03/13/12 Hazelnut and Chocolate Cake

"Ogni promessa debito." (Every promise is a debt.) Welcome to another recipe edition from Adriana's Italian Bakery!

This week's Italian recipes:
  -Mozzarella and Tomatoes with Basil and Olive Oil
  -Lentil Soup
  -Hazelnut and Chocolate Cake

"Buona sera!" 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       

 Cookie of the Week: Almonds and Amarena Cookies

"Almonds and Amarena Cookies: A cookie that has started a trend here in Sicily! They are round cookie almond balls made exclusively from our own home grown natural almonds, the freshest farm eggs, an amarena cherry center, flour, and sugar. No preservatives, additives, artificial colors, nor flavors. Serves 5-7.

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 Recipe: Mozzarella and Tomatoes with Basil and Olive Oil

Mozzarella and Tomatoes with Basil and Olive Oil
Mozzarella e Pomodori al Basilico e Olio d'Oliva


4 large firm tomatoes
1/2 pound mozzarella cheese, sliced
10 to 12 fresh basil leaves
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil


Wash and dry tomatoes.

Cut into slices.

On a large platter, alternate mozzarella cheese and tomato slices, slightly overlapping.

Place a few basil leaves between slices.

Refrigerate about 15 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper.

Drizzle with olive oil. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Lentil Soup

Lentil Soup
Zuppa di Lenticchie


2 cups lentils
4 cups prepared beef broth
6 to 8 cups water
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
1 cup canned crushed Italian-style or whole tomatoes
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 pound pancetta, chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
8 to 10 thick slices Italian bread
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano cheese


Place lentils in a large bowl.

Add enough cold water to cover and let stand overnight.

Discard any lentils that float to the surface.

Drain and rinse lentils thoroughly.

Place lentils in a large saucepan.

Add water, broth, celery and carrots.

Cover and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat.

Simmer 50 to 60 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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

Heat olive oil in a small saucepan.

Add onion, parsley and garlic.

Saute over medium heat 2 to 3 minutes.

Add pancetta.

Saute 2 to 3 minutes or until pancetta is lightly browned.

Add tomato pulp.

Season with salt and pepper.

Reduce heat.

Cook uncovered 15 to 20 minutes.

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

Process until smooth.

Return to saucepan.

Add tomato mixture.

Simmer uncovered 10 minutes.

Taste and adjust for seasoning.

Toast bread until golden on both sides.

Place 1 slice toasted bread in each soup bowl.

Sprinkle generously with Parmigiano cheese.

Ladle soup into bowls.

Serve hot or at room temperature. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Hazelnut and Chocolate Cake

Hazelnut and Chocolate Cake
Torta al Cioccolato e Nocciola


6 oz (l75 grams) unsalted butter
4 oz (125 grams) caster or superfine sugar
5 free range eggs
1 tablespoon (15 ml) vanilla extract
4 oz (125 grams) plain white or Italian type '00' flour
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) salt
2 oz (50 grams) cocoa powder
1 teaspoon (5 m1) baking powder
6 oz (l75 grams) toasted chopped hazelnuts
3 tablespoons (45 ml) icing sugar


Pre-heat the oven to 180C, 350F, Gas Mark 4.

Grease and line a 9 inch (23 cm) loose-bottomed cake tin.

In a large bowl and using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.

Add 1 egg and the vanilla extract and whisk in well.

Sift together the flour, salt, cocoa and baking powder.

Using a metal spoon, fold in 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of the flour mixture to the egg mixture.

Continue to add the eggs alternately with the flour mixture until all the ingredients have been incorporated.

Fold in the nuts.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 40-50 minutes until firm to the touch and the cake is coming away from the sides of the tin.

Leave to cool in the tin.

Before serving, dust the cake with sifted icing sugar. 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:

Mafia Invasion of Northern Italy Successfully Underway

Reggio Emilia - February 24, 2012 - The Mafia used to be strictly a business of Italy’s south, but today organized crime has reached the north, Italy’s economic engine, and is thriving, investing its illegally-made millions there.

But unlike in the south, where the Mafia has a thorough and sometimes violent control over society, its influence in northern regions is mainly economic and often hidden.

"When they show up here, they look clean," says Enrico Bini, the president of the town of Reggio Emilia’s Chamber of Commerce and one of the first and most outspoken public critics of organized crime in Emilia-Romagna. "It’s tricky. Companies sometimes don't know whom they are making deals with."

"There was a defensive ideology around here," says journalist Sara Di Antonio, who wrote a book about the Mafia’s presence in the north. "People believed that our community, for cultural and historic reasons, had to be healthy."

Public officials and politicians were no exception. "They said that everything was under control, although there were many signs that things weren't quite right," Ms. Di Antonio says.

According to a 2008 report by the Italian parliament, the Mafia "colonization" of Emilia-Romagna started in the 1980s, when a large number of mobsters from the south were sentenced to forced residence in the region for up to five years. The measure, first introduced in the 1960s, was intended to disrupt crime by uprooting suspected members of organized crime groups from their local networks.

Instead, the "forced residence" approach allowed mafia members to work themselves into the rich northern and central regions. There they were joined by affiliates who remained at large and gradually created a new sphere of influence.

Since the 1980s, the crime syndicates have strengthened their presence and diversified their activities. Today, the 'Ndrangheta and the Camorra, the two main groups, operate all across the region.

Sos Impresa, an anti-Mafia organization, said in a recent report that charging illegally high interest rates is another common strategy organized crime uses in the north. Mafiosos lend money at extremely high rates to companies in distress and otherwise unable to get loans, with the ultimate goal of taking control over them and further infiltrating the local business sector.

Northern Italians have often claimed to be too honest to be targeted by organized crime, refusing to face reality, says Annalisa Duri, a local coordinator with the anti-Mafia organization LIBERA. But the Mafia thrives when people stick their heads in the sand, she says, agreeing to profitable business deals with individuals with questionable connections, for example.

"It’s everyone’s responsibility," Duri said. "We need to realize not just that the Mafia exists but that it’s affected by our daily actions."

"Che roba!" Can you believe this horse's petunia?

"...a large number of mobsters from the south were sentenced to forced residence in the region for up to five years." "Figlio di una mignotta", can you believe this reasoning? It makes just as much sense as going over Niagara Falls in a barrel.

Dear readers, what do you do with a chicken weasel that wreaks havoc in your chicken shed? Exactly! You don't arrest it, ship it to another part of the country far away from his weasel buddies...and place it near another chicken shed.

"Northern Italians have often claimed to be too honest to be targeted by organized crime, refusing to face reality..." Aww...aren't the idiots cute? When a Northern Italian sees a mobster digging up the yard, he/she has to face the reality that he is burying another Northern Italian and not planting tomato plants.

You see, many many years ago, if a Southern Italian had seen a Mafia victim laying on the ground helpless it would have been a such a rare occurrence that our reaction would have been: "Oh mio Dio! This Southerner needs help, let me assist!"

Fast forward to today. If you see a body laying on the ground, you wouldn't step over would run over it just to make sure it wouldn't get up to attack you.

Oh, Northern Italians! We know you're repulsed by us but take our advice anyway:
You don't need people. Trust us.
Do like us. Buy a glass bubble and climb in it.

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