12/08/10 Fontina Cheese Risotto Cakes

"La cucina piccola fal la casa grande." (A small kitchen makes the house big.) Welcome to another recipe edition from Angela's Organic Oregano Farm!

This week's Italian recipes:
  -Cream of Cauliflower and Mussel Soup
  -Celery and Pesto Risotto
  -Fontina Cheese Risotto Cakes

"Buon giorno" folks! Hope all your Holidays plans are coming along smoothly and above all, with understanding and meaning! Enjoy this week's recipes.

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Yours Truly,              
Angela Reina       

 Recipe: Cream of Cauliflower and Mussel Soup

Cream of Cauliflower and Mussel Soup
Crema di Cavolfiore e Cozze


2 and 1/4 lbs (1 kg) mussels, scrubbed and beards removed
1 small cauliflower, cut into florets
1 oz (25 grams) butter
1 shallot, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flatleaf parsley
Juice of 1 lemon, strained
3 and 1/2 fl oz (100 ml) double cream
Salt and pepper
Croutons, to serve (optional)


Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the shallot and cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes.

Add the parsley and lemon juice.

Get rid of any mussels with broken shells or that do not shut immediately when tapped.

Add the mussels to the pan and cook for about 5 minutes until the mussel shells open.

Strain the mussels, reserving the cooking liquid.

Discard any mussels that remain closed and remove the rest from their shells.

Strain the cooking liquid into a sauce pan, add 1 and 3/4 pints (1 liter) of water and bring to a boil.

Add the cauliflower florets and cook for another 15 minutes.

Transfer the mixture to a food processor and process to a puree.

Pour into a clean pan, add the cream and mussels and season with salt and pepper.

Reheat for another 5 minutes, pour into a soup tureen and serve with croutons if you like. Serves 4.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Celery and Pesto Risotto

Celery and Pesto Risotto
Sedano e Pesto Risotto


2 medium celery roots (celeriac) with leafy tops
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
1 and 1/2 cups chopped leek (white and pale green parts only)
3/4 cup Arborio or medium-grain white rice
3 cups (about) chicken broth
1 cup grated Parmigiano cheese, divided


Place 1 and 1/2 cups (packed) celery root leaves and olive oil in mini-processor.

Blend until leaves are minced.

Season pesto to taste with salt and pepper.

Peel celery roots.

Cut into 1/3-inch thick slices.

Cut slices into enough 1/3-inch cubes to measure 2 cups.

Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium-low heat.

Stir in celery root cubes and leek.

Cover; cook until celery root is tender but not brown, stirring often, about 10 minutes.

Mix in rice; stir 1 minute.

Add broth; increase heat and bring to boil.

Reduce heat and simmer until rice is tender and risotto is creamy, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes.

Mix in 3/4 cup cheese.

Season risotto to taste with salt and pepper.

Divide risotto between bowls; swirl some pesto on top.

Serve with remaining cheese and pesto. Makes 2 main-course servings.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Fontina Cheese Risotto Cakes

Fontina Cheese Risotto Cakes
Torte di Fontina e Risotto


3 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons Arborio rice
1/4 cup dry white wine
6 tablespoons grated Parmigiano cheese
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter

1 and 1/2 cups Italian breadcrumbs, divided
1/2 cup (packed) coarsely grated Fontina cheese (about 2 ounces)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1 large egg yolk

2 large eggs
Olive oil (for frying)

Additional grated Parmigiano cheese
Fresh chives


Bring 3 cups broth to simmer in small saucepan.

Reduce heat to very low; cover and keep warm.

Heat olive oil in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat.

Add onion; saute until translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add rice; stir 1 minute.

Add wine; stir until absorbed, about 30 seconds.

Add broth, 1/3 cup at a time, and simmer until rice is just tender and risotto is creamy, allowing broth to be absorbed before adding more, and stirring often, about 18 minutes.

Remove from heat.

Mix in 6 tablespoons Parmigiano cheese and butter.

Season generously with salt and pepper.

Spread risotto in 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan and cool completely.

Mix 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, Fontina cheese, parsley, chopped chives, and 1 egg yolk into risotto.

Shape into 1 and 1/4-inch balls; flatten to 2-inch rounds.

Arrange on rimmed baking sheet. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Preheat oven to 250F.

Set another rimmed baking sheet in oven.

Beat 2 eggs in shallow bowl to blend.

Place 1 cup breadcrumbs in another shallow bowl.

Dip risotto cakes into beaten egg, then into breadcrumbs to coat.

Pour enough olive oil into large skillet to coat bottom; heat oil over medium-high heat.

Working in batches, saute risotto cakes until crisp and brown, about 2 and 1/2 minutes per side.

Transfer to baking sheet in oven.

Serve risotto cakes sprinkled with cheese and garnished with chives. Makes 10 servings.

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:

Bakers Vs Farmers: "Stop Baking Bread!"

Rome - September 28, 2010 - The Italian National Bakers Federation (FIPPA) on Tuesday voiced its opposition to the decision by Economy Minister Giulio Tremonti to authorize farmers to make and sell bread.

"We have nothing against farmers entering our sector but only if it is under equal conditions and subject to the same rules," FIPPA Chairman Luca Vecchiato said.

"But from one day to the next we find ourselves having to compete with a category which pays more than three times less tax than we do," he added.

"Making matters even worse is the way they can sell their products, at farmers markets which already receive vast incentives and have drawn criticism from various retailer associations," Vecchiato said.

According to the FIPPA chief, "the decree signed by Minister Tremonti sets the stage for a market free-for-all, where the ones who will lose out will be the 350,000 people employed in over 26,000 artisan bakeries".

In a reply to the complaint, the Coldiretti farmers union said that the bread made and sold by farmers will be exclusively produced using domestic flour "while over half the bread on the market today is made using foreign flour without any indication of its origin provided to consumers".

Tremonti's move to expand the number of farm-related products farmers can transform into a final product and sell, Coldiretti added, "is very important because it allows us to recover authentic ingredients, types of bread and production techniques which otherwise would risk extinction".

"This is also an opportunity to boost the consumption of a product which is essential to the Mediterranean diet, the purchase of which statistics show fell a further 2.4% in the first half of 2010," Coldiretti said.

Bread has been one of the fundamental foods of our tables for as long as Italian history has been recorded. We take it quite seriously. The crucial criteria for the perfect Italian loaf is that it is unsweetened, yeast-leavened, and baked fresh into a thick oval loaf with tapered ends. And the flour has to be exclusively "Made in Italy". Just the slightest imperfection could push our cousin, Maurizio, to almost change the expression on his rigid sunburned face at the dinner table (a very quiet guy, doesn't utter a sound).

"But from one day to the next we find ourselves having to compete with a category which pays more than three times less tax than we do..." That's a lot of bull "cazzate" because Italians farmers lose three times more than bakers do in any given year!

Does a baker have to deal with a sheep that wakes up one morning and says to himself, "That's it, I've had enough of this, vaffanculo!", and run off the side of a cliff with a few faithful idiots close behind? "Cacchio", you know how difficult it is to write that off? You never hear about a bakery employee throwing himself in an oven with other employees following suit, do you?

And what's wrong with hard working farmers baking and selling bread? Can you blame our brothers? They've been screaming over the fact that sub-standard versions of our favorite foods are being imported and that consumers like you are being misled by the branding. Take a look at 'Brenner Pass' which runs under the Alps. That's where the "faccia di culo" truckers bring in milk, meat, cheese and other foods from who knows where.

Cousin Nino: "Where did you get the mozzarella I bought from you yesterday, Paolo?
Paolo: "Ah, mamma mia, that came from my uncle Pino's farm from over the hills over there (points out the door). You see? The best there is. Did I ever tell you my Uncle baptized me and helped my poor family open this little bottega?"
Cousin Nino: "Si si, fifty-seven times. Well, Paolo, I opened the package and the mozzarella turned blue...just like the color of your head when I finish baptizing you."

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