• Book Excerpt -- Italian Family Dining, Recipes, Menus and Memories

    Italian Family Dining: Recipes, Menus, and Memories of Meals with a Great American Food Family
    by Edward Giobbi and Eugenia Giobbi Bone, published by Rodale

    It's mealtime, and the family gathers around the table. There may be a dish of pasta to start, or a bowl of soup. To follow, perhaps some tuna sausage and roasted peppers, or chicken with mint. A salad? Well, maybe, if it's a big meal. Salad at this point in the meal is good for digestion. For dessert, a piece of fruit. If the occasion is special, then a granita or a torta. Each dish celebrates the bounty of the season. And each pause between these small courses -- indeed, the entire meal -- is punctuated with lively conversation. The result? Satisfaction. Contentment. And a very healthful meal. This is Italian Family Dining.

    Thirty years after the publication of his classic book, Italian Family Cooking, Edward Giobbi has joined his daughter Eugenia Giobbi Bone to share more recipes for the way we want to eat today. When a cook follows the seasons, little is needed to turn one or two ingredients into a work of art. Swordfish with Peas reveals the essence of late spring and can be made in less than 30 minutes. Come winter, Potato, Rice, and Sausage Soup might cook for less than an hour, but the result -- whether for lunch, with a salad, or as a first course for dinner -- is spectacular.

    Included as well in Italian Family Dining are recipes for the big meals, the celebrations like Easter or Christmas Eve, when cooking begins with the rising of the sun and the meal ends long after the sun has set.

    Throughout the book, Eugenia reflects upon meals al fresco, mushrooms and wild greens, how Italians eat pasta, fruit for dessert, and vegetables for dinner. These essays are our entrée into the life of an Italian family, and by themselves make this book worth returning to again and again.

    An eternally healthy approach to eating well, Italian Family Dining celebrates the simple pleasures of gathering around the table with the ones you love.

    Meat Loaf with Ricotta
    You must let this meat loaf rest for at least 15 minutes after cooking or the ricotta will run. Once it holds together, be sure to place the sliced meat loaf on top of the sauce so the diner can see the sliced egg inside.
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 medium onion, finely chopped
    2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
    1 pound lean ground beef
    ½ pound lean ground pork
    1 egg, beaten
    ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese
    2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    2 cups marinara sauce (see page 258), for serving
    For the filling
    ¾ pound ricotta
    1 egg, beaten
    2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
    ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese
    ⅓ teaspoon grated nutmeg
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    2 eggs, hard-cooked and shelled

    Heat the oven to 400ºF. Butter a 9- x 5- x 3-inch loaf pan.
    Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic. Cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.
    In a large mixing bowl, combine the beef, pork, egg, cheese, parsley, salt and pepper to taste, and the cooked onions and garlic. Mix well and set aside.

    For the filling:
    In a separate bowl, combine the ricotta, egg, parsley, Parmesan, nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste and mix well.
    Line the bottom of the loaf pan with about ¾ inch of the meat mixture. Build up walls on the inside of the pan that are the same thickness. Fill the center cavity with the ricotta mixture. Force the whole boiled eggs end to end into the ricotta mixture so that the eggs are completely covered by ricotta. Add the remaining meat on top of the ricotta so that the filling is completely covered by the meat.
    Place the meat loaf, uncovered, in the hot oven and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Remove the meat loaf and allow it to rest about 15 to 20 minutes.
    In the meantime, heat the marinara sauce.
    Slice the meat loaf and serve it on a puddle of sauce.
    Serves 6


    Chicken Breasts with Broccoli Pesto

    This is a perfect, light summer dish. We like to have a salad afterward, and a piece of fruit. Do not overpuree the broccoli pesto, as a little texture is nice. Sometimes we add another garlic clove to the pesto.

    Juice of 3 lemons (about ½ cup)
    ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
    6 garlic cloves, sliced
    2 tablespoons chopped rosemary, or 1 teaspoon dried
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    2 whole, skinless and boneless chicken breasts, cut in half crosswise
    For the pesto
    2 cups broccoli florets
    6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    3 garlic cloves, sliced
    Salt
    ¼ cup chicken stock or water

    Marinate the chicken: In a nonreactive bowl big enough to hold the chicken breasts, combine the lemon juice, oil, garlic, rosemary, and salt and pepper to taste. Add the chicken breasts and marinate them in the refrigerator for several hours.
    Heat the grill.

    For the pesto:
    Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the broccoli and cook until the water comes up to a boil again. Scoop out about 1 cup of the cooking water, then drain the broccoli. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the garlic and cook the garlic until it begins to take on color, about 3 minutes. Add the broccoli and about ½ cup of the cooking liquid. Cook the florets until they are fork-tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer the broccoli and garlic to the food processor. Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of oil, the remaining garlic, and salt to taste and puree to a rough paste. Add the chicken stock a few tablespoons at a time and pulse until the pesto is loose and saucy. Adjust the seasoning.
    Grill the chicken breasts over hot coals or gas for about 3 minutes on each side. Do not overcook the chicken. (If cooking on top of the stove, cook in a lightly oiled grilling pan over high heat for 20 minutes, then turn over and cook for an additional 10 minutes.) Remove the breasts and allow them to rest for a few minutes. Slice the breasts on an angle against the grain of the flesh, about ½ inch thick. Garnish with broccoli pesto.
    Serves 4


    Fall Vegetable Medley

    We harvest lima beans, cabbage, and leeks in the fall, but you can substitute other fall vegetables, like beet greens, Brussels sprouts, kale, and boiled cranberry beans.

    4 tablespoons olive oil
    1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
    4 garlic cloves, crushed
    Half a small head of Savoy cabbage, cored and chopped
    4 small potatoes, peeled and sliced (we prefer Yukon Gold)
    1 medium leek, white only, rinsed and cut into 4 sections
    1 cup chicken stock
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    1 cup fresh lima beans
    1 tablespoon chopped basil or flat-leaf parsley
    Extra virgin olive oil, for garnish

    Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, cover, and cook until the onion becomes translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the cabbage, potatoes, leek, and stock, and season with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the lima beans and basil. Cover and cook until the beans are fork-tender, about 10 minutes.
    Garnish each portion with extra virgin olive oil.
    Serves 4


    Potato, Rice, and Sausage Soup

    We like to serve this soup for lunch, followed by fennel salad and a piece of cheese.
    3 tablespoons olive oil
    1 large onion, coarsely chopped
    2 garlic cloves, chopped
    1 cup whole canned Italian tomatoes, chopped
    2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
    4 cups water
    2 cups chopped Savoy cabbage
    2 celery ribs, chopped
    1 medium carrot, sliced
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper or hot pepper flakes
    ½ pound Italian sweet sausages
    ½ cup rice
    Grated Parmesan cheese or extra virgin olive oil, for garnish

    Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion becomes translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and parsley. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the tomatoes break up. Add the water, cabbage, celery, carrot, and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and boil gently for 15 minutes.
    Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Prick the sausages and cook them in the skillet for about 10 minutes, until they are brown all over. Remove the sausages and slice.
    Add the rice and sausages to the soup and continue cooking until the rice is tender, about 10 to 15 minutes.
    Serve each portion with grated cheese or a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
    Serves 4


    Chocolate Meringue Pie

    This pie is adapted from a lemon meringue pie recipe from the 26th edition of The Memphis Cookbook, published by the Junior League of Memphis. Elinor and all her female relatives were members at one time or another, going back generations.

    For the pastry
    1 cup all-purpose flour
    ¼ cup superfine sugar
    1 egg yolk
    5 tablespoons unsalted butter
    For the filling
    5 ounces semisweet chocolate
    3 eggs
    3 egg yolks
    1 cup superfine sugar
    5 tablespoons warm water
    4 tablespoons unsalted butter
    For the meringue
    3 egg whites
    Cream of tartar
    6 tablespoons superfine sugar

    Heat the oven to 350ºF, with a rack set in the center of the oven.
    For the pastry: In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, egg yolk, and butter and pulse for about 1 minute, until the dough comes together into many little balls. Remove and press the dough together. Wrap in wax paper and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
    Roll out the dough on a well-floured surface. Press down on the dough with the rolling pin in all directions, and gradually roll out, starting from the center of the ball. Roll the dough up on the rolling pin, or fold into thirds, and place in a 9-inch pie plate. If the dough is too tender and falls apart when you try to put it in the pie plate, just press the pieces into place. Line the pastry with parchment paper and fill the crust with beans or a pie chain.
    Place the crust on the center rack of the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, until lightly brown. Remove but leave the oven on.
    For the filling: Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over medium heat. In a large bowl, beat the eggs, egg yolks, and sugar until light. Add the egg and sugar mixture to the melted chocolate, still over simmering water in the double boiler. Add the water and mix well. Add the butter and continue mixing. Stir the filling as it cooks in the double boiler over medium heat until the filling is thick enough to fall in ribbons from the spoon, about 15 minutes. Do not overcook. Pour the filling into the crust.
    For the meringue: Beat the egg whites and a pinch of cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Add the sugar gradually, beating until stiff and glossy. Pour the meringue over the chocolate filling.
    Bake the pie for about 5 minutes, until the meringue turns golden brown. Allow the pie to cool thoroughly before cutting, to allow the filing to set.
    Note: You can substitute ½ cup fresh lemon juice plus the grated zest of 1 lemon for the chocolate to make lemon meringue pie.
    Serves 6

    Copyright © 2005 Edward Giobbi and Eugenia Giobbi Bone
    Reprinted from: Italian Family Dining: Recipes, Menus, and Memories of Meals with a Great American Food Family by Edward Giobbi and Eugenia Giobbi Bone © 2005 Rodale Inc. Permission granted by Rodale, Inc., Emmaus, PA 18098. Available wherever books are sold or directly from the publisher by calling (800) 848-4735 or visit their website at www.rodalestore.com.