03/16/10 Cream Of Carrot and Mussel Soup

"Casa senza fimmina 'mpuvirisci!" (Sicilian proverb: How poor is a home without a woman!) Welcome to another recipe edition from Adriana's Italian Bakery!

This week's Italian recipes:
  -Polenta With Ragu'
  -Cream Of Mussel and Carrot Soup
  -Mediterranean Chicken (gluten-free)

Remember, savory seasonings stimulate the appetite. Enjoy this week's recipes!

Arrivederci e a presto!

Yours Truly,              
Adriana Ciccarello       

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 Recipe: Polenta With Ragu'

Polenta With Ragu'
Polenta Con Il Ragu'


7 oz (200 grams) minced beef
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 celery stick, chopped
3 tablespoons tomato sauce
1 lb and 2 oz (500 grams) coarse polenta flour
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 oz (25 grams) butter
Salt and pepper
Parmigiano cheese, freshly grated, to serve


Heat the olive oil and butter in a saucepan.

Add the onion, carrot and celery and cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes until browned.

Add the meat, season with salt and pepper and cook for additional minutes more.

Mix the tomato sauce with 1-2 tablespoons warm water in a bowl, add to the pan and cook over a low heat for about an hour, adding more water if necessary.

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.

Note: The cooking time ranges from 45 minutes to 1 hour; the longer the cooking time, the more easily the polenta is digested.

When it is ready, pour it into a non-stick ring mould, rinsed out with cold water, leave to stand for 2-3 minutes, then turn it out on to a warm serving dish.

Pour the hot ragu' sauce into the middle and serve with Parmigiano cheese. Serves 4.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Cream Of Mussel and Carrot Soup

Cream Of Mussel and Carrot Soup
Zuppa di Cozze e Carota


For the Chicken Stock:
1 chicken or boiling poultry, skinned and trimmed of visible fat
1 onion
1 carrot
1 celery stick

For the Soup:
30 mussels, scrubbed and beards removed
1 and 1/2 lbs (675 grams) carrots
2 and 1/2 oz (65 grams) butter
2 pinches of sugar
7 fl oz (200 ml) dry white wine
1/2 garlic clove
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


Prepare the Chicken Stock:
Place the chicken and vegetables in a large saucepan and add a pinch of salt and water to cover.

Bring to a boil over a medium-high heat, then lower the heat and simmer for at least 2 hours, occasionally removing any unwanted residue that may rise to the surface.

Strain through a wire mesh strainer into a bowl, leave to cool, and then chill in the refrigerator.

When the fat has solidified on the surface, remove and throw it away.

Chicken stock may be served as a broth with gnocchi or julienne vegetables. Serves 4 to 6.

Prepare the Soup:
Dice two carrots and slice the remainder.

Melt 1 oz (25 grams) of the butter in a saucepan, add the diced carrots, a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar and cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes.

Remove from the heat and set aside.

Melt the remaining butter in another pan, add the sliced carrots, a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar and cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.

Pour in the chicken stock and simmer for about 20-25 minutes.

Transfer to a food processor and process to a puree.

Get rid of any mussels with broken shells or that do not shut immediately when tapped.

Heat the mussels in a frying pan with the wine and garlic for 5 minutes until the mussels open.

Discard any of them that remain closed.

Remove the mussels from their shells.

Reheat the carrot puree, then pour into a soup serving bowl and add the diced carrots and the mussels.

Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately. Serves 4.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Mediterranean Chicken (gluten-free)

Mediterranean Chicken (gluten-free)
Pollo del Mediterraneo


4 split free-range chicken breasts
One 14-oz can diced tomatoes with juice
3/4 cup tomato based pasta sauce
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup red wine
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups of thin pepper strips (mixed green, yellow and red peppers)
2 large Portobello mushrooms, sliced
10-12 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup chopped black olives
2 tablespoons capers
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano or marjoram
Sea salt
Gluten-free lemon pepper seasoning, to taste


Preheat the oven to 350F.

Lightly oil a 10 by 13-inch baking pan with extra virgin olive oil.

Wash the chicken in cold water and pat dry; season with the lemon pepper.

Place in the baking dish.

In a mixing bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and pour over the chicken breasts.

Loosely cover with foil and bake until the chicken is no longer pink inside, anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes depending upon the size of the chicken breasts.

Serve with brown rice or mashed potatoes. 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:

Sex Can Bring On Migraines

Rome - March 3, 2010 - Blaming headaches may be a common way to say no to intimacy, but it's no excuse for half a million Italians who cannot have sex without getting a migraine, a Rome headache specialist said Wednesday.

"So-called 'sex headaches' affect about 1% of the population and can be both painful and frustrating," said Pietro Barbanti, director of Rome's San Raffaele Headache Center.

Barbanti explained that sex-related migraines fall into two categories, those which strike during the act and those which follow afterwards.

"Headaches that develop mid-coitus are much more common, but the ones triggered by orgasm can be excruciating," he said.

Barbanti added while most chronic headaches are more prevalent among women, sex-related migraines are almost three times as common among men. He estimated that around 500,000 Italians suffer from headaches during intimacy, "most of which are bearable enough not to compromise peoples' sex lives".

But he said more severe cases could become a major obstacle to a patient's ability to carry on a relationship.

"The first thing that's important to understand is that sex can trigger migraines and that it's not as uncommon as it sounds".

"The second thing is that there are usually ways to get the pain under control and sometimes to banish the headaches for good".

According to Barbanti, sex headaches are just one of over 200 different kinds of cephalagia experts have identified so far. The Rome specialist said those included some even stranger varieties triggered by seemingly random sights, smells and sounds.

"I remember one patient who got a migraine every time she smelled hot dogs," recalled Barbanti.

He said other patients got headaches when they coughed, heard thunder or saw bright colors. He said that sensory oriented headaches were far more common among women, who were more likely to suffer from migraines in general.

Of the eight million Italians who complain of chronic headaches, four out of five them are women, Barbanti said.

"I've heard several women compare their worst headaches to childbirth," he added.

The specialist said scientists were still struggling to understand why the phenomenon was more common among women, though recent theories centered on the hormonal fluxes involved with their menstrual cycles. He said that women tended to diet more than men, which could lead to sudden bouts of low blood sugar, one known cause of headaches.

According to Barbanti, however, stress is the underlying cause for 75% of all chronic headaches in both men and women.

"The best treatment option in most cases are lifestyle changes like drinking less, cutting out caffeine and getting plenty of exercise," he said.

But Barbanti warned headaches could also serve as warning alarms for more serious health problems and that people should pay attention when they suddenly get worse or last longer than usual.

"If you realize that you're only able to get from one day to the next on a heavy regimen of pain killers, you should probably talk to a specialist," he said.

"Porca miseria" Ladies! What are you trying to say? Are Italian men that hideous and insufferable?
"'Fanculo, this story is so depressing it makes our private parts want to pack up and leave.

"I remember one patient who got a migraine every time she smelled hot dogs." Sort of like dating a man from the deep neighborhoods of Naples; running around with their shirts half-buttoned and that cheap Napolitano after-shave wafting in the air. That's birth control! "Cavolo", you could almost feel that chronic headache coming on.

"I've heard several women compare their worst headaches to childbirth." "Madonna", childbirth?! This is just another angry way of saying that Italian women want to be hassled less than Pavlov's dogs were and that we should help out more around the home rather pacing ourselves like Sicilian slugs.

"The best treatment option in most cases are lifestyle changes like drinking less, cutting out caffeine and getting plenty of exercise." Wow! Vaffanculo! You try convincing a man from Bergamo to cut back on the grappa and espresso. And moving from one park bench to the next in the middle of the piazza while on the hunt for incoherent arguments is all the exercise he's going to get.

Quite frankly, we think the best treatment option for migraines is to follow these 3 simple rules for a happy Italian marriage:

- Argue about money,
- Never go to bed happy,
- Criticize each other’s weight,

Oh, and leave the door open when you go to the bathroom.

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