09/25/13 Walnut Pesto

"Mangiare la foglia." (Eating a leaf. Understanding the hidden truth.) Welcome to another recipe edition from Angela's Organic Oregano Farm!

This week's Italian recipes:
  -Walnut Pesto
  -Braised Short Ribs with Mixed-Herb Gremolata and Gorgonzola Polenta
  -Chocolate-Almond Cookies

"Buona stagione!" How is your fall season coming along? We know, it's tough letting go of beautiful summer days. Thanks again for finding the time to read your recipe newsletter. I look forward to connecting further in a couple of days.

Thanks again for reading!

Yours Truly,              
Angela Reina       

 Recipe: Walnut Pesto

Walnut Pesto
Pesto di Noce


1 and 1/2 cups packed basil
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup toasted walnuts
1/4 cup finely grated Pecorino cheese
1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano cheese
2 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, chopped
2 cloves garlic
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Process basil, olive oil, walnuts, Pecorino, Parmigiano, tomatoes, and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped.

Season with salt and pepper. Makes about 1 and 1/2 cups.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Braised Short Ribs with Mixed-Herb Gremolata and Gorgonzola Polenta

Braised Short Ribs with Mixed-Herb Gremolata and Gorgonzola Polenta
Costole Brasate con Erba Gremolata e Gorgonzola Polenta


For the Mixed-Herb Gremolata:
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
3 tablespoons finely grated lemon peel
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 and 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 and 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme

For the Gorgonzola Polenta:
5 cups (or more) chicken broth
1 and 3/4 cups polenta (coarse cornmeal)
3/4 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese (about 4 ounces)
1/3 cup whipping cream

For the Short Ribs:
8 to 9 pounds meaty beef short ribs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup (about) vegetable oil
Two 750-ml bottles Cabernet Sauvignon
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons all purpose flour


Prepare the Mixed-Herb Gremolata:
Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl.

Prepare the Gorgonzola Polenta:
Bring 5 cups chicken broth to a boil in a heavy 4-quart saucepan.

Gradually add the polenta, whisking constantly.

Return mixture to a boil.

Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until polenta is tender, stirring frequently and adding more chicken broth by 1/4 cupfuls if polenta is too thick, about 10 minutes.

Remove from heat.

Add the Gorgonzola cheese and cream.

Stir until cheese is melted.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Prepare the Short Ribs:
Arrange ribs in a single layer in a 15 x 10 x 2-inch glass baking dish.

Mix rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.

Sprinkle all over ribs.

Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before continuing.

Preheat oven to 375?F.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in heavy wide ovenproof pot over medium-high heat.

Working in batches, add the ribs to pot and cook until browned on all sides, about 8-10 minutes per batch, adding more oil to the pot by tablespoonfuls as needed.

Transfer ribs to a large bowl.

Pour off drippings from pot and discard.

Add wine to pot and bring to simmer, scraping up any browned bits.

Return ribs and any accumulated juices to pot.

Bring to a boil.

Cover, transfer to oven and braise until meat is very tender and almost falling off the bones, about 2 hours.

Bring to a simmer before continuing.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the ribs to a large bowl.

Cover tightly to keep warm.

Skim any fat from top of braising liquid.

Boil liquid until reduced to 2 generous cups, about 20 minutes.

Mix 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons flour with fork in small bowl until well blended.

Whisk butter mixture into reduced braising liquid.

Whisk over medium-high heat until sauce thickens very slightly, about 2 minutes.

Divide Gorgonzola polenta among the plates.

Top with ribs and sauce.

Sprinkle with mixed-Herb gremolata and serve. Makes 8 servings.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Chocolate-Almond Cookies

Chocolate-Almond Cookies


2 tbsp unsalted butter, for greasing
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 and 3/4 cups finely ground, plus 2 tbsp roughly chopped, almonds
1 and 1/2 cups plus 2 tbsp flour
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp chocolate chips
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup Strega or Galliano liqueur
1/3 cup coffee, at room temperature


Heat oven to 325?F.

Grease 2 parchment-lined baking sheets with butter and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together baking powder and 1 tbsp lukewarm water until dissolved, about 20-30 seconds.

Combine ground and chopped almonds, flour, sugar, chocolate chips, cocoa powder, olive oil, and salt in a large bowl.

With a wooden spoon, vigorously stir in the baking powder mixture, liqueur, and coffee to form a wet dough.

Divide the dough into 1-oz portions.

Using your hands, roll dough portions into balls and transfer to prepared baking sheets spaced about 1-inch apart.

Bake until set, about 30 minutes.

Transfer cookies to racks and let cool to firm before serving. Makes about 34 cookies.

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:

Once Again, Italy Promises To Repair Its Unrepairable Justice System

Rome - May 14, 2012 - Her family name means "little severe one", and Paola Severino means to live up to it in her crusade against judicial inefficiency which is helping to gag Italy's chronically weak economy.

Seemingly endless legal delays such as in settling commercial disputes are estimated to cost up to one percentage point in Italian GDP growth and the justice minister wants to tell hesitant investors that she is serious about solving the problem.

"There is much to be done and we will forge ahead," Severino, the first woman to hold the justice portfolio, told reporters in an interview.

Severino is already setting up specialist business tribunals and wants to crack down on the huge number of appeals which are clogging up the legal system.

With this message she is heading to the United States as part of an international "road show" to convince foreign companies considering investing in Italy that the government of Prime Minister Mario Monti will speed up the snail-paced system of civil justice.

This week 63-year-old Severino, who was a top lawyer and legal scholar before Monti recruited her for his technocrat government, takes her pitch that Italy can be trusted to the United Nations and to investors at the New York Stock Exchange.

"If a company has certainty about how laws will be interpreted by judges and if it can count on shorter times for court cases...it will invest more and launch more long-term projects, helping the economy," she said.

Studies by the World Bank show that it takes 1,210 days (more than three years) to recover a claim in Italy compared with 394 days in Germany. The average costs paid by businesses in Italy usually amount to about 30 percent of the value of the dispute, compared with 17 percent in France.

In 2010 the European Court of Human rights ruled against Italy 53 times for violating the European Convention's article protecting the right to a fair trial, and 44 of the those condemnations were for the excessive length of proceedings.

Severino believes Italy's entire legal culture needs to change. "Italians today go into litigation too much and it lasts too long," she said in the interview.

Italy is the fourth most litigious of 38 European countries, with 4,768 disputes per 100,000 inhabitants. About 2.8 million new cases were brought last year alone.

"We want to convince people that it is useful to have short trials, quick settlements and immediate results," she said, pointing to studies that show than an efficient justice system is closely related to a country's overall economic performance.

Italy has a backlog of 5.5 million civil cases, which Severino says will have to be tackled by "an enormous shovel".

A simple dispute among neighbors about who is responsible for the maintenance of a dividing wall, for example, can take years to settle. The average time to settle a civil case is more than seven years and a criminal case nearly five.

Severino said the Italian justice system needs "a filter" to cut the number of cases allowed to move on to the appeals level after the court of first instance.

"The whole process is slowed up at the appeals level, it is an enormous bottleneck," she said. "We have to get to the point where some cases are not permitted to enter the appeals process in the first place," she said.

Another deterrent to foreign investment in Italy is organized crime, especially in the south, home to groups such as the Sicilian Mafia, the Calabrian 'Ndrangheta, and the Neapolitan Camorra.

Severino said a growing number of companies in the south are now refusing to pay protection money to organized crime and government programs that have confiscated properties from mob groups have greatly weakened their influence.

"If you asked people in Sicily 50 years ago if the Mafia existed, most people would have said no out of fear. Today Sicilians would say yes, and it is something we have to rid ourselves of," she said.

But she acknowledged with a easy laugh that changing Italy's legal system will not come quickly. "I am no miracle worker," she said.

Hmmm...That's something. It's not everyday you see the justice minister of a country go on a "road show" and try to put on a convincing performance. "Cavolo", the real performance will be watching foreign investors and the United Nations try to keep a straight face.

Minister Severino: "There is much to be done and we will forge ahead."

"Now, all of you. Stop drooling and listen...."

- Italy has 9 million trials pending (5.5 million civil cases, 3.4 million penal cases) and 420,000 lawyers: "We honestly don't know how this all started and got out of hand. The chicken or the egg. The trial or the lawyer. We don't know what came first! Regardless, we're going to reprogram the Italian Matrix to make it stop hatching lawyers.

- Italian juries are not sequestered: "We will ask jurors to stop having lunch with lawyers during the trial. If they must, they shall only be allowed to discuss the pasta specials of the day. We will also ban journalists from the cafes where jurors and lawyers go for coffee during court breaks...to discuss the trial...and follow media coverage."

- According to an Euromedia poll, 16% percent of Italians fully trust the justice system compared to 28% two years prior. Italian civil rights groups are intense in their criticism of what they view as kangaroo courts: "One of our main priorities is to raise the animal court level to that of a monkey."

- In the USA, federal judges must study a 637-page manual in order to be able to evaluate forensic evidence: "We will ask Italian judges to at least download the app and take a glance at it on weekends and holidays."

- Prosecutors are connected to the judiciary. They are not elected or appointed and lead entire investigations: "Si, many criminal investigations in Italy are botched by prosecutors who are judges that have NO background in criminal investigation, police work, or forensic science. But we realize we need more than Moe, Larry, or Curly in a nice Italian suit to tell the police what to look for, where to go and what evidence to analyze, contaminate and throw away."

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