01/10/12 Bean Soup Venetian Style

"Il fatto non si pu disfare." (What's done cannot be undone.) Welcome to another recipe edition from Adriana's Italian Bakery!

This week's Italian recipes:
  -Baked Polenta with Bolognese Meat Sauce
  -Bean Soup Venetian Style
  -Shrimp with Garlic and Tomato

"Buongiorno!" My bakery family and I are grateful for your participation with us via this newsletter. Thanks for everything you're doing and we will continue to find ways to be helpful in your kitchen. Please share this newsletter, if you found it useful. Enjoy this week's recipes!

Arrivederci and grazie again!

Yours Truly,              
Adriana Ciccarello       

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 Recipe: Baked Polenta with Bolognese Meat Sauce

Baked Polenta with Bolognese Meat Sauce
Polenta Pasticciata


Prepare the Bolognese Sauce:
1 and 1/2 oz (40 grams) butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 carrot, chopped
1 celery stick, chopped
1 onion, chopped
9 oz (250 grams) ground beef
1 tablespoon concentrated tomato puree
Salt and pepper

For the Polenta:
1 lb and 2 oz (500 grams) coarse polenta flour
5 to 6 tablespoons butter
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano cheese


Prepare the Bolognese Meat Sauce:
Heat the butter and olive oil in a small sauce pan and add the carrot, onion, celery, and ground beef.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Mix well and cook over a low heat for just a few minutes until the vegetables have softened and the beef starts to cook and turn brown.

Mix in the tomato puree with a little bit of water to dilute it and add to the sauce pan.

Cover and cook over a very low heat for 1 and 1/2 hours, adding a little hot water if the sauce appears to be turning dry.

Prepare the Polenta:
Bring 3 pints (1.75 liters) salted water to a boil (keep another pan of water boiling if necessary).

Sprinkle the polenta flour into the pan while stirring constantly.

As soon as the polenta thickens, soften it with a drop of the reserved boiling water.

Preheat oven to 400F (205C).

Butter a 13 9-inch baking dish.

Cut cooled polenta into slices 2 inches wide and 6 inches long.

Put a third of the sliced polenta in buttered baking dish.

Spoon about 1 cup meat sauce over polenta.

Dot with about 2 tablespoons butter and sprinkle with 4 to 5 tablespoons Parmigiano cheese.

Repeat with two more layers of polenta, meat sauce, butter and Parmigiano cheese, making three layers.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Serve immediately. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Bean Soup Venetian Style

Bean Soup Venetian Style
Pasta e Fagioli alla Veneta


2 cups dried pinto beans
4 cups meat broth
6 to 8 cups water
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 slices prosciutto rind or salt pork
1 carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 sprig fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 pound small elbow macaroni, ditalini or arborio rice
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano cheese plus additional for serving


Place beans in a large bowl.

Add enough cold water to cover and let stand overnight.

Drain and rinse beans thoroughly.

Prepare meat broth.

Place beans in a large saucepan.

Add water, broth, 2 tablespoons olive oil, prosciutto rind or salt pork, carrot, celery and onion.

Cover and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat.

Simmer 50 to 60 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a small saucepan.

Add rosemary.

Cook over medium heat until lightly browned.

Discard rosemary.

Add parsley and garlic; saute.

When garlic changes color, stir in flour.

Cook and stir about 1 minute.

Remove 1 cup cooking liquid from bean mixture.

Stir in tomato paste.

Stir into flour mixture.

Season with salt and pepper.

Cook 5 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add to bean mixture.

With a slotted spoon, place a third of bean mixture in a blender or food processor.

Process until smooth.

Return to saucepan.

Bring soup to a boil.

Add pasta or rice and cook over high heat 8 to 10 minutes.

Stir several times during cooking.

Taste and adjust for seasoning.

Stir 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1/3 cup Parmigiano cheese into soup.

Serve hot with additional Parmigiano cheese. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Shrimp with Garlic and Tomato

Shrimp with Garlic and Tomato
Scampi Con Aglio e Pomodoro


16 large prawns or 20 medium shrimp
1 cup canned crushed Italian-style or whole tomatoes
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
8 thick slices Italian bread


Shell and devein prawns or shrimp, and wash under cold running water.

Pat dry with paper towels.

Press tomatoes through a food mill or sieve to remove seeds.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet.

Add garlic and prawns or shrimp.

Saute over medium heat until garlic and prawns or shrimp are lightly colored.

Stir in wine.

When wine is reduced by half, add tomato pulp.

Cook 2 to 3 minutes if using shrimp and 4 to 6 minutes if using prawns.

Stir several times during cooking.

Add parsley and season with salt and pepper.

Toast bread until golden on both sides.

Place prawn or shrimp mixture in a warm dish.

Serve immediately with toasted bread. Makes 4 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:

Italian Jails Are Just Bursting With Criminals

Rome - September 21, 2010 - Italian jails are spilling over with almost 24,000 inmates more than they were built to hold, prison warders' union UILPA said Tuesday.

UILPA put the prison population at 68,340, some 23,764 more than the nominal capacity of 44,756. Almost all, 65,346, of the inmates are male and 2,994 female.

The most overcrowded region is Emilia Romagna whose jails hold 4,444 inmates, almost double the official capacity of 2,393. This gives the region an inmate-to-capacity ratio of 85.7%.

Puglia comes next with 80.9%, followed by Friuli Venezia Giulia with 62.8%, Val d'Aosta with 59.1%, Liguria with 55.8% and Sicily with 55.1%.

Veneto and Calabria were also far above the nationwide average of 53.3%.

UILPA chief Eugenio Sarno said the figures showed how "serious" the situation was and complained that prison staff were 6,000 short despite a government pledge to hire 2,000 warders.

The government has announced an ambitious building program to bring the prison population within capacity over the next two years, but the bill has been held up in parliament.

"Eh allora?" We must be missing the point as to why this made the news because here at the office we're still giving each other confused looks.

"Cacchio", are the complaints possibly originating from the adorable inmates themselves?

"I am not enjoying myself, Signore Giudice. I must say jail has been very negative. There is no room for my yoga and meditation. They would boss me around and inhibit my freedoms!" Well, that's why they call it "prigione" or jail. "Cornuti", you're supposed to get hassled in jail!

We've said it before. We believe that some inmates in Italy are innocent of the crimes they have been convicted for but...they're guilty of something! They were on their way to doing something before they were wrongfully arrested.

"Porca di quella trota", are we the only ones who realize we're not safe anywhere in Italy! We need metal detectors at the entrance of the leaning tower of Pisa and the Sistine Chapel. We need cops waiting in the monumental fountains with skin diving outfits, "cazzo!"

"...and Sicily with 55.1%." The reason why Sicilian prisons are not so overcrowded compared to other regions is because we prefer to take care of situations and people within the privacy of our homes.

Polizia: "Buon giorno, we're here to arrest your son, Pino, who participated in a robbery at a sheep farm last night."
Papa: "Eh, buon giorno a voi. Il figlio di... Ci penso io. Per favore, mi potete chiamare una ambulanza? Grazie."
(Uh, good day to you. The son of a... I'll take care of it. Please, can you call me an ambulance? Thank you.)

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