02/21/12 Grape and Mascarpone Cheesecake

"Tanti paesi, tanti costumi." (So many countries, so many customs.) Welcome to another recipe edition from Adriana's Italian Bakery!

This week's Italian recipes:
  -Roasted Potatoes
  -Lamb Patties Braised with Eggplant, Peppers, and Tomatoes
  -Grape and Mascarpone Cheesecake

"Buongiorno!" Thank you again! I look forward to connecting further in the coming days. Enjoy this week's recipes!

Arrivederci and grazie again!

Yours Truly,              
Adriana Ciccarello       

 Cookie of the Week: Sicilian Orange Almond Cookies

"Sicilian Orange" Almond Cookies: A soft and chewy Italian almond cookie with a crisp outside and tender inside. Made exclusively from our own home grown natural almonds with bits of candied Sicilian oranges, the freshest farm eggs, flour, and sugar. No preservatives, additives, artificial colors, nor flavors. Serves 5-7.

900 grams (2 lbs.) is only 14.49 Euro ($19.25-$19.75) + Shipping.

Example Order: One order to anywhere in the USA costs 14.49 Euro plus 8.70 Euro for Global Priority Mail shipping (7-10 days) for a total of 23.19 Euro ($31.00-$31.50 U.S. Dollars).

 Recipe: Roasted Potatoes

Roasted Potatoes
Patate al Forno


4 to 6 large baking potatoes
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
4 to 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 to 4 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary, or 2 tbsp dried rosemary


Preheat oven to 350F.

Cut potatoes into 1-inch chunks.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss with olive oil.

Place in a glass baking dish or roasting pan, spreading potatoes evenly to form one or two layers.

Place in oven and roast for 45 minutes, or until golden brown.

Remove from oven, add rosemary, and toss carefully.

Return dish to oven and roast five minutes more.

Serve hot.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Lamb Patties Braised with Eggplant, Peppers, and Tomatoes

Lamb Patties Braised with Eggplant, Peppers, and Tomatoes
Polpette di Agnello Brasato con Melanzane, Peperoni e Pomodori


For the Lamb Patties:
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs (from crustless French bread ground in processor)
1/4 cup water
1 and 1/4 pounds ground lamb
1/2 cup finely grated Pecorino cheese
1 large egg, beaten to blend
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon chopped fresh marjoram
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the Eggplant Mixture:
One large eggplant (1 to 1 and 1/4 pounds), unpeeled, cut into 1-inch cubes
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Coarse kosher salt
1 large red bell pepper, halved, seeded, cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 and 1/3 cups dry white wine
3 large garlic cloves, minced
2 cups chopped seeded peeled red heirloom tomatoes
2 teaspoons chopped fresh marjoram

For the Polenta:
4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup polenta (coarse cornmeal)
Grated Pecorino cheese


Prepare the Lamb Patties:
Combine breadcrumbs and 1/4 cup water in small bowl.

Soak 5 minutes.

Squeeze all water from crumbs.

Place crumbs in large bowl.

Add lamb and remaining ingredients; mix gently to combine.

Shape into 12 oval patties, each about 2 and 1/2 inches long and 3/4 inch thick.

Prepare the Eggplant Mixture:
Preheat oven to 350F.

Combine cubed eggplant and 4 tablespoons olive oil in large bowl and toss to coat.

Spread eggplant out on rimmed baking sheet; sprinkle with coarse kosher salt and pepper.

Bake 12 minutes.

Turn eggplant over and bake until soft, about 12 minutes longer.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in large deep skillet over medium-high heat.

Add lamb patties and saute until brown, about 3 minutes per side.

Transfer lamb patties to plate.

Add bell pepper strips to drippings in skillet; saute until beginning to soften, about 4 minutes.

Transfer bell pepper to plate with lamb.

Reduce heat to medium.

Add remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and chopped onion to same skillet.

Cover and cook until onion is soft, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.

Add wine and garlic.

Cook, scraping up browned bits, until wine is reduced to glaze, about 7 minutes.

Return lamb and bell pepper to skillet; add eggplant, tomatoes, and marjoram.

Reduce heat to medium-low.

Cover and simmer until lamb is cooked through and vegetables are tender, about 12 minutes. If sauce is thin, simmer uncovered until thickened to desired consistency.

Season sauce to taste with coarse salt and pepper.

Prepare the Polenta:
Bring 4 cups water and 1 teaspoon salt to boil in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat.

Gradually whisk in polenta.

Reduce heat to medium-low.

Simmer until polenta is very thick, whisking often, about 20 minutes.

Spoon polenta into shallow bowls.

Top with lamb and vegetables.

Sprinkle with Pecorino cheese. Serves 6.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Grape and Mascarpone Cheesecake

Grape and Mascarpone Cheesecake
Torta di Mascarpone e Uva


Nonstick vegetable oil spray
3 and 1/4 cups red seedless grapes, divided
2 tablespoons frozen grape juice concentrate, thawed
1 cup sugar, divided
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 and 1/2 teaspoons raspberry vinegar
1 and 1/2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour
One 8-ounce container Mascarpone cheese
3 large eggs


Preheat oven to 350F.

Spray 9-inch diameter cake pan with 2-inch high sides with nonstick spray.

Puree 1 cup grapes and grape juice concentrate in blender until as smooth as possible.

Pour puree into medium saucepan.

Add 1/4 cup sugar and cornstarch; stir to dissolve cornstarch.

Add remaining 2 and 1/4 cups grapes.

Stir over medium heat until mixture thickens, boils, and becomes clear, 2 to 3 minutes (grapes will remain whole); mix in vinegar.

Pour into prepared cake pan.

Spread grapes in single layer; cool.

Beat cream cheese, flour, and 3/4 cup sugar in large bowl until smooth.

Beat in Mascarpone, then eggs, 1 at a time.

Spoon batter over grape mixture.

Bake cake until just set in center, about 45 minutes.

Place cake directly into refrigerator; chill uncovered until cold, at least 4 hours and up to 1 day.

Cut around cake.

Place plate over pan; hold plate and pan together and invert.

Lift off pan.

Cut cake into wedges. Serves 8 to 10.

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:

Pope: "Clean Out All the Trash...Not Only From The Streets

Vatican City - November 3, 2010 - Pope Benedict XVI took the Naples garbage crisis as his cue for a Wednesday general audience sermon where he urged faithful to "clean out the trash from our consciences and souls".

"We need to let Jesus into our consciences so they are illuminated and cleaned," said the pontiff.

"Trash is not just in the streets...only the power and light of the Lord signals the right path".

"Let us be illuminated and cleaned in order to learn the true life".

We couldn't agree more. In many parts of Southern Italy, a child’s first confession is now celebrated. Parents film the little weenie as he walks to the confessional to clean out the trash from his conscience and have a feast afterwards to celebrate his acquittal. All that’s missing is his standing on a table and reciting the confessed sins to the invited guests.

Dear Lord,

Help me to consider the feelings of Napolitani, even if most of them are full of crap and immobile from liquor.
Help me to take things more seriously, especially when I witness Sicilians with nothing fighting over nothing.
Give me patience when my Uncle Vincenzo talks about his bad childhood and why, during World War II, he had to pick bugs off my father just to eat.
Help me to take responsibility for the consequences of my actions, even though they're usually the fault of the "figli di puttana" who are governing in Rome.
Keep me open to free speech, even though I would gladly give up it up just to prevent Sicilians from expressing their pearls of wisdom.
Give me patience, even when the employees at my local post office pace themselves like slugs.

Grazie, Lord.

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