08/21/13 Gnocchi with Pesto

"Chi mangia da solo si strozza." (He who eats alone chokes. Eating is and has always been considered a social moment in Italy.) Welcome to another recipe edition from Angela's Organic Oregano Farm!

This week's Italian recipes:
  -Gnocchi with Pesto
  -Roasted Lamb Shoulder
  -Buttermilk Panna Cotta

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Angela Reina       

 Recipe: Gnocchi with Pesto

Gnocchi with Pesto
Gnocchi al Pesto


For the Pesto:
25-30 fresh basil leaves
1 and 1/2 oz (40 grams) pine (Pinoli) nuts
3 and 1/2 oz (100 ml) extra virgin olive oil
1 oz (25 grams) Parmigiano cheese, freshly grated
1 oz (25 grams) Pecorino cheese, freshly grated

For the Gnocchi:
1 lb Russet potatoes, unpeeled
1 and 1/4 cups semolina flour, sifted
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Grated Parmigiano cheese, for serving


Prepare the Pesto:
Put the basil leaves in a food processor with the olive oil, pine nuts and a pinch of salt.

Process briefly at medium speed.

Add the two grated cheeses and process again.

Prepare the Gnocchi:
Place potatoes into a 4-qt pot of salted water.


Reduce heat to medium-low.

Simmer until potatoes are tender, 25 minutes.

Drain. Let cool.

Peel potatoes.

Pass through medium plate of a food mill into a bowl.

Add flour and eggs.

Using a fork, stir until dough forms.

Transfer dough to a work surface.

Knead briefly to combine.

Divide the dough into 6 portions.

Roll each portion into a 1/2-inch thick rope.

Cut ropes into 1/2-inch wide pieces.

Using the back of a fork, roll pieces along tines to imprint them with ridges.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and working in batches, add gnocchi and cook until just tender, about 5 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer gnocchi to a large bowl and toss with pesto until evenly coated, adding a couple spoonfuls of cooking water, if needed, to create a smooth sauce.

Transfer to a large serving platter or bowls and serve with more freshly grated Parmigiano cheese. Serves 6-8.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Roasted Lamb Shoulder

Roasted Lamb Shoulder
Agnello di Latte Arrosto


6-pound lamb shoulder, cut by butcher into 4 very thick chops, about 1 and 1/2 pounds each
2 celery ribs, cut in 1-inch chunks (about 2 cups)
2 medium carrots, cut in 1-inch chunks (about 2 cups)
2 medium onions, cut in large chunks (about 3 cups)
3-inch piece cinnamon stick
6 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
4 small branches fresh rosemary
8 fresh sage leaves
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt
2 cups dry white wine
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 cups light stock (chicken or vegetable broth)


Prepare the Lamb Shoulder:
Trim most of the fat from the chops, leaving only a very thin layer on the outside surfaces.

With your fingers, pull apart each chop, roughly in half, along the natural break lines between the muscles.

Place the meat in a large bowl with all of the remaining ingredients except the stock.

Toss well to distribute all the seasonings, and submerge the meat in the marinade.

Seal the bowl with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Turn the meat occasionally.

Heat the oven to 425?F.

Arrange the meat chunks in a heavy duty 17 by 20 inch roasting pan.

Spread the marinade all around them, and pour in the stock.

Cover the pan with a tent of aluminum foil, and press it firmly against the sides.

Pierce a few slits in the foil as steam vents.

Roast for 2 to 2 and 1/2 hours, basting and turning the meat every 30 minutes or so.

After the first hour, remove the foil, and continue roasting uncovered. As the pan liquid evaporates, baste and turn more frequently. If the meat seems to be drying quickly, reduce the oven temperature. When the meat is very tender and nicely browned all over, and the pan juices have reduced by half, remove the pan from the oven and transfer the meat chunks to a warm platter.

Prepare the Sauce:
Mash all the vegetables in the roasting pan, using a potato masher or a big spoon.

Stir the pan juices around the sides and bottom of the pan to deglaze all the tasty caramelized bits.

Pour everything into a sturdy wire-mesh sieve set over a bowl or large measuring cup.

Press on the vegetables, releasing their juices, and force them through the sieve, scraping the pure into the bowl to thicken and flavor the sauce.

Skim the fat from the surface, and adjust the seasoning to taste.

When ready to serve, pour about half the sauce into a large skillet, along with the lamb pieces and any meat juices in the platter.

Heat slowly to a simmer, turning the meat over and over until it is heated through.

Return the meat to the platter, and drizzle over it the thickened sauce from the skillet.

Serve right away, passing the remaining sauce at the table. Makes 6 servings.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Buttermilk Panna Cotta

Buttermilk Panna Cotta
Panna Cotta A Latticello


2 cups buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons water
1 and 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
1/2 cup sugar
Assorted fresh or frozen berries, thawed (blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries)


Pour 2 tablespoons water into small bowl.

Sprinkle gelatin over.

Let stand until gelatin softens, about 10 minutes.

Lightly spray six 3/4-cup custard cups or ramekins with nonstick spray.

Heat cream, lemon peel, and sugar in medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until sugar dissolves.

Increase heat and bring just to low boil, stirring occasionally.

Add gelatin mixture.

Remove from heat.

Stir until gelatin dissolves.

Cool mixture to lukewarm, stirring often.

Stir in buttermilk and vanilla.

Divide mixture among prepared ramekins.

Refrigerate panna cotta until set, about 4 hours.

Using small sharp knife, cut around panna cotta in each ramekin.

Place plate atop each ramekin and invert, allowing panna cotta to settle onto plate.

Top with berries and serve chilled. Makes 6.

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:

Thieves Digging 1,000 Yard Tunnel Busted With A Few Feet Left To Go

Catania - March 28, 2012 - A gang of would-be thieves spent a month painstakingly digging a 1,000 yard tunnel with the aim of robbing a group of Italian jewellers only to be caught feet from their target.

The four members of the band were arrested after two of them were spotted popping out of a manhole in Acireale, a coastal town at the edge of Mount Etna in Sicily.

They had used picks and shovels to dig the narrow tunnel, equipping it with lighting powered by a generator.

As they excavated, they supported the winding tunnel with metal struts and wooden planks, in scenes reminiscent of The Great Escape.

The tunnel ran from near the town's Piazza San Sebastiano, where it was accessed via the manhole, to Via Davi', in the picturesque historic center of Acireale, a street well known for its jewellers.

Police said they were "just a few meters" from their target when they were discovered and were poised to break through the floor of a jewellers, probably at night.

Suspicions had been aroused when two members of the gang were seen emerging from a manhole clutching two-way radios which they were using to communicate with each other.

Detectives sent in mountain rescue and caving experts to explore the subterranean passage, which for part of its course ran along a sewer line.

They found chisels, hammers and other tools scattered on the floor of the tunnel, as well as a small generator to power the lights and hard hats equipped with torches. The equipment was taken as evidence and handed over to investigators in the nearby city of Catania.

The men were named as Mario Catalano, 43, Mario Lanzarotti, 48, Rosario Albicocco, 22, and Salvatore Grasso, 38.

Aside from enterprising thieves, tunnels are also favored by mafia gangsters on the run, who use them as a ready means of escape should the police raid their hide-outs.

In 2009 police arrested an alleged mafia boss who was hiding in an underground bunker equipped with an unusual means of escape; a skateboard to propel himself down a 200 yard secret tunnel.

Giuseppe Bastone's hideout was a 10ft by 10ft space underneath a house near Naples that was accessed through a hidden trapdoor underneath a stairway. The tunnel led to a shaft which emerged in a field.

The Great Escape Vs The Sicilian Escapade

Film: Locked up with "every escape artist in Germany", Bartlett immediately plans the greatest escape attempted: tunnels for breaking out 250 prisoners. The intent is to "confuse, confound and harass the enemy" to the point that as many troops and resources as possible will be wasted on finding POWs instead of being used on the front line.

Sicily: Holed up with three other imaginative Sicilians in an Acireale bar, Mario #1 plans the greatest heist: dig a long tunnel (rather than use the available sewer line) to reach several jewelry shops on a busy street. Mario #2, Rosario and Salvatore immediately begin to argue about who will do the most work. The intent is to burglarize...and "confuse, confound and humor" the town residents and law authorities.

Film: Teams are organized to tunnel, make civilian clothing, forge documents, procure contraband materials, and prevent guards from discovering their work.

Sicily: Organization...zero. No thought into procuring sewer maintenance worker clothes, and no objection to casually emerging from a manhole with two-way radios and smiles on their faces.

Film: The last part of the tunnel is completed on the night of the escape, but is 20 feet short of woods which are to provide cover. Danny nearly snaps from claustrophobia and delays those behind him, but is helped by Willie. Seventy-six escape. The End.

Sicily: The last part of the tunnel is completed, but is a few feet short of the jewelry shop. Mario #1, Mario #2, Rosario, and Salvatore begin celebrating the success of the 99.5% complete tunnel. All four are arrested. The Funny End.

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