10/01/08 Octopus with Potatoes from OreganoFromItaly.com

"A chi dai il dito si prende anche il braccio." (Give them an inch and they'll take a mile. If you give them the finger they will take an arm.) Welcome to another recipe edition from Angela's Organic Oregano Farm!

This week's Italian recipes:
  -Focaccia al Formaggio
  -Octopus with Potatoes
  -Petti di Pollo con Aceto Balsamico

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

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Yours Truly,              
Angela Reina       

 Recipe: Focaccia al Formaggio

Focaccia al Formaggio
Cheese Focaccia


Stracchino cheese or buffalo mozzarella
Extra virgin olive oil
Plain white flour


To make the process easy, I would suggest using a bread machine to work the dough. Add 250 ml (just a bit less than 1/2 pint) of tepid water to the bread machine bucket. Alternatively, you can work the dough by hand, kneading for about 10 minutes.

Then, add 3 tbs (45 ml) of extra virgin olive oil.

Weigh 1.1 lb (500 grams) of plain flour.

Add the flour to the bread machine bucket.

Add about 1 level tsp (8 grams) of salt. Now, knead the dough with the bread machine. Most of the bread machines have a specific program for "kneading". You can also vary the kneading time modifying the program as you wish. I suggest kneading the dough for about 15 minutes.

The final dough should look smooth and elastic.

Wrap the dough into a cling film and let the dough to rest for about 40 minutes.

When the 40 minutes has passed, cut the dough in four parts and make four balls (you need two balls for one tray). Take the first ball and using a rolling pin, make a layer as thin as you can and big enough to cover your tray.

Brush the surface of your tray with olive oil and cover it with your first layer. Use a shallow tray, rectangular or circular it doesn't matter. For this focaccia recipe we had used an oven tray 33 cm x 23 cm (13" x 9").

Then, add the cheese to the top of the first layer.

About the cheese. Tradition requires you to use fresh "crescenza" cheese, a white soft cheese which is very popular in Italy. Alternatively, you can try using soft "stracchino" cheese or buffalo mozzarella.

Complete the tray until your cheese is finished. You should have the cheese evenly distributed on all of the surface. For this tray we had used 210 oz (80 grams) of "crescenza" cheese.

With the second ball prepare another layer that you will use to cover the first layer and the cheese.

If the layers overlap the tray, before sealing the outer border try to cut the excess part.

Then seal by rolling and gently pressing the outer border with your fingers.

Also, brush the borders with olive oil.

Now, pinch the top layer with your fingers. You should make holes about 1 cm wide.

The tray is ready for the oven.

Meanwhile you have pre-heated the oven at 425 F. (220 C). Put the tray on the top shelf and cook for about 20 minutes or until the surface is golden brown and crispy.

Once the focaccia is cooked, sprinkle few drops of olive oil on its top and now enjoy the focaccia with your friends. Serves 4.

That's it!

 Recipe: Polpo con Patate

Polpo con Patate
Octopus with Potatoes


2.2 lb - 3.3 lb (1 - 1.5 kg) Octopus
4 potatoes (medium size)
1 carrot (medium size)
1 celery stalk (medium size)
Half onion
8 fluid oz (230 ml) white wine (a full glass)
A small handful of flat leaf parsley (finely chopped)
Salt and extra virgin olive oil for seasoning


Ask for the octopus to be cleaned so that at home you only need to give it a good rinse under fresh water.

When the octopus is ready for cooking, put it into a large pan.

Add the carrot, the celery and the half onion to the pan and then pour the wine over.

Fill the pan with water to cover.

Put the pan onto the cooker and boil until the octopus is tender. A rough guide is to boil for 1 hour for each kilogram of octopus, but this generally applies only if you have properly tenderized the octopus meat before boiling.

Do not forget to season the water with salt before the boiling starts (just a couple of pinches).

Halfway through the boiling time you can turn the octopus over and continue boiling. When you think it is time to remove the octopus from the pan, try to cut one of the tentacles with a knife. If the tentacle is tender and easy to cut, then turn the cooker off and let the octopus cool down enough to handle it.

During the boiling, the octopus skin will turn to a purple color. Remove the main loose bits with your hands, in order to uncover most of the white meat.

Now, the octopus is ready for the final stages.

While the octopus is boiling, peel the potatoes.

Put the potatoes into a pan and boil them for about 15-20 minutes or until they are tender. You can use the microwave if you prefer; this way the potatoes will contain less water.

When the potatoes are ready, slice them.

Chop the parsley.

Now, that everything is ready, chop the octopus into pieces. You can cut the tentacles into small discs.

Add the sliced potatoes and chopped parsley.

Use a generous sprinkling of extra virgin olive oil. Some people also like to add a few drops of vinegar, but this is to your personal taste.

Finally, season with salt and serve it. Serves 5 as a side dish.

That's it!

 Recipe: Petti di Pollo con Aceto Balsamico

Petti di Pollo con Aceto Balsamico
Chicken Breasts with Balsamic Vinegar


4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 red onion sliced
4 cloves of garlic chopped
One 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes
1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
1 tbs of dried basil
2 tbs of extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp of fresh ground black pepper


Saute onion and garlic in olive oil for about 5 minutes in a large skillet. Remove and set aside.

Fry chicken breasts until browned on both sides.

Add garlic and onions back into pan.

Add tomatoes.

Sprinkle with basil, salt and pepper

Pour balsamic over chicken.

Cover and cook for about 30 minutes.

Plate chicken and top with tomato and onion mixture. Serves 2-3.

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:

Italy Train Company Sued Over Flea Bites

Canicatti' - September 17, 2008 - A female passenger on Wednesday said she had started legal proceedings against Italian train company Trenitalia after allegedly being bitten by fleas during a rail journey.

The 62-year-old woman said she was traveling on a Rome-Agrigento train in Sicily on Saturday when she began to feel itchy and noticed a swelling on her arm. After arriving at her destination the woman went to hospital, where doctors said the bites would clear up within three days.

But Trenitalia on Wednesday disputed the woman's claims. "No insect or parasite was found aboard the Rome-Agrigento service of September 13," Trenitalia said, explaining that the carriage in question had been immediately sealed up and sent to Rome for tests following the incident.

"The entire compartment underwent a careful search, which included dismantling the seats."

"No form of passenger compensation is foreseen when no unpleasant insects are found on board the train," it added.

But the company said that it would "in any case" soon begin a new disinfestation program approved by Italy's Higher Health Institute. It is also planning to overhaul laws that permit domestic animals and large dogs on board its trains.

This is not the first time Trenitalia has been in bug trouble.

The company vowed to clean up its trains in November 2005 after a series of embarrassing incidents, which included passengers storming off an international train from France to Italy after finding bugs crawling all over their skin.

In October last year three women sued the company after discovering their compartment was "hopping with lice" on a night train between southern Italy and Rome.

Oh, excuse me, you "figlio di puttana". What type of flea is considered pleasant?

"No insect or parasite was found aboard the Rome-Agrigento service of September 13," Trenitalia said, explaining that the carriage in question had been immediately sealed up and sent to Rome for tests following the incident. "The entire compartment underwent a careful search, which included dismantling the seats."

"Cornuto", talk about extremes! Was this for a check for fleas who acted unpleasant or to investigate if this woman was smuggling top secret defense plans to a goat farm in Agrigento?

"In October last year three women sued the company after discovering their compartment was "hopping with lice" on a night train between southern Italy and Rome." Once again, there was no need for passenger compensation for the lice were hopping (obviously, with joy). Therefore, they were determined as being pleasant.

Here's a quick and useful travel tip the next time you desire to visit the Italy countryside by "choo-choo" train:

Bring a flea collar (for the unpleasant ones) and say a quick prayer at the train station chapel.

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