03/05/14 Gnocchi with Pork and Wild Mushroom Ragu

"Pan di sudore, miglior sapore." (Bread that comes out of sweat, tastes better.) Welcome to another recipe edition from Angela's Organic Oregano Farm!

This week's Italian recipes:
  -Tartines with Arugula And Grilled Sardine
  -Polenta with Green Beans, Mushrooms and Leeks
  -Gnocchi with Pork and Wild Mushroom Ragu

"Ciao ragazzi!" A quick note of thanks for being a part of our growing recipe community. We're over 5,200 members now. Remember, you started it.

Thanks again for reading!

Yours Truly,              
Angela Reina       

 Recipe: Tartines with Arugula And Grilled Sardine

Tartines with Arugula And Grilled Sardine
Tartine Con Arugula e Sardine Alla Griglia


12 butterflied fresh sardines or six 6-inch-long trout or branzino fillets with skin
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil plus additional for brushing
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
Six 1/3-inch-thick slices sweet onion (such as Maui or Vidalia)
Six 6-inch-long baguette slices, cut 1/2-inch thick on sharp diagonal
3 tablespoons butter, room temperature
Fleur de sel*

18 arugula leaves
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
6 lemon wedges


Place fish, skin side down, in a 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish.

Whisk 2 tablespoons olive oil and next 4 ingredients in a small bowl.

Spread herb mixture over fish.

Cover and chill at least 2 hours and up to 8 hours.

Spray grill with nonstick spray.

Preheat barbecue (medium heat).

Brush onion slices with olive oil.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Grill onions until just tender and slightly charred, about 2 minutes per side.

Grill bread slices until slightly charred, about 1 minute per side.

Spread 1 side of each bread slice with butter.

Sprinkle fish with fleur de sel and pepper.

Grill fish until just opaque in center, about 3 minutes per side.

Remove bones from fish.

Place arugula in medium bowl.

Drizzle with 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil and lemon juice and toss.

Season to taste with fleur de sel and pepper.

Arrange 3 arugula leaves atop each bread slice.

Top with grilled onions.

Top onions on each bread slice with 2 sardines or 1 trout or branzino fillet, trimming fish to fit.

Garnish with lemon wedges and serve. Makes 6 appetizer servings.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Polenta with Green Beans, Mushrooms and Leeks

Polenta with Green Beans, Mushrooms and Leeks
Polenta con Fagioli Verdi, Funghi e Porri


3/4 pound green beans, trimmed
1 cup fresh shelled peas (12 to 14 ounces in pods)
1 and 3/4 cups polenta (coarse cornmeal)
2 and 1/2 cups vegetable broth
4 cups whole milk
2 cups thinly sliced leeks (white and pale green parts only; about 2 medium)
1 and 1/2 cups dry white vermouth
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) chilled butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound assorted wild mushrooms (such as crimini, small Portobello, and shiitake), stemmed, caps cut into wedges
3 large shallots, sliced (about 3/4 cup)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley, divided
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme


Blanch green beans 1 minute in boiling water.

Add peas and cook until both beans and peas are crisp-tender, about 3 minutes.

Transfer to bowl of ice water to cool.


Cut beans on diagonal into 1-inch pieces.

Set beans and peas aside.

Bring milk and broth to boil in large saucepan over high heat.

Reduce heat to medium.

Gradually whisk in polenta.

Reduce heat to low.

Cook until polenta is very thick, whisking almost constantly, about 10 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper.

Remove from heat.

Cover to keep warm.

Combine leeks and vermouth in medium saucepan.

Boil over medium-high heat until reduced to 1/3 cup, 8 minutes.

Remove from heat.

Gradually whisk in butter, allowing each addition to melt before adding next.

Add cream and whisk over very low heat to blend.

Season with salt and pepper.

Set aside.

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

Add mushrooms and saute until almost tender, 5 minutes.

Stir in shallots, 1 tablespoon parsley, and thyme.

Saute until mushrooms are very tender, about 5 minutes.

Add beans and peas, tossing to coat.

Rewarm polenta and spoon into large shallow bowl.

Top with green bean mixture and remaining 1 tablespoon parsley.

Rewarm leeks over low heat, whisking constantly.

Spoon evenly over polenta. Makes 6 servings.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Gnocchi with Pork and Wild Mushroom Ragu

Gnocchi with Pork and Wild Mushroom Ragu
Gnocchi con Ragu di Maiale e Funghi Selvatici


16 oz package potato gnocchi
1 ounce dried Porcini mushrooms
1 and 1/2 cups boiling water
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
8 ounces sliced crimini (baby bella) mushrooms
2 garlic cloves, minced
Coarse kosher salt

2 and 1/2 cups dry white wine, divided
1 pound boneless country-style pork ribs, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 ounces 1/4-inch thick slices coppa or prosciutto, chopped
6 ounces fresh mild Italian sausages, casings removed (about 2 links)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
2 cups crushed tomatoes or crushed tomatoes with added puree (from one 28-ounce can)
1 cup (or more) chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 cup grated Parmigiano cheese


Place dried Porcini mushrooms in medium bowl.

Pour 1 and 1/2 cups boiling water over.

Let stand until mushrooms are soft, about 45 minutes.

Using slotted spoon, transfer mushrooms to cutting board and chop coarsely.

Reserve soaking liquid.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat.

Add crimini mushrooms and garlic.

Sprinkle with coarse salt and pepper and saute until beginning to soften, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add 1/2 cup wine and simmer until crimini mushrooms are soft, about 4-5 minutes.

Set aside.

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

Sprinkle pork with coarse salt and pepper.

Add pork to pot and saute until browned in spots, about 6 minutes.

Using slotted spoon, transfer pork to medium bowl.

Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of fat from pot.

Reduce heat to medium.

Add coppa and stir 1 minute.

Add sausages and cook until brown, breaking up into small pieces with back of spoon, about 3 minutes.

Add onion, carrot, and celery.

Cover pot and cook vegetables until soft, stirring occasionally, about 8-10 minutes.

Add remaining 2 cups wine. Bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits.

Simmer until almost all liquid is absorbed.

Add tomatoes, 1 cup broth, bay leaves, reserved pork, and Porcini mushrooms.

Pour in reserved Porcini soaking liquid, leaving any sediment behind in bowl.

Bring to boil.

Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered until pork is tender, adding more broth by 1/4 cupfuls if dry, about 1 hour.

Stir crimini mushroom mixture in skillet into ragu.

Season with salt and pepper.

Spoon off fat from surface of ragu stir in basil.

Add the potato gnocchi.

Toss gently to coat.

Simmer over medium heat until gnocchi are heated through, 3 to 5 minutes.

Divide gnocchi and ragu among bowls.

Sprinkle with some of cheese and serve, passing remaining cheese alongside. Makes 6-7 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:

Silvio to Former Actress: "Queen Bee, This Time It Really Hit The Fan..."

Rome - October 3, 2013 - Italian prosecutors are going ahead with investigations into allegations that Berlusconi bribed a showgirl to keep quiet about the procurement of prostitutes for his parties, as the former prime minister faces the humiliation of being thrown out of Parliament.

Berlusconi allegedly paid 1.5 million Euros (2 million USD) to Sabina Began, a former model who was nicknamed the "Queen Bee" of his female court, in return for her silence.

Began is being investigated for allegedly recruiting call-girls to parties held by Berlusconi at his residence in Rome, in the months after he announced that he was divorcing his second wife, Veronica Lario.

The German-born former actress, who has the initials SB for Silvio Berlusconi tattooed on her ankle and has in the past declared she was in love with him, reportedly used 600,000 Euros of the money to buy an apartment in Rome. She has denied recruiting prostitutes and says the money was just a gift.

Prosecutors are also investigating that Berlusconi paid 500,000 Euros to Gianpaolo Tarantini, a businessman from Bari in southern Italy, to lie about providing him with prostitutes.

In exchange for the cash, Mr. Tarantini, who sold prosthetic limbs before striking up a friendship with the then prime minister, was supposed to say that the women he sent to the parties were simply friends, rather than paid escorts.

In a phone conversation tapped by prosecutors in 2011, Berlusconi discussed the supply of women for a party with Mr. Tarantini, telling him: "Listen Gianpaolo, we need at most two each. Then we can trade. After all, the p_ssy needs to go around."

After reading this, the first few doubts that come to mind is, "Is love still overrated?"
"Can you be happy with lots of money and endless women?"
"Why do I bother showering every day? This is ridiculous."

In our stupid defense there are still a few gallant Italian gentlemen who would still throw coats down over puddles. Problem is we don't know how many coats we would have to go through before women are convinced we have no ulterior motives.

Look, we have no millions...but we would spend so much time gently kissing your thighs the seasons would actually change. That's "amore".

Regardless, there are a few gallant Italians here that would like to give a little advice for the "Queen Bee Troia" or former actress (by the way, former actress means she was acting up until the voice mails stopped coming in):

- A Queen Bee can be active for two or more years...and replacing a Queen after a couple of seasons ensures maximum mating productivity.

- Some rich beekeepers (one in particular has a toupee that resembles a hairy swim cap) can afford to replace their Queens every autumn. This ensures that your hive in Rome has a new energetic and young former actress each spring.

- As a Queen ages, her recruiting capability slows down dramatically, which results in less and less _____ (fill in the blank) each season...along with less and less rationality for keeping her around.

As a beekeeper, your job is to anticipate problems before they happen. An ageing Queen is something that you can deal with. You can give her a bank check and accompany her home by donkey, and replace her with, for example, a prosthetic limbs salesman from Southern Italy.

"I have 50 billion Euros ($68 billion USD), so much I have no idea how to spend it." (Silvio, February 8, 2007)

We might give the beekeeper "testa di cazzo" a hand with this one...but not tonight. We're miserable and going home to bed without showering. Life is less aggravating when you go to sleep early.

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