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Classic Italian Jewish Cooking: Traditional Recipes and Menus

Classic Italian Jewish Cooking: Traditional Recipes and Menus

by Edda Servi Machlin, Joan Nathan (Foreword by)

Classic Italian Jewish Cooking starts with the ancient Italian adage Vesti da turco e mangia da ebreo ("Dress like a Turk and eat like a Jew"). In this definitive volume of Italian Jewish recipes, Edda Servi Machlin, a native of Pitigliano, Italy, a Tuscan village that was once home to a vibrant Jewish community, reveals the secrets of this


Classic Italian Jewish Cooking starts with the ancient Italian adage Vesti da turco e mangia da ebreo ("Dress like a Turk and eat like a Jew"). In this definitive volume of Italian Jewish recipes, Edda Servi Machlin, a native of Pitigliano, Italy, a Tuscan village that was once home to a vibrant Jewish community, reveals the secrets of this delicate and unique culinary tradition that has flourished for more than two thousand years.

Originally introduced into the region by Jewish settlers from Judea, other Middle Eastern countries, and North Africa, Italian Jewish cuisine was always more than a mere adaptation of Italian dishes to the Jewish dietary laws; it was a brilliant marriage of ancient Jewish dishes and preparation methods to the local ingredients that relied on the imaginative use of fresh herbs, fruit, and vegetables. Fifteen hundred years later, with the influx of Iberian refugees, it was enriched by some Sephardic (from Spain and Portugal) dishes.

Here you'll find recipes for the quintessential Italian Jewish dishes — from Goose "Ham," Spicy Chicken Liver Toasts, and Jewish Caponata to Sabbath Saffron Rice, Purim Ravioli, and Tagliatelle Jewish Style (Noodle Kugel); from Creamed Baccalà, Red Snapper Jewish Style, and Artichokes Jewish Style to Creamed Fennel and Fried Squash Flowers; from Couscous Salad and Sourdough Challah Bread to Haman's Ears, Honey Cake, and Passover Almond Biscotti.

Selected from Edda Servi Machlin's three widely admired books on Italian Jewish cuisine and filled with beautifully rendered memories from her birthplace, this rare collection of more than three hundred recipes is a powerful tribute to a rich cultural heritage and a rare gift to food lovers. With a special section on Jewish holiday menus, Classic Italian Jewish Cooking is a volume to treasure for generations.

Editorial Reviews

“…anyone who cares about regional Italian cooking will be fascinated by Machlin’s lovely and evocative picture of the cuisine of a world lost to the ravages of war.”
Publishers Weekly
The 2,000-year history of the Jews in Italy has produced a wealth of delicious creations that conform to the Jewish dietary laws of Kashruth, make use of the freshest seasonal ingredients and call for the utmost care and fuss in preparing them. Machlin offers recipes and menus for every holiday and occasion, not only from her native Tuscan Jewish village of Pitigliano, but from her mother's Roman-Jewish tradition, as well as those painstakingly collected from Jewish friends in Venice, Bologna and throughout Italy. Many of the dishes are uniquely Italian Jewish and cannot be found in Italian cookbooks. As the majority of Italian Jews are of Sephardic origin, their dishes also differ from the familiar Ashkenazic food of Central and Eastern Europe and will provide a host of new ideas for Jewish cooks. Instead of Hamantashen (traditional triangular hat-shaped pastries filled with jam or poppy seeds) for Purim, they can try Orecchi di Aman or Haman's Ears (fried pastry curls) or Muggine in Bianco (Jellied Striped Bass) instead of gefilte fish. In certain cases, Sephardic kosher laws vary from the Ashkenazic and Machlin clearly states and explains those variations. Antipasti, soups and pastas, meat, vegetables and salads, breads and desserts are all covered in one volume compiled from Machlin's three highly acclaimed but hard-to-find earlier books so that American cooks can share the rich history and legacy of Pitigliano, Italy's Little Jerusalem. (Apr.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Machlin was born in Pitigliano, a town known as "the little Jerusalem of Italy," in 1926. She came to New York in 1958, after surviving the Holocaust, and in 1981 published her first cookbook, The Classic Cuisine of the Italian Jews, appropriately subtitled A Memoir of a Vanished Way of Life. That book and its successor, along with a dessert cookbook, became classics themselves, and this new volume is a compilation of the best of those three titles. Machlin notes that it is intended, in large part, for the new generation of Americans who appreciate authentic Italian food (when she first arrived here, well-intentioned friends introduced her to "Italian" restaurants that served spaghetti and meatballs and the like). After describing life in Italy before and after the war in a moving introduction, Machlin provides more than 300 recipes. There is also a guide to ingredients and a chapter on the holidays, with menus. An essential purchase. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
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7.37(w) x 9.12(h) x 1.33(d)

Read an Excerpt

Classic Italian Jewish Cooking

Traditional Recipes and Menus
By Edda Machlin

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Edda Machlin
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060758023

Spicy Chicken Liver Toasts

crostini di fegatini piccanti

Serves 8 to 12


1 pound chicken livers
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped fine
8 anchovy fillets
1 tablespoon tiny capers, drained
1 tablespoon freshly chopped Italian parsley
Freshly ground black pepper
36 diagonally cut thin slices one-day-old fruste bread (page 328)
11/2 cups clear chicken broth


Discard the skins, fat, or any discolored parts from the chicken livers. Soak in cold water and rinse until the water is free from any trace of blood. Grind or chop the uncooked livers until they become like a paste.

Heat the oil in a skillet, add the onion, and saute 1 minute. Add the chicken livers and saute, stirring frequently, 3 more minutes. Add the anchovies and cook, stirring, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Add the capers and parsley and remove from the heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste and mix well.

Toast the bread slices until lightly browned on both sides. Dip each slice in the broth very quickly (toast should be moist but still crunchy). Spread the chicken liver mixture on each canape and arrange on a serving plate. Serve immediately or at room temperature.

Roast Leg of Lamb with Potatoes

agnello in forno con patate

Serves 6 to 8


1 leg of lamb (6 to 7 pounds)
or 1/2 baby lamb, about the same weight
12 medium potatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves
1 clove garlic, slightly crushed


Leave the lamb at room temperature. Peel the potatoes and cut lengthwise into 4 to 6 pieces each. Place in a bowl and season with 2 tablespoons oil, 1 teaspoon salt, half the pepper, minced garlic, and half the rosemary leaves. Toss well and set aside.

Remove the excess fat from the lamb. Rub all its surface with the crushed garlic clove and then with the remaining tablespoon oil. Season with the remaining salt, pepper, and rosemary leaves and place at the center of a large roasting pan. Distribute the seasoned potatoes around it and bake in 550°F oven for 30 minutes. Decrease the temperature to 350°F and cook for another 45 minutes.

Keep in mind that overcooked lamb acquires an unpleasant flavor and it is better -- as it happened in my first experience quite by accident -- to have it quite done on the surface but slightly underdone on the inside.


Excerpted from Classic Italian Jewish Cooking by Edda Machlin Copyright © 2006 by Edda Machlin. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author

Edda Servi Machlin was born in a rural village in Tuscany, Italy, in 1926. She settled in America in 1958 and has taught Italian and Italian Jewish cooking for decades while writing her books, one of which is a memoir of her growing up in Fascist Italy that has been used in history classes at Yale and Yeshiva Universities. Her recipes have appeared in dozens of cookbooks by other authors and in newspapers all over the world. She now lives in New York City, and, although confined to a wheelchair, she is still writing.

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