12/02/04 Pistachio and Lemon Biscotti from

"Buon Giorno!" Greetings and big hug to all from Santo Stefano Quisquina, Italy!

This week's Italian recipes:
  Bucatini All'Amatriciana
  Risotto with Porcini Mushrooms
  Pistachio and Lemon Biscotti

Give them a try for the upcoming Holidays!

We hope you enjoy the new recipes in this week's issue and the complimentary news article report on Italian driving hazards from "Only In" .

Enjoy the issue and "Buon Natale"!

Yours Truly,              
Adriana Ciccarello       

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 Recipe: Bucatini All'Amatriciana

Bucatini All'Amatriciana


2 tblsp of olive oil
1/4 lb pancetta, chopped
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 28 oz can of imported Italian tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb of bucatini pasta
2 basil leaves washed, patted dry and torn into small pieces.


Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring often, until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add the onion and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute until golden about 1 minute longer.

Crush tomatoes and add with juices to pan. Add salt and pepper and a little water. Bring to a simmer and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens, about 15 to 20 minutes.

While the sauce is cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon of salt and the bucatini. Cook uncovered over high heat until "al dente".

Drain the pasta, then add the pasta and the basil to the sauce in the saucepan and toss well. Transfer to warm serving plates and serve immediately. Serves 4.

That's it!

 Recipe: Risotto with Porcini Mushrooms

Risotto with Porcini Mushrooms


2 1/2 cups rice
1/2 cup finely chopped white onion
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 oz. dry porcini mushrooms
about 6-7 cups vegetable broth
1 cup red wine like Merlot
1/2 cup freshly grated Italian Parmigiano
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh Italian parsley


Place the mushrooms in lukewarm water and let them soak for about 20 minutes or until soft.

When soft remove them and squeeze all the excess water out. The chop them into smaller pieces or leave them bigger according to your taste and set them aside.

Filter the mushroom water to remove any grains of sand and set it aside.

In a large non stick pan cook the onions in 2 Tbsp. butter until they're translucent being careful not to brown them. Add a little water if they get too dry.

When the onions are ready add the rice, combine it well with the onions and butter, and toast it for about 2-3 minutes at high heat. Then add the mushrooms and mix in for a few seconds.

Add 1 cup of wine and mix well until it evaporates. Use a good full bodied red wine like Cabernet.

Add the filtered water from the mushrooms and mix in well.

Add about 2 cups vegetable broth and reduce the heat to medium. Mix it frequently.

Continue adding broth in the same quantity mixing frequently. Continue doing so until the rice is nearly cooked. This will take practice since every rice cooks differently.

When the rice is almost cooked, it should be 15-20 minutes according to package direction, add 1 Tbsp of butter, the parsley and the Parmigiano. Remove from the stove, cover the pan with the lid and let it stand for few minutes.

Serve the rice and accompanied it with extra Parmigiano for the topping. Serves 4 to 6.

Notes: This is one of many ways to make Risotto. It should be creamy, not too dry and certainly not soupy. It may take a little practice to get it right, but once you do it is well worth the effort.

That's it!

 Recipe: Pistachio and Lemon Biscotti

Pistachio and Lemon Biscotti


1/3 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 teaspoons finely shredded lemon peel
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups unsalted pistachio nuts (6 ounces)
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
Milk or lemon juice


Line an extra-large cookie sheet or 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper or lightly grease; set aside. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt; beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in eggs and vanilla until combined. Beat in the 4 teaspoons lemon peel and as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour and nuts.

On a lightly floured surface, divide dough into 3 equal portions. Shape each portion into an 8-inch-long loaf. Flatten loaves to about 2-1/2 inches wide. Place at least 3 inches apart on prepared cookie sheet(s).

Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown and tops are cracked. (Loaves will spread slightly.) Cool on cookie sheet for 30 minutes.

Transfer loaves to a cutting board. Cut each loaf diagonally into 1/2-inch slices. Place slices, cut sides down, on the same parchment-lined cookie sheets. Bake in a 325 degree F oven for 8 minutes. Turn slices over and bake 8 to 10 minutes more or until dry and crisp. Transfer to a wire rack; cool.

In a small mixing bowl stir together the powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel. Stir in enough milk or lemon juice (1 to 2 tablespoons) to make icing of drizzling consistency. Dip ends of cookies into icing or drizzle with icing. Makes 36.

That's it!

Submit Your Thoughts


 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:

Rome To Tame Teenage Scooter Drivers.

(Reuters) - Rome - June 22 - Mariolina Moioli dreams of bringing civilization to Italyís chaotic streets.

That means the end of an era for carefree 14-year-olds who for generations have been allowed to drive a scooter without so much as a permit or a driving lesson.

The sight of adolescents buzzing around on their scooters is as quintessentially Italian as pizza and pasta - as are the daily reports of teenagers killed after speeding along the Tiber or running a red light in Romeís hectic traffic.

"Weíre not going to save the world, but itís something," said Moioli, explaining a plan to teach "good behavior" on the roads as part of the preparation for the introduction of a 'mini-licence' for under-18s wanting to drive scooters.

Hundreds of thousands of teenagers now face the prospect of having to park their beloved Vespas from July 1 or pay a fine of more than 500 euros ($604) if they are caught without the mini-licence.

Currently anybody is allowed to drive a scooter with an engine of 50 cc from the age of 14 without a licence.

"Itís about behavior and values, about respect for life, how to behave with others, basically how to drive in a civilized way," said Moioli, director general of the Education Ministry.

But 17-year-old Giovanni De Angelis and many fellow teenagers are crying foul.

"It ridiculous. For more powerful motorbikes maybe it makes sense but not for the smaller ones. And maybe for 14-year-olds - if they're so small they can't even reach the handle bars."

De Angelis will not be taking the exam himself, he added with a shrug, because his scooter has been stolen.

"Itís been chaos, at least they should give a bit more time," he said.

Motor organizations also complain that there has been insufficient time to complete the courses and the tests.

"Itís not that we're against the mini-licence but you have to give people the time to attend the free courses in schools," said Claudio de Viti of the National Association of Bicycles, Motorcycles and Accessories (ANCMA) representing manufacturers.

"If you force them to go to driving schools and pay then itís just another barrier to buying a scooter," he said, adding that scooter sales had fallen 30 percent in the year to May because of uncertainty about the new mini-licence.

Race to pass exam

Moioli said around 700,000 teenagers had registered for the courses in schools but not all schools offered the classes or tests and 20-25 percent of those who took the test had failed.

"The risk is there will be a lot of people driving illegally which is worrying not just because of the fines but also because their insurance will not be valid. If somebody has an accident the insurance won't cover it," he said.

Moioli said the problem was that young people often had a sense of invincibility. "They seem to believe that they can deal with the risks, that it'll happen to others but it won't happen to them, and this leads to a lot of accidents," she said.

She might not be amused by 16-year-old Andrea De Sanctis, who confesses he had an accident last year on his scooter involving a tree. "It wasn't my fault. It was the tree that was going the wrong way down a one-way street."

From July 2005 adults too will have to obtain a mini-licence to drive 50 cc scooters unless they already have a licence to drive a motorcycle or car.

The change will close a gap in the law allowing adults, and previously also teenagers, without a licence to drive so-called 'mini cars' - tiny, light-weight four-wheel vehicles with 50 cc engines that are classed as scooters.

Long popular with the elderly, the mini-cars have been popping up all over Rome driven by teenagers or adults who have lost their licence because of speeding or other infractions.

Of around 10,000 mini cars sold last year in Italy, and a total of 30,000 on the roads, more than 60 percent were owned by pensioners, De Viti said, and only 5-10 percent by under 18s.

"Itís a particularly Roman phenomenon," he said. "You get some parents who are willing to spend 10,000 euros because they think itís safer for their children."

"Piccoli Bastardi!"

Italian Road Hazards: Scooters

1. General
There are approximately 2 billion mosquitoes in Italy which is, more or less, the same amount of scooters, and it's a strange fact of life that at least 42.5% of them are around you at any time when driving in one of our cities. They are maniacs; stark, staring, annoyed, conceited maniacs angry at their parents. You can use all the mosquito repellant you want but they won't go away!

2. Safety equipment - Crash helmets
Helmets are obligatory unless
a) you simply don't want to wear one or
b) you can't be threatened to wear one.

Helmet should be of the size and shape of a Jewish cap; something as "large" as a motorcycle style helmet might make you look less cool, and show off less of your good looks. If you want to wear a motorcycle crash helmet then you are a moron, and not Italian.

3. Clothing
For men this should be shorts or designer trousers, together with a loose cotton designer shirt. For women a bikini is best. On no account should you wear anything with an abrasion protection quotient higher than tissue paper.

Men: Italian leather loafers,
Women: Never attempt to operate scooters in heels lower than 2 inches.

4. Riding style
Do not adjust your mirrors so you can see what is behind you; the first rule of Italian driving applies and they should always be adjusted to show you your gorgeous reflection; to do anything else is to imply that you are a moron and not Italian.

Head immediately for "any" opening that appears, no matter if it's not large enough to allow you through; if it isn't big enough now, it may soon be, and you don't want to waste a single second. If another maniac heads for the same gap, accelerate as fast as your little scooter will allow you, while shouting at them at the top of your voice; this is another good reason for not wearing a full face lid helmet.

5. Speed limits
Ignore them all. If stopped by the local police (Polizia) or the national police (Carabineri), simple show an air of total disbelief that you could have possibly been breaking any law. Wave your hands about wildly to indicate you saw no sign, even if you are standing under the actual sign. If you are female, pout your lips and cry a lot.

6. Road markings
As with speed limits, there are a huge variety of road markings for the visitor to come to terms with; there are several varieties of dotted lines, single solid whites, double solid whites, vertical lines, horizontal lines, vertical and horizontal blocks, etc etc. It can be very disorientating so simply do what the locals do and ignore them all.

7. Pedestrian crossings
(Standard): "Very" dangerous for the visitor, If pedestrians are already on the crossing when you happen upon it, merely accelerate towards them; they will get out of the way. Or they won't. Either way, you don't concern yourself.

(Elderly): Old Italian people are tougher and will happily launch themselves onto crossings with no thought for their safety nor yours; do not attempt the "standard" version above because if you hit them your scooter will be a write off and they'll then hit you with the cane they're carrying.

8. Overtaking
Overtaking is permissible everywhere; don't think for one second think that, just because there's a junction, a level crossing, 3 old ladies, an oncoming truck and a group of nuns in the overtaking zone that you should for one second consider backing off. Simply attempt the overtake. Things will be fine. Or they won't. Either way, it's not your concern.

9. Turning signals
There are controls on each vehicle that cause little bits of colored plastic to flash on and off at the corners of your vehicle. Aren't they pretty?

10. Pulling over
If you see a friend, lover or colleague walking down the street, pull over to have a word with them. Don't worry about signaling, looking or any of that safety; just do it. Other people will get out of your way, even if you're on a scooter and they're in a 30 ton truck. Don't worry; it'll work. Or it won't. Either way, it's not your concern.

11. Riding a motorcycle in Italian cities
Don't get out of the way of scooters. Ride your line and hold on to it with a death grip; they will get out of the way. Motorcycles, particularly large ones, are seen by the average Italian as being owned by homicidal lunatics, and they will get out of your way. If they don't, feel free to bang your bike against the scooter. The little weasel will shout at you; merely turn your head and stare at them. They'll disappear.

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