05/13/09 Seafood Couscous from OreganoFromItaly.com

"Quel che non ammazza, ingrassa." (What won't kill you, will feed you. That which doesn't kill you, makes you stronger.) Welcome to another recipe edition from Angela's Organic Oregano Farm!

This week's Italian recipes:
  -Fusilli with Eggplant, Pine Nuts, Currants, and Capers
  -Seafood Couscous
  -Strawberry Panna Cotta with Strawberry Compote

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

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Yours Truly,              
Angela Reina       

 Recipe: Fusilli with Eggplant, Pine Nuts, Currants, and Capers

Fusilli with Eggplant, Pine Nuts, Currants, and Capers
Fusilli con Melanzane, Pinoli, Ribes, e Capperi


Two 16-ounce eggplants, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
3/4 cup dried currants
1/2 cup drained capers
Two 14 and 1/4-ounce cans diced tomatoes in juice
1 lb Fusilli pasta
1 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil


Place eggplant slices on large rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt.

Let stand over 20 minutes.

Turn eggplant slices over. Sprinkle with salt.

Let stand 20 minutes longer.

Rinse eggplant. Drain; pat fry with paper towels.

Cut eggplant into 1/2-inch cubes. Set aside.

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

Add onion and saute until golden, about 4 minutes.

Add garlic; saute 1 minute.

Add eggplant; saute until tender, about 10 minutes.

Stir in pine nuts, currants, and capers; saute 1 minute.

Add tomatoes with juices; bring to simmer.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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

Return pasta to pot.

Add eggplant mixture, 1/4 cup cheese, and basil. Toss to combine.

Transfer to large bowl.

Serve, passing remaining cheese separately. Makes 8 first-course or 6 main-course servings.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Seafood Couscous

Seafood Couscous
Cuscus ai Frutti di Mare


3 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 carrot, thinly sliced
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
One 14 and 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
Three 8-ounce bottles clam juice

1 and 1/2 lbs mussels, scrubbed
12 littleneck clams, scrubbed
1 cup dry white wine

3 and 1/2 cups plain couscous (20 ounces)

1 and 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
3 small bay leaves
2 lbs assorted fish fillets (such as halibut, cod and red snapper), cut into 1 and 1/2-inch pieces
8 ounces uncooked shrimp, peeled, deveined

Chopped fresh parsley
Dried crushed red pepper


Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in heavy large pot over medium heat.

Add onion; saute 5 minutes.

Add carrot, celery, and garlic; saute 5 minutes.

Add tomatoes with juices and 1 bottle clam juice and bring to boil.

Reduce heat; simmer uncovered 10 minutes.

Cover and simmer 10 minutes.

Transfer mixture to processor.

Blend to chunky puree; return to pot.

Mix in 2 bottles clam juice to make tomato broth.

Combine mussels, clams, and wine in another large pot.

Cover and cook over high heat until mussels and clams open, about 8 minutes.

Using tongs, transfer mussels and clams to bowl (discard any that do not open).

Strain cooking liquid into tomato broth.

Place couscous in large bowl.

Bring 2 and 1/2 cups water, 3 cups tomato broth, and 1/4 cup olive oil to boil in medium saucepan.

Mix into couscous.

Cover; let stand until liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper.

Cover; let stand until ready to serve.

Meanwhile, mix thyme and bay leaves into remaining tomato broth in pot and bring to boil over medium-high heat.

Add fish.

Cover and simmer 4 minutes.

Add shrimp; cover and simmer until seafood is opaque in center, about 4 minutes.

Turn off heat.

Add reserved mussels and clams.

Cover; let stand 2 minutes.

Mound couscous on platter.

Top with seafood.

Spoon some tomato broth over to moisten.

Sprinkle with parsley.

Mix 3/4 cup tomato broth and hot chili paste in small dish.

Serve couscous, passing the dried crushed red pepper and remaining broth separately. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Strawberry Panna Cotta with Strawberry Compote

Strawberry Panna Cotta with Strawberry Compote
Panna Cotta alla Fragola con Composta di Fragole


For the panna cotta:
3 cups sliced strawberries (1 lb)
1 and 3/4 cups well-shaken low-fat buttermilk
6 tablespoons sugar
2 and 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin, from less than 2 (1/4-oz) envelopes
1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup heavy cream

For the compote:
2 and 1/2 cups strawberries (preferably small; 3/4 lb), trimmed
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 teaspoons superfine granulated sugar

Special equipment: 6 (6-oz) stainless-steel or ceramic molds


Prepare the panna cottas:
Blend strawberries, buttermilk, and sugar in a blender until very smooth, then pour through a very fine sieve into a medium bowl, pressing hard on solids. Discard solids.

Sprinkle gelatin over milk in a small bowl and let stand 1 minute to soften.

Bring cream to a boil in a small saucepan.

Remove from heat and add gelatin mixture, stirring until dissolved.

Whisk cream mixture into strawberry puree and pour into molds.

Chill molds, covered, until firm, at least 8 hours.

To unmold, dip molds in a small bowl of hot water 2 or 3 seconds, then invert panna cottas onto dessert plates and remove molds.

Let stand at room temperature 20 minutes to soften slightly.

Prepare the compote while panna cottas stand:
Halve strawberries lengthwise if small or quarter if larger.

Whisk together orange juice and superfine sugar in a bowl until sugar is dissolved and add strawberries, tossing to coat.

Serve panna cottas with compote. Makes 6 servings.

Note: Panna cottas can be chilled in molds, covered, up to 2 days.

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:

And the Italian 'Woman of the Year' Award Goes to Amanda Knox

Rome - January 2, 2009 - Amanda Knox, 21, was voted the most popular woman in the poll held by a television news program, beating US vice-presidential hopeful Sarah Palin and French first Lady Carla Bruni Sarkozy.

The University of Washington student, who shared a cottage with Miss Kercher, 21, in the historic hill town of Perugia, came fourth in the internet poll, one place behind US President- elect Barack Obama.

The internet poll was won overall by Roberto Saviano, the Italian investigative journalist who wrote a best-selling book, Gomorrah, about the Naples-based Camorra mafia, since turned into a film tipped to win an Oscar.

Knox and her Italian former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, 24, are due to go on trial in a Perugia court on Jan 16, charged with stabbing Miss Kercher to death in what prosecutors claim was a group sex game turned violent.

The mystery over who killed Miss Kercher and why has gripped Italy since the Leeds University student was found lying in a pool of her own blood in the whitewashed cottage in November 2007.

Knox and Sollecito, with whom she had a brief relationship, have been behind bars ever since.

Miss Knox has appeared on the covers of Italian magazines and in countless newspaper stories, her blonde hair, fresh complexion and good looks earning her the name "angel-face" from the Italian media.

Hundreds of journalists from Italy, Britain and the US are expected to cover the trial, which is likely to last for months.

Knox and Sollecito both deny any involvement in the killing, with their lawyers arguing that they had no motive for murder and that DNA evidence against them is flawed and unreliable.

"Mamma mia", this doesn't look good for Amanda...or Italy!

Perugia is the chocolate capital of Italy with a paranoid population of 160,000. It has endured a number of invasions through the ages: first, the Etruscans, followed by the Romans, Goths, Napoleon...and Amanda Knox. It appears Amanda was the straw that broke the mule's back and they have intentions of making her pay for it all.

Now, we're not going to defend nor condemn Amanda for the unspeakable crime for which she was arrested. After all, we weren't there. We have our own problems (like trying to convince Zio Goffredo that no one is siphoning the diesel fuel out of his tractor)!

Instead, we're going to put the interrogation hot lamp on the Italian legal system and watch it sweat.

The case is not going well...because there is no case.

You see, our incredibly brilliant legal system stems from the "Inquisition" and also from medieval law. What this means, in effect, is that justice in Italy is based on the supremacy of the prosecution. In other words, you're guilty until proven innocent...cazzo!

How did it all start? Brace yourselves... Three days after the murder, the dazzling senior police investigator on the case woke up one morning and decided it was time to get cracking on the case. He sought out Amanda and Raffaele (two normal, never in trouble, classic middle-class college students) to question them. When he discovered them casually eating in a pizza restaurant, he grew suspicious. "AHHH-HAAAAAAAAAAAAA!" Soon after, they were arrested.

After her arrest, Amanda was detained by the Italian Wyatt Earp and his deputies and interrogated for 14 hours. Amanda, who (shockingly) wasn't fluent in Italian at the time, was provided with neither a professional interpreter nor a lawyer. In a state of confusion and exhaustion, she ended up signing a confession. "Porca miseria", it's amazing they didn't make her admit to the disappearance of the Lindbergh baby.

And to make matters worse, the police performed a blitz on themselves. Amanda also implicated her boss at a local bar where she had worked. A 38-year-old Congolese man called Patrick Lumumba was held for nearly two weeks, then released; Amanda later revealed that it was the interrogators who suggested him as a possible suspect in the crime.

After the interrogation, Amanda and Raffaele were sent to jail...but not charged! You see, in our lovely country, a suspect can be held for 12 months without being charged.

Since then, the police investigation has not been exactly sparkling and quick-witted. For instance, take the alleged murder weapon, a cooking knife that belonged to Raffaele. Amanda's DNA was found on the handle. "AHHH-HAAAAAAAAAAAAA!" It's a shame she used it regularly for cooking, though.

Officials said Meredith's DNA had been found on the blade. "AHHH-HAAAAAAAAAAAAA!" But new DNA evidence released shows that after 183 attempts to match the material on the knife to Meredith's DNA, there is only a 1 percent chance that it is hers. So, another 900 attempts will probably be made until they eventually get tired of the wind whistling through their heads.

Meanwhile, back at Gotham City, the senior prosecutor on the case, Giuliano Mignini, 58, an obese, balding man who should have abandoned vanity at 260 lbs, is himself under investigation for abuse of power, with a trial scheduled for November. He's been charged in a case involving wiretapping the phones of police and journalists, among other things. But we're in Italy! Even if a fat prosecutor reeks of ziti and sardines and suspicion, it is not mandatory to remove him from a case.

Not surprisingly, Amanda's defense lawyers, who finally realized NEVER talk to the Italian press, were denied the "evidence" against Amanda for months. Then, according to what was communicated to Amanda's parents, the prosecution said they could gain access to it for a mere 50,000 euros (around 66,000 USD). After loud protests from the lawyers, the prosecution gave in.

"Porca Miseria!"

"Buona fortuna Amanda..."

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