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"Quando il gatto non c'è, i topi ballano." (When the cat's away, the mice will play.) Welcome to another recipe edition from Adriana's Italian Bakery!

This week's Italian recipes:
  -Lemon Risotto
  -Spaghetti with Fresh Clams, Parsley, and Lemon
  -Creamy Lemon Tart

All of us at the bakery here in Santo Stefano Quisquina sincerely hope you enjoy this week's recipes!

Arrivederci e a presto!

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.

900 grams (2 lbs.) is only 15.99 Euro ($21.50-$22.00) + Shipping.

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 Recipe: Lemon Risotto

Lemon Risotto
Risotto al Limone

Ingredients:

6 cups chicken broth
3 and 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 and 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 large shallots, chopped
2 cups Arborio rice or medium-grain white rice
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano cheese (about 3 ounces)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 teaspoons grated lemon peel

Directions:

Bring broth to simmer in large saucepan over medium heat.

Reduce heat to low; cover to keep warm.

Melt 1 and 1/2 tablespoons butter with olive oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat.

Add shallots and saute until tender, about 6 minutes.

Add rice; stir 1 minute.

Add wine and stir until evaporated, about 30 seconds.

Add 1 and 1/2 cups hot broth; simmer until absorbed, stirring frequently.

Add remaining broth 1/2 cup at a time, allowing broth to be absorbed before adding more and stirring frequently until rice is creamy and tender, about 35 minutes.

Stir in cheese and remaining 2 tablespoons butter.

Stir in parsley, lemon juice, and lemon peel.

Season risotto with salt and pepper.

Transfer to bowl and serve. Makes 6 first-course or 4 main-course servings.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Spaghetti with Fresh Clams, Parsley, and Lemon

Spaghetti with Fresh Clams, Parsley, and Lemon
Spaghetti con Vongole Fresche, Prezzemolo, Limone

Ingredients:

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 lbs fresh Manila clams or small littleneck clams, scrubbed
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 lb spaghetti

Directions:

Heat olive oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat.

Add sliced garlic and saute until light brown, about 1 minute.

Add clams and 1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley; stir 2 minutes.

Add wine; simmer 2 minutes.

Add fresh lemon juice.

Cover and simmer until clams open, about 6 minutes (discard any clams that do not open).

Meanwhile, cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until 'al dente'. Drain.

Add pasta to clam mixture and toss to coat.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Transfer to large bowl.

Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons parsley and serve. Makes 4 servings.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Creamy Lemon Tart

Creamy Lemon Tart
Torta di Limone Cremosa

Ingredients:

For the crust:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon sugar
2 and 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons (about) water

For the filling:
5 large eggs
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons grated lemon peel

Directions:

Prepare the crust:
Using electric mixer, beat unsalted butter and egg yolks in large bowl until fluffy.

Beat in sugar.

Beat in flour and salt just until blended, adding water by tablespoonfuls if dough is dry.

Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface.

Gather dough together.

Shape dough into ball; flatten into disk.

Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate 1 hour.

Soften dough slightly at room temperature before rolling out.

Prepare the filling:
Whisk eggs, sugar, cream, lemon juice, and grated lemon peel in medium metal bowl to blend.

Set bowl over saucepan of simmering water (do not allow bottom of bowl to touch water); whisk slowly but constantly until mixture thickens and instant-read thermometer inserted into mixture registers 160° F, about 20 minutes.

Remove bowl from over water.

Cool mixture to room temperature, whisking occasionally.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to 13-inch round.

Transfer dough to 10-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom.

Fold in dough edges, forming double-thick sides.

Freeze crust 15 minutes.

Line crust with foil; fill with pie weights or dried beans.

Bake 15 minutes.

Remove pie weights.

Bake until crust is golden and cooked through, about 30 minutes longer.

Cool crust in pan on rack.

Spread filling evenly in crust.

Chill overnight to allow filling to set. Makes 10 to 12 servings.

That's it!

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 Only In Italy!

"Only In Italy" is a daily news column that translates and 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:

Senior Citizens Annoy Post Office into Staying Open

Genoa - December 30, 2008 - Officially, Gaetano Malia is a building worker who has been unemployed since February. Luciana is a housewife with a minimum pension and serious diabetes issues. Nicolò Catania is a retired factory worker. Pensioner Antonio Pertichini's wife is an invalid. Maria Grazia Licheri is a full-time granny to three grandchildren.

Yesterday, they met as arranged outside the Via Airaghi post office in Prà, a district in the west of Genoa, at a quarter to one. In all, there were thirty of them with an average age of about seventy. They are the anti-Post Office pensioners' hit squad, the oldies from the CEP, the Italian acronym for social housing units. One of the districts that were put up in the 1970s or thereabouts, CEP is a wasteland of low-quality concrete tower blocks with no services, no shops and potholed roads. It has had problems since it was built.

On 12 December, the postal service shut the only office serving CEP's 6,000 residents. A sign appeared on the door to announce that it had been closed after a "criminal event", a robbery on 11 December. The nearest post office is five kilometers, and two bus rides, away in Via Airaghi, where yesterday the CEP pensioners staged their protest. They called it Operation Tortoise, partly because the protest hinges on slowness and partly because tortoises have faces as lined and wrinkly as those of the demonstrators. The plan was for thirty protesters to turn up every day at closing time and keep the counter staff busy by asking all sorts of questions.

From one o'clock to three, under the eyes of watching police and Carabinieri officers, the protest continued as the smiles on the three counter clerks' faces began to slip. Maria Grazia says: "We fought to get a post office ten years ago and we aren't about to lose it now. The robbery was just a pretext".

Each protester was equipped with a sheet of instructions, printed by the CEP district's former chemist Carlo Besana, explaining how to waste counter staff's time. Questions to ask included: "What will happen to my post office account when I die?" One or two protesters touched wood just in case but why not? Everything went as planned, with a little bit of extemporization: "My son works abroad. Can he withdraw money with the Bancoposta ATM card?" "How much will it cost him?" "And if he worked in China?" "Is there a Post Office in China?" First into the breach was Nicolò Catania, 70, a former steelworker and CGIL trade unionist. He asked to speak to the manager: "I've got 100,000 euros and I want to open an account. What interest will you give me? Is that all? It isn't small change. And what if I'm not happy and want to close the account. How much will it cost?"

Pensioner and manager looked each other in the eyes. Both knew there was no 100,000 euros but they kept up the charade. It was good fun for a while. Mr Catania's contribution lasted eighteen minutes but Susanna beat his record, spending twenty-three minutes at the counter before she took pity on the clerk and left. Given the average age and infirmity of the protesters, some had brought with them a folding chair, a bottle of water and paper cups. They lingered at the counters, making one-euro contributions to the postal account of Emergency or the Gigi Ghirotti hospice, being careful to ask for the discounted rate of commission: "I'm over 70. I'm entitled to a discount". They even had a slogan to chant: "I haven't got a knife or a gun at my hip. My offensive weapon is a pay-in slip". In the afternoon, the Post Office admitted defeat. The CEP post office will re-open on 12 January "after work to make it secure".

The president of the regional authority who had written to the minister, Claudio Scajola, and to the Post Office management, expressed satisfaction: "Closure of the office is unacceptable". Mr Burlando went on: "It's a victory for ordinary people. It makes no sense for the regional authority, the municipality and voluntary associations to expend their energies on CEP if the only signal from central government is the closure of an essential service". The pensioners' hit squad was all set to descend on the post office again on 2 January but now that won't be necessary.

"Excuse me, grandissimi figli di puttane, will it be possible to pay this phone bill before the next government falls?"

Enter the mesmerizing world of any Italian post office and you'll find two or three incredibly long lines or a huddle of people all waiting for the same thing. No, not stamps but to pay bills such as taxes and utilities and withdraw pension payments.

Part of the problem is that it's a befuddled system that tries to do too many things...and badly!

As in other European countries, in Italy the post office functions as a kind of government bank. As you can already imagine (while laughing), this banking function leads to chaos and long lines, especially during the early part of the month when all the senior citizens (and perfectly healthy, conniving, rat-bastard Italians who swindled the government into giving them disability pensions) show up to collect their pension money.

And, in the early years, it somehow never occurred to the "eggplant parmigiana" in authority somewhere to separate postal functions from banking functions: "Porca miseria", No! It's the SAME line, SAME window, whether you're paying a bill, collecting a pension, trying to mail a letter, or bad mouthing your next door neighbor and her whore of a daughter simply because they exist.

After much worry and concern about the Italian people and how they should conduct themselves in public, a small brainstorm by the other eggplants in charge brought about the solution of a sophistication of the post office and that was a client-number waiting system...just like the ones at busy delicatessens.

You go in, pull a numbered ticket out of a yellow machine on the wall and wait until your number is displayed above the teller's window. This sounds like a civil idea that could bring a tear of joy, but in practice the service is even slower than before. All it does is accomplish the devious and sneaky psychological feat of making the customers feel as if they're going to be attended to soon. In fact all it does is take the immediate pressure off the lazy and useless clerks.

"Vaffanculo", now they operate at an even slower pace and find an additional ten reasons to do anything except their remedial postal tasks.

"Only In Italy" Subscribe today and you'll discover why the last improvements to Italy were made by Julius Caesar and why it's been downhill ever since!  Click Here to Subscribe!



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