05/12/10 Pepperoni Pizza Pastry

"Ama il prossimo tuo come te stesso." (Love thy neighbor as thyself.) Welcome to another recipe edition from Angela's Organic Oregano Farm!

This week's Italian recipes:
  -Pepperoni Pizza Pastry
  -Artichoke Cannelloni
  -Fettuccine with Spinach and Sausage

Worthless people live only to eat and drink; people of worth eat and drink only to live. Enjoy your recipes.

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Yours Truly,              
Angela Reina       

 Recipe: Pepperoni Pizza Pastry

Pepperoni Pizza Pastry
Pizza Pasticcini con Pepperoni


3/4 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup whole milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
4 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
4 oz pepperoni, cut into small cubes (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup pizza sauce
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil


Preheat oven to 375F.

Grease a 24-cup mini muffin pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder; whisk in the milk and egg.

Stir in the mozzarella and pepperoni; let stand for 10 minutes.

Stir the batter and divide among the mini-muffin cups.

Bake until puffed and golden, 20 to 25 minutes.

Heat the pizza sauce until warmed through, then stir in 1 tablespoon basil.

Sprinkle the pastries with the remaining 1 tablespoon basil.

Serve the pastry with the pizza sauce for dipping.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Artichoke Cannelloni

Artichoke Cannelloni
Cannelloni al Carciofo


For the Cannelloni:
3 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, preferably Italian type 00
4 eggs

For the Filling:
4 tablespoons butter, plus extra for greasing
Juice of 1/2 of lemon, strained
6 globe artichokes
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Scant 1 cup beef stock
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup Parmigiano cheese
Salt and pepper

For the Bechamel Sauce:
3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 and 1/4 cups lukewarm milk


Prepare the Cannelloni:
Sift the flour into a mound on a counter and make a well in the center.

Break the eggs into the well and add a pinch of salt.

Knead thoroughly, then roll out on a lightly floured counter into a thin sheet.

Cut into 4-inch squares.

Cook the pasta squares, a few at a time in plenty of salted boiling water for a few minutes.

Remove with a slotted spoon, refresh under cold running water, and spread out on a clean dish towel to dry.

Prepare the Bechamel Sauce:
Melt the butter in a pan.

Stir in the flour and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 2-3 minutes until golden brown.

Gradually stir in the milk, a little at a time.

Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, lower the heat, and simmer gently, stirring constantly, for 20 minutes until thickened and smooth.

Prepare the Filling:
Preheat the oven to 400F and grease an ovenproof dish with butter.

Half-fill a large bowl with water and stir in the lemon juice.

Break off the artichoke stalks and remove and discard the coarse outer leaves.

Thinly slice, discarding the chokes, then add the acidulated water to avoid discoloration.

Melt the butter in a pan.

Add the onion, garlic, and parsley and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.

Drain the artichokes, add to the pan, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.

Sprinkle in the flour and nutmeg and stir well to mix.

Gradually pour in the stock, stirring until smooth and thoroughly combined, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.

Remove the pan from the heat, let cool slightly, then transfer the mixture to a food processor, and process until smooth.

Alternatively, push the mixture through a meat grinder.

Transfer the mixture to a bowl, if necessary.

Stir in the egg, and a little Parmigiano cheese, and bechamel sauce.

Spread a little artichoke mixture on each cannelloni square and roll up.

Put them into the prepared dish in a single layer, pour the remaining bechamel sauce over and sprinkle with the remaining Parmigiano cheese.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, remove from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes, then serve. Makes 12 cannelloni.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Fettuccine with Spinach and Sausage

Fettuccine with Spinach and Sausage
Fettuccine con Spinaci e Salsiccia


1 lb fettuccine pasta
1/2 lb Italian sausage (sweet, hot or mild)
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces spinach, rinsed and spun dry
4-6 basil leaves
3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
3 tbs butter
3-4 tbs leftover pasta water
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano cheese
Salt and pepper to taste


Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil for the pasta.

While water is coming to a boil, crumble sausage into a large skillet over medium-low heat and cook until well browned and no longer pink in the middle.

Remove from skillet and drain.

Add pasta.

In the same skillet, add olive oil and butter.

Add onions, season with salt and cook until just translucent.

Add garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes, stirring often.

Add spinach and cook until just wilted.

Add basil and stir through.

Return sausage to skillet and toss to reheat and incorporate.

Pour drained fettuccini into sauce and toss to combine.

Gradually add Parmigiano cheese, turning constantly with a fork or tongs, adding pasta water as necessary until desired consistency is achieved.

Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately. 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 Debating Whether "Gay" Is An Insult

Rome - March 23, 2010 - That is the question Italians are pondering as they await a pivotal court decision on gay marriage expected this week.

Last week, in an unrelated case, one of Italy's highest courts issued a ruling that states calling someone gay can be an insult if It's done with the intention to denigrate. The ruling sparked a debate among the country’s homosexual community: Will the decision, which aimed to protect gay rights, hurt not help?

"It risks reinforcing the idea that if you call somebody gay, they should feel offended," said Aurelio Mancuso," one of the country’s leading activists on the issue. "For us to be called gay is to be serene and comfortable."

The case concerned a letter written by a policeman, named in the court documents as Dante S., to a colleague, Luciano T., in 2002. The two men had a long-standing rivalry and were competing to become the chief of police. In addition to describing his competitor as "gay," Dante noted that Luciano had gone on a mountain holiday in the company of a sailor and accused him of having been expelled from a sports club frequented by young men.

In Italy, insulting somebody is a fineable offense, and Luciano took his rival to court, sparking a long process that concluded on March 17. Though Dante insisted he had not meant to be judgmental, the court found otherwise and ordered him to pay Luciano 400 euros ($540), plus 4,000 euros ($5,400) in fines and court fees.

Generally, the decision has been warmly received by a homosexual community frustrated by a lack of progress in gay rights when compared with other European countries.

"The fact that the word is neutral doesn't mean it can't be used to offend," said Paolo Patane, president of Arcigay, Italy’s leading homosexual advocacy group. "If the intention is to hurt, to humiliate, and in doing so I add actions or other words, then It's an offense."

In October, the Italian parliament rejected a law that would have made violence against homosexuals a hate crime.

"It's not because the word ‘gay’ itself caused the injury, but it was the context that caused the offense," said Franco Grillini, a politician and director of gaynews.it, a news site. "A stick by itself isn't offensive. But if I hit you with it, it hurts."

"It's the association between being gay and being a pedophile that’s unacceptable," said Patane.

But others, like Mancuso, see the court’s decisions as reflecting a larger discomfort in Italy's predominantly Catholic society.

"I'd like to understand why being called gay is so offensive in this country," Mancuso said.

After the verdict was announced, Luciano’s lawyer, Michele Brunetti, took pains to point out his client wasn't homosexual. "Certainly, he goes on vacation with male friends and he’s never been married," he told a local daily paper. "But I never had the impression that he had those tendencies."

According to University of Bologna sociologist Luca Pietrantoni, gay rights in Italy remain behind other European countries. Homosexuals are much less likely to be open about their sexual preference, especially in the work place.

As is often the case in Italy, when it comes to homosexuality, people are generally tolerant in the public sphere (the country elected the first transgendered parliamentarian in Europe) but conservative at home.

"Gay people aren't totally rejected by their families," said Pietrantoni. "There’s a kind of negotiations of don't ask don't tell."

According to a 2006 poll, 31 percent of Italians favored of gay marriage, compared to 42 percent in the Europe Union as a whole. Only 24 percent of Italians agreed that homosexuals should be allowed to adopt, compared to 31 percent in the EU.

The word "gay" is considered shameful, said Pietrantoni. Politicians tend to use synonyms: "different," "those people." When Bologna hosted a Gay Pride parade in 2008, the permit forbid the demonstrators from entering the city center or passing in front of churches.

"There’s a culture of avoidance," said Pietrantoni. "As if gay identity is embarrassing, shameful."

"Politicians tend to use synonyms: "different," "those people." "Cacchio", what a coincidence. When Italians refer to their politicians, they tend to use synonyms such as "meaningless critters" and "witless invertebrates".

Many may not know that some of Italy's greatest and most admired Italian artists (Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, Sandro Botticelli, and Caravaggio) were homosexual. Even 'opera' is fixed in the Italian culture and in large part in the gay community.

And you can't overlook the adorableness of the Italians themselves, especially men. Italian men truly know how to cut "una bella figura" (great appearance) especially when they're swishing around in their tailored designer clothes. The ancient sidewalks and streets of Rome you see have lasted for so long because Italian men float over them. "Mamma mia", they're all light in the feet!

Speaking of Rome, it's also interesting to know most Italian gays love the Easter holidays the most because that’s when they show most of the gladiator movies...but that's a different topic we won't dive into.

Another factor to consider is that Italy's culture is a family-oriented society where the male-macho ethic runs strong. Under these conditions it's a pain in the ass (pardon the expression) for gays to come out; many prefer instead to keep quiet and lead a double life.

Since our cousin, Claudio, turned gay, our grandmother has had a tough time accepting the reality. At church services and receptions she refers to him as her granddaughter.

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