08/26/09 Pumpkin and Pecan Semifreddo with Caramel Sauce

"Il buon giorno si vede dal mattino." (The good day can be seen from the morning. The good person is evident from the beginning.) Welcome to another recipe edition from Angela's Organic Oregano Farm!

This week's Italian recipes:
  -Polenta and Pancetta with Fontina
  -Pennette with Sausage, Red Onion, and Lentils
  -Pumpkin and Pecan Semifreddo with Caramel Sauce

Enjoy your recipes and the rest of the summer season!

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Yours Truly,              
Angela Reina       

 Recipe: Polenta and Pancetta with Fontina

Polenta and Pancetta with Fontina
Polenta con Pancetta e Fontina


1/2 cup finely chopped pancetta (about 4 ounces)
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
5 cups chicken broth
1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
1 cup polenta (coarse cornmeal)*
1 cup (packed) grated Fontina cheese (about 3 ounces)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


Saute chopped pancetta in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp, about 8 minutes.

Using slotted spoon, transfer to bowl.

Pour off all but 2 tablespoons drippings.

Add onion and garlic to drippings in skillet and saute until golden brown, about 2 minutes.

Add chicken broth, corn, and pancetta; bring to boil.

Gradually add cornmeal, whisking constantly.

Cook until polenta is soft and thick, stirring frequently, about 20 minutes.

Add Fontina and Parmigiano cheeses, stirring until melted, about 2 minutes.

Stir in chopped parsley.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Transfer to bowl and serve hot. Makes 6 side-dish servings

Note: Available at Italian markets, natural foods stores, and some supermarkets. If unavailable, substitute 1 cup of regular yellow cornmeal, and cook mixture for about 10 minutes.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Pennette with Sausage, Red Onion, and Lentils

Pennette with Sausage, Red Onion, and Lentils
Pennette alla Salsiccia, Cipolla Rossa, e Lenticchie


1/2 cup dried lentils

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 and 1/2 cups chopped red onion
4 Italian sweet sausages (about 13 ounces), casings removed, crumbled
3/4 cup dry red wine

12 ounces small pasta (such as pennette)
3/4 cup (packed) grated Pecorino Romano cheese (about 2 ounces)
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
Additional extra-virgin olive oil
Additional grated Pecorino Romano cheese


Cook lentils in small saucepan of boiling water until tender, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes.

Drain well; set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat.

Add onion and sausage; saute until sausage is light brown, about 8 minutes.

Add wine and cook until almost all liquid evaporates, about 2 minutes.

Stir in cooked lentils and cook until mixture is heated through, about 3 minutes.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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

Drain well, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking water.

Return cooked pasta to pot.

Add sausage-lentil mixture, 3/4 cup cheese, and parsley and toss to coat.

Add enough reserved pasta cooking water to moisten.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve, passing additional olive oil and grated cheese. Makes 6 first-course or 4 main-course servings.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Pumpkin and Pecan Semifreddo with Caramel Sauce

Pumpkin and Pecan Semifreddo with Caramel Sauce
Zucca e Noci Pecan Semifreddo con Salsa di Caramello


For the Semifreddo:
1 cup gingersnap cookie crumbs
2 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

3/4 cup canned pure pumpkin
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 and 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup

4 large egg whites
1/2 cup pecans, toasted, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup English toffee bits

For the Caramel Sauce:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt

Whipped cream


Prepare the Semifreddo:
Line 9 and 1/4 by 5 and 1/4 by 3-inch metal loaf pan with plastic wrap.

Blend gingersnap crumbs and brown sugar in processor until combined.

With machine running, slowly add butter; process until moist crumbs form.

Press crumb mixture onto bottom and 2 inches up sides of prepared loaf pan.

Chill 10 minutes.

Whisk pumpkin, honey, and spices in large bowl to blend. Set aside.

Stir 1 cup sugar, 1/4 cup water, and corn syrup in heavy medium saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves.

Increase heat and boil syrup without stirring until candy thermometer registers 248F, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, using electric mixer, beat egg whites in medium bowl to soft peaks.

Gradually beat in hot sugar syrup; beat until mixture is cool, about 7 minutes.

Fold 1/3 of egg white mixture into pumpkin-spice mixture to lighten.

Fold in remaining egg white mixture.

Fold in pecans and toffee bits.

Spoon mixture into prepared crust.

Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until frozen, about 8 hours. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Keep frozen.)

Prepare the Caramel Sauce:
Stir sugar, 1/4 cup water, and corn syrup in heavy medium saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves.

Increase heat and boil without stirring until syrup is deep amber color, occasionally brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush and swirling pan, about 8 minutes.

Remove from heat.

Whisk in 1/2 cup cream, butter, and then creme fraiche (mixture will bubble).

Stir in vanilla and salt. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Stir over medium heat to rewarm before serving.)

Wipe sides of loaf pan with hot wet cloth.

Invert semifreddo onto platter; remove plastic.

Cut into 1-inch-thick slices and serve with warm caramel sauce and whipped cream. Makes 8 servings.

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:

102-Year-Old Woman Vows To Make Her Relatives Pay

Rome - January 5, 2009 - A woman who will celebrate her 102nd birthday this week has pledged not to give up on a legal squabble with relatives over her great grandfather's inheritance despite the court case being delayed until 2010.

Amalia Cuccioletti, who will blow out 102 candles on Tuesday, turned to the courts in 1997, when she was 90, to sue relatives after they partitioned up her ancestor's land and real estate without her consent.

A chronic lack of staff at the local Macerata court meant that the case was delayed until March 2010, by which time Cuccioletti would be 103. The court has twice attempted to pull the case forward in the wake of publicity surrounding Cuccioletti's old age, but has so far been unsuccessful.

Cuccioletti's lawyer said Monday that his client "has no intention of giving up" and that she had faith in a recent pledge by Justice Minister Angelino Alfano to reform the country's judicial system.

"She has promised her relatives and friends that she will arrive to the end of the process even if it takes another ten years," said lawyer Giacinto Canzona.

Cuccioletti and her own heirs are meanwhile accumulating a tidy sum in compensation fees for the delay, which the Supreme Court has recently increased from 500 euros to 1,000 euros for each year that a process is put off. A 2001 law also forsees further damages if a case is delayed for longer than three years.

"Cacchio", that's it! This Italian grandmother has declared war...and she's going to win!

What went through her relative's minds when they tried to scheme this?
What made them think they could take on the natural forces of an Italian grandmother?
Didn't they know she's all-knowing?

Unfocused and incoherent relatives in 1997:
"Hey! Vaffanculo Gino! This is ridiculous!"
"How much longer does she have?! She's 90! It's just a matter of a few months, maybe a year!"

Twelve years later, she is still looking up at every crucifix in every room she enters of her house (including the cellar) and chanting the words, "Oh, Signore mio, give me the strength to make it through this...", over and over.

"She has promised her relatives and friends that she will arrive to the end of the process even if it takes another ten years," And she will arrive to the end. The amusing question is, "how many of her ungrateful relatives will?"

After all, the "malocchio" (Evil Eye) goes a loooong way.

"Only In Italy" Subscribe for free and day in and day out, 5 days a week, you'll have laughter, tears and intelligent commentary all blaring at you from your stupid little monitor. Click Here to Subscribe!

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