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 02/26/13 Semolina and Prosciutto Gnocchi

"A piccione ingordo scoppia il gozzo." (The throat will explode on a greedy pigeon.) Welcome to another recipe edition from Adriana's Italian Bakery!

This week's Italian recipes:
  -Chickpea and Arugula Soup
  -Semolina and Prosciutto Gnocchi
  -Curried Pork Chops

"Ciao a tutti!" Just a quick note of thanks for being a part of our growing Italian recipe community. We're over 10,000 members now. Remember, you started it. Enjoy this week's recipes!

Arrivederci and grazie again!

Yours Truly,              
Adriana Ciccarello       


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 Recipe: Chickpea and Arugula Soup

Chickpea and Arugula Soup
Zuppa di Ceci e Rucola

Ingredients:

One (19-ounce) can chickpeas (2 cups), rinsed and drained
5 ounces baby arugula (8 cups loosely packed)
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, thinly sliced crosswise
1 celery rib (from inner part of bunch), thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 California bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cups chicken broth (16 fluid ounces)
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Directions:

Cook onion, celery, carrots, garlic, and bay leaf with 1/2 teaspoon salt in olive oil in a wide 5 to 6-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes.

Stir in tomato paste and cook, stirring, about 1 minute.

Add broth, water, chickpeas, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and simmer briskly, covered, until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.

Discard bay leaf.

Transfer 1 cup soup to a blender and puree.

Stir back into soup.

Stir in arugula and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook just until arugula is wilted, about 1 minute. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Semolina and Prosciutto Gnocchi

Semolina and Prosciutto Gnocchi
Gnocchi di Semolino e Prosciutto

Ingredients:

9 oz (250 grams) semolina
1 and 3/4 pints (1 liter) milk
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 oz (25 grams) butter, plus extra for greasing
3 and 1/2 oz (100 grams) cooked prosciutto, chopped
3 oz (80 grams) Parmigiano cheese, freshly grated
Salt

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400F (200C) Gas Mark 6.

Grease an ovenproof dish with butter.

Bring the milk to a boil and add a pinch of salt.

Sprinkle in the semolina, stirring constantly.

Simmer, stirring, for 10 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat, leave to cool slightly.

Stir in the egg yolks, 2 oz (50 grams) of the Parmigiano cheese and the prosciutto.

Shape the mixture into slightly squashed gnocchi.

Arrange in the prepared dish.

Sprinkle with the remaining Parmigiano cheese and dot with the butter.

Bake for about 30 minutes until golden brown. Serves 4.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Curried Pork Chops

Curried Pork Chops
Braciole Al Curry

Ingredients:

4 spare-rib chops
2 fl oz (50 ml) brandy
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 oz (25 grams) butter
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 tablespoon double cream
2 tablespoons warm vegetable stock

Directions:

Heat the olive oil and butter in a pan.

Add the chops and cook, turning occasionally, until browned all over.

Add the brandy and cook until it has evaporated.

Mix together the curry powder, double cream and vegetable stock in a bowl and add to the pan.

Cover and simmer for about 15-20 minutes.

Transfer to a warm serving dish. Serves 4.

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:

The Comic Who Is Taking Over Italian Politics

Rome - May 15, 2012 - The sovereign debt crisis has propelled Beppe Grillo into Italy's political constellation, and the comedian is giving his rivals a lesson in the power of social media.

Grillo, 63, is the clown prince of Italian politics. The best-known comic in Italy, he has the manic banter of Robin Williams and the populist media savvy of activist filmmaker Michael Moore. But he has never really been taken seriously by the Italian political establishment or mainstream media until now.

Grillo's Five Star Movement, which is largely organized through social media, has just scored a series of spectacular victories in Italian local elections.

In Italy, political power is derived through ownership of TV and newspapers. All take an openly partisan stand and in return receive billions of Euros in state funding. Long ignored by traditional media, Grillo took his campaign online, directly to Italy's disenfranchised youth.

"With the net, with this great form of communication, of connecting...that didn't exist before but now it's there, you can make miracles," he said.

"That's what's happening today in Italy."

It was a first for Italian politics. The online strategy caught the political establishment napping. TIME magazine declared his site to be one of the best in the world. With little mainstream media coverage, Grillo used the web and networking sites to pull huge crowds. He garnered hundreds of thousands of signatures for anti-government petitions.

Grillo's blog is the most widely read in Italy. His Facebook fan page has 831,656 likes and he has 543,000 followers on Twitter.

Grillo launched his provocative V-Day campaign before 80,000 people in Bologna in 2007. The V stands for "vaffanculo" (up your @ss). Hundreds of thousands more gathered in solidarity in city piazzas around the country for a live link-up.

V-Day then moved to Torini in 2008, with another 60,000 packing historic San Carlo Square.

"Vaffanculo!" he said after taking to the stage with rock-star swagger.

"Vaffanculo!" the crowd roared in response - a group therapy session releasing the tension and anger over the failure of Italian politics.

Grillo accused the Italian media of complicity in supporting a failed political and economic system.

"Enough! These politicians must go, and so must the current crop of journalists and publishers we've got in Italy," he said.

"They must all go home. We start again from the bottom."

In Italy all journalists have to be licensed by the state, a process that can take years. In a bid to muzzle Grillo, Mr Berlusconi's political allies lobbied for bloggers to be licensed as journalists. The campaign failed when Grillo and his supporters announced they would simply move their blogs offshore.

"They've been caught on the hop, they can't even open a laptop. Their average age is 70, the average age of our politicians is 70," Grillo said.

"They're planning a future that they're never going to see."

Grillo's legion of critics pointed out that while he excelled at rallies, cyber campaigning and crucifying politicians with satire, he offered no real solutions to Italy's political and economic problems.

He grudgingly admitted they had a point. In 2009 Grillo launched Five Star, formalizing and organizing his ad-hoc online support. He said it was the "next logical step" but also claimed he was just a figurehead of the movement.

Beyond vetting the candidates selected at Meet Ups (the only disqualifiers are a criminal record or affiliation with another political party), Grillo claimed to "take a back seat and never dictate policy".

"Five-Star is a grassroots party funded by, and represented by, independent local candidates."

He boasted that his online page was the sixth most popular blog in the world, with 6.5 million unique users a month.

At its first political hurdle in 2010, Five Star stumbled, winning just 1.8 per cent of the vote. But the movement would quickly gather momentum; the sovereign debt crisis propelled Grillo and Five Star into Italy's political constellation. Mr Berlusconi's coalition collapsed last year and Mario Monte assumed power, his unelected technocrat government vowing to save Italy from a euro meltdown.

But pension cuts, increased taxes and other austerity measures designed to head off a Greek-style economic disaster proved unpopular with voters.

A master at whipping up popular sentiment, and with brilliant comic timing, Grillo's moment had arrived. Billing himself as the anti-politician, Grillo campaigned hard against political corruption and incompetence. He also tapped into seething resentment over Mr Monti's economic austerity measures by calling for Italy to abandon the euro.

Five Star is the latest political group to exploit Europe-wide anger over austerity measures intended to fix the eurozone sovereign debt crisis. Extreme right groups and other parties campaigning against the euro and bailout packages also made big gains in France and Greece.

Grillo told Bloomberg the euro was an "ever-tightening noose".

"And there's not even the comfort of making sacrifices to see some kind of recovery - there's no sign of economic recovery at all," he said.

"This isn't just an Italian phenomenon; think of the almost 20 per cent gained by Marine Le Pen in France, or the success of both far-left and far-right parties in Greece."

This mainstream political train wreck has been a long time coming.

About 20 per cent of Italians were eligible to vote in more than 900 towns and cities across Italy in the first significant election since Mr Monti took office in November. According to the Wall Street Journal, the three largest political parties combined won just 37 per cent of the votes, down from 72 per cent in 2010.

Mr Berlusconi's PDL party lost heavily as voters joined a wave of anti-austerity anger and punished incumbent parties. In the northern city of Parma, Grillo's movement received 21 per cent of the vote, while in Genoa it won 15 per cent.

"Let's face the issue, it can't be a taboo," Grillo told reporters on Thursday, after his movement emerged as the third-biggest party in local elections.

"As debt rises, spending isn't under control, businesses close down, labour cost is up, salaries are down and we don't even have the power of bargaining our debt."

In recent weeks, with the Grillo juggernaut rolling towards them, Italy's mainstream politicians finally went on the attack.

Centre-right ex-foreign minister Franco Frattini told Reuters that Grillo was "populist, extremist and very dangerous". Nichi Vendola, leader of the Left and Freedom party, dismissed Grillo's movement as "a mix of extreme right and extreme left policies which make it a disturbing phenomenon".

But these outbursts were little more than political speed bumps over which the Grillo road show rolled.

"Grillo has confirmed his political existence. He's the big winner," said Maurizio Pessato, vice-president of polling company SWG.

However leading political analyst Beppe Severgnini does not see the comedian running for the top jobs. He says Five Star remains a movement, not a party, with no formal structure or officials.

"Grillo has not changed. When he has to field real questions, he stumbles," he said.

Grillo himself has always been vague about his ultimate intentions.

"This politics isn't my life. I practice politics every day anyway, but getting into politics isn't my job," he said.

"I'm not a danger, I don't want to be president of Italy or prime minister. I'm a comedian."

He has yet to reveal how the last act of his performance will play out, but he has already shown a younger generation of Italians how to exploit the political possibilities of the net.

And that, in the eyes of the old guard, may be his biggest crime.

"Bravo!" Finally!

As many of you are aware, Italians have been waiting for a change for a long time coming.
A knight in shining armor on a white horse? Sure. Anything to liberate us from a group of humans whose faces look like they belong in racist cartoons.

(And by the way, say whatever you wish about your class of politicians. They're all the same, etc. etc. That's poppycock. Ours cannot be regarded as 'real' humans. They're 1/3 human and 2/3rds eggplant parmigiana gone bad.)

So, what comes along? A strong consensus-based, Internet-driven alternative started by an angry jelly-belly comic riding in on a healthy jackass. "Minchia", fine, we'll take it! "Forza Beppe!"

Here are some of the favorite quotes from Beppe Grillo that helped sway the thick-witted voters on this news staff:

- "What makes up a criminal organization nowadays? If you go take a look, you'll find: bankers, politicians, judges, and maybe, MAYBE...a criminal.

- "To think evil is a sin, but in Italy you're allowed to guess."

- "An Italian is a Latin lover, two Italians are a mess, three Italians form four (political) parties."

- "The economy, as I see it, is the image of a joyful dog that doesn't wag its tail...it's the tail that wags the dog."

- "Energy is civilization. Leaving it in the hands of arsonists-oilmen is criminal. Why wait until oil runs out? The stone age didn't end because it ran out of stones."

- "Now, with a unified Europe, an unemployed from Benevento can go and become an unemployed in Stockholm."

- "Accountants make sure that if we have to pay five million in taxes, we'll pay just three...and the other two will go to them."

- (His Five Star Movement candidates) "These kids, they may be inexperienced - they still haven't learned how to rig a budget, or give (public) contracts to their friends."

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