01/06/09 Italian Wedding Soup from

"L'occhio del padrone ingrassa il cavallo." (The eye of the owner fattens the horse. Nobody takes care of one's business as does its owner.) Welcome to another recipe edition from Adriana's Italian Bakery!

This week's Italian recipes:
  -Focaccia with Porcini, Olive and Rosemary
  -Italian Wedding Soup
  -Yellow Pepper Risotto

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Arrivederci e a presto!

Yours Truly,              
Adriana Ciccarello       

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 Recipe: Focaccia with Porcini, Olive and Rosemary

Focaccia with Porcini, Olive and Rosemary
Focaccia con Porcini, Olive e Rosmarino


Hot water
1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, reconstituted in 1 cup hot water (see instructions below)
1 envelope dry yeast
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 cups plus 4 tablespoons (about) unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pitted brine-cured olives (such as Kalamata)
For reconstituted porcini mushrooms:
1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1 cup hot water


To reconstitute the dried porcini mushrooms:
Combine porcini and water in medium bowl.

Let stand until porcini soften, about 40 minutes.

Pour mixture into strainer set over small bowl.

Press porcini to release excess liquid.

Coarsely chop porcini.

Pour soaking liquid into measuring cup, leaving any sediment behind; reserve soaking liquid.

Prepare the focaccia:
Add enough hot water to porcini soaking liquid to measure 3/4 cup if necessary.

Heat liquid in small saucepan to 105F to 115F.

Pour into processor.

Sprinkle yeast over.

Let stand until yeast dissolves, about 12 minutes.

Add olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon rosemary.

Process 3 seconds.

Add 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour and process until moist clumps form, adding more flour if necessary.

Mix in olives, using 4 on/off turns.

Turn out dough into large bowl.

Add porcini and knead until mixed in (dough will be firm and sticky).

Generously flour heavy large baking sheet.

Turn out dough onto sheet.

Using floured hands, press out dough to irregular 13 x 9-inch rectangle.

Sprinkle dough with remaining 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon rosemary.

Cover baking sheet with plastic wrap.

Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until puffy, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400F.

Bake bread until crusty, about 25 minutes.

Serve warm or at room temperature. Serves 8.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Italian Wedding Soup

Italian Wedding Soup
Zuppa Per Il Matrimonio


For the Meatballs:
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 large egg
1 large clove garlic, peeled, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Italian-style bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano cheese
1 and 1/2 lbs ground beef chuck
Freshly ground black pepper

For the Soup:
16 cups chicken broth or chicken stock
1 lb escarole, washed, coarsely chopped
1 cup small pasta, optional
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano cheese, plus extra for garnish
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon parsley flakes


Prepare the meatballs:
In a large bowl, combine the onion, parsley, garlic, salt, pepper and bread crumbs.

Mix in the cheese and the ground beef, mixing thoroughly but trying not to overmix.

Using about 1/2 teaspoon each and with cold hands, shape the mixture into small meatballs no more than 1/2 inch in diameter.

Place them on a foil-lined baking sheet as you make them.

Prepare the soup:
Bring the broth to a boil in a large pot over medium-high heat.

Add the meatballs and escarole (and pasta if using) and simmer until the meatballs are cooked through and the escarole is tender, about 8 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, cheese, salt, pepper, garlic powder and parsley flakes.

Stir the soup in a circular motion.

While stirring, gradually drizzle the egg mixture into the moving broth, stirring gently to form thin strands of egg, about 1 minute.

Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper.

Ladle the soup into bowls, sprinkle with grated Parmigiano cheese and serve with crusty bread. Serves 16.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Yellow Pepper Risotto

Yellow Pepper Risotto
Risotto con Peperoni Gialli


3 yellow bell peppers, chopped
1 tablespoon water
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup finely diced zucchini
4 cups chicken broth
6 shallots, minced (about 1 cup)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup Arborio rice
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano cheese
2 tablespoons minced flat-leafed parsley leaves


In a skillet cook peppers in water and 2 tablespoons of butter, covered partially, over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until very soft, about 20 minutes.

Puree peppers in a food processor or blender and strain through a coarse sieve into a small bowl.

Season puree with salt and pepper.

In the cleaned skillet cook zucchini in 1 tablespoon remaining butter over moderate heat, stirring until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes, and season with salt and pepper.

In a saucepan heat broth and keep at a bare simmer.

In a heavy 2 to 3-quart saucepan cook shallot and garlic in remaining 2 tablespoons butter over moderately low heat until very soft but not browned, about 5 minutes.

Stir in rice and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until edges become translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add wine and cook, stirring constantly, until wine is absorbed.

Add about 1/2 cup simmering broth and cook, stirring constantly, until broth is absorbed.

Continue adding broth, about 1/2 cup at a time, and cooking, stirring constantly and letting each addition be absorbed before adding the next, until rice is 'al dente', about 20 minutes.

Remove pan from heat and stir in pepper puree, zucchini, Parmigiano cheese, 1 tablespoon of parsley, and salt and pepper to taste.

Sprinkle risotto with remaining 1 tablespoon parsley. Serves 4.

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:

Berlusconi Vows to Root Out Impressive Civil Service Corruption

Rome - October 9, 2008 - Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi on Thursday launched a drive to stamp out corruption in the civil service.

The premier said Italy had a longstanding problem with corruption among civil servants, partly because of the size of its state administration.

"There is a price to be paid for a sprawling, bureaucratic and bloated public administration like ours," he said, unveiling a new anti-corruption task force.

"Corruption has age-old roots and has taken on a pathological and endemic form which cannot be tolerated and which we aim to root out," the premier told a news conference with Civil Service Minister Renato Brunetta. Berlusconi said the government's new Anti-Corruption and Transparency Service would aim, among other things, to "effectively map out corruptions risks and carry out an in-depth probe into European Union funds".

He said the task force would have an "intelligence-gathering rather than policing role" and would save millions of euros in taxpayers' money. It would seek to produce "a modernized, digitalized and transparent public administration," he said.

Berlusconi said he was familiar with the problems of administrative corruption because of his early experiences as a young construction entrepreneur in Milan.

He said he had to stop building in Milan "because you couldn't build anything (there) unless you went (to officials) with a check in your mouth".

"This, fortunately, occurred many years ago," he added.

Berlusconi is relying on Brunetta to push through the kinds of reforms which have been announced by successive governments only to make little impact.

The feisty minister has already hit headlines for a campaign against "slackers".

Last week statistics were released showing that sick days were sharply down following Brunetta's move to cut pay for suspected malingerers.

Brunetta said the rate of absenteeism had been cut by 45% and "by the end of the year we will effectively have 50,000 more workers" without new hirings.

As part of the drive, Brunetta said turnstiles like those at soccer stadiums would be installed at his ministry to show when staff entered and left their offices.

Berlusconi quipped that news of the move had already produced a visible result. "The surrounding bars are already empty," he said.

Hey, you "grandissima faccia di culo", what Sicilian mountain do I have to move to get a simple identity card renewed?

"Buona Fortuna", asphalt head. A big problem for Italy's public sector is absenteeism, which, of course reduces efficiency and wastes taxpayers money. Absenteeism poses a problem even when state employees are present for most of them work in a comatose state. It can get quite frustrating to have your paperwork processed while you hear the wind whistling through their ears and watch that flustered and irritated look on their face.

Signore Brunetta, who is an economist, is considering a proposal to send senior public sector managers abroad for as long as six months. Supposedly, the idea of managers being sent abroad is so they may come across better ways in which to do things in Italy, and, of course, be able to teach those in other countries a thing or two. Of course, this exchange of ideas will be potentially very frightening!

Italian managers abroad:

"Get here by 8:30 am? What for?"
"No rush. Why do I have to wake up so early for work?"

"An hour for lunch? What for?"
"Our work day ends at lunch."

"The offices are open tomorrow? What for?"
"I can't come in. It's St. Joseph's Day."

"A weekly salary?" What for?"
"I receive 14 monthly salary payments a year."

"Only In Italy" Subscribe today and you'll discover why the last improvements to Italy were made by Julius Caesar and why it's been downhill ever since!  Click Here to Subscribe!

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