04/16/13 Panna Cotta with Roasted Strawberries

"Rosso di sera buon tempo si spera, rosso di mattina maltempo si avvicina." (Red sky at night shepherd's delight, red sky in the morning shepherd's warning.) Welcome to another recipe edition from Adriana's Italian Bakery!

This week's Italian recipes:
  -Prosciutto and Sage Omelette
  -Polenta with Mushrooms, Peas, Green Beans, and Leeks
  -Panna Cotta with Roasted Strawberries

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Adriana Ciccarello       

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 Recipe: Prosciutto and Sage Omelette

Prosciutto and Sage Omelette
Frittata Al Prosciutto Cotto e Salvia


6 eggs
6 fresh sage leaves, chopped
4 oz (120 grams) cooked ham, chopped
1 oz (25 grams) butter
2 tablespoons double cream
1 tablespoon Parmigiano cheese, freshly grated
Salt and pepper


Lightly beat the eggs.

Stir in the ham, sage, Parmigiano cheese and cream.

Season with salt and pepper.

Melt the butter in a frying pan.

Pour in the mixture and cook until light golden brown on both sides. Serves 4.

Note: The frittata should be dry outside and soft inside.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Polenta with Mushrooms, Peas, Green Beans, and Leeks

Polenta with Mushrooms, Peas, Green Beans, and Leeks
Polenta con Funghi, Piselli, Fagiolini, e Porri


1 and 3/4 cups polenta
2 cups thinly sliced leeks (white and pale green parts only; about 2 medium)
3/4 pound green beans, trimmed
1 pound assorted wild mushrooms (such as crimini, small portobello, and shiitake), stemmed, caps cut into wedges
1 cup fresh shelled peas (12 to 14 ounces in pods)

4 cups whole milk
2 and 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 and 1/2 cups dry white vermouth
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) chilled butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 large shallots, sliced (about 3/4 cup)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley, divided
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme


Blanch green beans 1 minute in boiling water.

Add peas and cook until both beans and peas are crisp-tender, about 3 minutes.

Transfer to bowl of ice water to cool.


Cut beans on diagonal into 1-inch pieces.

Set beans and peas aside.

Bring milk and broth to boil in large saucepan over high heat.

Reduce heat to medium.

Gradually whisk in polenta.

Reduce heat to low.

Cook until polenta is very thick, whisking almost constantly, about 10 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper.

Remove from heat, cover to keep warm.

Combine leeks and vermouth in medium saucepan.

Boil over medium-high heat until reduced to 1/3 cup, about 8 minutes.

Remove from heat.

Gradually whisk in butter, allowing each addition to melt before adding next.

Add cream and whisk over very low heat to blend.

Season with salt and pepper.

Set aside.

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

Add mushrooms and saute until almost tender, about 5 minutes.

Stir in shallots, 1 tablespoon parsley, and thyme.

Saute until mushrooms are very tender, about 5 minutes.

Add beans and peas, tossing to coat.

Rewarm polenta and spoon into large shallow bowl.

Top with green bean mixture and remaining 1 tablespoon parsley.

Rewarm leeks over low heat, whisking constantly.

Spoon evenly over polenta. Serves 6.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Panna Cotta with Roasted Strawberries

Panna Cotta with Roasted Strawberries
Panna Cotta con Fragole Arrosto


6 cups halved hulled strawberries, patted dry (2 to 2 and 1/2 pounds)
6 whole strawberries for garnish

12 sprigs fresh tarragon, divided
2 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 cup creme fraiche
2 and 1/2 tablespoons cold water
2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin

One 4-inch piece vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1/2 cup whipping cream


Preheat oven to 350?F.

Place 6 cups strawberries and 6 tarragon sprigs in 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish.

Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar and lemon juice.

Toss to coat.

Roast uncovered until strawberries are soft and syrup forms, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes.

Cool 30 minutes.

Strain strawberry mixture into medium bowl, pressing on fruit to release as much pulp as possible.

Discard seeds in strainer.

Transfer 1 and 1/2 cups strawberry puree to another medium bowl.

Mix in creme fraiche.

Reserve any remaining puree for another use.

Place 2 and 1/2 tablespoons cold water in small saucepan.

Sprinkle gelatin over.

Let stand until gelatin softens, about 15 minutes.

Scrape seeds from vanilla bean halves into another small saucepan.

Add bean.

Add cream and remaining 1/2 cup sugar.

Bring to simmer over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves.

Remove cream mixture from heat.

Add gelatin mixture and stir to dissolve.

Cool slightly.

Stir cream-gelatin mixture into strawberry cream.

Strain into large measuring cup.

Divide among six 3/4-cup ramekins or small goblets.

Cover and chill until panna cotta is set, at least 6 hours and up to 1 day.

Garnish with whole strawberries and remaining tarragon sprigs. Makes 6 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:

Embryos Lost At Fertility Clinic Thanks To Incompetence

Rome - April 02, 2012 - A blackout last week at the Rome hospital San Filippo Neri caused 94 embryos, 130 eggs and five sperm samples to be lost due to a refrigeration failure in the facility's fertility clinic.

Investigators examining the incident Monday said that criminal charges, including neglect, incompetence, as well as involuntary manslaughter in the case of the destroyed embryos, are being discussed.

Temperatures in the refrigeration unit shot up from -196 degrees centigrade to +20 degrees on the morning of March 27, said investigators.

On a serious note, this is such a shame because Italy is not the kindest place in Europe for people who need help having a child.

For example, we forbid single women and lesbian couples, whether they are attractive or not, from using artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization, or IVF, to conceive. And Italy also bans all egg and sperm donations for IVF.

Italians also have a strong historic tie to that Vatican, which forbids IVF, primarily because the procedure may involve the destruction of embryos. And, Holy Maria, we've been trying to cut that umbilical cord for decades but to no avail.

We're not done...

They are also against artificial insemination because it believes procreation should only be by a husband and wife through the natural act of sex. It's at this point that everything flies out the window.

- Should the natural act of sex between husband and wife include pointing at each other and laughing?
- What should a wife do if her husband is a very quiet guy, doesn't utter a sound and "almost" changes the expression on his face during that natural act?

And then there's the dreadful low sperm count...which has to be indirectly caused by lack of sex, ugly Italian women and cold water. Our Uncle Alfredo went to a fertility clinic for a consultation and to deposit samples after he noticed he was making less of a mess during that natural act. Just to be on the safe side.

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