07/13/10 Scallops with Saffron Vinaigrette

"Sposa bagnata, sposa fortunate." (Rain on the day you get married brings good luck.) Welcome to another recipe edition from Adriana's Italian Bakery!

This week's Italian recipes:
  -Egg Sauce and Anchovy Canapes
  -Potatoes in Bechamel Sauce
  -Scallops with Saffron Vinaigrette

"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: Egg Sauce and Anchovy Canapes

Egg Sauce and Anchovy Canapes
Tartine Con Acciughe In Salsa Di Uovo


1 hard-boiled egg
2 oz (50 grams) canned anchovy fillets, drained
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2-4 white bread slices, crusts removed
Salt and pepper
Pickled pearl onions, halved, to garnish 


Shell and halve the egg.

Scoop the yolk out into a bowl.

Stir in the vinegar, olive oil, parsley and season with salt and pepper.

Cut the slices of bread into triangles and toast lightly on both sides.

Spread with a little bit of the egg mixture, arrange two anchovy fillets on top and garnish with the pickled pearl onion halves. Serves 4.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Potatoes in Bechamel Sauce

Potatoes in Bechamel Sauce
Patate alla Besciamella


For the Bechamel Sauce:
2 oz (50 grams) oz butter
2 oz (50 grams) plain flour
18 fl oz (500 ml) milk
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
Salt and pepper

For the Potatoes:
2 and 1/4 lbs (1 kg) potatoes
1 oz (25 grams) butter, melted, plus extra for greasing
3 and 1/2 fl oz (100 ml) single cream
2 oz (50 grams) Parmigiano cheese, freshly grated
Salt and pepper


Prepare the Bechamel Sauce:
Melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat.

Whisk in the flour.

Pour in all the milk, whisking constantly until it starts to boil.

Season with salt, lower the heat, cover and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for at least 20 minutes. Bechamel sauce should not taste floury.

Remove the saucepan from the heat.

Taste and add more salt if necessary and season with pepper and/or nutmeg.

If the sauce is too thick, add a little more milk.

If too runny, return to the heat and add a knob of butter mixed with an equal quantity of plain flour.

Note: For a richer bechamel sauce, replace half the milk with the same amount of double cream; for a lighter bechamel sauce, add half milk and half water.

Prepare the Potatoes:
Cook the whole, unpeeled potatoes in plenty of salted water for about 45 minutes, then drain, peel and slice.

Preheat the oven to 200C (400F) Gas Mark 6.

Grease an ovenproof dish with butter, arrange the potato slices, slightly overlapping, in it and season with salt and pepper.

Stir the cream into the bechamel sauce and pour the mixture over the potatoes to cover.

Sprinkle with the Parmigiano cheese and melted butter.

Bake until golden brown and bubbling, then serve. This dish may also be served as a first course. Serves 6.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Scallops with Saffron Vinaigrette

Scallops with Saffron Vinaigrette
Capesante All'Aspretto Di Zafferano


8 large scallops or 12 small ones, shelled and corals reserved
4-5 celery sticks, cut into thin batons
2 tablespoons lemon juice, strained
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons vinaigrette
Salt and pepper

For the Vinaigrette:
7 fl oz (200 ml) white wine vinegar
1 level tablespoon saffron threads
3 and 1/2 fl oz (100 ml) extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground sea salt

For the Puree:
1/2 celeriac, diced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons double cream
2 oz (50 grams) butter


Put the vinegar into a pan with the saffron over a low heat and let it reduce by half.

Leave it to cool down.

When cold, whisk in the olive oil and season with salt.

If the scallops have been stored in the refrigerator, remove them and let them to come to room temperature before cooking.

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F) Gas Mark 4.

To make the puree, put the celeriac in an oven-proof dish with 5 tablespoons water, a pinch of salt and the olive oil, cover, seal completely with foil and bake for about 30 minutes until soft.

Transfer the celeriac mixture to a food processor and process, adding the cream as the motor is running, then pass through a fine sieve to produce a smooth puree. (It is important to process the celeriac while it is still hot, as it makes the puree smoother and it will pass more easily through the sieve).

Set the puree aside.

Put the celery in a bowl with a handful of ice to crisp up.

Mix together the lemon juice and half the olive oil.

Heat an ovenproof frying pan (two if you have 12 scallops).

When it is hot but not smoking, pour in the rest of the olive oil, then add the scallops (don't season at this stage as the salt will make them leach out their moisture and they will become dry).

Cook the scallops for 1 minute (or 1 and 1/2 minutes if large), until golden underneath, then turn them over and put into oven for 1 further minute.

Season and transfer them to the bowl of saffron vinaigrette.

Gently reheat the celeriac puree in a small pan and season if necessary.

Remove the pan from the heat and beat in the butter.

Spoon the puree on to individual plates and arrange the scallops on top.

Drain the celery from the ice, season with the lemon and oil mixture and arrange on top of the scallops.

Drizzle the remaining saffron vinaigrette around. 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:

Italian Police Arrest 67 Mafia Members Who Controlled Southern Italy Produce Market

Rome - May 10, 2010 - Police arrested at least 67 suspected mafia members in raids across southern Italy today, dismantling an alleged alliance of Italy's three main crime syndicates that virtually monopolized southern produce markets, officials said.

Authorities also seized rocket and grenade launchers. The Sicilian mafia, the Calabrian 'Ndrangheta and the Naples-area Camorra dropped traditional rivalries to join forces to control fruit and vegetable sales and distribution throughout central and southern Italy, General Antonio Girone of the anti-mafia police said.

"If you ever wondered why the price of fruit is multiplied by 20 times" from the price paid to the farmer to what consumers pay at the store, the investigation supplied a reason, Girone said.

Among those arrested was Paolo Schiavone, son of Francesco Schiavone, reputedly a boss of the Casalesi crime clan, based in Caserta, who is in jail. Paolo Schiavone had just stepped on to the docks of Naples at the end of a honeymoon cruise when he was arrested, said Rodolfo Ruperti, Caserta police special operations chief.

The alleged ring was exposed after police began investigating the attempted murder in 2002 of a delivery truck driver. Using wiretaps, investigators discovered "how the Camorra terrorized those in the transport sector" to make sure that their own transport companies carried produce from farms, and that vendors agreed to their prices, said Rodolfo Ruperti, Caserta police special operations chief.

"They put their own trucking companies to work," Italy's national anti-mafia prosecutor, Piero Grasso, told a news conference in Naples.

The trucks also sometimes moved weapons.

"Che schifo!" I miss the days when preparing a tomato and mozzarella salad wasn't such a pain in the ass.

"Authorities also seized rocket and grenade launchers." Yes, they come in quite handy when discouraging hijackers or dealing with local workers' unions.

"Paolo Schiavone had just stepped on to the docks of Naples at the end of a honeymoon cruise when he was arrested..." "Porca miseria", so sorry! More importantly, how was the buffet? Was there a large assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables?

Most people need to double the amount the amount of fruits and vegetables they eat every day. Most of us in Southern Italy would love to heed to this sound advice but we don't think our local bank would approve a personal loan for the purchase eggplants and zucchini.

Here's some food for thought:

- It is recommended that you eat five servings of fruit or vegetables a day. (That's out of the question. But we can always get some pictures of produce and stare at them.)

- They are delicious. ("Mi scusi", excuse me. I would like to return these peppers. They smell like gunpowder.)

- Darker green vegetables contain more vitamin C than lighter green vegetables. (And quite expensive. That's why they're usually delivered to our local supermarket by armored truck.)

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