Mario Batali Holiday Food: Family Recipes for the Most Festive Time of the Year

Overview

Never is the generosity and spirit of the Italian table more evident than at the holidays, when great food and good times are on the menu in every household. In his new book, Mario Batali captures all the flavors of this festive season with enticing recipes that showcase the brilliance of simple Italian food at its best.

Four complete menus offer abundant meals for the holidays, starting with the seafood extravaganza known as the Feast of Seven Fishes, traditionally served on ...

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Overview

Never is the generosity and spirit of the Italian table more evident than at the holidays, when great food and good times are on the menu in every household. In his new book, Mario Batali captures all the flavors of this festive season with enticing recipes that showcase the brilliance of simple Italian food at its best.

Four complete menus offer abundant meals for the holidays, starting with the seafood extravaganza known as the Feast of Seven Fishes, traditionally served on Christmas Eve. Mario's rendition includes almost a dozen delectable fish and seafood dishes, from delicate sea bass ravioli to the indispensable baccalà, here served in the Vesuvian style. A magnificent boned and rolled turkey breast stuffed with roasted chestnuts is the centerpiece of a lavish Christmas Day's menu, while an assortment of alluring finger foods and a showstopping ziti-and-meatball-filled pasta dome set the tone for a lively New Year's Eve celebration. For the relaxed entertaining of New Year's Day, Mario suggests a procession of marinated salads, pastas, and stuffed vegetables, all served at room temperature, capped off with fresh homemade sausage with sweet peppers.

One of the great pleasures of cooking at this time of the year is baking, and Mario Batali Holiday Food includes recipes for a dozen irresistible holiday cookies, some authentically Italian and others family favorites Mario has relished since childhood. You'll also find a host of delectable tortes, custards, cakes, and confections as well as wine suggestions and a refreshing aperitivo to round out each holiday menu.

Whether you're creating a full-blown Italian spread or simply adding a touch of Italy to your own family traditions, Mario Batali Holiday Food will make your holiday gatherings memorably delicious.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Our Review
I can't believe that it has gotten to be that time of year already. It seems as if I was just shaking sand from my shoes. And yet, here it is: time to make lists, try to remember who got what last year, decide whether you are really ready to give up the fresh, pungent smell of pine for the easy to put away and clean up after (but it almost looks real) tree. And most of all, time to plan meals, parties, and get-togethers that will bring together all the people you love. I can think of no better way to get into the spirit of the weeks to come than with Mario Batali Holiday Food written by the extremely popular host of the TV Food Network's cooking show Molto Mario. Chef Mario Batali also owns and operates a number of New York restaurants that are high on the Zagat list, so it was with some difficulty that we found a moment to chat about his latest book.

When asked what his book has to offer, he replied, "I would like my book to be a springboard to understanding how important it is to develop your own family traditions for the holidays. Sharing my stories and traditions and the foods that are so much a part of an Italian-American holiday will, I hope, encourage others to build those of their own."

Not surprisingly, his favorite holidays are "Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Without question." He continued, "These are just such obvious holidays for a kid -- the smell of the tree, the excitement of the tightly wrapped presents, the aromas of baking and roasting from the kitchen. It was something that you could count on happening. I still love it!"

"Is there something that is so much a part of your Christmas that it wouldn't be Christmas without it?" I asked. Mario emitted a kind of yucky noise and said, "Divinity. I don't much like it -- it's just too sweet -- but my mom always makes it anyway." I was a bit surprised because this was one of my mother's favorite holiday treats, and you almost never see it anymore. With Mario Batali Holiday Food we can all put some of these traditional foods back on our menus.

"Now that you are all grown up with a family of your own, have your holidays changed much?" I asked. "Not really -- perhaps the foods are bit more sophisticated," he thoughtfully responded. "For instance, on New Year's Eve we always have some Dungeness crab, which I order from Pike Place Market in Seattle, and a big, greasy chardonnay along with our traditional pasta. Christmas dinner might be an old-fashioned Italian stuffed pork roast, Braciolona, or I might make a somewhat more contemporary Crown Roast of Veal with Onions and Pancetta. Either way, we have a rich, tender meat and a great stuffing, so some things don't really change."

Even if it is something as simple as putting a new condiment on the table, I think we should all add new tastes and flavors to our holiday table. My family seems to prefer their old favorites, but I think a few new items on the groaning board keeps us from being old stick-in-the-muds. If, like me, you try to introduce something new into your holiday menus, Mario Batali Holiday Food is the perfect book to revitalize your old standbys.

--Judith Choate

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Americans tend to think of Italian cooking as easy: we have come to rely on 15-minute pastas and hearty, seasonal dishes like minestrone. But here, Batali of Food Network's Molto Mario presents the most cherished Italian dishes--those served, often after days of preparation and with fanfare, during the holidays. Batali focuses on the seafood-rich Amalfi coast, beginning with a Christmas Eve menu that includes Vongole Origanate (clams oreganato), Baccal Vesuviana, Ravioli alla Spigola (Sea Bass Ravioli with Marjoram and Potatoes), and in case you still have any room for dessert, Classic Cannoli. The book consists of traditional Italian menus that take you through the four holidays--Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day--but the recipes can be used for an impressive meal or snack any time. (There is also a separate section on the wines of Campania.) Cooking from scratch is the name of the game, so don't expect shortcuts; however, instructions are generally to the point and the results are well worthwhile. Recipes like Mythic Pasta Dome (a sort of pasta torte) capture the elaborate and festive nature of holiday Italian cooking. Beginners might be intimidated: Baba (lemon cake) requires a yeast rising and the insertion of fine holes in the cake into which a lemon mixture is "infused." But once practiced, recipes become easy, and there are some simple yet gratifying recipes, such as No-Bake Chocolate Cookies. If you want to enliven your Italian repertoire with authentic, celebratory dishes, this book is invaluable. Photographs by Quentin Bacon. (Oct.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Library Journal
In his latest cookbook, Batali (Simple Italian Food), popular host of the Food Network's Molto Mario and executive chef of four New York City restaurants, offers four Italian holiday menus, from a Christmas Eve "Feast of the Fishes" to a New Year's Day day-long open house. This is the companion volume to a new television series, Mario Batali's Italy, and many of the recipes are inspired by the simple, rustic dishes of the region of Campania, particularly the Amalfi Coast from Naples to Salerno. There are color photographs of the region and of most of the recipes, many of them full-page close-ups. This is a small book, but Batali has numerous fans. Recommended for most collections. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780609607749
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/28/2000
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 144
  • Product dimensions: 7.80 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.55 (d)

Meet the Author

Mario Batali
MARIO BATALI's world now encompasses three New York City restaurants -- Babbo, Lupa, and Esca -- as well as a wine store, The Italian Wine Merchant. He is the host of Food Network's popular Molto Mario, as well as an upcoming new series, Mario Batali's Italy, and is the author of Mario Batali Simple Italian Food (Clarkson Potter, 1998). He lives in New York City with his wife and two sons.
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Read an Excerpt

LINGUINE ALLE NOCI (LINGUINE WITH WALNUT SAUCE)

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 cup toasted hard bread crumbs
1 cup roughly chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon hot red pepper flakes
1 pound linguine
1/2 cup roughly chopped Italian parsley
1/2 cup freshly grated caciocavallo cheese or pecorino romano

Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons kosher salt.

In a 14- to 16-inch fry pan, heat the oil over medium heat till smoking. Add the garlic and cook until light golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Add half of the bread crumbs, the walnuts, and pepper flakes and cook until lightly toasted, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Drop the pasta into the boiling water and cook according to the package instructions until 1 minute short of al dente. Just before draining the pasta, add 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water to the pan with the walnut mixture.

Drain the pasta in a colander and pour the pasta into the pan with the walnut mixture. Place the pan over medium heat and continue cooking the pasta with the walnut mixture until the pasta is lightly dressed with the condiment, about 1 minute. Add the parsley and grated cheese, stir through, pour into a heated bowl, sprinkle with the remaining bread crumbs, and serve immediately.

Yield: Serves 4 to 8

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BROCCOLI SOFFRITI (BRAISED BROCCOLI)

3 pounds fresh broccoli rabe, with leaves, if possible, or 3 pounds broccoli
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 garlic cloves, halved
10 marinated anchovy fillets, roughly chopped, or 5 salt-packed anchovies, soaked, rinsed and filleted Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup toasted bread crumbs

Trim the broccoli rabe into long stalks, removing the bottom 2 inches and leaving the leaves attached. Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil. Meanwhile, place a 12- to 14-inch sauté pan over medium-low heat and add the olive oil. Add the garlic and anchovies and cook 5 minutes, stirring often, until just golden brown and very fragrant. While the garlic and anchovies cook, plunge the broccoli rabe into the boiling water and cook for 1 minute. Drain the broccoli rabe well and add it to the pan with the garlic and anchovies. Cook over low heat for 10 to 12 minutes, until tender but still holding its shape. Remove from heat and season aggressively with pepper and timidly with salt. Serve hot or at room temperature sprinkled with the bread crumbs.

Yield: Serves 8

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COTECCHINO CON LENTICCHIE (BIG SAUSAGE WITH LENTILS)

1 tablespoon kosher salt
8 ounces brown lentils
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
12 fresh sage leaves
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cotecchino sausages, about 2 pounds each

Bring 6 cups of water to a boil and add the salt. Add the lentils, carrots, garlic, and sage and boil until the lentils are tender yet firm, about 25 minutes. Drain and place in a mixing bowl. Add the oil and vinegar, season with salt and pepper, and mix well. Set aside.

Prick the sausages with a pin several times. Place in a large pot of cold water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to a very low boil and cover the pot. Cook for 1 1/2 hours.

Place the marinated lentils on a large serving platter to form a bed for the cotecchino. Drain the sausages and cut into 1/4-inch rounds. Arrange the sausage on the lentils and serve hot or at room temperature.

Yield: Serves 8

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Recipe

Recipes from Mario Batali Holiday Food

Crespelle di Formaggio (Baked Crêpes Stuffed with Cheese)
Makes about 18 crêpes; serves 6 to 10

CRESPELLE
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1 cup whole milk
Olive oil, for pan
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) melted unsalted butter

FILLING
2 1/2 cups ricotta
1 pound fresh mozzarella, grated
1 cup freshly grated soft sheep's milk cheese (cacio, or a young provolone)
1/2 pound sweet salami or soppressata, cut into 1/8 inch dice
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 bunch chives, cut into long pieces

Crêpes make a big dinner easy because you can make them a month in advance and freeze them. The filling can be made the day before and refrigerated until the morning of the meal. These are delicious right out of the oven, but work quite well at room temperature, providing you don't use commercial mozzarella, which becomes rubbery.

First, make the crespelle: Place the flour in a mixing bowl, add the eggs, and whisk them in. Add the salt, then whisk in the milk a little at a time until all the milk is incorporated. Allow the batter to stand for 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Heat a 6-inch nonstick pan over high heat until hot and brush with olive oil. Turn heat down to medium and pour 1 1/2 tablespoons of batter into the pan. Cook until pale golden on the bottom, about 1 minute. Flip and cook just 5 or 10 seconds on the second side. Remove and set aside. Continue the process until all the batter has been used.

(The crêpes can be frozen for up to 2 months. Wrap stacks of up to 20 crêpes tightly in plastic and then in foil; when ready to use, thaw overnight in the refrigerator.)

Use 2 tablespoons of the melted butter to butter the bottom and all sides of a 10-by-8-inch ceramic baking dish. Combine the filling ingredients in a bowl; set aside 1/4 cup. Fill each crespella with 3 tablespoons of the filling mixture and fold in half. Place in the baking dish. Repeat until the filling and crêpes are used, overlapping the crespelle in the dish.

Smear the reserved filling over the tops, drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, and bake until piping hot and crispy on top, 12 to 15 minutes; some edges should look almost burnt. Remove and serve hot or at room temperature.

Braciolona (Braised Pork Roll with Ziti)
Serves 8

3 pounds boneless pork shoulder or leg, butterflied and pounded to yield 1 large piece 1/2 inch thick and 12 inches square
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped Italian parsley plus 2 tablespoons
1/4 cup pine nuts, baked for 8 minutes in a 400 degree F oven
1/2 cup dried currants
3/4 cup freshly grated young pecorino cheese
16 slices prosciutto di Parma, about 1/2 pound
4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and quartered lengthwise
Several gratings of nutmeg
4 tablespoons dried oregano
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 red onions, cut into 1/4-inch dice
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 cups dry white wine
3 28-ounce cans plum tomatoes, crushed by hand, juices included
2 teaspoons hot red pepper flakes
2 pounds ziti, cooked until al dente (optional)

The most difficult part of this truly spectacular dish may be finding a piece of pork big enough to stuff and roll. Few supermarkets stock a piece of pork shoulder this large, and you will probably need to special-order it. This is when it definitely pays to have a good relationship with a local butcher. The sauce from this dish is generally used to dress ziti, which is served as a pasta course. The meat is held in a warm place and served as a secondo, or main course.

Lay the pork on a cutting board and season with salt and pepper. In a mixing bowl, stir together 1/2 cup of the parsley, the pine nuts, currants, and 1/2 cup of the pecorino and season with salt and pepper. Lay the prosciutto slices over the pork piece to cover completely. Sprinkle the parsley mixture evenly over the prosciutto. Arrange the eggs in two rows across the meat. Grate the nutmeg over the entire piece and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the oregano, rubbing it between your fingers to release the essential oils. Carefully roll the piece up like a jellyroll and tie firmly with butcher twine in several places. Season the roll with salt and pepper. (The tied roll can be refrigerated for a day or two.)

In an 8-quart Dutch oven, heat the oil until smoking. Carefully brown the pork roll on all sides, taking your time to get a deep golden brown; this should take 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the meat and set aside.

Add the onions, remaining 2 tablespoons of oregano, and the garlic to the pan and cook until light golden brown and soft, 9 to 11 minutes. Add the wine, tomatoes, and pepper flakes and bring to a boil. Return the pork to the pan and simmer partially covered for 1 hour 20 minutes, moving occasionally to avoid sticking.

Transfer the pork to a cutting board and remove the butcher twine carefully. Slice the braciolona 3/4 inch thick with a very sharp knife. Arrange like shingles on a warm platter and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cups of grated pecorino and remaining chopped parsley. Cover and keep warm if serving after the pasta course.

Alici Marinati (Marinated Fresh Anchovies)
Makes approximately 48 fillets; serves 8

2 pounds fresh anchovies
2 cups white wine vinegar
2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons hot red pepper flakes
1/4 cup finely chopped Italian parsley
4 garlic cloves, sliced paper thin
2 tablespoons sea salt
Lemon wedges (optional)

One bite of this exemplary antipasto entirely changed the way I thought about Italian cooking -- and cooking in general. So Zen-like in their elegance and simplicity, so little and yet so much said, these delicious little dreamboats truly capture the dreamlike state of the Amalfi coast and the cooking that defines it.

The cured anchovies will keep in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Using scissors, trim the fins off of all the anchovies. Using a sharp paring knife, slit each fish along the belly from head to tail; remove the entrails and rinse well. Cut off the heads and carefully pull out the spine and pin bones from the top with your index finger and thumbnail. Separate the two fillets and rinse again. Arrange a layer of the fillets in a deep oval gratin dish and sprinkle with a tablespoon or two of vinegar. Continue until all the fish fillets are used, then pour the rest of the vinegar over the fish. Cover and marinate in the fridge for at least 4 hours.

Remove the anchovies from the vinegar, rinse, and pat dry with a kitchen towel. Wash out the dish and dry well. Return a single layer of cured anchovies to the dish and sprinkle 2 or 3 tablespoons olive oil, a pinch of oregano, a pinch of pepper flakes, a pinch of parsley, three or four garlic slices, and a pinch of salt. Layer in the rest of the anchovies, sprinkling each layer with oil, oregano, pepper flakes, parsley, garlic, and salt. Cover again and marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

To serve, bring anchovies to just below room temperature (in Italy they would be served at about 58 degrees F). Remove from the oil and arrange six or seven on each plate with a lemon wedge if desired.

Broccoli Soffriti (Braised Broccoli)
Serves 8

3 pounds fresh broccoli rabe, with leaves, if possible, or 3 pounds broccoli
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 garlic cloves, halved
10 marinated anchovy fillets, roughly chopped (see above) or 5 salt-packed anchovies, soaked, rinsed and filleted
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup toasted bread crumbs

This dish is to Christmas Eve dinner in Amalfi what apple pie is to July Fourth in middle America: an absolute necessity. The Amalfitani choose a leafy, lighter colored broccoli from Campania for this dish; the closest substitute in this country is broccoli rabe; choose a bunch with as many leaves as possible.

Trim the broccoli rabe into long stalks, removing the bottom 2 inches and leaving the leaves attached. Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil. Meanwhile, place a 12- to 14-inch sauté pan over medium-low heat and add the olive oil. Add the garlic and anchovies and cook 5 minutes, stirring often, until just golden brown and very fragrant. While the garlic and anchovies cook, plunge the broccoli rabe into the boiling water and cook for 1 minute. Drain the broccoli rabe well and add it to the pan with the garlic and anchovies. Cook over low heat for 10 to 12 minutes, until tender but still holding its shape. Remove from heat and season aggressively with pepper and timidly with salt. Serve hot or at room temperature sprinkled with the bread crumbs.

Note: Anchovies
Whenever anchovies are called for in my recipes, the quantity is given as a number of fillets -- preferably taken from fresh anchovies you have marinated yourself (see above), which yield two fillets each. If prepackaged anchovies must be used, however, be aware that they come in one acceptable -- and one despicable -- form. Salt-packed anchovies that come in a 1- or 2- kilo can are available in Italian delis and are sold whole. Order them by the quarter-pound, take them home, soak them in either water or milk, then remove the fillets. Least desirable are the tiny cans of salty prefilleted anchovies packed in oil. This is not to say that all brands of canned fillets are not very good, but most aren't, so use one of the other types if you can.

Biancomangiare (Almond Clouds in Vanilla Almond Milk)
Makes 10 6-ounce custards

1 1/2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1/2 pound blanched almonds
6 1/2 cups whole milk
Zest of 2 lemons
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons almond oil
1 cup heavy cream, very cold
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg plus 4 yolks
Seeds from 1 pomegranate

These little flavor powerhouses are destined to replace panna cotta as the next hip dessert in post-tiramisù Italian restaurants. The almond-infused milk is as rich and intense as it is light and sexy, and does spectacular double duty as the base of this dessert and its sauce.

Place the gelatin in 2 cups of cold water and set aside. Place the almonds in a food processor and grind to a powder. Combine the milk and lemon zest in a nonreactive saucepan. Add the ground almonds and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove from the heat, cover, and let stand 20 minutes.

Line a sieve with cheesecloth and strain the milk mixture, pressing with the back of a spoon to remove all of the liquid; discard the solids.

Set aside 1 1/2 cups of the flavored milk for the sauce and place the remaining milk, 1 1/2 cups of the sugar, and the soaked gelatin in a saucepan. Bring just to a boil, stirring constantly, remove from the heat immediately, and allow to cool to room temperature.

Grease ten 6-ounce ramekins with the almond oil and set aside. Whip the cream to soft peaks and fold the cooled almond milk and vanilla into the whipped cream. Spoon the mixture into the greased molds up to 90 percent full and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Meanwhile, beat together the egg and the egg yolks. Add to the remaining reserved flavored milk and add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar. Place over medium heat and, stirring constantly, heat to a high simmer, 175 degrees F. Remove from heat, pour through a strainer into a small bowl, and refrigerated for 1 hour.

To serve, dip the bottoms of the molds in a bowl of hot water, being careful not to allow any water to go over the edge into the mold, and carefully invert onto large plates. Sometimes you need to run a sharp knife around the perimeter of the custard to loosen it from the mold.

Whisk the sauce to loosen it and pour over the custards. Garnish with pomegranate seeds and serve.

Struffoli (Tiny Honey-Covered Fritters)
Makes 50 to 60 fritters

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
6 egg yolks
1 egg
Grated zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon limoncello
4 cups canola oil, for frying
2 cups honey
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
Candied orange or lemon peel or sprinkles, for garnish (optional)

These little fritters are the most beloved item on the Christmas table. Traditionally they are made several days before Christmas Eve and given to guests throughout the week, often presented in a golden horn of plenty made from bread dough. At my restaurant Babbo we place them on the center table so guests can help themselves on the way out.

In a mixer bowl, combine the flour, egg yolks, egg, zests, salt, and limoncello and mix well to form a firm dough, 8 to 10 minutes. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. When the dough has rested, remove from fridge and cut into golf ball-size pieces. Roll each golf ball into a 1/2-inch-thick dowel and cut each dowel into 1/2-inch pieces. Roll each piece between palms into a ball. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Heat the oil in a 12- to 14-inch skillet with at least 3-inch sides to 375 degrees F. Drop balls in to cover about half of the surface of the oil and cook until dark golden brown. Use a spider or slotted spoon to turn them regularly; they will puff up while cooking. Remove when cooked to a tray covered with paper towels and drain well. This should make at least five batches, so be patient.

When all of the struffoli are cooked, heat the honey, lemon juice, and zest together in a wide 6- to 8-quart saucepan until quite warm, about 150 degrees F, and substantially thinner. Add the struffoli and stir carefully until well coated. Remove from heat and allow to cool 5 minutes in the pan, stirring regularly. Pour out onto a large serving tray in the form of either a pyramid or a ring. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar and any other choice of garnish. The struffoli should last a week or as long as your guests allow.

Recipes from Holiday Food by Mario Batali. Copyright © 2000 by Mario Batali.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2000

    Surprising Book

    I preordered this book when I saw it listed, knowing anything Mario had published would have to be great. I was however a little surprised when it arrived and I saw just how small it actually was. After reading it through from cover to cover, I overcame my disappointment however, realizing that Mario had chosen only the best recipes for the holidays. As the Italian food host at BellaOnline, I am always on the lookout for Italian cookbooks that offer more than simply everyday recipes. Anyone buying this cookbook that is familiar with Mario Batali's work, will not be sorry. If you are interested in Italian recipes specific for the holidays, buy this book!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 5, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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