In Nonna's Kitchen: Recipes and Traditions from Italy's Grandmothers

Overview

In Nonna's Kitchen is a beautifully written collection of anecdotes, folk wisdom, priceless secrets, and recipes from the kitchens of matriarchs throughout the peninsula. As ordinary life in Italy becomes increasingly urban and Americanized, the nonne are the last generation to preserve the unique dishes and tastes of the small towns, valleys, and hilltops in Italy's varied regions. The grandmothers reveal their recipes for such delights as La Genovese, in which meat, onions, and other vegetables are cooked ...
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Overview

In Nonna's Kitchen is a beautifully written collection of anecdotes, folk wisdom, priceless secrets, and recipes from the kitchens of matriarchs throughout the peninsula. As ordinary life in Italy becomes increasingly urban and Americanized, the nonne are the last generation to preserve the unique dishes and tastes of the small towns, valleys, and hilltops in Italy's varied regions. The grandmothers reveal their recipes for such delights as La Genovese, in which meat, onions, and other vegetables are cooked almost to a cream, and 'Ncip 'Nciap, pronounced "n-cheep, n-chop," a delicious scramble of leftover chicken, red onions, and eggs that probably gets its name from the sound of the knife chopping up the chicken. The recipes are based on simple ingredients from a time when seasonality ruled life and when tradition and culinary folklore were clear and unchanging.
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Editorial Reviews

Woman's Day
Almost as much fun to read as to cook from, this is a collection of folk wisdom, anecdotes and wonderful recipes gleaned by the author from nonnas (grandmothers in small towns throughout Italy. It's a treasury of comfort food — the kind of very flavorful dishes people remember and want to eat over and over again. The ingredients are simple, and the recipes uncomplicated, but the results are something special.
International Cookbook Revue
In Nonna's Kitchen is a beautifully-written collection of anecdotes, folk wisdom, priceless secrets, and recipes from the kitchens of matriarchs throughout the peninsula.
Woman's Day
Almost as much fun to read as to cook from, this is a collection of folk wisdom, anecdotes and wonderful recipes gleaned by the author from nonnas (grandmothers in small towns throughout Italy. It's a treasury of comfort food — the kind of very flavorful dishes people remember and want to eat over and over again. The ingredients are simple, and the recipes uncomplicated, but the results are something special.
Bill Ott
As much about Italian family and culture as it is about cooking, this captiviating survey of "la cucina della nonna" (the cuisine of the grandmothers traverses Italy's countryside and finds not only terrific things to eat but also stories — stories passed along from grandmothers to grandchildren that reveal the fabric of daily life across generations. Mixing inventive variations on traditional Italian recipes with profiles of the grandmothers who created and adapted them, Field gives each dish a special cultural texture: we see what made this comfort food comfortable, and we bemoan the gradual loss of a culinary tradition, as the nonnas of tomorrow turn to microwaves and prepared food. Still, such dishes as passatelli (country soup with bread crumbs and parmigiano or torta de verdura (mashed potato and spinach tart seem capable of reestablishing a vanishing traditon with a single bite.
Richard Flaste
The sense of travel's enrichment is ... powerful in Carol Field's book In Nonna's Kitchen, which also demonstrates an appealing inclination to eliminate fuss while producing a host of satisfying dishes. Ms. Field watches, for example, as Lina Vitali, in a tight Italian kitchen, prepares the simple gnocchi that have comforted generations of her family. She learns from Nella Galletti how to make the same bean and pasta soup Mrs. Galletti prepared for herself and her husband on the days when they worked in the fields. This is filling, heartwarming home cooking...the food is a triumph. —The New York Times Book Review,
International Cookbook Revue
In Nonna's Kitchen is a beautifully-written collection of anecdotes, folk wisdom, priceless secrets, and recipes from the kitchens of matriarchs throughout the peninsula.
Anna Teresa Callen
Ms. Field, who has written many memorable cookbooks, has produced In Nonna's Kitchen, which is a true journey of discovery. In it, she sought out the cooking of le nonne, the grandmothers, from the far-away regions of Valtellina in Lombardy to sunny Sicily. Through the amusing and often touching stories gleaned from these nonne, we learn of customes, of course, but more importantly we see vividly how varied Italian cooking is and how silly it is to localize it as "northern" or "southern."
Christopher Kimball
The worth of In Nonna's Kitchen was obvious from the very beginning. Cookbook introductions are usually drowsy bits of prose, but this one made me sit up and read every word...Of course, an introduction does not make a book, much less a cookbook, but it is indicative of both the affection that Ms. Field has for her cooks and her total immersion in the topic...All of this, of course, is merely context for what any good cookbook must give us — the gift of well-constructed recipes that not only bring the voices and customs from one people to another, but that translate admirably in a modern kitchen. On this score, In Nonna's Kitchen succeeds as well...After spending much time with the nonnas of Carol Field's acquaintance, I felt as I had come to know them and agree with the comment of one Italian immigrant at the end of the introduction: "The stones in the street will cry when we are gone." —Cook's Illustrated
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060171841
  • Publisher: Morrow Cookbooks
  • Publication date: 5/1/1997
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 436
  • Product dimensions: 7.68 (w) x 9.48 (h) x 1.58 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Orecchiette Pasta and Tender Leaves of Broccoli Rabe
(Orecchiette E Broccoli Rabe)

Serves 4 as a first course, 2 or 3 as a main course

This dish is in the repertoire of every grandmother in Apulia. Maria Andriani's may be the tastiest one I have eaten. Maria makes her own orecchiette pasta, which gets its name from the ear it resembles, by combining equal amounts of wheat and durum flours with warm water and salt, but it isn't necessary to follow suit. Dried orecchiette are now available from many pasta makers. If you can't find broccoli rabe, substitute dandelion greens, if you like their bite, or broccoli, if you prefer a subtler taste.

1 to 1 1/2 pounds broccoli rabe
At least 4 quarts water
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
1 pound orecchiette
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, minced
6 anchovy fillets under oil, drained and minced; or 2 to 3 anchovies under salt, rinsed and minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes or 1 fresh hot red pepper, minced
Salt
3 to 4 tablespoons best-quality extra, virgin olive oil2 to 3 ounces ricotta salata cheese

Wash the broccoli rabe well. Discard any thick stalks, peel the thinner stems and cut into 2-inch pieces. Roughly chop the tender sprouts and leaves of the broccoli rabe.

Bring a large pot with at least 4 quarts water to a rolling boil. Add coarse salt first, then the pasta. Orecchiette can take anywhere from 10 to 18 minutes to cook; check your package for cooking times. Add the broccoli rabe when 6 to 7 minutes remain so that the two cook together in the same water until both are tender.

Meanwhile, warm the olive oil over low-medium heat in amedium sauté pan, add the garlic and anchovies, mash them with a wooden spoon to a paste, and cook forabout 4 to 5 minutes, until the garlic is barely softened and beginning to turn golden. Add the red pepper flakes and continue cooking briefly. Taste for salt. Drain the pasta and broccoli rabe, toss them into the pan with the anchovies and garlic, and mix together well.

Transfer to a heated serving platter, toss with the best-quality extra-virgin olive oil, grate the ricotta salata cheese over the top, and serve immediately.


Peppery Beef Stew
(Peposo)

Serves 4 to 6

What could be easier? Toss five ingredients into a pot and cook for about 3 hours. Just be sure that you use beef cut from the shank and that you cook it in a terracotta or heavy enameled casserole so that the meat can cook slowly and steadily. If you don't have such a casserole, lower the oven temperature to 350ºF. or even 325ºF. If you have a wood, burning oven, all the better. Although the amounts of both garlic and pepper seem immense, they mellow during the long, slow cooking and melt into the glaze of meat at the end.

The spicy Tuscan dish, which comes from Impruneta just outside Florence, gets its name from the word for pepper, which is present in copious amounts, along with equally vigorous quantities of garlic and red wine. Why all the pepper? Perhaps because it encourages everyone to drink lots of local Chianti. Serve the peposo with whole boiled potatoes, as some local nonne do, or with slices of grilled country bread.

3 pounds boneless beef cut from the shank, in 2-inch cubes
10 garlic cloves, peeled
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 scant tablespoon black peppercorns: do not grind but chop coarsely in a mortar, a nut grinder, or a wooden bowl
1 bottle (750 ml) Chianti wine; a hearty red, such as a Zinfandel or Sangiovese, would be a good substitute

Preheat the oven to 375ºF.

Put the meat, garlic, salt, and pepper in a heavy 4-quart ovenproof pot, preferably one of terra-cotta, and pour in the red wine so it just covers the meat. Cover the pot with a lid, and cook for about 3 hours, until the meat is soft and the sauce almost creamy. If a lot of liquid remains, reduce the sauce over low heat or in the oven until it is thick and creamy, about 35 minutes. The dish reheats in a 300ºF oven, although you will need to add extra broth.

Variation: Make the same dish with veal stewing meat cut from the shank.

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