In "Feste! Celebrate with Italian Cuisine," coauthors Diane L. Cosentino, Pamela Constantino Zdenovec and Valerie Paese Kane recreate the dishes brought to America by their maternal grandmother, Giovannina, who immigrated from Abbruzzi, Italy in the early 20th century. The recipes are organized according to the holidays at which they were traditionally served. In addition, Feste! is a vivid memoir that recalls the "table" around which the Catrambone family bonded as well as other American traditions.
Sunday DinnersMost Italian-Americans were brought up with the traditions of the "Old Country" and the respect for strong family connection. One of those traditions was Sunday dinner, the one tradition that brought the entire family together every week. In Feste, the traditional Sunday dinner occurred after church with everyone gathering (generally around 2:00 P.M.) at Nani and Grandpa's house for dinner. There they would sit around Nani's large table for hours and feast on the family's favorite dishes: "red gravy" with meatballs, sausage and braciole. Like most Old Country Italians, preparation of Sunday dinner started early in the morning. The gravy would cook from three to four hours until the meat was so tender, it would fall off the bone and the sauce had turned a deep red. In the Sunday Dinner section of the book, the authors provide recipes for classic Italian "dishes" such as: Red Gravy with Meatballs, Pam's "Old Country" Italian Meatball; Pasta with Chicken and White Wine Sauce; and Chicken Breast with Capers and Artichokes. As a note, Italians often use the expression "dishes" rather than "recipes" because like most great cooks, Italian Grandmas measured and seasoned by intuition and taste. In Feste, the authors' task was to convert their Nani's art into teaspoons to create her recipes.
Easy Entrées Italians are masters at taking simple products like pasta, vegetables and beans to pull together an easy and simple dish that is nutritious, satisfying and beautiful. The Easy Entrées section offers quick and satisfying Italian dishes like Linguine with Garlic and Olive Oil; Shells with Olive Oil, Garlic and Broccoli; Chicken Cutlets with Lemon; and Tuscan Bean Soup with Chicken and Spinach.
Easter Italians are passionate about food, family and the Italian tradition of celebrating religious holidays and special occasions with a feast extravaganza. Easter, the feast of great joy, is celebrated with Easter bread, lamb and vegetables. In old Italian immigrant neighborhoods, the breads were presented to the priests for blessing on Holy Saturday, as they still are in Italy. The Easter section of this book celebrates this religious holiday with delicious dishes such as, Italian Easter Bread, Risotto with Mushrooms, Leg of Lamb Roast and Grilled Asparagus with Lemon and Egg.
Summer Feasts In the Summer Feasts section of the book, the authors recount their childhood memories of “summers past” at their family’s cottage in Wauconda, Illinois. It was there where the entire family would get together and feast on family dishes: Italian Sausage and Peppers Sandwich, Italian Roast Beef Sandwich, Italian Potato and Green Bean Salad and Pineapple Cream Cheese Jello Mold. This tradition still exists today.
Seasonal MealsTrue Italian food is actually very simple and made only from fresh ingredients that are in season. The “Seasonal Meals” section of the book highlights fresh food “in season.” Insalata Caprese, for example, is never better than when tomatoes are at their peak of ripeness in late summer. The warm and comfort dishes such as, soups and stews are: Zucchini Stew and Minestrone Soup—original and authentic dishes made by their Nani. Also included is a delicious recipe for Zucchini Patties.
Thanksgiving On Thanksgiving, Italian-American tables are unique in that among the “trimmings” that accompany the turkeys is a stuffing dish with Italian sausage and some variety of pasta dish. The Thanksgiving section of the book has delicious recipes for Butternut Squash Soup, Three-Cheese Stuffed Shells, Roast Turkey and, of course, Italian Turkey Stuffing.
Christmas Eve The most-anticipated festa celebrated by Italian-Americans is Christmas Eve. Tradition has it that no meat should be eaten on Christmas Eve (vigilia di Natale), so Italians eat seafood and not one but seven types of fish to celebrate the tradition of the “Feast of the Seven Fishes.” Some of the dishes in the book include White Clam Sauce & Linguine, Italian Baked Clams, Shrimp and Scallops Sauce with Linguine and Fried Calamari. There is also a recipe for Stuffed Artichokes which is always a favorite Italian dish!
Christmas Day The Christmas Day section is celebrated with...what else, but red gravy. It begins with a spectacular Frizzelle Antipasto recipe, followed by the light and satisfying, Italian Wedding Soup. The main dish, Lasagna with Red Gravy, is accompanied by the delicious, authentic family recipe for Braciole, described as "Aunt Florence's Braciole" in the book. Of course, there is always plenty of fruit, red wine and desserts that follow the Christmas Day feast.
Sweets Lastly, what is an Italian cookbook without Italian cookies and a hot cup of cappuccino? Although Italians do not typically eat many desserts, they do, however, enjoy their coffee with something sweet and fresh fruit after dinner. In the Sweets section of the book, there are classic desserts to satisfy the sweet tooth. There are recipes for Nani’s Italian Lemon Cookies and the delicious and smooth Chocolate Dipped Biscotti both of which are served on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Other family favorites are: Italian Honey Cakes and Vi's Pineapple Walnut Cake, named after one of the aunts who made it the traditional cake served on holidays or special occasions.
Announcement of "Living Now" Book Award
On August 23, 2012, "Feste! Celebrate with Italian Cuisine" was selected as a Bronze Medalist in the cooking, ethnic and holiday category of the 2012 Living Now Book Awards. The Living Now Book Awards program recognizes the authors of the world's best home style and lifestyle books that enrich the quality of our lives in categories ranging from cooking and fitness to parenting and spirituality. See the website http://livingnowawards.com for further information about the Living Now Book Awards.
We invite you to buy a copy of this cookbook. With the magnificent recipe options tailored to fit holiday celebrations, special events or a simple dinner for two, you can create the perfect menu and dining experience your guests will never forget. Order a copy today and get "free" shipping to any one address within the United States.
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