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 02/18/09 Stuffed Zucchini from OreganoFromItaly.com

"La madre degli idioti è sempre incinta." (The mother of idiots is always pregnant.) Welcome to another recipe edition from Angela's Organic Oregano Farm!

This week's Italian recipes:
  -Bruschetta with White Beans and Cheese
  -Stuffed Zucchini
  -Penne with Herbs, Zucchini and Goat Cheese

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

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Yours Truly,              
Angela Reina       


 Recipe: Bruschetta with White Beans and Cheese

Bruschetta with White Beans and Cheese
Bruschetta con Fagioli e Formaggio

Ingredients:

1 cup dried cannellini (white kidney beans) or Great Northern beans, picked over

2 celery stalks, halved
2 carrots, halved
2 onions, halved
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 whole cloves
1 bay leaf

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese (about 3 ounces)
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano cheese (about 3 ounces)
4 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage or 1 teaspoon dried
Six 1/2-inch-thick slices from large crusty round loaf of white bread
3 garlic cloves, halved

Directions:

Place beans in large saucepan.

Add enough water to cover beans by 2 inches. Bring to a boil. Boil 2 minutes.

Remove saucepan from heat. Cover and let stand 1 hour.

Drain beans.

Return beans to same saucepan.

Add celery stalks, carrots, onions, pepper, cloves and bay leaf.

Add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to boil over high heat.

Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until beans are tender, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes. (Beans and vegetables can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Drain beans, reserving 1/3 cup cooking liquid.

Discard vegetables, cloves and bay leaf.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat.

Add minced garlic and saute 30 seconds.

Add 2 cups beans (reserve remaining beans for another use), both cheeses, 3 tablespoons parsley, 2 tablespoons butter, rosemary, sage and reserved 1/3 cup cooking liquid.

Stir until cheeses and butter melt, whisking constantly and mashing come of beans to form thick chunky sauce.

Remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper.

Preheat broiler.

Arrange bread on large baking sheet.

Brush top of each bread slice with remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil.

Rub with cut side of garlic clove halves.

Broil bread until lightly toasted. Transfer bread to plates.

Spoon bean mixture atop bread.

Sprinkle with remaining parsley. Makes 6 appetizer servings.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Stuffed Zucchini

Stuffed Zucchini
Zucchine Ripiene

Ingredients:

4 medium zucchini (approximately 5 ounces each), rinsed and sliced in half, lengthwise
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped mushrooms
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
2 tablespoons dry white wine
1 lb lean veal, coarsely ground
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
3/4 cup grated Parmigiano cheese
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Scoop out the insides of the zucchini halves with a small spoon.

Reserve the cored halves and the insides.

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat and saute for 1 to 2 minutes.

Then add the mushrooms and saute for 2 minutes more.

Add the celery and the reserved insides of the zucchini and continue to cook for 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the white wine and cook it down for 1 minute.

Add the veal and cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until it browns nicely, approximately 8 minutes.

Stir in the basil and the rosemary and cook for 1 to 2 minutes more.

Remove from the heat, place in a bowl, and allow to cool.

Once the mixture has cooled, blend in the cheese, egg, butter, salt, and pepper.

Fill the cored zucchini with the mixture.

Fill a baking pan with 1/4 inch of water.

Place the filled zucchini halves in the pan and bake for 40 minutes, until golden brown.

Remove the zucchini carefully from the pan to a warm platter, spooning the juices from the pan on top of them, and serve. 8 appetizer or side-dish servings; 4 main-dish servings.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Penne with Herbs, Zucchini and Goat Cheese

Penne with Herbs, Zucchini and Goat Cheese
Penne alle Erbe, Zucchine e Formaggio di Capra

Ingredients:

6 ounces penne or other tubular pasta
3 medium zucchini
1 large garlic clove
2 teaspoons mixed fresh herbs such as rosemary, thyme, oregano, and marjoram leaves
2 ounces (1/4 cup) soft mild goat cheese
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

Fill a 4-quart kettle three-fourths full with salted water and bring water to a boil for pasta.

Halve zucchini lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices.

Thinly slice garlic lengthwise and finely chop herbs.

Crumble goat cheese.

In a heavy skillet heat olive oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and saute zucchini, stirring, until browned and just tender.

Stir in garlic and herbs and saute, stirring, 1 minute.

Cook pasta in boiling water until 'al dente' and reserve 1 cup cooking water.

Drain pasta in a colander and in a bowl toss with zucchini mixture, cheese, 1/4 cup reserved cooking water, and salt and pepper to taste, adding additional reserved cooking water if necessary. Makes 2 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:

Senior Citizens Annoy Post Office into Staying Open

Genoa - December 30, 2008 - Officially, Gaetano Malia is a building worker who has been unemployed since February. Luciana is a housewife with a minimum pension and serious diabetes issues. Nicolò Catania is a retired factory worker. Pensioner Antonio Pertichini's wife is an invalid. Maria Grazia Licheri is a full-time granny to three grandchildren.

Yesterday, they met as arranged outside the Via Airaghi post office in Prà, a district in the west of Genoa, at a quarter to one. In all, there were thirty of them with an average age of about seventy. They are the anti-Post Office pensioners' hit squad, the oldies from the CEP, the Italian acronym for social housing units. One of the districts that were put up in the 1970s or thereabouts, CEP is a wasteland of low-quality concrete tower blocks with no services, no shops and potholed roads. It has had problems since it was built.

On 12 December, the postal service shut the only office serving CEP's 6,000 residents. A sign appeared on the door to announce that it had been closed after a "criminal event", a robbery on 11 December. The nearest post office is five kilometers, and two bus rides, away in Via Airaghi, where yesterday the CEP pensioners staged their protest. They called it Operation Tortoise, partly because the protest hinges on slowness and partly because tortoises have faces as lined and wrinkly as those of the demonstrators. The plan was for thirty protesters to turn up every day at closing time and keep the counter staff busy by asking all sorts of questions.

From one o'clock to three, under the eyes of watching police and Carabinieri officers, the protest continued as the smiles on the three counter clerks' faces began to slip. Maria Grazia says: "We fought to get a post office ten years ago and we aren't about to lose it now. The robbery was just a pretext".

Each protester was equipped with a sheet of instructions, printed by the CEP district's former chemist Carlo Besana, explaining how to waste counter staff's time. Questions to ask included: "What will happen to my post office account when I die?" One or two protesters touched wood just in case but why not? Everything went as planned, with a little bit of extemporization: "My son works abroad. Can he withdraw money with the Bancoposta ATM card?" "How much will it cost him?" "And if he worked in China?" "Is there a Post Office in China?" First into the breach was Nicolò Catania, 70, a former steelworker and CGIL trade unionist. He asked to speak to the manager: "I've got 100,000 euros and I want to open an account. What interest will you give me? Is that all? It isn't small change. And what if I'm not happy and want to close the account. How much will it cost?"

Pensioner and manager looked each other in the eyes. Both knew there was no 100,000 euros but they kept up the charade. It was good fun for a while. Mr Catania's contribution lasted eighteen minutes but Susanna beat his record, spending twenty-three minutes at the counter before she took pity on the clerk and left. Given the average age and infirmity of the protesters, some had brought with them a folding chair, a bottle of water and paper cups. They lingered at the counters, making one-euro contributions to the postal account of Emergency or the Gigi Ghirotti hospice, being careful to ask for the discounted rate of commission: "I'm over 70. I'm entitled to a discount". They even had a slogan to chant: "I haven't got a knife or a gun at my hip. My offensive weapon is a pay-in slip". In the afternoon, the Post Office admitted defeat. The CEP post office will re-open on 12 January "after work to make it secure".

The president of the regional authority who had written to the minister, Claudio Scajola, and to the Post Office management, expressed satisfaction: "Closure of the office is unacceptable". Mr Burlando went on: "It's a victory for ordinary people. It makes no sense for the regional authority, the municipality and voluntary associations to expend their energies on CEP if the only signal from central government is the closure of an essential service". The pensioners' hit squad was all set to descend on the post office again on 2 January but now that won't be necessary.

"Excuse me, grandissimi figli di puttane, will it be possible to pay this phone bill before the next government falls?"

Enter the mesmerizing world of any Italian post office and you'll find two or three incredibly long lines or a huddle of people all waiting for the same thing. No, not stamps but to pay bills such as taxes and utilities and withdraw pension payments.

Part of the problem is that it's a befuddled system that tries to do too many things...and badly!

As in other European countries, in Italy the post office functions as a kind of government bank. As you can already imagine (while laughing), this banking function leads to chaos and long lines, especially during the early part of the month when all the senior citizens (and perfectly healthy, conniving, rat-bastard Italians who swindled the government into giving them disability pensions) show up to collect their pension money.

And, in the early years, it somehow never occurred to the "eggplant parmigiana" in authority somewhere to separate postal functions from banking functions: "Porca miseria", No! It's the SAME line, SAME window, whether you're paying a bill, collecting a pension, trying to mail a letter, or bad mouthing your next door neighbor and her whore of a daughter simply because they exist.

After much worry and concern about the Italian people and how they should conduct themselves in public, a small brainstorm by the other eggplants in charge brought about the solution of a sophistication of the post office and that was a client-number waiting system...just like the ones at busy delicatessens.

You go in, pull a numbered ticket out of a yellow machine on the wall and wait until your number is displayed above the teller's window. This sounds like a civil idea that could bring a tear of joy, but in practice the service is even slower than before. All it does is accomplish the devious and sneaky psychological feat of making the customers feel as if they're going to be attended to soon. In fact all it does is take the immediate pressure off the lazy and useless clerks.

"Vaffanculo", now they operate at an even slower pace and find an additional ten reasons to do anything except their remedial postal tasks.

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