09/24/08 Spaghetti with Sheep's Cheese and Black Pepper from OreganoFromItaly.com

"Chi vince ha sempre ragione." (He who wins is always right. Might makes right.) Welcome to another recipe edition from Angela's Organic Oregano Farm!

This week's Italian recipes:
  -Polenta con Salsa di Melanzane
  -Spaghetti con Cacio e Pepe
  -Spigola al Cartoccio

Here's wishing all our readers a healthy and productive fall season. Enjoy the recipes.

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Yours Truly,              
Angela Reina       

 Recipe: Polenta con Salsa di Melanzane

Polenta con Salsa di Melanzane
Polenta with Eggplant Sauce


2 cups boiling water
1/2 oz. dried mushrooms (any kind)
6 and 1/2 cups water
1 and 1/2 cups polenta or yellow cornmeal
1 red pepper, cut in strips
2 and 1/2 cups canned tomatoes, crushed
2 cups cubed eggplant
1/2 cups chopped onions
1 tablespoon olive oil


In a small bowl, combine the boiling water and mushrooms. Let soak until soft.

Drain, reserve the soaking liquid.

In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil.

Add eggplant, cook for 5 minutes or until browned and soft.

Stir in mushrooms, peppers, and onions; stir constantly.

Pour in the tomatoes and reserved mushroom liquid; bring to a boil.

Reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes, or until sauce is thickened.

Meanwhile, prepare the polenta by bringing the 6 and 1/2 cups water to a boil in a 3-quart saucepan.

Slowly whisk in the polenta or cornmeal.

Reduce the heat to low; cook; stirring often, for 30 to 35 minutes, or until thick and smooth.

Pour the polenta onto a large serving platter and keep warm until sauce is ready.

Spoon the eggplant sauce on top. Sprinkle with parsley. Serves 2.

That's it!

 Recipe: Spaghetti con Cacio e Pepe

Spaghetti con Cacio e Pepe
Spaghetti with Sheep's Cheese and Black Pepper


14 oz (400 grams) Spaghetti (cooked 'al dente')
5 oz (150 grams) Pecorino Romano cheese (freshly grated)
1/3 oz (10 grams) Black pepper (roughly crushed)


Pour the cheese into a large bowl.

Sprinkle with all the crushed pepper you have prepared.

Mix the cheese with the pepper. The pepper must be evenly distributed.

Drain the spaghetti but remember to leave some water (the spaghetti should look visibly wet). Drain the spaghetti into a large pan and keep some of the boiling water in case you need it at a later stage.

Put the spaghetti into the large bowl where you have previously put the cheese and the pepper.

Stir energetically in order to coat all the spaghetti. At this stage, the cheese should melt in contact with the hot spaghetti and the water you left in the spaghetti will help to create a nice creamy coating.

If you think the spaghetti coating is becoming too dry, you can add a half ladle of the water you saved before.

When you prepare this dish, be sure your guests are ready around the table so you can serve it immediately. Another tip is to preheat the plates; this will help the spaghetti to remain hot. Serves 4.

That's it!

 Recipe: Spigola al Cartoccio

Spigola al Cartoccio
Sea Bass Wrapped in Cooking Foil


1 sea bass about 1.1 lb (500 grams)
A small handful of capers
4-5 anchovy fillets
1 lemon
Some extra virgin olive oil
A couple of potatoes
Salt and black ground pepper for seasoning
A small handful of flat leaf parsley (roughly chopped)


When buying the fish, ask for it to be gutted and scaled, but do not remove head and tail. At home, rinse the fish under fresh water and then pat it dry with kitchen paper.

Cut a large piece of foil so that you can wrap your fish later. In the center of the foil put a layer of greaseproof paper, roughly of the same length as your fish. Put some drops of olive oil on the greaseproof paper.

Spread the olive oil all around the greaseproof paper (use your fingers or a little brush).

Slice the potatoes (thin slices) and lay the slices as shown in the picture. Then, drizzle some olive oil over the potato slices. The potato helps to absorb part of the liquid that may form in the bottom during the cooking.

Make three diagonal cuts onto the top side of the fish.

Brush the inside of the belly with olive oil.

Stuff the belly with the anchovy fillets. Do not season the inside of the fish belly with salt because the anchovy fillets are already salted. However, feel free to season with black pepper if you wish to do so.

Put half of the capers inside the gills.

Put the remaining capers inside the fish belly.

Next, cut three thin slices from the lemon and put each slice into each of the cuts you previously made.

Drizzle some olive oil over the fish.

Season the outside with salt and black pepper.

Close the wrap, seal it folding the sides and put it onto an oven tray. Pre-heat the oven to 400 F. (200 C). When the oven is hot, put the tray into the oven and cook the fish for about 30-35 minutes.

Once the fish is cooked, drizzle with some good olive oil and sprinkle with parsley (the fish may be served on the wrap). Serves 1 (1 wrap per person).

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:

Sicily Mayor Offers $1.47 Homes

Palermo - September 13, 2008 - A small town in western Sicily has come up with a revolutionary solution to solve its property problems.

They are offering houses in the town, which sits between two rivers, for just a single euro ($1.44).

The idea is the brainchild of mayor Vittorio Sgarbi, convinced it is the only way to revitalize its crumbling historic heart.

Most of the villas were damaged by an earthquake 40 years ago and since then, much of the local population moved out.

"There are 3,700 houses owned by the council, almost all in the old town, that are in danger of falling down, of crumbling and dying," Mr Sgarbi explained.

There is a catch - those who buy will be obliged to sympathetically renovate the old houses without changing their style within two years at some significant cost.

Mr Sgarbi initially offered the houses free of charge, to residents of Salemi who agreed to do the renovations.

But then, keen to raise awareness of his cause, he gave the first to football boss Jose Mourinho's new employer, Massimo Moratti, chairman of Inter Milan.

"We're thinking of people who have the sensibility and economic resources to embark on this adventure," Mr Sgarbi said.

"In exchange for a token payment of one euro we will offer them one of these houses and ask that they undertake to restore them within two years while respecting their original characteristics."

A former art critic, who once defined himself as an anarchist, Mr Sgarbi was a senior official in the culture ministry during a previous government led by current Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Among those said to be keen is former Genesis star Peter Gabriel.

Mr Sgarbi is delighted by the level of interest, saying: "We have had a lot of interest and people are already booking up to come down here".


At a $1.47 a home, rest assured you're not going to have the "De Medici" of Florence for neighbors.

"There is a catch - those who buy will be obliged to sympathetically renovate the old houses without changing their style within two years at some significant cost." Hmmmm...There is absolutely nothing sympathetic about renovating a Sicilian house using local Sicilian masons, builders and architects. Renovation and rebuilding is estimated to cost you 80,000 Euros (114,000 USD), although realistically, the so-called "significant cost" could be as high as 425,000 Euros (600,000 USD).

When renovating a property in Sicily whether it is a farmhouse, townhouse, dungeon or chicken shack you will need to consider:

- the reprehensible and mobster-like building costs,
- the costs of the conniving, sinuous and filthy Sicilian architect (there will usually be a charge for initial plans and negotiating with his rat-bastard and vindictive relative who works in the local Comune, Town Council),
- IVA (Italian VAT or tax),
- and additional smaller charges such as changing the use of the property from its agricultural classification to domestic dwelling and/or maintenance for the architect's car. This can be between 1,500 and 4,000 Euros (depending on what model Mercedes or BMW he drives).

You should always routinely check the plans during the purchase process as many have discovered additional space such as cellars being taken over by adorable next door neighbors who knock down walls to expand the space for their wine and sausage storage.

It is important to visualize what you are trying to achieve when embarking on the godforsaken project and translate this to that architect. Many problems arise when people lose sight of their initial goals. Constantly changing plans is going to be put smiles on those sinister Sicilian masons and require multiple visits to that architect's filthy relative at the Comune to agree modifications.

Remember: "Location, location, location" to Sicilian realtors means:

"Where do we go for breakfast, lunch and dinner?"

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