12/29/09 Risotto with Cauliflower and Leeks

"Di giorno si vedono le macchie." (By day, the stains can be seen.) Welcome to another recipe edition from Adriana's Italian Bakery!

This week's Italian recipes:
  -Pasta and Cauliflower Soup
  -Skillet Polenta with Tomatoes and Gorgonzola
  -Risotto with Cauliflower and Leeks

All of us here at the bakery send our best regards to our readers. 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: Pasta and Cauliflower Soup

Pasta and Cauliflower Soup
Minestra di Pasta e Cavolfiore


2 quarts prepared chicken stock
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 and 1/2 pounds cauliflower, cut into 1-inch wide florets
1/4 pound spaghetti, broken into roughly 1 and 1/4-inch pieces
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 ounces finely grated Pecorino or Parmigiano-Reggiano (1 cup)


Bring stock to a boil in a 4 to 5-quart heavy pot over high heat and add sea salt and pepper to taste.

Stir in cauliflower and simmer, covered, until just tender, about 5 minutes.

Stir in pasta and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until 'al dente', 10 to 15 minutes.

Stir in sea salt to taste and serve soup drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with cheese. Makes 6 first-course servings.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Skillet Polenta with Tomatoes and Gorgonzola

Skillet Polenta with Tomatoes and Gorgonzola
Polenta Alla Padella con Pomodori e Gorgonzola


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups water
1 and 1/3 cups yellow cornmeal
1 and 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup slivered fresh basil leaves

2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese (about 4 ounces)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (about 4 ounces)


Preheat oven to 450F.

Brush 12-inch diameter ovenproof skillet with 1 tablespoon olive oil.

Combine 4 cups water, yellow cornmeal, and salt in heavy large saucepan.

Bring to boil over medium-high heat, whisking constantly.

Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until polenta is very thick and pulls away from sides of pan, whisking constantly, about 3 minutes.

Whisk in remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1/4 cup basil.

Transfer polenta to prepared skillet; flatten polenta to even thickness.

Sprinkle polenta with tomatoes and garlic.

Sprinkle evenly with Gorgonzola, mozzarella, and remaining 1/4 cup basil.

Bake until cheese is melted and bubbling, about 16 minutes.

Cut polenta into wedges and serve from skillet. Makes 4 servings.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Risotto with Cauliflower and Leeks

Risotto with Cauliflower and Leeks
Risotto con Cavolfiore e Porri


1 medium leek (white and pale green parts only), finely chopped
1 medium head cauliflower (2 lbs), cut into 1-inch wide florets
3 and 1/2 cups chicken stock (28 ounces)
1 and 1/2 cups water
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup rice (6 and 3/4 ounces)
1 and 1/2 ounces finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (3/4 cup)


Wash leek well in a bowl of cold water, then lift out and drain.

Blanch leek and cauliflower in a 4 to 5-quart pot of boiling salted water , uncovered, 1 minute.

Drain in a sieve and transfer to a bowl of cold water to stop cooking. Drain well.

Bring stock and water to a boil in a 2 to 3-quart saucepan and keep stock at a bare simmer, covered.

Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a 4-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then saute cauliflower and leek, stirring, 2 minutes.

Add rice and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

Add 1 cup simmering stock and cook at a strong simmer, stirring, until absorbed, about 2 minutes.

Continue simmering and adding stock, about 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently and letting each addition be absorbed before adding the next, until rice is just tender and creamy looking, 20 to 25 minutes. (There may be leftover broth.)

Remove from heat and stir in cheese, remaining tablespoon butter, and salt and pepper to taste.

Thin with a little remaining stock as desired and serve immediately. Makes 6 main-course servings.

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:

Massaging Grapes Produce Better Wine?

Abruzzo - February 12, 2009 - Italian vintner Stefania Pepe is a supporter of biodynamic agriculture and even massages her grapes before turning them into wine.

She believes gentle massage gives the grapes a good feeling and also ensures that only ripe grapes are used in the wine.

"Maybe it's because I'm a woman, but I believe you have to make wine special. You have to imbue it with love and energy. I give my grapes my love and my energy," she said during Italy's Vin2009 expo.

"It's not all analysis. It's not all chemicals. Only love can make my wine," the 43-year-old insisted before demonstrating how she gently massaged the grapes on a wooden board.

Pepe, who is five-months pregnant, is also enthusiastic and eager to convert others to biodynamic wines.

"Wine is made in the vineyard," she said, repeating a common adage among winemakers who note that great wine starts with the best fruit.

Biodynamic agriculture is based on the ideas of the Austrian philosopher and scientist Rudolf Steiner, who reportedly was a tea-totaler and never drank wine or spirits.

Supporters of biodynamic agriculture consider the farm as a living system. They use special methods, including burying cow manure in cow horns in the fields and using compost that includes Chamomile and Yarrow flowers, to enhance the soil to produce wines that are stronger, better balanced and have more vibrant tastes.

Its critics say biodynamic methods produce wines that are similar to those produced using organic farming methods.

Pepe's winery in Abruzzo, Italy was among the more than 200 that were part of Vin2009, which was sponsored by the Italian government to retain and gain more market share in the United States. By the end of November 2008, Italy had exported more than $1.2 billion worth of wine to the United States.

Like many of the wine makers, Pepe was looking for a U.S. importer for her 10,000 bottles of Pepe Rosso, a plumy, jammy red she guarantees will have 20 years of life.

Pepe started in the wine business as a child in her father's winery stepping on grapes. When she was 18, she bought her first vineyard and, after working in France at Chateau Margaux, she returned to Italy to make her first vintage at the age of 23.

At first, she ignored her father's method of using concrete vats to ferment the wine, instead insisting on barrels. But after that first vintage she noticed that some of the wine tasted more of wood than of fruit.

"So I went back to my father and apologized. He definitely understood," she explained.

Pepe still stomps on some of the wine she makes today.

"You know, this way, the grapes are actually gently pressed, not like some hydraulic machine. And also the hard, unripe grapes they won't crush under foot. So it's really better for the wine," Pepe said.

She built her winery 30 feet underground so that she could use gravity at every stage in the wine making process.

"When the grape is pressed, the juice runs down. When you need to keep the temperature cool, you have nature keeping it cool. We bottle by hand. There is no filtering. Everything I do, I do to be in harmony with nature.

"And it shows in the wine," she said smiling. "I believe that a single person can do one thing to make the world a little better. This is my one thing."

All You Need Is Love: "No no no! You're supposed to massage the cheese, you cornuto, not strangle it!"

Biodynamic agriculture should be supported for its environmental, health and social benefits well as filmed for entertainment.

"You have to imbue with love and energy."

Love your eggs: The quality in eggs could be enhanced if only hens were taught to commit to just one partner rather than be treated as whores trapped in chicken brothels. A matchmaking service along with on site relationship counseling and mediation can help make a better omelette.

Love your milk: Never, ever yell at, hit, or otherwise abuse a goat while she's being milked. She needs and deserves your respect. The key is to make milking a loving experience, one that she will welcome, not dread.

If a goat lifts her leg in an effort to steer clear of your molesting hands on her "teats", one way to discourage this is to stop milking but keep your hand on the "teat" and warmly explain to her that your actions are out of total love and respect for her. Keep your hand on it until you convince her and puts her hoof back firmly down.

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