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 12/03/05 Minestrone Milanese from CookiesFromItaly.com

"Una buona giornata a tutti i nostri cari lettori!" Welcome to another delicious recipe edition from Adriana's Italian Bakery!

This week's Italian recipes:
  -Minestrone Milanese
  -Ragu' Genovese
  -Castagnaccio

Please give the hearty and flavorful minestrone a try. It will be perfect for a cold winter night! Enjoy the complimentary news article report from "Only In Italy.com".

Enjoy the issue!

Yours Truly,              
Adriana Ciccarello       


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 Recipe: Minestrone Milanese

Minestrone Milanese
Minestrone of Rice and Vegetables

Ingredients:

1/3 lb. pork rinds (cotenne)
1 lb. fresh peas, podded
2 firm zucchini, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 carrots, diced
8 oz. ripe tomatoes
6 tbs. lard
6 tbs. parsley
6 sage leaves
2 cloves garlic
1 large onion, sliced
3 oz. pancetta, cut in little strips
1 lb. shelled, fresh borlotti beans
3 potatoes, diced
1/2 lb. Savoy cabbage, sliced
4 tbs. Parmigiano cheese
1/3 lb. rice, short or medium grain
Salt

Directions:

Serape the pork rinds with a knife to clean the surface and remove any bristle that might still be attached to it. Blanch the pork rinds and let cool. Cut into strips and set aside.

Rinse and dice all the vegetables (zucchini, celery, and carrots).

Peel, seed and dice the tomatoes, then let cool.

Finely chop the lard, parsley, sage, garlic and onion. SautÚ the pancetta over medium heat together with lard and herbs, stir until the lard melts and the onions get soft but not brown.

Combine all the vegetables, except for beans, potatoes and cabbage, together with 3 qts. of hot water and a little salt. Cover the pot and let cook.

When the water boils, add the beans and the pork rinds cut into strips. Cook over a low fire for l 1/2 hours, and then add the potatoes and the cabbage cut into julienne. When the beans are done, add the rice.

Continue to cook on a medium flame, stirring frequently so that the minestrone, which should have thickened by now, does not stick to the bottom of pot. When the rice is done (approx. 12 mins.), remove from fire and mix in the grated Parmigiano.

If minestrone gets too thick, add some broth. Let it rest for 15 mins. and serve either hot or at room temperature.

Note 1: If you are using dry beans, remember to soak them for a few hours.

Note 2: Rice can be replaced with a short pasta.

That's it!


 Recipe: Ragu' Genovese

Ragu' Genovese
Braised Onion and Beef Sauce

Despite its name, this is a recipe from Naples and is used as a condiment for pasta.

Ingredients:

2 lbs. onion
1 clove garlic
1 celery stalk
1 carrot
1 oz. lard
1 oz. salame
1 oz. prosciutto
3 oz. olive oil
2 oz. pancetta, chopped
1 oz. tomato paste
1 lb. lean round beef
1 cup white wine
Salt, pepper
Beef bouillon, as needed

Directions:

Cut onion, garlic, celery and carrot into julienne.

Coarsely chop lard, salame and prosciutto. Place the lot into a baking pan, adding oil and pancetta. SautÚ slowly, over low heat until the vegetables are soft but not browned.

Brown it all around, add the beef and dilute the paste into 1/2 cup of lukewarm water and add to the pot together with the wine and place the roast into the oven at 350║F. Cook for 3-4 hours, adding beef bouillon as necessary.

Salt and pepper to taste.

The final result should be that of a rather dark, glazed sauce.

This condiment is good for ziti or any other type of macaroni with a large hole. The meat can be served together with the rag¨ or as a separate course.

That's it!


 Recipe: Castagnaccio

Castagnaccio
Chestnut Crust

Ingredients:

1 lb. chestnut flour
1 tbs. grated orange zest
4 tbs. sugar
4 tbs. raisins, soaked and squeezed
1 pinch salt
2 tbs. pine nuts
3 tbs. olive oil
2 tbs. walnuts, coarsely chopped
Milk, as needed

Directions:

Sift the chestnut flour; add the sugar and a pinch of salt.

Add 2 pts. cold water in a thin stream, beating constantly with a whisk so as not to form lumps.

Add 3 tbs. oil, orange peel, raisins, pine nuts and walnuts.

Add warm milk little by little until you get a stiff consistency.

Pour the batter into a greased pan large enough for the crust to be 1/2-in. thick. Dribble on some oil.

Pre-heat the oven to 400░F and bake for an hour.

Serve warm or cold. It can also be served with whipped cream.

Note: Fennel seeds can be used in place of walnuts.

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:

Peace and Profits for Mafia in Sicily.

PALERMO, Sicily (Reuters) - Philip Pullella - May 11 - The good news is that the Sicilian Mafia has slashed the rates it charges "clients". The bad news is that it has vastly expanded its client base.

"Pagare tutti, pagare meno", roughly translated as "everybody pays, everybody pays less", is the new slogan Sicilian magistrates and mayors are using to describe what the Mafia is doing these days.

In recent years, a new "Pax Mafiosa" has settled over the island. The Mafia has stopped killing its enemies -- police, magistrates and politicians -- and even its own members.

But like the red Sahara sand that the scirocco wind blows in from Africa, magistrates say the Mafia is still everywhere.

"What the Mafia has been trying to do all these years is to go forward by actually taking a step backwards," said Antonio Ingroia, a magistrate who has investigated the Mafia for years.

Throughout the 1990s the state reeled in a spate of big fish. "Boss of Bosses" Salvatore "The Beast" Riina was arrested in 1993 and his deputy, Leoluca Bagarella, captured in 1995.

Giovanni Brusca, whose specialty was making bombs and dissolving people in acid, was netted in 1996. The list goes on.

Those arrests and others followed national and Sicilian outrage over the killings of top magistrates Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino in 1992 and a spate of bombs in 1993.

Then it all went eerily quiet. The Cosa Nostra changed its business strategy.

"There is a new tactic of keeping a low profile, to avoid the kind of attacks that provoked a reaction from the state," said Alfredo Morvillo, a magistrate whose sister Francesca, also a magistrate, was killed alongside Falcone in 1992.

A KINDER, GENTLER MAFIA?

In interviews, Ingroia, Morvillo and others painted a picture of a Mafia re-asserting its influence in a gentler way.

Libero Grassi, owner of a thriving textile company outside Palermo, was killed in 1991 after he refused to pay a large monthly "pizzo", the Sicilian word for an extortion payment.

The new strategy is to avoid exorbitant rates, such as the ones applied to Grassi's factory, but to cast the protection net much further afield, even to small shopkeepers.

"This gives the Mafia a lot of advantages. Everyone pays so the intake is more or less what is was before. The shopkeeper who does not feel strangled by exorbitant rates finds it more convenient to deal with the Mafia," Ingroia said.

Salvino Caputo, mayor of the city of Monreale, which lies on the edge of Palermo, says that in some cases even relatives of Mafia members pay.

"There's no commercial activity in our area that does not pay extortion, even a small one like 20 euros (13.4 pounds) a month," he said.

The Mafia also makes money through public works contracts but instead of trying directly to influence how they are awarded, it moves in later.

"A 'clean' company wins the contact but then the Mafia 'suggests' where it should buy its cement, where to get the bulldozers, and so it goes," Caputo said.

It's not just money the Mafia is after, magistrates and mayors say. It wants "consensus" to control the territory.

It means the Mafia selling itself as a fact of life, even a benevolent association that helps find a job or fix a problem. This makes it not just a criminal organization but a criminal phenomenon rooted in history and harder to extirpate.

"In our parts it take 10 years to arrest a fugitive and a minute to rebuild a Mafia family," Caputo said.

FROM BRAWN TO BRAINS

The brains behind the Mafia's strategy is Bernardo Provenzano, 70, who assumed control after the arrests of the 1990s.

Police have been on his trail for 40 years. In the last picture police have of him, Provenzano was about 25.

Using computer photo fits of how he may have aged, they have come close to capturing him several times but his ability to elude them has become legendary.

The Provenzano doctrine is defined by no attacks against the state and managing internal dissent through consensus, persuasion and paternal largesse rather than execution.

Riina was a dictator but magistrates paint Provenzano as the head of a directorate -- as democratic as a Mafioso can get.

When Mafia bosses today hear on the grapevine that a member is not happy and is considering turning state's evidence, they no longer kill him or his family but send envoys to listen to his complaints and try to keep him in the fold.

Despite the Mafia's lower profile, police have chalked up a string of victories in the fight against organized crime.

According to Interior Ministry figures, in 2003 police investigated 1,254 crimes attributed to organized crime in Italy and arrested 172 fugitives, including three Sicilian Mafiosi on the 30 most-wanted list and two top bosses from mainland gangs.

Two top bosses of the Calabrian 'Ndragheta crime group were arrested earlier this year.

More than 2,000 properties owned by organized crime groups were frozen or confiscated in 2003 and the government dismissed 12 town councils infiltrated by organized crime.

Still, the Mafia is so ubiquitous in Sicily that Ingroia compares his job to "trying to empty the ocean with a bucket with a hole in it."

"What we need is a global commitment from the state that allows us to eliminate the root causes of why it is that when Mafiosi are arrested they are immediately substituted by someone else," Ingroia said.

"Figli di Puttana!" What fantastic economic news!

Isn't it comforting to read that a vicious and bloody criminal organization has the big heart to help jumpstart a stalled Italian economy?

"They've slashed the rates they charge "clients". Thanks! Italians can now stay in business a couple of months longer!

"They've stopped killing its enemies -- police, magistrates and politicians -- and even its own members." Thanks" Italians can now live a little longer!

"The new strategy is to avoid exorbitant rates but to cast the protection net much further afield, even to small shopkeepers." Thanks! The chickens down at our Uncle Giuseppe's farm can now get the insurance protection they need and deserve!

"They 'suggest' where you should buy cement, where to get the bulldozers, and so it goes." Thanks! Italians can now obtain free business directories filled with trustworthy suppliers where you'll find great discounts!

"The Mafia is selling itself as a fact of life, even a benevolent association that helps find a job or fix a problem." Thanks! No more unemployment lines! The Mafia has put a friendly touch on the words 'head hunters'!

What's left?

Hmmm...How about an IPO? Who wouldn't want to buy a couple of thousand shares of 'Mafia' Corp.?

Let's get back to sanity for a moment. If you go back and read this article a second time wouldn't the Italian government remind you of the Emperor Nero who played the fiddle while Rome burned?

"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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