08/08/07 Branzino ai Ferri from OreganoFromItaly.com

"Belle parole non pascono i gatti." (Fine words don't feed cats.) Welcome to another recipe edition from Angela's Organic Oregano Farm!

This week's Italian recipes:
  -Polpettone e Polpette
  -Branzino ai Ferri

Enjoy the recipes, your summer and the complimentary news article report from "Only In Italy.com".

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Yours Truly,              
Angela Reina       

 Recipe: Besciamella

Bechamel Sauce


2 oz (50 grams) butter
2 tbsp plain flour
2 cups (1/2 liter) milk
2 oz (50 grams) Parmigiano cheese
2 cups (1/2 liter) beef stock


Melt the butter over a low heat in a stainless steel pan. Gradually sprinkle in the flour and stir well with a wooden spoon until smooth in consistency; cook gently until the mixture becomes a light golden color. Add the milk gradually, stirring constantly to avoid lumps forming. Should this occur, you will have to sieve the sauce. Cook for at least fifteen minutes stirring all the time.

When the bechamel becomes rich and creamy in consistency, not too thick and not to runny, but forming ribbons on the surface when it falls from the spoon, remove from the heat, taste for salt, add a pinch of powdered nutmeg and the grated Parmigiano cheese. For a different flavor, you can replace the milk with the same quantity of beef stock, or use half milk and half stock.

Note: A good bechamel and a well thickened meat sauce are the basis and the greatest secret of good cookery.

That's it!

 Recipe: Polpettone e Polpette

Polpettone e Polpette
Meat Loaf and Rissoles


14 oz (400 grams) minced meat
3.5 oz (100 grams) prosciutto
1 egg
1 slice of bread
3.5 (100 grams) Parmigiano cheese
Plain flour
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 carrot
1 stick of celery
1 onion
1 glass white wine


Soak the bread in warm milk, then squeeze it dry and reduce to crumbs.

Mix together with the minced meat, chopped ham, egg, salt and chopped parsley. Add the grated Parmigiano cheese.

Blend together thoroughly for a few minutes, then, with your hands slightly moistened, form into an oval shaped loaf (be very careful not to leave any cracks or gaps, otherwise the loaf will open and fall apart during the cooking).

Pour the oil into a large, earthenware dish with low sides and warm gently.

Roll the meat loaf lightly in the flour and place in the dish. Brown evenly all over so that the surface forms a crispy crust. Add the chopped carrot, celery and onion, toss until golden and pour in half a glass of white wine. Leave to evaporate and add half a glass of water. It takes approximately half an hour for the loaf to cook, but it should be frequently checked to prevent it sticking to the pan.

Leave it to set for a few minutes and then cut into thick slices. Pour its own hot gravy over and serve with potato puree. Add some sliced mushrooms to the sauce for a really special flavor. Serves 4-5.

Note: To make rissoles instead, roll the mixture into small rounds and fry them gently in oil until cooked; add a glass of white wine and let it evaporate. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.

That's it!

 Recipe: Branzino ai Ferri

Branzino ai Ferri
Grilled Sea Bass Fillets


1 (6 to 8 lb) sea bass
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 lemons


Prepare the sea bass by snipping off the side and back fins with a strong pair of scissors.

With a fish scaler or large, strong knife, scrape off the scales. This is best done by holding the fish by the tail in a sink and scraping downward. It is essential to do this thoroughly. Clean the fish by running a sharp knife up from the base of the belly to the head. Remove the innards and rinse the fish well.

To cut into fillets, lie the fish on its side and, using a sharp filleting knife, carefully slice along the backbone, from tail to head, keeping close to the bones with the blade so as not to waste any flesh. Then cut downward around the head, which will enable you to remove the fillet. Repeat this on the other side of the fish.

Place the fillets skin side down and run your hand over them to check for any bones. Pull out any that remain using tweezers. Cut each fillet into 3 equal portions.

Lightly brush the pieces of fish with the olive oil, season well with salt and pepper, and grill for 3 minutes on each side, or until cooked.

Serve with lemon. Serves 6.

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:

Red Wine May Help Flu From Mutating

Rome - January 20 - Italian researchers have found that they could reduce the seasonal flu mortality rate in mice by 60 percent with resveratrol, found in red wine.

Italy's Higher Health Institute, Rome University and the National Research Council found that a molecule found in red wine - resveratrol contained in the skin of the red grapes which give the wine its color - can block the flu virus from mutating.

Red wine has been found to be good for combating cardiovascular conditions and diseases like Alzheimer's disease.

"This discovery is very important because it increases the possibility of combating the virus and has proved effective against all different types of flu," researchers said.

The findings have been published by the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

Italian proverb: "One barrel of wine can work more miracles than a church full of saints."

Unfortunately, wine cannot stop stupidity from mutating so keep these helpful tips in mind when you order a bottle of wine in Italy:

1. Actually look at the wine list. Note the outrageous prices.

2. Never ask, "What's cheap?" Most waiters translate the word "cheap" for chip (as in potato chips). If you must, it's better to say, "Hey! Per favore, good vino, costa poco."

3. Never pick wine where the prices have been modified more than twice. Those are the crappy inexpensive wines in which the prices have been increased dramatically thanks to unsavvy tourists.

4. If you can't pronounce the name of the wine, please don't. Just point to it on the list. Just because you can pronounce "lasagna" and "gnocchi con quattro formaggi" doesn't mean you've mastered the language of Italian cuisine.

5. When the waiter presents the bottle, look at the label and then at him. Sometimes waiters make mistakes, sometimes they'll do it on purpose. It's their way of challenging the wits of the wandering tourist.

6. Don't smell the cork! Ask the waiter to smell it. After he smells it, ask him, "What's the matter with you? Why did you smell the cork? You know you can't tell if a wine is good by smelling the cork!" Then snatch the cork from his hand in disgust and check to make sure the cork is intact and moist (not moldy). This means the wine was stored correctly.

7. Make sure the cork matches the name of the bottle. Sometimes unscrupulous, conniving, Italian rat-bastard restaurant owners put cheap wine in old wine bottles and re-cork them.

8. Don't smell plastic corks either. Wine makers are moving away from natural corks to synthetic corks. Sniffing a plastic cork tells everyone around you in the restaurant that should have burned the money you spent for your vacation to Italy. If the waiter smells a plastic cork, kindly ask the owner to have the dishwasher substitute your waiter.

9. Swirl the wine around in your glass to oxygenate or open it up. This is recommended for expensive wines. Don't spin it as if you're trying to evaporate the liquid!

10. Taste the wine. If the wine tastes like vinegar or smells like moldy cheese, give the waiter a dirty look.

11. If the wine is bad send it back! In some cases, however, people refuse a perfectly good bottle of Italian wine simply because they don't like it. You shouldn't do that. If you don't like the wine, just drink it and give your waiter the dirty look.

12. After you've tasted the wine and decided its acceptable, give a simple "Mona Lisa" smile and say, "It's okay", or "Thank you."

13. Pour your own wine. That way you can control your intake and spending. Some Italian waiters try and finish the bottle before you're done with the antipasto. These helpful Italian phrases will stop your waiter in his tracks:

"Troppo caffè oggi?" Too much coffee today?
"Piano piano!" Slow down!
"Ma che cavolo fai?" What the hell are you doing?

14. It's Italian wine. Don't worship it like a Roman god. Just enjoy it.

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