cover image Mangia, Little Italy!: Secrets from a Sicilian Family Kitchen

Mangia, Little Italy!: Secrets from a Sicilian Family Kitchen

Chronicle Books, Francesca Romina. Chronicle Books, $18.95 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-8118-1533-8

Scented with garlic and oregano, the traditional Sicilian red sauce, a long-cooked tomato-based staple, gives heat and life to many of the recipes recollected here. Romina, a cooking teacher who spent childhood weekends in her grandmother's kitchen in New York City's Little Italy, recalls family members and stories while recreating tastes of family meals. Chapters (""Brodo e Ova, Soup and Eggs""; ""Carni e Galline, Meats and Poultry"") include high-spirited, sometimes tiresomely so, dialogues that Romina recalls having with her Italian-born grandmother. There are recipes for Seven-Hour Sunday Tomato Sauce, which is to be cooked on Saturday and enjoyed during the afternoon-long family meal on Sunday, and a shorter (two hour) version: Weekday Tomato Sauce. Both are made with meatballs and pork. Fish recipes include sauteed Sweet and Sour Tuna and the peasant-style, Christmas-eve tradition, Baccala, Salted Cod in Tomato Sauce with Black Olives. Though many of these recipes require patience and time (the cod is soaked in cold water for two to three days, changing the water three times a day), several dishes can be prepared with surprising ease, e.g., Veal Pizzaiola, breaded veal cutlets baked in a tomato and onion mixture for about 25 minutes. Plenty of smart tips (include the flavor-packed top of the stem when chopping flat parsley; don't stick your head in the oven to check on roasting chickpeas, which pop in the heat) add extra punch to this exuberant volume. Photos. (Feb.)