Ciao Italia - Bringing Italy Home: Regional Recipes, Flavors, and Traditions as Seen on the Public Television Series Ciao Italia

Overview

With a loyal viewership in the millions, ten successful seasons on PBS, and five immensely popular cookbooks to her name, Mary Ann Esposito is America's favorite Italian cook. A former school teacher who studied with chefs across Italy before posing the idea for "Ciao Italia" to her local public television station, Esposito brings traditional Italian cooking to life with her down-to-earth approach, warm personality, and good humor.

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Overview

With a loyal viewership in the millions, ten successful seasons on PBS, and five immensely popular cookbooks to her name, Mary Ann Esposito is America's favorite Italian cook. A former school teacher who studied with chefs across Italy before posing the idea for "Ciao Italia" to her local public television station, Esposito brings traditional Italian cooking to life with her down-to-earth approach, warm personality, and good humor.

Ciao Italia--Bringing Italy Home ties in with the show's eleventh season, which will air on more than 150 public television stations across the country. The series--and the book--will take fans on a culinary tour of Italy, region by region, with all-new recipes, personal reflections, and Mary Ann's unique warmth and style. Chapters cover the Veneto, Emilia Romagna, Tuscany, Campania, and Sicily; also featured--and never before published anywhere--are viewers' most-requested recipes, and specialties made by guest chefs on the program.

TV chefs come and go, but Mary Ann Esposito has established herself as a standard bearer who appeals to every segment of the American public--men and women, adults and children, seasoned cooks as well as novices. Join her "nella cucina" (in the kitchen) for her most exciting and ambitious cookbook yet--a mouth-watering tribute to her ancestral home, her loyal viewers, and the amazing gift of great Italian food.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Early on in her career as TV chef, Mary Ann Esposito explained to her viewers: "There is no such thing as Italian food, there is only regional food." In this companion book to her PBS series, America's favorite Italian home cook tours through the regions of Veneto, Emilia-Romanga, Tuscany, Campania, and Sicily, and comes away with 130 all-new regional recipes.

From dishes like Risotto all'Amarone (Risotto in Amarone Wine) from the Veneto to Piramidi di Melanzane alla Nonna Galasso (Grandmother Galasso's Eggplant Pyramids) from Campania, Esposito's millions of fans will find many new delights that will send them nella cucina. Mary Ann has also included little essays on each region, a directory of mail-order sources, plus the most-requested recipes over the first ten years of her PBS show, including Spezzatelle (Dandelion Soufflé), Zuppa di Polpettine (Baked Meatball Soup), and Tortine di Pesche (Little Peach Cakes). (Ginger Curwen)

Arthur Schwartz
I truly can't wait to put on an apron and cook. —author of Naples at Table and the host of "Food Talk" on WOR radio New York
Jacques Pepin
Her food will warm the heart as well as the belly of those who prepare it. —Host of "Jacques Pepin's Kitchen"
Mario Batali
Ciao Italia is authentic and entertaining, like a great Italian meal, prepared for and eaten with friends and family. —Host of "Molto Mario"
Martin Yan
Another great cookbook from Mary Ann Esposito? Now why am I not surprised?...Brava, Mary Ann! Bravíssima!. —Host of "Yan Can Cook"
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In her newest cookbook, the host of the PBS series Ciao Italia continues to share the breadth and simplicity of authentic Italian cuisine made from fresh, seasonal ingredients, with a focus this time on regional specialties, highlighting the distinctive foods of Southern, Central and Northern Italy and their origins. (For example, according to Esposito, there are no olive trees in Venice, because the area lacks sunshine; therefore, Venetians substitute butter for olive oil in many of their recipes.) These 130 new recipes, which she is promoting concurrently on her TV show, are, for the most part, rustic and unpretentious: foods eaten by real families as part of their daily lives, such as the Venetian dishes Tortellini di Zucca con Rag (Pumpkin-Stuffed Pasta with Meat Sauce) and Cappone Agrodolce (Capon with Sweet-and-Sour Sauce). Yet, at the same time, the recipes have an elegance and complexity of flavor that belie their origin. Scaloppine al Limone e Capperi (Veal Cutlets with Lemon and Caper Sauce) has flavors that are clean and clear; Tuscan Zuppa di Funghi (Mushroom Soup) is concentrated and rich; and Sicilian Biscottini di Vino (Little Wine Cookies) make an unusual and sumptuous accompaniment to a glass of red wine. Fans of her earlier books (Nella Cucina, etc.) and TV series will welcome Esposito's travel stories, family memories and tips, which infuse the recipes with a warm and personal touch. Similar in many ways to her earlier books, Esposito's new offering should appeal to Italian-Americans in search of the traditional foods and flavors of their ancestors. (May) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Ciao Italia, Esposito's PBS series, has been on the air for ten years, and this is her sixth cookbook. While her earliest books were about Italian American cooking, this one focuses on regional Italian fare, specifically that of the Veneto, Emilia-Romagna, Tuscany, Campania, and Sicily. There is also a chapter of favorite recipes requested by viewers and another of dishes inspired by her husband's garden. Esposito has many fans, recommending this book for most collections. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780641779282
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/2001
  • Pages: 366
  • Product dimensions: 7.80 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Mary Ann Esposito is the author of five previous cookbooks, which have sold more than 400,000 hardcover copies combined. She lives in Durham, New Hampshire.
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Read an Excerpt

Pescespada con Spaghetti, Salsa di Pomodori ed'Olive (Swordfish with Spaghetti, Tomato Sauce, and Olives)

Serves 4 to 6

This recipe for swordfish with spaghetti and tomato sauce is one that I enjoyed in Mondello, a Sicilian seaside community near Palermo. It is easy to put together if you have homemade tomato sauce on hand. Whenever I serve it to company, the response is "I never thought to cook swordfish with tomato sauce and spaghetti." Be sure to use fresh swordfish and do not overcook it.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound swordfish, in one piece
1 pound spaghetti
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
2 cups prepared tomato sauce, preferably homemade
1/4 cup reserved cooking water
16 black oil—cured olives, pitted and coarsely chopped

Heat the olive oil until it begins to smoke, then lower the heat to medium and cook the swordfish, turning it once. It is cooked when a fork is easily inserted into the fish.

Transfer the fish to a cutting board and allow it to cool for 10 minutes. With a knife remove the skin and discard it. Cut the fish into 1/2—inch cubes. Set aside.

Cook the spaghetti in 4 to 6 quarts of rapidly boiling water with 1 tablespoon of the salt. The spaghetti is done when there is no white flour remaining in the center of a strand. It should be firm—al dente—but cooked throughout.

While the spaghetti is cooking, heat the tomato sauce in a saucepan and keep it warm.

Drain the spaghetti, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking water. Return the spaghetti to the cooking pot with the reserved water and the tomato sauce. Mix quickly over low heat. Add the swordfish pieces and stir gently for 1 minute. Stir in the olives and the remaining salt.

Transfer the mixture to a serving platter and serve at once. A few whole olives and a sprig of fresh basil make a nice garnish.

Riso del Mezzogiorno al Mario (Mario's Mezzogiorno Rice)

Serves 4

Fellow chef Mario Ragni, who makes his home in Umbria, loves to experiment with regional flavors. Here he combines the lively flavors of the Mezzogiorno (southern Italy) with traditional northern ingredients of butter and cream to create an earthy sauce for boiled Arborio rice, which is used for making risotto. This short—grain, starchy rice can be found on grocery store shelves or in Italian specialty stores or can be ordered by mail (see page347).

3 tablespoons extra—virgin olive oil
l small hot red pepper, minced
1 large red sweet pepper, seeded and cut into strips
3 anchovies in salt, rinsed
6 oil—cured green olives, pitted
6 oil—cured black olives, pitted
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon capers in brine, rinsed
1 tablespoon butter
2/3 cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup Arborio rice

Heat the olive oil in a saute pan, then add the hot pepper, sweet pepper strips, anchovies, and green and black olives. Saute, stirring occasionally, until the pepper strips begin to soften. Stir in the garlic and capers and cook together until the peppers are very soft. Cool the mixture slightly, then transfer it to a food processor. Pulse to make a smooth puree. Transfer the sauce to a bowl, cover, and set aside.

Melt the butter in the same saute pan and stir in the mushrooms. Saute them until they no longer give off any water but are not brown. Stir in the heavy cream and the reserved pepper sauce. Keep the sauce warm and covered while the rice is cooking.

Cook the rice in 3 cups of water until it is al dente and has absorbed most of the water. Drain the rice in a colander and add it to the warm sauce. Stir to blend the mixture thoroughly. Serve immediately.

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Recipe

Pescespada con Spaghetti Salsa di Pomodori ed Olive -- Swordfish with Spaghetti, Tomato Sauce, and Olives
Serves 4 to 6

This recipe for swordfish with spaghetti and tomato sauce is one that I've enjoyed in Mondello, a Sicilian seaside community near Palermo. It is easy to put together if you have homemade tomato sauce on hand. Whenever I serve it to company, the response is "I never thought to cook swordfish with tomato sauce and spaghetti." Be sure to use fresh swordfish and do not overcook it.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound swordfish, in one piece
1 pound spaghetti
1-1/2 tablespoons salt
2 cups prepared tomato sauce, preferably homemade
16 black oil-cured olives, pitted and coarsely chopped.

Heat the olive oil until it begins to smoke, then lower the heat to medium and cook the swordfish, turning it once. It is cooked when a fork is easily inserted into the fish.

Transfer the fish to a cutting board and allow it to cool for 10 minutes. With a knife remove the skin and discard it. Cut the fish into 1/2-inch cubes. Set aside.

Cook the spaghetti in 4 to 6 quarts of rapidly boiling water with 1 tablespoon of the salt. The spaghetti is done when there is no white flour remaining in the center of a strand. It should be firm -- al dente -- but cooked throughout.

While the spaghetti is cooking, heat the tomato sauce in a sauce pan and keep it warm.

Drain the spaghetti, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking water. Return the spaghetti to the cooking pot with the reserved water and the tomato sauce. Mix quickly over low heat. Add the swordfish pieces and stir gently for 1 minute. Stir in the olives and the remaining salt.

Transfer the mixture to a serving platter and serve at once. A few whole olives and a sprig of fresh basil makes a nice garnish.

Insalata di Rucola, Fragole e Noci -- Arugula, Strawberry, and Nut Salad
Serves 6

My friends Giulia and Mario Cocco live in Verona and are always gracious hosts. They treat me to large portions of la vera cucina Veronese and we have a good time talking about food and customs. One day we had a light lunch with a refreshing and elegant-looking salad made with arugula, strawberries, citron, and nuts; it shimmered in a light dressing of extra-virgin olive oil and freshly squeezed orange juice. Arugula is a sharp-tasting green that looks much like the leaves of radish plants and comes in many varieties. My husband, Guy, covets this plant in his garden, growing several varieties including a sawtooth variety known as antique arugula. Most people I know mix arugula with other greens in order to tame its outrageous peppery taste, but in this salad it stands alone in the salad bowl, beautifully balanced by the sweetness of the fruit and the citron. Citron is available in Italian specialty stores, especially at holiday time, or it can be ordered by catalog (see the mail order section at the end of the book). If it's not available, substitute golden raisins.

1/3 cup pine nuts or chopped walnuts
3/4 pound arugula, stemmed and torn in pieces
12 ounces strawberries, stemmed, washed, dried, and cut in half
1 ripe mango, peeled and cut into small pieces
2 ounces citron, diced
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt or more to taste

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Spread the nuts on a baking sheet and toast them for about 5 to 7 minutes, or until they are browned. Transfer the nuts to a small bowl.

Fill a bowl with cold water and submerge the arugula in it. Let the arugula soak for 5 to 10 minutes. Drain, and repeat the process one more time to make sure no dirt or sand remains. Drain the arugula, spin it dry in a salad spinner or roll it in a towel, pressing as much water out as possible. Transfer the arugula to a salad bowl. Add the strawberries, mango, and citron. Toss the mixture gently.

Pour the orange juice into a small bowl. Drizzle in the olive oil a little at a time with a whisk until an emulsion is created. Stir in the salt.

Pour the dressing over the salad and toss it gently. Sprinkle the nuts over the top and serve immediately.

Spumini Mandorlati -- Almond Foams
Makes about 4 dozen cookies

What I love about these bite-size meringue and almond cookies are their delicateness and their almost ethereal texture and taste. And I also love the name given to them by my Tuscan friends and super cooks Giovanni and Iris Lodovici, spumini mandorlati, the literal translation of which is "almond foams." This exquisite cookie calls for only four ingredients, is quick to put together, but requires 45-minute baking time to produce a dry, crisp spumini that literally melts in your mouth like foam.

1 cup whole blanched almonds
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 225° F.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Grind the almonds in a food processor until very fine and transfer them to a medium-size bowl.

In an electric mixer whip the egg whites until they are foamy. Gradually whip in the sugar, a little at a time, until the egg whites begin to form peaks and appear shiny. Whip in the flour a little at a time. Fold the nuts into the egg-white mixture until they are well blended.

Use 2 teaspoons to spread small rounds of batter onto the parchment paper, spacing the spumini about 1/2 inch apart. They will spread a little. Or fill a tipless pastry bag with the batter and pipe out 1-inch rounds.

Bake the spuminiwithout opening the oven door for about 45 minutes, or until crisp. They should remain pale in color.

Allow the spumini to cool completely on the baking sheets, then carefully remove them from the parchment paper.

Note: These are perfect to serve with fresh fruit, ice cream, or sherbets.

Recipes from Ciao Italia: Bringing Italy Home, Copyright © 2001 by Mary Ann Esposito.

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