09/15/09 Leg of Mutton in Vodka

"Il mattino ha l'oro in bocca." (The morning [sun] brings gold in it's mouth. The early bird gets the worm. He who wakes early meets a golden day. Welcome to another recipe edition from Adriana's Italian Bakery!

This week's Italian recipes:
  -Stuffed Onion Au Gratin
  -Rabbit with Polenta and Prosciutto
  -Leg of Mutton in Vodka

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: Traditional Almond Cookies

"Traditional" Almond Cookies: A soft and chewy Italian almond cookie with a crisp outside and tender inside. Made exclusively from our own home grown natural almonds, the freshest farm eggs, flour, and sugar. No preservatives, additives, artificial colors, nor flavors. Serves 5-7.

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 Recipe: Stuffed Onion Au Gratin

Stuffed Onion Au Gratin
Cipolle Ripiene Gratinate


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

For the Onion Gratin:
4 large onions, peeled
Butter, for greasing
5 oz (150 grams) cooked prosciutto, chopped
4 tablespoons raw tomato sauce (passata)
4 tablespoons 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 like flour.

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 2 slices of butter mixed with an equal quantity of plain flour.

Prepare the Onion Gratin:
Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil.

Add the whole onions and partially boil for a few minutes.

Drain well, cut in half horizontally and gently scoop out the middle of the onions until you're left with eight "shells".

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F) Gas Mark 4 and grease an ovenproof dish with butter.

Chop the scooped-out onion middle and mix with the prosciutto and tomato passata in a bowl.

Season with salt and pepper.

Stuff the onion shells with this mixture.

Arrange them in the prepared dish.

Stir the Parmigiano cheese into the bechamel sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pour the sauce over the stuffed onions and bake until golden brown. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

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.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Rabbit with Polenta and Prosciutto

Rabbit with Polenta and Prosciutto
Coniglio al Forno con Polenta e Prosciutto


6 rabbit legs, boned
12 thin prosciutto slices
2 tablespoons groundnut oil
2 oz (50 grams) butter
1 lb and 2 oz (500 grams) lard, melted
4 oz (120 grams) polenta
2 pints (1.2 liters) milk
2 heads of radicchio Trevisano
Sea salt and pepper


Preheat the oven to 120C (250F) Gas Mark 1/2.

Wrap each rabbit leg in two slices of prosciutto.

Heat half the oil in a large, shallow, flameproof casserole, add the rabbit legs and cook over a medium heat until they start to color, then add the butter.

Turn the legs over and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Cover the legs completely with the melted lard, then cover the casserole with foil and cook in the oven for 1 hour until very tender.

Meanwhile, cook the polenta.

Put it in a large jug so that it can be poured in a steady stream.

Bring the milk to the boil in a large saucepan (it should half-fill the pan).

Add 1 teaspoon salt and then gradually add the polenta in a continuous stream, stirring constantly with a long-handled whisk until completely blended.

When the polenta starts to bubble vigorously, lower the heat to the lowest possible setting and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.

Cut each radicchio into three pieces and season with salt and pepper.

Brush with the remaining oil and cook on a medium-hot griddle pan until wilted.

Spoon the polenta on to individual serving plates and put the rabbit legs on top.

Add the radicchio on the side and serve immediately. Serves 6.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Leg of Mutton in Vodka

Leg of Mutton in Vodka
Cosciotto alla Vodka


For the Meat Stock:
1 and 3/4 lb (800 grams) lean beef, cut into cubes
1 lb 5 oz (600 grams) veal, cut into cubes
1 onion, coarsely chopped
2 oz (50 grams) carrots, coarsely chopped
3 and 1/2 oz (100 grams) leeks, trimmed and coarsely chopped
1 celery stick, coarsely chopped

For the Mutton:
1 and 3/4 lb (800 grams) leg of mutton, cut into pieces
12 prunes, stoned
3 and 1/2 oz (100 grams) butter
2 tablespoons passata
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 celery heart, sliced
1 bay leaf
2 fl oz (50 ml) vodka
Large pinch of paprika
3 and 1/2 oz (100 grams) risotto rice
Buttered toast, to serve


Prepare the Meat Stock:
Place the meat in a large saucepan, add cold water to cover and bring to the boil, bearing in mind that slow cooking and gentle simmering are essential for successful stock.

Skim off any residue that rises to the surface and add the onion, carrots, leeks and celery and season with salt.

Lower the heat and simmer for about 3 and 1/2 hours.

Remove from the heat, strain into a bowl, leave to cool, then chill in the refrigerator.

When the fat has solidified on the surface carefully remove and discard.

Prepare the Mutton:
Bring the stock to the boil in a large pan, add the mutton and simmer for about 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the prunes in a bowl, add warm water to cover and leave to soak for at least 30 minutes, then drain.

Melt the butter in a pan and, when it starts to sizzle, stir in the passata, then add the onion, garlic, celery and bay leaf.

Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, then pour in the vodka, season with salt and paprika and cook stirring constantly, for a few minutes more.

Add the hot stock, a little at a time, stirring constantly, then add the mutton, rice and prunes.

Continue to cook, stirring constantly, for about 20 minutes.

Remove and discard the bay leaf, transfer the mutton mixture to a warm, fairly deep serving dish and serve with slices of buttered toast. Serves 4.

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:

Impatient Kindergarten Teacher Sent To Trial

Rome - January 13, 2009 - An Italian teacher was sent to trial Tuesday on charges of gagging small kids to make them behave.

Prosecutors say Maria Teresa Carrarini, a Rome kindergarten teacher, used packing tape to tie up and gag unruly toddlers. The trial will begin in Rome on April 17. Carrarini's case emerged two years ago when she was reported by parents and a kids helpline.

"Miss is using tape to keep us quiet," the parents said their children told them.

Carrarini, who denies the charges, is suing the parents for defamation of character.

Since Carrarini hit the headlines in October 2006 there have been three similar cases in Pescara, Florence and Milan. The teachers involved could face four years in jail.

"Oh, 'fanculo... Hey bambini! Quiet! Silenzio! Zitti! Shut-up!"

The sheep shaver doesn't realize she is supposed to be a role model for Italian society.

"Povero bambini." Italian children have to deal with a lot of abuse. If it's not outmaneuvering the roofs of the schools that cave in, it's the badgering into selecting a political party at the age of four.

One of the hare-brained proposals of the Minister of Instruction, Mariastella Gelmini, is to attempt to create so-called "bridge classes". These separate classes, according to Gelmini, will ease the little rascals' integration, addressing first their most urgent problems with the speaking and understanding of the Italian language. We agree. Learning to speak the language could be an urgent problem, especially when "Miss" is using tape to keep them from speaking.

"What? Che cosa?! You need a pencil?"
"Who do you think you are, Dante?"

"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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