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 05/02/12 Chicken and White Bean Soup

"Tutti i gusti sono giusti." (There is no accounting for tastes.) Welcome to another recipe edition from Angela's Organic Oregano Farm!

This week's Italian recipes:
  -Chicken and White Bean Soup
  -Fresh Ricotta Wrapped In Mortadella
  -Sausage and Ramp Risotto

"Salve!" Thanks for everything you're doing and we'll continue to find recipes to help your kitchen come alive with flavors and aromas. After all, living is eating. Please share this newsletter, if you found it useful. Enjoy this week's recipes!

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Yours Truly,              
Angela Reina       


 Recipe: Chicken and White Bean Soup

Chicken and White Bean Soup
Zuppa di Pollo e Fagioli Bianchi

Ingredients:

8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pound skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 small onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, halved lengthwise, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces
1 large celery stalk, thinly sliced
1/2 cup tomato puree
4 cups chicken broth
Two 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, drained
1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves
1 bay leaf

Directions:

Heat 4 tablespoons olive oil and next 4 ingredients in small skillet over medium heat until herbs are aromatic, about 1 and 1/2 minutes.

Pour herb oil into bowl; cool.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in large pot over medium heat.

Saute chicken 5 minutes.

Using slotted spoon, transfer chicken to bowl.

Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to pot.

Add onion, carrots, and celery; saute until beginning to brown, about 15 minutes.

Mix in last 5 ingredients.

Bring to boil.

Reduce heat; simmer 15 minutes.

Add chicken; simmer until cooked through, about 5 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper.

Ladle soup into bowls.

Gently swirl 1 teaspoon herb oil into center of each. 4 to 6 servings.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Fresh Ricotta Wrapped In Mortadella

Fresh Ricotta Wrapped In Mortadella
Ricotta Fresca Avvolta In Mortadella

Ingredients:

12 to 14 thin slices mortadella (about 8 ounces)
12 ounces fresh ricotta (or substitute fresh goat cheese)
12 fresh basil leaves
3 cups young dandelion greens or other tender bitter greens
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Coarse sea salt

Directions:

Preheat a gas grill or prepare a fire in a charcoal grill.

Lay 12 slices of mortadella out on a work surface.

Place 2 tablespoons of the cheese in the very center of each slice, shaping it loosely into a log running across the slice.

Place a basil leaf on top of each mound of cheese.

Fold the bottom of each slice over the cheese, then fold over the sides and roll the cheese up in the mortadella.

Secure each one with a toothpick.

Place the mortadella packets seam side up on the hottest part of the grill and cook until lightly charred on the bottom, about 2 minutes.

Turn over and repeat on the second side, about 2 minutes longer.

Transfer to a platter.

In a medium bowl, toss the dandelion greens with the olive oil and then the vinegar.

Season with coarse sea salt and pile the greens over the hot and mortadella packets.

Serve immediately. Serves 4.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Sausage and Ramp Risotto

Sausage and Ramp Risotto
Risotto con Salsiccia e Rampe

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
1/2 pound hot Italian sausages, casings removed
12 ramps, trimmed; bulbs and slender stems sliced, green tops thinly sliced
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup dry vermouth
3 cups (or more) chicken broth
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano cheese plus additional for passing

Directions:

Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat.

Add sausage.

Cook until no longer pink, breaking up with spoon, about 5 minutes.

Add sliced ramp bulbs and stems.

Saute until almost tender, about 2 minutes.

Add rice and stir 1 minute.

Add vermouth.

Simmer until liquid is absorbed, about 1 minute.

Add 3 cups chicken broth, 1 cup at a time, simmering until almost absorbed before next addition and stirring often.

Continue cooking until rice is just tender and risotto is creamy, adding more broth if dry and stirring often, about 18 minutes.

Mix in green tops and 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano cheese.

Season risotto to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve, passing additional grated cheese separately. Serves 4.

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:

Italians Bid Their Luxury Cars A Tearful Goodbye

Rome - February 29, 2012 - Wealthy but worried Italians are selling off their Porsches, Ferraris and other luxury cars at a record rate to avoid the scrutiny of tax inspectors.

Many of the supercars are being exported through dealers to France, Germany and Austria, while others are ending up in South America and Eastern Europe.

Second-hand vehicles are being snapped up for re-sale by entrepreneurs from Poland, Ukraine, the Czech Republic and Moldova.

Owning a high-powered BMW or Mercedes has become an unwelcome sign of noticeable wealth ever since a much-publicized crackdown by Italy's tax police, the Guardia di Finanza, on the exclusive ski resort of Cortina d’Ampezzo at Christmas.

Tax inspectors traced the owners of 133 Lamborghinis, Ferraris, SUVs and other top-end cars that they found parked in the streets of the resort, a playground for the wealthy in the Dolomites.

They found that 42 of the owners (nearly a third) had declared incomes of less than 22,000 Euros ($29,000 USD) a year. A further 16 claimed to be earning less than 50,000 Euros ($65,500 USD) a year.

Police in Milan, Rome and other cities have carried out similar checks, taking down drivers' licenses and number plates and passing them onto tax authorities, who check whether the owners' declared incomes are sufficient to support their extravagant lifestyles.

In Florence, tax police stopped a brand new Mercedes and found that it was driven by a builder who declared no tax returns at all and whose wife was on welfare payments.

Last year, around 60 used Porsches were exported from Italy each week. That figure has now jumped to around 200.

Some owners are so scared of running into spot checks by the tax police that they are asking dealers to come and collect their cars at home.

"One client was scared of driving 10 kilometers from his house to here," Lorenzo Schiatti, who owns a Jaguar and Land Rover dealership in Reggio Emilia, northern Italy, told a national newspaper. "He was afraid that he'd be stopped by a Guardia di Finanza checkpoint."

"We don't have definitive numbers because it is difficult to quantify but it looks like thousands of cars are leaving Italy each month," said Sirio Tardella, the director of Unrae, an association of foreign car manufacturers.

Filippo Pavan Bernacchi, the president of Federauto, an association representing dealerships, said owning a luxury car had become "almost a crime" in Italy these days.

"Super" Mario Monti, Italy’s prime minister, has made a priority of clamping down on tax evasion since he replaced Silvio Berlusconi in November. He needs to whittle away at Italy’s 1.9 trillion Euro public debt, amid concerns that it could go the way of Greece.

But the challenge is enormous. A recent government study estimated that Italy’s black economy, which includes evasion of income tax and VAT, amounts to 275 billion Euros a year, or 17.5% of GDP.

"Porca puttana", after reading this story, did you also get the incredible urge of putting on a hula-hoop and swinging it around for 30 minutes?

"In Florence, tax police stopped a brand new Mercedes and found that it was driven by a builder who declared no tax returns at all and whose wife was on welfare payments." Nice job of being discreet, "faccia di culo?" He was just like Liberace saying, "I don't want anyone noticing my clothes."

In the 2008 fiscal year:

- Restaurant owners declared an average net income of 13,800 Euros ($18,000 USD). That's an average of 38 Euros ($50 USD) a day. That means when the restaurants are full, two customers pay and the rest make a run for it out the back door.

- 1 out 4 helicopter owners declared an average net income of 20,000 Euros ($26,000 USD). Obviously, the "testa di cazzo" can afford a helicopter seeing that he's not paying restaurant bills.

- Yacht owners declared an average net income of 1,500 Euros ($2000 USD) a month...which happens to be the average monthly rent for yacht space down at the port. That means that the owners are not eating for all their money goes towards rent. You'll sometimes see these "figli di puttane" pull up and drop anchor in front of soup kitchens.

- Night club owners declared a lost average of "negative 6000 Euros" (-$7,800 USD). That means when kids order a rum and coke or a mohito, the bartender also gives them 20 Euros.

Ah, for the love of Dio, Italian Heaven has got to be a place where these people don't exist!

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