06/08/10 Fusilli with Mussels and Fennel

"Dare a Cesare quel che di Cesare." (Give Caesar what belongs to Caesar. Give credit where credit is due.) Welcome to another recipe edition from Adriana's Italian Bakery!

This week's Italian recipes:
  -Eggplants Amalfi Style
  -Fusilli with Mussels and Fennel
  -Tuscan Roast Pork

"L'appetito vien mangiando!" (Appetite comes while you're eating!) Enjoy this week's recipes!

Arrivederci e a presto!

Yours Truly,              
Adriana Ciccarello       

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 Recipe: Eggplants Amalfi Style

Eggplants Amalfi Style
Melanzane Amalfitane


3 medium eggplants
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons fresh chopped basil
6 drained anchovy fillets, chopped
6 oz (175 grams) mozzarella cheese, cut into thin slices
3 large tomatoes, sliced
1 and 1/2 tablespoons drained capers, chopped
Salt and freshly milled black pepper


Trim the stalks from the eggplants and slice them in half lengthways.

Use a teaspoon, to get out the pulpy centers of the eggplants, leaving a shell not less than 1/4 in (5 mm) thick.

Sprinkle the shells liberally with salt and leave upside down to drain for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop the pulp.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a saucepan and gently fry the onion until softened.

Stir in the chopped eggplant pulp, crushed garlic and half the basil.

Season with salt and pepper and cook over a low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring now and then.

Stir in the chopped anchovies.

Next, preheat the oven to 350F (180C) Gas Mark 4 then wipe the eggplant shells with kitchen paper and arrange them in the roasting tin or baking dish.

Spoon the onion and pulp mixture into the shells, then arrange alternate slices of cheese and tomato on top of each eggplant half and sprinkle with the chopped capers.

Sprinkle with the remaining basil and dribble a little more olive oil over each.

Season and bake, uncovered, in the top of the oven for 40 minutes. Serves 3-6.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Fusilli with Mussels and Fennel

Fusilli with Mussels and Fennel
Fusilli con Cozze e Finocchio


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 small fennel bulbs, chopped
8 ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 chicken stock cubes, crumbled
2 tablespoons tomato paste
4 cups water
1 and 1/2 lbs mussels
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup cream
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano cheese
2 and 1/4 lbs fusilli pasta


Heat olive oil in large pan, add onion, cook stirring until golden brown.

Add garlic and fennel, stir over heat 5 minutes.

Add undrained crushed tomatoes, crumbled stock cubes, tomato paste and water, mix well.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat, simmer uncovered 45 minutes.

Add mussels, cook over low heat until mussels open, discard unopened shells.

Add cream, parsley and Parmigiano cheese.

Serve over pasta which has been boiled until 'al dente'. Serves 6-8.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Tuscan Roast Pork

Tuscan Roast Pork
Arrosto di Maiale Toscana


5 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons fennel seeds
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 teaspoons salt
Extra virgin olive oil
1 pork loin weighing 4.5 to 6.5 lbs (2-3 kgs)
Freshly ground black pepper


In a food processor or pestle and mortar, grind together the garlic, fennel seeds, parsley, salt and some freshly ground black pepper, then mix in enough olive oil to make a paste.

Rub this thoroughly all over the meat and tie the meat up with string.

Roast uncovered in an oven preheated to 350F (180C) Gas Mark 4 for about 1 and 1/2 hours, then turn the oven up high and continue roasting for half and hour or so (a meat thermometer in the center of the joint should read 80C). To make crackling, rub plenty of salt (but no olive oil) into the skin and roast separately. Remove from the oven if it is done before the meat is ready.

Leave the meat to rest for 20 minutes or so, then carve it into thick slices and serve with oven potatoes. Serves 6 to 8.

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 Fat Ladies Won't Sing, Italian Opera Houses Go On Strike

Rome - May 2, 2010 - Opera theatre workers in Italy have gone on strike, causing the cancellation of performances throughout the country.

Union leaders called the strike to protest a government emergency decree concerning the financing of the country's 14 state-supported opera houses, which have 5,500 workers.

The union says benefits will be chopped and the decree also hobbles their ability to bargain properly. Reports say that stipends, which can account for up to 20 per cent of a worker's total salary, would be cut by 50 per cent.

Giancarlo Albori, a La Scala union official, said that an emergency decree was not necessary: "We don't agree with the instrument."

The Accademia Nazionale di Santa Celilia in Rome posted a warning on its website that it has scrapped performances Sunday, Monday and Tuesday because of a strike.

The famed La Scala, in Milan, has already canceled its May 13th premiere of Wagner's Das Reingold.

Barber of Seville: "FIGARO! FIGARO!"

This strike is part of a long-running boring drama involving Italy’s main opera houses, which are almost all dependent on government financing and frequently suffer labor stoppages or the threat of them.

The fight bears the asinine hallmarks of Italian life: Powerful blood-sucking unions holding on to long-held privileges, a struggle between local and central control, and seemingly wrongheaded decrees from Rome.

The Italian government provides about $321 million a year for all 14 opera houses. But that's not much more than the Metropolitan Opera’s budget in New York. There is no doubt that the protagonists of these houses have the brilliance, passion and talent of people like the late great Pavarotti...but the management of Bozo the Clown.

For example, the 'Teatro Massimo' in Palermo is the largest theatre in Italy (and the third largest opera house in Europe).

In 1974 the house was closed to complete renovations required by updated safety regulations, but the inflated cost over-runs from the Mafia, rat-bastard Sicilian corruption, and meddling from Sicilian politicians who had less knowledge of Opera culture than the vendors in front of the theater selling greasy "panini con la milza" (fried cow spleen sandwiches), all added to the delay and it remained closed for a staggering 23 years and reopened in May of 1997.

The only opera performance taking place at the 'Teatro Massimo' during those 23 years was 'Fantasia' by the local academy of Palermo rats.

"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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