to the pan with the mushrooms, asparagus, and sauce. If the sauce seems too dry, stir in a few tablespoons of the reserved pasta water.

Toss, taste, and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, and more pepper flakes if necessary. Serves 6 to 8 as an appetizer or 4 as a main course.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Penne with Pancetta and Tomato-Cream Sauce

Penne with Pancetta and Tomato-Cream Sauce
Penne con Pancetta, Panna e Pomodoro


1/2 cup chopped pancetta or bacon (3 ounces)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Two 14 and 1/2-ounce cans petite diced tomatoes in juice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup whipping cream
3/4 cup torn basil leaves, divided
1 pound Penne pasta


Cook pancetta in large skillet over medium-low heat until crisp, about 8 minutes.

Using slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to paper towels to drain.

Add olive oil and garlic to pancetta drippings and saute 30 seconds.

Add tomatoes with juices, wine, and cream.

Bring sauce to boil; reduce heat to medium and simmer until sauce is slightly reduced, about 10 minutes.

Stir in 1/2 cup basil.

Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in pot of boiling salted water until 'al dente'.

Drain pasta and divide among 4 plates.

Spoon sauce over pasta.

Sprinkle pasta with pancetta and remaining 1/4 cup basil and serve. Makes 4 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 Economy Minister: "Financial Crisis Like a Video Game"

Paris - January 8, 2008 - Dealing with the financial crisis of the past months has been like playing a video game, Italian Economy Minister Giulio Tremonti said on Thursday.

"As soon as you slay one monster, and think you can catch your breath, another one pops up and challenges you. In this crisis I think I've battled at least seven monsters," the minister explained.

Tremonti made his remarks at a round-table discussion organized by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and French President Nicolas Sarkozy dedicated to the topic "New World, New Capitalism".

Looking at the financial crisis which exploded in the latter half of 2008, Tremonti observed that this was the product of a "debt society" created over the past few years by an "access to debt produced by a finance technology which has degenerated the structure of capitalism".

Where is the hidden bribe? I can't find it!
Andate tutti a 'fanculo! I give up!

If the flustered economics minister wants to play it would help if he first figured out how to hold the game controller and then go read and learn the back story of the game instead of criticizing the other befuddled idiots who played before him.

Then if the player thinks he's ready for the real thing he will be given some basic weapons and will be able to adventure out into the world but the jackass must remember that he has a goal to achieve.

Soon he will realize that it's not as easy as it looked when other people were playing the game. So he must stop drooling and use his weapons more tactfully and wisely.

Afterwards, the player will face small and big bosses like the Prince of Pepperoni, Berlusconi, who will actually encourage him to use his cheat codes so that he can help get the prince out of the "cesso" he dug himself into and onto the next level of the game.

The next level suddenly changes the game. The player has a whole new perspective.

The prince thanks him for his loyalty and explains that it's okay to get ahead by manipulating the Italian system. Find ways to cut corners and get things the easy way. "Don't worry. You're not cheating yourself but the Italians."

If things get out of hand, the player then just unplugs the machine again, inserts a coin and starts over with a brand new government.

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