Cucina and Famiglia: Two Italian Families Share Their Stories, Recipes, and Traditions

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Foreword by Stanley Tucci

Joan Tropiano Tucci — mother of Stanley Tucci, producer and star of the movie Big Night — and Gianni Scappin-who taught Stanley how to cook for his performance as Secondo in Big Night — join together to bring you over 200 of their favorite Italian family recipes. Brimming with family anecdotes and filled with easy and accessible Italian dishes, Cucina & Famiglia is a delightful peek into what it means to grow up in...

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Foreword by Stanley Tucci

Joan Tropiano Tucci — mother of Stanley Tucci, producer and star of the movie Big Night — and Gianni Scappin-who taught Stanley how to cook for his performance as Secondo in Big Night — join together to bring you over 200 of their favorite Italian family recipes. Brimming with family anecdotes and filled with easy and accessible Italian dishes, Cucina & Famiglia is a delightful peek into what it means to grow up in an Italian family.

Feel like a member of the clan as you thumb through family photographs and enjoy recipes like Fried Zucchini Fritters, Stuffed Mushrooms, Lasagna Made with Polenta and Gorgonzola Cheese, Linguine with Clam Sauce, Veal Chops Stuffed with Fontina and Prosciutto, Chicken Cacciatore, and Mamma's Little Fritters (flavored with lemon and grappa). You'll never feel so at home.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Italian Family Recipes and Traditions

I can remember watching Stanley Tucci's marvelously funny and endearing move, "Big Night," with my family piled on our king-sized bed in the country, all of us laughing at the enterprising Italian brothers in their restaurant-opening antics. Since each of us has his or her own idiosyncratic view of food and family dining, this was a movie that was hitting pretty close to home. Obsessing about food runs deep in my family, so it is with little difficulty that I have embraced the cookbook Cucina & Famiglia, which has been born of the work that Stanley Tucci did to prepare for "Big Night."

As Stanley Tucci says, "Since the release of 'Big Night,' people have always asked whether there would be an accompanying cookbook. Since the film has no real recipes to speak of save timpano (which, for the first time ever, can be found in the pages of the cookbook), no such book could be written. There is, however, a strong connection between the film and the book. I've always felt that 'Big Night' was partly about respect for one's heritage and the pursuit of truth in one's art. To me this cookbook embodies those themes. It is a collection of recipes by people I love, who love to cook because they love their past and want to pass its truths on to the next generation." Could anyone better describe the book?

The writers of Cucina & Famiglia are Joan Tropiano Tucci, Stanley Tucci's mother, and Gianni Scappin, the chef who taught Stanley about restaurant cooking as he prepared for his first directorial effort in a film that he also co-wrote (with his cousin, Joe Tropiano) and starred in. We also hear the voice of Stanley's father, Stan, as well as the voices of various grandparents, aunts, uncles, and siblings from all of the authors' families. The effort has been pulled together by the writer Mimi Shanley Taft.

Joan Tropiano and Stan Tucci are second-generation Italian-Americans who had the opportunity to live in Italy for a year with their children, Stanley, Gina, and Christine. Gianni Scappin is a recent arrival to America whose wife is the American food writer and nutritionist Laura Pensiero. So it is from all of these perspectives we get to experience Italy in Cucina & Famiglia. Not only do the Tropiano-Tuccis cook from their home region of Calabria, but they also embrace the foods of Florence and northern Italy they sampled while residing there, so that we get a wonderful sense of their exploration of their heritage.

Gianni Scappin, in contrast, comes into the picture with a fine education in the foods of his native Italy, some classic French culinary experience, and an enthusiastic response to what he refers to as "America's ever-dynamic culinary community." During the course of writing the book, Gianni and Laura returned to the Veneto area of Italy to take over Gianni's family trattoria but were shortly lured back to New York City, where Gianni felt he could best further expand his look at contemporary Italian cooking.

The recipes in the book are, for the most part, traditional, but I found that many of them bear the stamp of modern America—sometimes in seasoning, sometimes in now-available ingredients, sometimes in the light-handed influence of the nutritionist. The headnotes for each recipe let you know who devised it, and almost every one of them has a variation or two that might further inspire the home cook. More than anything, I believe that Cucina & Famiglia will make the home cook want to find the very best ingredients, as many of the recipes are quite simple—just reading them, you know that you will need the best possible flavors to make each one complete.

I think that Stanley Tucci sums up the book in the best possible way: "In each recipe, my parents, Gianni, and Mimi have worked hard to document those often elusive touches and techniques that result in a great meal as opposed to an ordinary one. By worrying over each detail they have, for the first time in either the Tucci or Scappin family history, committed to paper the ingredients needed to create a collection of extraordinary meals. This cookbook will help you understand the root of our obsession with food and will, we hope, become a source for many of your own unforgettable meals." I would add that it should also inspire you to begin a collection of your own to pass down to the next generation of your family.

Judith Choate

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Combing the flavors of the South and North, Tropiano Tucci blends her spicy Calabrian dishes with Scappin's flavors from the Veneto. And in an added surprise, Tropiano Tucci reveals the authentic, previously secret family recipe for the Timp no, made famous in son Stanley Tucci's 1996 film Big Night. The dish--a thin sheet of dough shaped like a drum and layered with salami, provolone, hard-boiled eggs, meatballs, pasta and more--satisfies expectations; it's rich, extravagant and challenging. The book is layered throughout with stories of preparing food for and making the film (when director Tucci met Le Madri chef Scappin, who is now on the faculty of the Culinary Institute of New York) and with anecdotes from the extended Tucci and Scappin families. The recipes all give proof of what Stanley Tucci calls "our [Italian] obsession with food." Many recipes (Caponata, Stuffed Peppers, Simple Chicken Breast with Sage and Cream-filled Cannoli) are traditional, but there are many personalized dishes as well, like Fried Pasta, Tucci Family Focaccia and, from Scappin's sister, Livia's Tiramis . Full flavors abound in such meals as Braised Italian-Style Pot Roast (made in the oven with red wine, porcini mushrooms and the usual aromatics); Buckwheat Noodles with Swiss Chard, Potatoes, Cabbage, Fontina and Sage; and Chicken Rolled and Stuffed with Smoked Mozzarella, Spinach and Prosciutto. This is an appealingly collegial addition to the groaning shelves of Italian cookbooks. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Sam Sifton
How to make this thing, this timpano? Go ask Mama: Tucci's....[A] splendid collection of Italian family recipes that includes as its centerpiece a detailed blueprint for the "Big Night" timpano. Making the thing is extraordinarily time-consuming, though relatively uncomplicated. It's well worth the hours spent.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780688159023
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/28/1999
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 337
  • Product dimensions: 8.30 (w) x 10.34 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Antipasti en Insalate

Appetizers and Salads

Joan: The arrival of family and friends at our home is one of my favorite moments. I enjoy the enthusiasm of people coming through the door, embracing, talking, and greeting each other, and I take pleasure in introducing new visitors to longstanding friends and family members. As was the custom at my parents' house and at Stan's, we always have olives, salami, cheese, and biscotto-- twice-baked bread--on hand to set out on the table for anyone who drops by. As our parents did, we offer drinks or demitasse, and with these few simple ingredients a guest feels warmly welcomed.

When we invite company for dinner, I round out these simple antipasti with dishes prepared from the recipes in this section. Many of these appetizers taste best if prepared several hours in advance, store well, and generally can be served at room temperature or reheat easily. The great thing about these recipes is that they can also be used to create a quick, casual lunch. A green salad and bread complete the meal. And don't forget the wine.

Gianni:In my area of Italy, the Vent, cicchetti is the dialect word for "little bite." These antipasti--type dishes are served everywhere, from little bars and traitorous to ousters. They are part of an everyday traditional way of socializing while playing cards or having a glass of wine. Cicchetti may be as simple as half a hard-boiled egg topped with a slice of anchovy and drizzled with olive oil or more complicated, like sliced frigate. My father prepared all types of cicchetti at our family-run trattoria, and several of thefollowing dishes are based on his recipes.

Stanley: Originally there were two appetizer sequences in Big Night. The first was at the beginning of the party scene and consisted of a series of tracking shots of a buffet table overflowing with culinary delights. The second, at the beginning of the meal, was a series of close overhead shots of artfully arranged vegetables. We cut both scenes because we felt they lessened the impact of the meal yet to come.

Luckily, when serving a meal in real life this need not be of concern! In fact, the appetizer recipes that follow must be served--they will help whet the appetite for the following meal or make a meal in themselves. Whichever you choose, I'm sure you will be satisfied.

Classic Bruschetta

Makes 6 Servings

Gianni: Bruschetta is an example of spuntini, cicchetti, or stuzzichini-all Italian words for "little bites." My father, Luigi, was a very practical man who looked for inexpensive ways to concoct "little bites" for the cardplaying customers at our family bar. Whenever I prepare bruschetta I remember how he would grill slices of day-old bread, rub them with garlic, and top, with almost any mixture he had on hand--baccala, tomatoes in the summer, pureed beans. He would bring a small tray of spuntini to the cardplayers, who of course would need to purchase a glass of wine to complete this small meal.

There are endless ways of making bruschetta, but this is my favorite. You can leave the skins on the tomatoes or peel them. To make peeling easier, blanch the tomatoes in boiling water for a couple of minutes, then cool them in cold water. This will loosen the skins. My only rule with bruschetta is to use the best olive oil you can find, preferably a cold-pressed variety.

1 pound ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon diced onions (optional)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (optional)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
6 slices country-style bread
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, cut in half
3 cloves garlic,finely chopped

Combine the tomatoes, basil, oregano, and olive oil in a bowl, season with salt and pepper, and allow to marinate for half an hour. (Any of the optional ingredients may be mixed with these basic ingredients.) Toast or grill the bread, and rub with the garlic halves. Spoon generous portions of the tomato mixture onto the toast, and serve.

Variations: Grilled or toasted country bread that has been rubbed with garlic may be topped with: 1 head cauliflower florets that have been boiled until tender, roughly chopped, tossed with 3 tablespoons olive oil and I tablespoon red wine vinegar, and seasoned with salt and pepper.1 pound mushrooms, roughly chopped, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves, 2 tea-spoons finely chopped garlic, and 2 tablespoons olive oil, cooked to soften over medium-high heat.

  • Caponata
  • Antipasto di Cannellini
  • Bacilli Manteca
  • A soft cheese such as Robbiola topped with a thin slice of cured sausage, prosciutto, speck, or salami.

Cucina & Famiglia. Copyright © by Joan Tucci. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Table of Contents

Foreword IX
Acknowledgments XI
Introduction 1
Antipasti ed Insalate / Appetizers and Salads 27
Uova / Eggs 63
Zuppe / Soups 70
Pane E Pizza / Bread and Pizza 87
Gnocchi, Polenta, E Pasta / Gnocchi, Polenta, and Pasta 106
Riso E Risotto / Rice and Risotto 177
Carne / Meat 193
Pollame / Poultry 223
Pesce / Fish and Shellfish 239
Vegetali E Contorni / Vegetables and Side Dishes 255
Dolci / Desserts 292
Basics 320
Index 329
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The spectacular Italian dish timpano from Stanley Tucci's acclaimed movie "Big Night" captivated food lovers across the country, inspiring legions of fans to host their own "Big Night" feasts in its wake. Now at last, Cucina & Famiglia: Two Italian Families Share Their Stories, Recipes, and Traditions reveals the secret of this wondrous recipe as well as 200 other authentic Italian-American dishes. Written by Joan Tropiano Tucci -- Stanley's mom -- and Gianni Scappin, the noted chef with whom Stanley Tucci "apprenticed" for his role in the movie, this cookbook delves into the traditions of a famous Italian family, embracing the similarities and differences between northern and southern Italian home cooking. Check out a delicious, easy recipe from the book below.

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Joan Tropiano Tucci -- mother of Stanley Tucci, producer and star of the movie Big Night -- and Gianni Scappin -- who taught Stanley how to cook for his performance as Secondo in Big Night -- join together to bring you over 200 of their favorite Italian family recipes. Brimming with family anecdotes and filled with easy and accessible Italian dishes, Cucina & Famiglia is a delightful peek into what it means to grow up in an Italian family. Feel like a member of the clan as you thumb through family photographs and enjoy recipes like Fried Zucchini Fritters, Stuffed Mushrooms, Lasagna Made with Polenta and Gorgonzola Cheese, Linguine with Clam Sauce, Veal Chops Stuffed with Fontina and Prosciutto, Chicken Cacciatore, and Mamma's Little Fritters (flavored with lemon and grappa). You'll never feel so at home.
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Recipes from Cucina & Famiglia

Bruschetta con Pomodoro
Bruschetta with Tomato

Makes 4 Servings

STAN: In the late 1970s, Joan and I returned to Italy and ended our trip with a visit to Joan's cousin Tita. The moment we arrived, Tita insisted that we must stay not only for dinner but also for the night. Within moments she had lit a fire and was toasting slices of homemade bread. She rubbed each slice with garlic, drizzled olive oil on top, and spooned finely chopped tomatoes, basil, and parsley on each piece. This was our first experience with bruschetta, which soon after began to appear at Italian restaurants in America.

JOAN: My father built my mother an outdoor brick oven with a wooden roof over it so that she could bake in any weather. When the fire was almost out, my mother would slice and slowly toast homemade bread until it was golden and hard. We called it biscotto, and my mother would break it into small pieces and add it to her Tomato Salad.

STANLEY: Bruschetta is a terrific hors d'oeuvre but it doesn't lend itself to advanced preparation—nothing is worse than soggy bruschetta. So I mix the tomatoes, garlic, and parsley together in a small serving bowl. I toast the bread, rub it with garlic, and place it on a platter with the bowl of tomatoes. I set this out along with other hors d'oeuvres—olives, soppressata, a hunk of Parmesan cheese—and allow guests to serve themselves while I pour the wine.

4 medium-size ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
8 fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 slices Italian bread, toasted
1 clove garlic, cut in half
Extra virgin olive oil to drizzle on top (optional)

In a medium-size bowl, mix together the tomatoes, basil, parsley, chopped garlic, and olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Rub the toasted bread with the garlic halves, then top with equal portions of the tomato mixture. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil on top if desired, and serve immediately.

Marinara con Funghi
Tomato Sauce with Mushrooms

Makes 4 Servings

STAN: Marinara was my father's favorite tomato sauce. He always said he preferred it to ragù. As children none of us agreed with him, but as we got older we appreciated his wisdom—it is lighter and easier to digest.

JOAN: This recipe makes enough sauce for 1 pound of linguine or spaghetti. It may be made one day ahead; refrigerate it and reheat before serving. This sauce is also delicious served with polenta: Cook the polenta and then stir in one third of the sauce. Distribute among four dinner plates and top with remaining sauce.

STANLEY: This is the first sauce I learned to make. It is simple and inexpensive. During the lean years in New York I found it a great comfort nutritionally and economically.

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic
10 ounces white mushrooms, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
4 cups canned whole plum tomatoes (about one 35 ounce can)
3 fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (optional)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Warm the olive oil in a large sauté pan set over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook until softened and lightly colored, about 2 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms and cook until lightly colored and softened, about 5 minutes. Remove the mushrooms to a plate and set aside.

Add the tomatoes to the sauté pan, crushing them with your hands or the back of a slotted spoon as you stir them into the pan. Add the basil and oregano, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, about 15 minutes. Return the mushrooms to the pan and continue to simmer until the sauce is sweet, about another 15 minutes. Serve over pasta garnished with Parmesan or pecorino Romano cheese if desired.

Dolce di Prugne e Polenta
Plum and Polenta Cake

Makes 8 Servings

GIANNI: Ground cornmeal is a primary ingredient in the cooking of the Veneto region of Italy, where I grew up. Many baking recipes using cornmeal were created during the Second World War, when ingredients from outside our region were in short supply. My Aunt Angela created this cake and it is a family favorite.

1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely ground cornmeal or semolina flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of kosher salt
13 tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
4 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 plums, cut in half and pitted
2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and lightly flour an 8 X 2-inch round cake pan or an 8-inch springform pan, tapping out any excess flour. Set aside.

In a small bowl, toss together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and granulated sugar together with an electric mixer, until pale yellow and creamy, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of a bowl with a rubber spatula and add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the whole eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Mix in the lemon zest and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and blend until just combined.

Spread the batter in the prepared pan. Place the plum halves, skin side down, at even intervals on top of the batter. Sprinkle the brown sugar on top of the fruit and batter. Bake until the cake is golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.

VARIATION: Quartered figs (about 6) or pitted sweet cherries (about 1/2 cup) may be used in place of the plums.

Recipes from Cucina & Famiglia, copyright © 1999 by Joan Tropiano Tucci and Gianni Scappin. All rights reserved.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 17, 2000

    A Good Choice For Italian Food Lovers

    This book is a recent addition to my Italian cookbook collection and I thoroughly enjoyed reading all the stories that went along with the recipes. Having lived in Italy myself for 8 years, I liked that there was a contrast between the recipes from Veneto, and those from Calabria. As an Italian food lover, and having over 130 italian cookbooks in my collection, I would recommend this book to anyone interested in Italian cuisine and culture.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2000

    Fabulous Italian Cookbook!!

    I just received this cookbook for Christmas and I love it. Just reading the recipes and family stories is enjoyable. I had a dinner party two days ago and it was a huge success. I used two recipes from this cookbook. The stuffed mushrooms (pg.44) were delicious and the Grilled Butterflied Leg of Lamb (pg.222) was terrific. Everyone was raving!! I marinated the lamb overnight and it couldn't have been better. I can't decide what to make next, everything sounds fabulous. Hope others enjoy as much as I have.

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