cover image Italian Family Cooking

Italian Family Cooking

Giuseppe Orsini, Joseph Orsini. Thomas Dunne Books, $27.5 (208pp) ISBN 978-0-312-24225-1

Asserting that food must nurture both body and soul, retired Catholic priest Orsini (Father Orsini's Italian Kitchen) celebrates the family values inherent in food by prefacing each of his delicious recipes with a short, food-related anecdote about his family and friends. He says he first tried Chicken Breasts Venetian Style, for example, after he almost lost his mother in an Italian train station, and that his friend has turned Pork Crown Roast Italian Style into a New Year's tradition. Most of the recipes here are for pasta dishes, including more than a dozen easily made in the microwave, such as Egg Noodles in Tuna Sauce and Spaghetti with Stuffed Chicken Rolls. Among Orsini's more unusual offerings are a Simple Pesto for Pasta, Fish and Eggs that uses neither garlic nor pine nuts and a substantial Pasta Pizza with rotelle as one of the toppings. Although Regis Philbin, here serving as an American Heart Association spokesperson, provides the foreword and Orsini suggests substitutions to reduce fat and cholesterol content, many dishes are seriously laden with cream and cheese. Orazio's Pasta in Vodka Sauce contains a quart of heavy cream, while Mashed Potato Pie calls for six tablespoons of butter and two cups of Parmesan cheese. (Among the healthier ingredients the author recommends are the canned tomatoes and pasta made by his own company, Father Joe's Italian Specialties.) Nonetheless, Orsini's combination of big-hearted stories and hearty fare should please fans of traditional Italian cooking. (May)