08/11/09 Poached Pears with Marsala, Cinnamon, and Vanilla

"Contro la forza la ragione non vale." (Against force, reason is useless.) Welcome to another recipe edition from Adriana's Italian Bakery!

This week's Italian recipes:
  -Penne with Slow-Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Goat Cheese
  -Spaghetti with Pecorino Romano and Black Pepper
  -Poached Pears with Marsala, Cinnamon, and Vanilla

All of us at the bakery sincerely wish everyone had a happy and healthy summer season. 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 ($22.50-$23.00) + Shipping.

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 Recipe: Penne with Slow-Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Goat Cheese

Penne with Slow-Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Goat Cheese
Penne con Pomodorini Arrosti e Formaggio di Capra


2 lbs red and yellow cherry tomatoes
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
6 ounces fresh goat cheese
1 lb Penne pasta
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
Additional kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


Preheat the oven to 250F and line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Halve each tomato and place cut side up in one flat layer on the baking sheets.

Drizzle the tomatoes with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and sprinkle on the salt.

Roast until the tomatoes are dried around the edges but still moist, about 2 hours.

Crumble the goat cheese into large chunks and refrigerate until ready to serve the pasta.

Cook the pasta in salted boiling water according to the package directions.

Remove 1 cup of the cooking liquid and reserve.

Drain the pasta well and return to the pot.

Add the tomatoes, goat cheese, basil, reserved cooking liquid, and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil.

Toss well and season with salt and pepper. Serve warm. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Spaghetti with Pecorino Romano and Black Pepper

Spaghetti with Pecorino Romano and Black Pepper
Spaghetti a Cacio e Pepe


Kosher salt or coarse sea salt
1 and 1/2 lbs spaghetti, spaghettoni, tonnarelli or fettuccine
About 2 cups freshly grated Pecorino Romano
1 heaping tablespoon freshly ground black pepper


Bring at least 5 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot and add a tiny pinch of salt.

Drop in the pasta, stir and cover the pot.

When the water returns to a boil, remove the lid and cook, uncovered, until the pasta is 'al dente'.

Reserve about 1/2 cup of the cooking water and drain the pasta.

Return the still-dripping pasta to the pot in which it was boiled.

Away from any direct source of heat, stir in the reserved pasta water and toss vigorously while sprinkling in about 1 cup of the cheese and the pepper.

Serve immediately in pasta bowls with the remaining 1 cup Pecorino Romano on the side. Makes 6 servings.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Poached Pears with Marsala, Cinnamon, and Vanilla

Poached Pears with Marsala, Cinnamon, and Vanilla
Pere Cotte con Marsala, Cannella e Vaniglia


2 cups dry Marsala
2 cups water
3/4 cup sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise
2 long strips orange peel
6 7-ounce Bosc pears, peeled, stems left intact

8 ounces mascarpone cheese


Combine 2 cups dry Marsala, 2 cups water, sugar, cinnamon sticks, split vanilla beans, and orange peel strips in heavy large pot.

Bring to boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar.

Add peeled Bosc pears.

Reduce heat to medium-low.

Cover pot and simmer until pears are tender, turning pears occasionally, about 40 minutes.

Using slotted spoon, transfer pears to platter.

Boil liquid in pot until reduced to 1 and 1/4 cups, about 12 minutes.

Pour syrup over poached pears.

Chill until cold, turning pears occasionally, at least 3 hours and up to 1 day.

Divide poached pears among 6 shallow bowls.

Strain syrup; discard solids.

Drizzle syrup over pears.

Top each with dollop of mascarpone cheese, if desired, and serve. Makes 6 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:

Italian Priest: "Listen Carefully, Santa Doesn't Exist!"

Novara - December 24, 2008 - A Roman Catholic priest in northern Italy has been criticized by parents for telling children that Father Christmas does not really exist.

The parents say he has ruined the children's Christmas.

But Father Dino Bottino, a parish priest in Novara, says he had not intend to hurt anyone.

He says it is his duty to make clear the reality of Jesus, and distinguish it from the story of Father Christmas which is a fable just like Cinderella or Snow White.

In addition to denying the existence of Santa, Father Bottino also told children at his mass that the kindly witch called Befana, who provides Italian children with presents on 6 January, is not real either.

A local paper published complaints from dozens of parents. "You've ruined my children's Christmas," said one mother.

But an unrepentant Father Bottino called it his duty to set the record straight.

"I told the children that Father Christmas was an invention that had nothing to do with the Christian Christmas story," he said.

"And I would repeat it again, if I had the chance," he added.

"Porca vacca", the Italian Grinch that stole Christmas!

Grazie, Father Dino. Way to go!
We swear we've seen more compassion from a drive up clown at McDonald's!

You have a lot of free time. Why not unmask all the other prevalent Italian knucklehead superstitions and myths:

The Evil Eye: caused by jealousy and envy. By coveting somebody's possessions or more importantly admiring another family's newborn baby can cause a curse, even if the envious person did not intend it. Can bring about a variety of sicknesses. Fr. Dino: Your evil eye could be astigmatism; recommends a visit to your local optometrist.


The Corno: a classic offshoot of the Evil Eye curse. These twisted red coral, gold or silver amulets are often worn as necklaces by men to ward off curses on their "manliness" (very similar to a Mojo). Related to the Corno is the hand gesture known as the "mano cornuta", which also wards off the Evil Eye by extending only the pinkie and index finger like a pair of horns and pointing it down. When this gesture is made pointing upward it is as an insult to somebody, meaning their husband or wife is unfaithful. Fr. Dino: Your so-called "manliness" can be saved by avoiding cheap cologne, buttoning your shirt completely (not halfway), and consuming just one bottle of wine a day. The "mano cornuta" or pointing of the fingers is impolite and rude behavior so, it should be stopped. Hire a private investigator for your unfaithful husband/wife.


No Birds in the House: a belief that having a bird in the house brings bad luck. Some versions of the superstition include even bird feathers, especially peacock feathers with their potentially "Evil Eye". Reason for birds being bad luck stems from the Bible, when St. Peter denied that he knew Jesus three times before the rooster crowed. Fr. Dino: I've never seen a peacock owner attend my parish. If a rooster crows every time an Italian lies three times, you'll have a nation of people and chickens going insane.


Upside-Down Bread: a loaf of bread must always be placed face up, or else bad luck will come. Upside down bread is taken quite seriously at times, especially on board fishing boats, where bad luck could mean no fish or worse. Fr. Dino: If a jackass fails the remedial task of making a sandwich with a loaf of bread placed face up, then he is still a jackass who may be saved one day with the help of the church. "No fish or worse" can be resolved with better bait and tackle.

"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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