cover image Celebrations Italian Style

Celebrations Italian Style

Mary Ann Esposito. Morrow Cookbooks, $30 (352pp) ISBN 978-0-688-13038-1

Host of PBS's Ciao, Italia, author of the companion cookbook and Nella Cucina, the enthusiastic, irresistible Esposito could put even the most curmudgeonly of readers in a holiday mood. Covering all courses and many holidays, she offers recipes and menus for traditional holiday fare, e.g., the meatless, fish-centered Christmas Eve meal, including recipes for Stewed Cod and Fried Eel. There are a variety of Christmas cakes (Panettone, Pandoro, Panforte di Siena) and for Easter, Columba, a yeast bread in the shape of a dove carrying an egg. For Thanksgiving Esposito suggests a pumpkin risotto; for a birthday, gnocchi; for a picnic, a rustic Sicilian spinach pie. A towering Cookie Wedding Cake is a particularly tempting variation on the expected. Recipes are best suited to cooks with some experience; chapters are arranged according to courses, e.g., ``Antipasti'' and ``Frutte e Dolci.'' A final chapter covers simple, unusual gifts such as Prosciutto and Rosemary Breadsticks. Menu suggestions (Vegetarian Summer Buffet; Christmas Eve Dinner) are offered in sidebars; Tomie de Paola illustrates accompanying holiday folktales. Author tour. (Dec.)