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Milwaukee’s Italian families have a distinguished heritage, one that began in a great rush to the city shortly before the turn of the 19th century, when Italian immigrants poured into Milwaukee and quickly formed two distinct communities. The Bayview settlement was dominated by newcomers from northern and central Italy, many of whom took jobs in the sprawling iron mill on the south lakeshore. The second Italian community, and by far the largest, was in the Third Ward, just west of today’s Summerfest grounds. The vast majority of Third Warders, whose numbers swelled to 5,000 by 1910, traced their roots to Sicily. third ward Mario Carini, an Italian-American historian and author of the book, “Milwaukee’s Italians: The Early Years,” said nearly every region of Italy was represented in Milwaukee. He noted, “Some came from the northern regions of Liguria or Lombardy and some from the more central regions like Lazio.” However, the greatest number of Italians who emigrated to the U.S. came from the depressed and impoverished regions of il Mezzogiorno, the southern regions of the Italy, the ones left behind culturally, economically and socially after the unification of Italy in 1870. According to Carini, many of the Italian immigrants from il Mezzogiorno came from the regions of Puglia, Campania, Abruzzo and Calabria. They were once part of the Kingdom of Two Sicilies and the transition to Italian unification was a difficult journey. The southern economy was mostly agrarian-based, in contrast to the industrial north, and the peasants of the countryside had to work non-stop to provide the simplest means of survival. The island and people of Sicily suffered most. Sicily thought of itself as an entirely different country. It was there that peasants faced the toughest of circumstances. A few very wealthy men owned nearly all of the workable land on the sun-baked island. The impoverished laborers hired to work the land toiled long and hard and received scant returns. Life in il Mezzogiorno soon became unbearable and the lure of America became more and more desirable. By 1910, four out of every five immigrants came from southern Italy. The quest for the American dream started soon after the immigrants passed through the doors of Ellis Island and stepped upon the real America. Carini said, “as the old axiom ‘go West, young man’  holds, so did the immigrants listen. A good number did stay and seek their fortune in the bustling metro of New York City, but others, intrigued by tales of a gold rush and general curiosity, embarked on their trek westward. But as they made their way, economic necessity forced the Italians to halt their journey to sunny California”, Carini said. With the huge metropolis that is Chicago and its some 16,000 Italians, so close, many sought their fortune just 90 miles north in Milwaukee. According to Carini, there was an Italian presence in Milwaukee as early as the Civil War, but the real influx of immigrants began in 1880 and, by 1910, records show 3,528 Italian-born immigrants lived in Milwaukee. Some natives of northern Italy chose the south side and suburbs, while others lived where work was found. But no neighborhood could compare to the Sicilian community of the Third Ward, where 2,759 Sicilians settled. Dubbed the Little Italy of Milwaukee, the Third Ward afforded a place to live and a place to work for the immigrants, which is really what they all came looking for in America.

Catalano Square

Most of Milwaukee’s early Italian population consisted of working adult males, Carini said. However, as women joined their husbands in America, their primary duty was to the family. They cared for the children in the morning, walked to the factory and put in a full day’s work and, then, went back home to prepare meals. As soon as children could have a job they did, some even worked on the coal docks next to their fathers. Though many found work and a place to live, the Italian immigrants were hardly living the luxurious life. Many men took up a second job and working conditions were very harsh. Rosario Spella, born in Milwaukee to Italian immigrants, knew the hardships of immigrant life. “Our economic situation was dire,” Spella said. “I was the primary source of income at 18 years old, since my father had gone job-to-job. There was very little money to support all of us, so we had to do whatever we could possibly do to help out.”

Brady Street

Living quarters were described as “sub standard” and immigrants were charged relatively high rents. Families were often crammed into small houses or apartments. “Housing was a big issue,” Carini said. “We used to move around a lot, but it used to always be within the Third Ward. We’d go from corner to corner or block to block. ” That was until the railroads started to take away housing property and the family was forced to leave the area, Carini said. However, Italian-Americans prevailed and fought through the arduous task that was immigrant life. The diet of the Italian immigrants in Milwaukee was apparently not better than what they were accustomed to Italy. In America they had meat more frequently, but less fruits and vegetables. Generally the families in Sicily had meat on Sunday, eggs daily (almost every family had chickens) and fruit of every kind grew abundantly in Sicily. Fruit was cheap, especially in the villages, and almost every family owned a little piece of land on which fruit trees and greens were cultivated for family use. This simple diet, accompanied by life in the open air and vigorous work in the fields, made the Sicilian peasants healthy and strong. In Milwaukee, instead of having fruit and greens, which were too expensive in America, they learned to substitute meat and stretch it with potatoes, which were more filling than nutritious. While macaroni was preferred to any other dish, the cost was too high and with the addition of tomatoes and oil, pasta became even more expensive. Since these were luxuries for the Italian laborers in Milwaukee, they learned to prepare cheaper food.

Peter Sciortino’s Bakery, Milwaukee’s Brady Street

Like the immigrants who preceded them, most Sicilians worked as laborers and factory hands, but a sizable number entered the produce business, selling fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the city. The most successful merchants graduated to their own wholesale houses on a stretch of Broadway long known as Commission Row. Others moved into the Brady Street area. Not afraid to work, the Italians were railroad employees, fruit peddlers, refuse collectors, shopkeepers, tavern owners or skilled craft workers in the masonry and stone trades.

Cialdini Grocery Store

At the time there were in Milwaukee 45 groceries owned by Italians and 38 of them crowded into three or four streets in the Third Ward. Many of the stores were one small, unsanitary room with stock consisting of a few boxes of macaroni, a small quantity of canned tomatoes and some oranges and bananas displayed in the window. Generally women attended the shop, while their husbands were at work on the tracks or in the foundries. Only three or four groceries had a large stock and did a good amount of business, but the system of giving credit to their customers, especially during periods of joblessness, made development of their trade on a large scale impossible.  Better conditions were found among saloon keepers, who did not give credit. In the Third Ward there were 29 Italian saloons, 12 of which were located on just 4 blocks on Huron Street. The immigrants engaged in other businesses, but on a smaller scale. Although almost every line of business was represented, Italian bakeries, meat markets, shoe repair shops, tailor shops and barber shops were typical of the businesses operated by Italians in the Third Ward. In 1905, the Sicilian immigrants adopted the Blessed Virgin of Pompeii Church on Jackson Street. The “little pink church” quickly became the neighborhood’s hub, both for worship and for the annual round of summer festivals that featured Italian bands, tug-of-war contests, food stands and fireworks. By 1939 many of the younger families had moved to the Brady Street area and they founded a new church, St. Rita’s, on Cass and Pleasant Streets, which then became the new center of their community. The descendants of those first arrivals, today, make up an extraordinary share of Milwaukee’s business leaders, politicians, clergy, restaurateurs, educators, police officers and military personnel. The warm and welcoming spirit that the Italian immigrants spread is still very much alive today. One need only take a trip to the modern-day Third Ward to find the epicenter of Italian culture in Milwaukee at the Italian Community Center. Paul Iannelli, a long-time Milwaukee resident and an Italian-American advocate, as well as a historian on the ICC’s history and executive director of Festa Italiana, said the Italians deserved their spot in Milwaukee. “We, Italian-Americans, have long entrenched ourselves in Milwaukee. We decided to build a sort of base for ourselves, as well as being a memorial to all those who came before us and laid the way for Italian-Americans in Milwaukee” Iannelli said. So after a challenging decade in the 1960s, when the city razed several blocks of the Third Ward including the local church, the Italian-Americans of Milwaukee began a revival of Italian heritage and culture. “Our first Festa was in 1977,” Iannelli says. “It was, initially, just a way to jumpstart the feeling of Italian-American heritage and pride.” Festa Italiana, an annual event now and in its 34th year, is an Italian-American festival featuring music, guests and authentic Italian food. Since the Festa became so popular a new headquarters was needed and in 1990 the Italian Community Center of Milwaukee opened its doors. “The ICC was built to house the organization and offices for Festa,” Iannelli said. “But it also was built to be a hub for Italian-Americans, which it became, and a place where old friends could connect.” A block-long building with a sandstone brick exterior, the ICC stands as an emblem of the Italian-American tradition. Three flags — the Italian flag, the American flag and Wisconsin’s state flag — fly high atop silver poles next to a black granite monument commemorating notable Italian-Americans associated with the ICC’s birth.

The Milwaukee Italian American Community Center

Italian Recipes From  A Few Milwaukee Chefs

Vicenza Barley Soup

Bartolotta Ristorante, Milwaukee Chef Miles Borghgraef Serves 6 Ingredients:

  • 4 quarts of broth (either chicken or beef broth will work)
  • 6 oz. pearled barley (rinsed well)
  • 1 cup white onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup celery, finely chopped
  • 1 head radicchio (shredded)
  • 1 cup salumi* chopped fine 
  • 1 /2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano cheese
  • 1 piece Parmigiano or Grana Padano rind
  • 3 tablespoons cold butter
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 egg yolk

Directions: In large heavy bottom stock pot, on medium heat, saute the chopped salumi in 4 tablespoons of olive oil (reserve remaining 2 tablespoons of oil for plating) for 3-4 minutes or until lightly browned. Add onion, carrots and celery. Cook until the vegetables become translucent. Add rinsed barley. Mix ingredients well. Pour in broth, stir, bring to a light simmer and add cheese rind. After 30 minutes add shredded radicchio. Continue to simmer for an additional 15 minutes. When barley is tender (after about 45 minutes), remove two cups of broth. In separate bowl, temper** egg yolk with the two cups of broth. Mix in 1 cup of parmigiano or grana padano, reserve the other 1/2 cup for plating. While mixing vigorously, return the tempered egg/broth/cheese mixture to the soup. Melt in cold butter stirring continuously until incorporated. To serve, ladle soup into a serving bowl and top with some reserved extra virgin olive oil and cheese.   Notes: *Salumi is Italian cured meat ,such as prosciutto, pancetta, coppa and sopressata.  **Temper is to add hot liquid slowly so eggs don’t cook.

Venetian Risotto with Peas and Bacon

LoDuca Brothers Wine Chef Lou Bruno & Assistant Jim LoDuca Serves 8 or more. Can be used as a side dish or main course. Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. Carnaroli or Arborio Rice
  • 1½ quarts chicken stock
  • 2 onions, finely diced
  • 8 oz. frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 lb. cooked crisp bacon (cut into 2” pieces)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1½ cups Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1/2 Bottle (750 ml) Pinot Grigio for stock

Directions: In 2 quart stock pot, bring chicken stock and Pinot Grigio to boil. Then reduce to a simmer. In a 6 qt stockpot, heat olive oil, add onion and saute until golden. Add rice and cook for several minutes, stirring constantly to coat rice. Add hot stock mixture to rice, a cup at a time, stirring constantly until the stock is almost absorbed. The rice should be never dry. When rice is still a little firm (after 15 minutes) add peas. When rice is cooked, add all the parmigiano cheese and mix well. Add more hot stock if necessary to keep rice wet and custard-like. Distribute bacon over top and warm. [Chef’s Hint: overly wet rice is best].

Sausage Rigatoni Rustica

Bravo Cucina Italiana, Milwaukee Chef Tony Evans 3-4 servings Ingredients

  • 1/2 oz. olive oil
  • 3 oz. Italian sausage
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic, chopped
  • 3 oz. eggplant
  • 2 oz. tomatoes 
  • 2 oz. Bercy sauce *
  • 4 oz. Alfredo sauce
  • 1 oz. each of Parmesan and Romano cheese
  • 1 tablespoon herb butter
  • 7 oz. rigatoni, cooked al dente
  • 1 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Chopped parsley for garnish

Directions: Preheat a  grill or grill pan and oil the grill.  Thickly slice eggplant and tomato. Leave sausage in one piece.  Grill sausage and eggplant slices until brown and tomatoes until slightly charred. Sausage should be cut on the bias into 1/4” thick slices and then cut in half. Cook rigatoni according to package directions. In a saute pan, heat oil and add garlic. Stir for  30 seconds. Add sausage and eggplant and saute. Add charred tomatoes and saute. Add bercy sauce, alfredo sauce and salt & pepper to taste. Mix to combine and heat through. Add parmesan/romano cheeses and herb butter. Mix to incorporate. Add hot rigatoni to saute pan. Add mozzarella, toss to combine and heat through. Place in a serving dish and garnish with parsley. NOTE: *Bercy sauce is a white sauce made with white wine and sauteed shallots.

 

Strawberry Tiramisu

The Pasta Tree Restaurant & Wine Bar, Milwaukee Chef Suzette Metcalfe Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups strawberry preserves
  • 1/3 cup + 4 tablespoons Cointreau or other orange liqueur, divided
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 1 lb. Mascarpone cheese (room temperature)
  • 1 1/3 cups chilled whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups espresso
  • 1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate
  • 1 ½ pounds strawberries, divided
  • About 52 crisp ladyfingers (Boudoirs or Savoiardi)

Directions: Whisk preserves, the 1/3 cup Cointreau and orange juice in a 2-cup measuring cup. Set aside. Place mascarpone cheese and 2 tablespoons Cointreau in large bowl; fold just to blend. Using an electric mixer, beat cream, sugar, vanilla and remaining 2 tablespoons Cointreau to soft peaks. Fold 1/4 of the whipped cream mixture into mascarpone mixture. Then fold in the remaining whipped cream. Hull and slice half of strawberries. Spread 1/2 cup of the preserve mixture over the bottom of an oblong serving dish or a 13x9x2 inch glass baking dish. Arrange enough ladyfingers, dipped in espresso, over strawberry preserve mixture covering the bottom of the dish. Spoon 3/4 cups strawberry preserve mixture over ladyfingers, then spread 2 1/2 cups mascarpone mixture on top. Arrange 2 cups sliced strawberries over mascarpone mixture. Repeat layering with remaining ladyfingers, dipped in espresso, strawberry preserve mixture and mascarpone mixture. Cover with plastic and chill at least 8 hours or overnight. Slice remaining strawberries. Arrange over the top of the tiramisu and sprinkle with chocolate.

The Italians In Texas (jovinacooksitalian.com) https://jovinacooksitalian.com/2013/06/14/little-italy-new-orleans-style/Birmingham, Alabama’s “Little Italy” (jovinacooksitalian.com) West Virginia’s Little Italy Communities (jovinacooksitalian.com) Baltimore’s Little Italy (jovinacooksitalian.com) Western Pennsylvania’s “Little Italies” (jovinacooksitalian.com) Philadelphia’s Little Italy (jovinacooksitalian.com) Chicago’s Little Italy (jovinacooksitalian.com) Cleveland’s Little Italy (jovinacooksitalian.com) New England’s “Little Italies” (jovinacooksitalian.com) Italian American Neighborhoods – Boston (jovinacooksitalian.com) Ybor City – Florida’s Little Italy (jovinacooksitalian.com) Little Italy – Manhattan (jovinacooksitalian.com) https://jovinacooksitalian.com/2013/03/08/new-yorks-other-little-italies/ https://jovinacooksitalian.com/2013/03/15/little-italy-new-jersey-style/ https://jovinacooksitalian.com/2013/04/12/delawares-little-italy/ The “Little Italies” of Michigan (jovinacooksitalian.com) The Hill” St. Louis’ Little Italy (jovinacooksitalian.com) https://jovinacooksitalian.com/2013/05/24/indianas-little-italy-communities/


Between 1850 and 1870, New Orleans boasted the largest Italian-born population of any city in the United States. Its early Italian immigrants included musicians, business leaders and diplomats. However, by 1910, the city’s French Quarter was a “Little Palermo” with Italian entrepreneurs, laborers and restaurateurs dominating the scene. The majority of Italian immigrants in New Orleans were from Sicily and started to arrive in large numbers in the 1880’s. They arrived in a city where previous Italian immigrants had already established a decent-sized community, dating back to the French era. In fact, the Italian-born Henri de Tonti, as part of a French expedition, explored Louisiana even before New Orleans existed and later became a leader in the fledgling colony. A street named Tonti still exists in the city.

ST. CHARLES STREET IN NEW ORLEANS, 1900

The Sicilian transplants found work on sugar plantations upriver or toiling on New Orleans docks. Macaroni factories popped up around the neighborhood, while Italian vendors sold fruit at the French Market. Eventually, some immigrants were able to open small businesses, such as corner stores or restaurants. Some didn’t stay small, such as Progresso Foods, the soup and condiment giant, which began as a New Orleans import company. Over the decades Italians became integrated into New Orleans culture and society.The city has had two Italian-American mayors, Robert Maestri and Victor Schiro.

Sicilian Vincent Taormina founds an importing business in New Orleans that becomes Progresso, selling bread crumbs and canned soups.

Italians on Decatur Street, 1938 (Russell Lee photo)

Not only had Sicilians established roots in the French Quarter, but those seeking to farm the land moved upriver from the city, to Kenner and Little Farms (now River Ridge). These men were called “truck farmers” because their land was far enough away from the city that they had to haul their crops in by wagon, later by truck. They would sell their produce in the Farmer’s Market, stopping for lunch at one of the groceries along Decatur Street. The grocers would lay out cold antipasti spreads during the day, to sell for lunch. In 1906, Salvatore Lupo opened Central Grocery. Lupo observed that a traditional antipasti spread did not lend itself to America’s rapidly-developing “grab-and-go” culture. He began to combine some of the antipasti items, such as mortadella, cheese, ham and olive salad, on loaves of round Italian bread, creating the now-famous muffuletta sandwich. The truck farmers could pick up a muffuletta and eat their antipasti as a sandwich on the return drive to Kenner. Other groceries and restaurants picked up on the muffuletta, which became a New Orleans institution, second only to the po-boy sandwich.

The tourists waiting patiently for muffulettas in the aisles of the Central Grocery, today, likely have no idea they are surrounded by what was once a standard fixture of many New Orleans neighborhoods: the Italian-owned corner store. These grocery stores once dotted the city’s landscape, built by immigrants who flocked to New Orleans and its surrounding parishes. 

When the brand new French Opera House opened in New Orleans in the 1859, the call went out to Italian musicians. Local business leaders didn’t need to look very far, since the city of New Orleans already had a bustling Italian population. Living and working side-by-side with African-Americans, the Italians shared with them their own distinctive forms of music, which encompassed folk and classical traditions. The sons of these early immigrants, many of whom were hired to play at the French Opera House, would go on to become familiar names with the popularization of jazz.

One such artist was Joe Venuti who introduced the violin into the jazz ensemble and teamed up with his boyhood friend, Eddie Lang (born Salvatore Massaro), for some groundbreaking recordings, which eventually led to their being hired for Bing Crosby’s famous radio show band. Lenny Payton (born Salvatore D’Angelo) arranged many of Duke Ellington’s numbers in the 1940’s. Another Italian American, William Russo, carried on this tradition with his Chicago Jazz Ensemble. Nick LaRocca was an important Italian-American jazz musician at the birth of the genre, while New Orleans-born Louis Prima became a prominent singer and trumpeter during the swing era.

The elegant Hotel Monteleone, first established by a Sicilian shoemaker, is a landmark in the French Quarter and is still run by the Monteleone family generations later. The Hotel Monteleone is one of the last great family owned and operated hotels in New Orleans. Before he became founder of this famous New Orleans hotel, Antonio Monteleone was an industrious businessman who operated a very successful shoe factory in Sicily. Antonio had heard great things about America and the call of adventure motivated him to pack the tools of his trade and head for the “land of opportunity.” Antonio arrived in New Orleans around 1880 and opened a cobbler shop on Royal Street, the busest thoroughfare of commerce and banking at the time. In 1886, Monteleone purchased a small hotel on the corner of Royal and Iberville streets. When the nearby Commercial Hotel became available for purchase, Monteleone took the opportunity to expand. Hotel Monteleone’s Carousel Piano Bar & Lounge is the only revolving bar in New Orleans. The 25-seat carousel bar turns on 2,000 large steel rollers at a constant rate of one revolution every 15 minutes. During the 1950’s and 1960’s, the Carousel Bar was also the site of a popular nightclub, the Swan Room, where musicians such as Liberace and Louis Prima performed. The hotel has a long history in the city and, being one of the premier downtown New Orleans hotels, the Hotel Monteleone caters to the world during the famous festival of Mardi Gras.

The Italians began social clubs and benevolent organizations as other ethnic groups in New Orleans did. The oldest group began before the Civil War, but more and more formed with the influx of Sicilian immigrants during the last part of the 19th century. These organizations were often linked to a specific region in Italy to preserve customs among members and helped provide a support network for new arrivals. As the Sicilians established themselves, community’s leaders lobbied Archbishop Perche to provide them with a church larger than the wood-frame structure on Decatur Street and Esplanade Avenue that they were using at the time. In 1873, the Archbishop gave the Sicilians permission to fix up the old Mortuary Chapel. In 1903, Archbishop Chapelle turned the chapel and its parishioners over to the Dominican order, whose priests encouraged and nurtured the Old-World traditions and rituals of the Sicilians. By 1915, however, the popularity of the Storyville red-light district, along with the construction of Terminal Station made the new church less appealing as a focal point for the Italian community. Archbishop Blenk agreed and allowed the Sicilians to take over the an old chapel on Chartres Street, next to the Old Ursuline Convent, and the church was renamed St. Mary’s Italian Church. Even though several other churches in metro New Orleans have strong Italian roots, St. Mary’s on Chartres Street is still the official “home” of Italian Catholics in the city.

St. Joseph’s Altar, from a private residence in suburban New Orleans (courtesy Christopher Scafidi)

St. Joseph’s Altars

Each March 19th local families, descended from Sicilian immigrants, erect elaborate altars laden with bread, cookies and other food in honor of St. Joseph. The story goes that Sicily was ravaged by drought and famine centuries ago. The people prayed to their patron, St. Joseph, for deliverance from these trials. The rains came, the crops grew and the people of Sicily never forgot their promises to honor St. Joseph. Sicilian families would lay out baked goods and other delicacies on a table on March 19. These offerings usually started out small and often grew into multi-family and even parish-wide efforts. Bakeries would donate loaves of bread shaped as crosses and other religious symbols. Grocers would donate other foodstuffs and all would be arranged for display on a beautifully decorated altar. Meat was usually not part of the spread on a St. Joseph’s altar, since it was not permitted on St. Joseph’s Day (March 19th falling during the season of Lent).

As the Sicilian influence in New Orleans grew, so did the tradition of the St. Joseph’s Altar. Families would take pride in setting up an altar in the living room or perhaps taking over an entire garage. Parishes and schools now prepare altars and many families contribute either baked items or cash to the cause. The faithful then go around the city, from altar to altar, visiting family and friends. On the way out, folks pick up a “lucky bean,” a fava bean, symbolizing the restoration of the crops in Sicily.  In New Orleans St. Joseph’s Day has also been adopted as one of the few non-Carnival (Mardi Gras) days of celebration for the city.

The Famous Muffuletta Sandwich

The Sicilians brought their culture and cuisine with them, particularly Italian-style tomato sauce. Living on an island meant many Sicilians made their living as fishermen and their diet reflected this. Being close to the sea was one of the reasons so many Sicilians didn’t move further inland when they arrived at the Port of New Orleans. Just as New Orleans absorbed the French, Spanish and Afro-Caribbeans before them, the city absorbed the Italians. New Orleanians took the idea of Italian-style tomato sauce and mixed it with roux, their flour-and-fat base for sauces. Over time, the classic “red sauce” became “red gravy,” called that to distinguish it from the “brown gravy” in gumbo that New Orleanians have made for generations. To make the distinction between traditional cuisine and the modified style of Italians raised in New Orleans, some restaurants and restaurant reviewers began to refer to the modified style as “Creole-Italian” cooking.

The Rise Of Creole-Italian Cooking

Although they were treated to the same prejudices that newcomers usually get, the Sicilians saw their food immediately accepted in America. However, what happened in New Orleans was a little different. The established Creole ingredients and cooking styles began to be adopted by Italian cooks and vice-versa. By the early 1900’s a style of Italian cooking found nowhere else was established in New Orleans. A great example of this change is what happened to the classic Italian recipe for scampi. There were no scampi here, so Italian cooks used the plentiful local Gulf shrimp instead. This dish evolved into a new dish: the spicy, buttery and misnamed “barbecue shrimp”. The dish spread to restaurants and homes and is now one of the most famous New Orleans dishes.

Like the many other earlier influences, Italian cuisine contributed subtle nuances of taste. From the Italians, the Creoles cultivated a love of garlic and its presence is encountered just barely beneath the surface in many classic Creole dishes. Conversely, the Spanish roots of the Creole cuisine had a profound impact on Sicilian-American foods. The most unique feature of the cuisine is its tomato sauce, commonly referred to as “red gravy” or “tomato gravy.” This rich sauce, used over meats and pasta, has dozens of variations from family to family. Some red gravies are based on a brown roux. Some contain eggplant. Others contain anchovies, whole boiled eggs or meat. Two consistent threads in this red gravy are the addition of sugar and the frying of tomato paste! After the vegetables are sautéed in olive oil, tomato paste is added and, literally, fried before the liquids are added.

New Orleans BBQ Shrimp

The new Creole-Italian tomato sauce was different from the food of Sicily and is marked by smooth, sweet, thick sauce with a bit more red pepper than most. This is most often served over pasta or meat stuffed with bread crumbs – a common Sicilian-inspired dish. Meatballs, anise-flavored Italian sausage and roast beef, simmered in a red sauce called Daube, are all regarded by local Italian families as the best dishes for a big Sunday family dinner.Today, some of New Orleans’ finest restaurants are owned by descendants of Creole-Italians. They serve excitingly different food that started out many years ago as robust Sicilian fare but, through years of Creole influence, now enjoy a piquant flavor – due largely to the Spanish love of ground chilies.

New Orleans Creole Italian Red Gravy

Here is one of many ways to make this sauce.

Makes about 3-1/2 quarts

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 6 cups finely chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon. dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 (29 oz) cans tomato puree
  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

Directions:

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over a medium heat. Add the onions and saute, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes, or until the onions are translucent but not browned.

Add the garlic, dried basil and the three peppers and cook for 5 more minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir to coat the onions. Cook the tomato paste with the onions until the color deepens slightly to a red mahogany color. Add the bay leaves and all other ingredients. 

Bring to a simmer; reduce heat if necessary to maintain a very low simmer and cook for about one hour, stirring occasionally. Remove the bay leaves before serving.

New Orleans Italian Shrimp over Fried Green Tomatoes

Ingredients:

  • 24 Jumbo Louisiana shrimp
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 cloves fresh garlic, sliced thin
  • 1/3 cup chopped green onions
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 1/4 cup dried Italian seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons blackening seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons lemon pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 3-4 lemons, juiced

Tomatoes

Or you can use my oven fried green tomato recipe from the post: https://jovinacooksitalian.com/2013/02/04/mardi-gras-time/

  • 6 sliced green tomatoes
  • 2 cups milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • Oil for frying

Shrimp preparation:

Saute garlic in olive oil. Add shrimp, green onions and rosemary. When shrimp begin to turn pink, add white wine and the rest of seasonings, Worcestershire, butter and  lemon. Let simmer until sauce comes together and shrimp are cooked.

Tomato preparation:

Combine milk with beaten eggs. Dredge sliced tomatoes in flour, then egg wash, then press firmly into bread crumbs, fry until golden brown.

Place tomatoes on a serving plate. Spoon shrimp over top of tomatoes.

 

Creole Daube

Daube a wonderful example of how French and Italian cooking merged in this food mecca, be it in restaurants or at home. For daube, also called beef daube and Italian daube, the marriage of French and Italian begins with the French style of braising beef with red wine, vegetables and herbs. And this is where the Italian forces come in with their red gravy ( known everywhere else as spaghetti sauce) with or without a roux base. Some recipes call for cooking the daube in wine and stock and preparing the red gravy separately. However, in today’s rushed lifestyle, most cooks  prefer to put it all together in one big pot. Various cuts of beef suit daube, including the rump, round, shoulder or chuck. Instead of larding, a stuffing of garlic provides flavor. Old Creole recipes used lard for the braising, too, but olive oil substitutes as a healthy and tasty alternative. Don’t be put off by the long slow-cooking process. The dish can simmer on the stove with little attention while you catch up on rest and relaxation. I am sure this recipe can also be adapted for the slow cooker.

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 3-pound rump roast
  • 5 cloves garlic, 2 slivered and 3 minced
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Creole seasoning, store-bought (without salt) or homemade, recipe below
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • 8-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 14-ounce can beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne to taste
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Directions:

With a sharp, small knife cut slits in the roast about 2 inches apart and stuff with slivers of garlic. Rub roast generously with salt, pepper and Creole seasoning. Heat oil in a heavy pot or Dutch oven and brown roast well on all sides over medium-high heat. When browned, take roast out of pot and set aside.

In the same oil, saute onion, bell pepper and celery over medium heat until soft, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add minced garlic and cook for 5 more minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring frequently, until it begins to brown, about 10 minutes. Add tomato sauce and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 more minutes. Add wine, beef broth, Italian seasoning, cayenne, salt if needed and sugar. Stir well.

Return roast to pot, fat side up, turn heat to low, cover and simmer for 4 hours or until roast is very tender. Stir well every hour and turn roast over halfway through cooking. Sprinkle with parsley and serve over cooked pasta. 

Creole Seasoning

  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano leaves
  • 2 tablespoons dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon celery seed
  • 5 tablespoons sweet paprika

Combine in food processor and pulse until well-blended.

Italian Chicken with New Orleans Spaghetti Bordelaise

Serves: 6 

Ingredients

  • 12 chicken thighs
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • 4 heads garlic, cloves separated and peeled
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 3 lemons, quartered
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • Spaghetti Bordelaise, recipe follows

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the chicken in a large bowl and lightly coat with salt, pepper and cayenne.

Crush half of the garlic cloves with the back of a heavy knife. Leave the remaining cloves whole.

Heat 1/2 cup of the oil in a roasting pan large enough to hold the chicken in one layer, over 2 burners on medium-high heat. Add the chicken and sear on both sides. Add the crushed garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and add the remaining ingredients, stirring well to evenly distribute.

Cover the pan tightly and roast for 1 hour. Uncover and roast until the chicken is brown and tender and the garlic is caramelized, about 30 minutes, basting occasionally.

Remove from the oven. Transfer the chicken to a platter and sprinkle with the parsley. Spoon the pan juices over the chicken or serve on the side.

Spaghetti Bordelaise

  • 1 pound dried spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup green onions
  • 1 tablespoon white wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain in a colander.

Meanwhile, in a medium pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and green onions and cook, stirring, until fragrant and starting to turn golden, about 2 minutes. Add the wine, basil, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper and cook for 2 minutes. Add the butter and parsley and cook for 2 minutes.

Return the drained spaghetti to the pot. Add the sauce and toss well to coat. Place in a large serving bowl and sprinkle with the Parmesan.

 

New Orleans Apple Fritters

Fritters or Fratelle (Italian for fritters) are deep-fried batters containing sweet (fruit & nuts) or savory (cheese, fish, vegetables) fillings.They are served throughout Italy during Carnival time. This recipe is another example of the merging of cuisines in New Orleans. The French-Creole colonists who came to inhabit the city in its earliest days originally introduced beignets to New Orleans. They are made from square-cut pieces of yeast dough without holes, fried and then covered with mounds of powdered sugar. The Italian version adds fruit.

Makes 20 fritters

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 cups 1/4-inch-diced, peeled, chopped Fuji or Gala apples
  • 2 tablespoons light-brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon, divided
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 3/4 cup apple cider
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • Vegetable oil, for frying

Directions:

Melt butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add apples and saute, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes. Sprinkle in brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and continue to cook 2 to 3 minutes longer, or until apples are lightly coated with syrup. Remove pan from heat and set aside to cool.

In a small bowl, whisk together egg yolks and apple cider. Stir in the cooled apple mixture.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and 1 tablespoon sugar. Make a well in the center of the flour and add apple mixture. Gradually incorporate flour into wet ingredients, mixing gently with a whisk until uniform. Set batter aside for 20 minutes.

Fit a hand mixer with the whisk attachments and beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gently fold whites into batter until completely blended.

In a medium bowl, combine remaining 1/2 cup sugar with remaining 1 teaspoon cinnamon.

Add enough oil to a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven or a deep cast iron skillet to come 4 inches up the sides of pan. Heat oil over medium-high heat to 350 degrees F. When the oil is hot, carefully add 2-tablespoon scoops of batter, working in batches and being careful not to overcrowd pan. Maintain oil’s heat between 300 and 350 degrees by adjusting burner as necessary.

Fry fritters 4 to 5 minutes until golden and cooked through, turning them as needed for even color. Remove fritters with a slotted spoon or strainer, drain briefly, then toss them in cinnamon sugar. Transfer fritters to a serving platter. Repeat with remaining batter. Right before serving, roll fritters a final time in cinnamon sugar.

The author writes,”A Girl From the Hill: My Mother’s Journey from Italian Girl to American Woman is a collection of essays reflecting my mother’s experiences growing up in Providence, Rhode Island during the early 20th Century. This book depicts many aspects of my mother’s life growing up with Italian parents in Providence, Rhode Island during the Great Depression. It also speaks to all mothers and daughters about the bonds that tie us forever, even when we are apart. What I discovered is that I am more like my mother than I ever imagined.”


In 1920 artist, Enrico Vittori, created this bronze bust which was paid for by Italian immigrants living in Indianapolis.

Although Indiana has had an Italian connection from the very beginning – Enrico Tonti accompanied the explorer LaSalle in 1679 and Francesco Vigo assisted George Rogers Clark in exploring Indiana, it was only after 1880 that Italian immigrants were attracted to the state in any numbers. Indianapolis’  first Italians came from the Lombardy, Liguria, Tuscany and Basilicata regions. The Sicilians who developed the city’s fruit and vegetable trade came later, followed by barbers from Calabria and the Friulani experts in terrazzo-mosaic tile work. Early immigrants became grocers, shoemakers, tailors and barbers.

In 1882, Frank Mascari, a fisherman from Termini Imerese in Sicily, visited Indianapolis to investigate business possibilities. He opened a profitable fruit store on Virginia Avenue just south of Washington Street and before long his three brothers, his brother-in-law, their wives, their children and friends followed him. By 1910, 33 of the 54 fruit and vegetable dealers in the city were Italian. They were well represented among City Market stand holders and behind the wagons and push carts parked around the Marion County Courthouse. Reputedly responsible for introducing the banana here, several were nicknamed “the banana king.”

Residents of Italian ancestry have contributed significantly to Indianapolis’s economy, culture and professional and religious life. Later, primarily after World War II, many Italian Americans moved into Indianapolis, excelling in business and professional fields, including law, medicine and education. 

The Holy Rosary Neighborhood has been known as “Little Italy” because of the numbers of Italians who settled there. The neighborhood was historically known as the Holy Rosary-Danish Church Neighborhood. After the Civil War, the neighborhood was settled by German, Irish, Scottish, Danish, and Welsh immigrants. It is the story of the Italians, however, that shaped the neighborhood. In the 1890’s, southern Italians began arriving in Indianapolis and, specifically, in what is now the Holy Rosary area.

Before 1909, Italian Catholics attended services at St. Mary German Church. Because many of the Italian immigrants did not speak English, they desired to have an Italian parish of their own. Indianapolis’ Bishop Francis Silas Chatard authorized the newly-arrived Father Marino Priori to organize a parish for Italians on the southeast side of the city. Two years later in 1911, ground was broken for the Holy Rosary Catholic Church on Stevens Street. Due to financial difficulties, the basement was roofed and used for services from 1912 to 1925. Finally, in 1925 at a cost of around $50,000, the construction of the edifice was completed and Pope Pius XI sent his blessing from the Vatican. 

The Italians in the Holy Rosary Neighborhood were a tightly-knit group who believed strongly in traditional family ties. It was not unusual for a family with many children to live in a house with their parents and grandparents. Even if new couples did not live in the same households as their parents, they often lived across the street or down the block. The neighborhood is still home to many Italians whose fathers, mothers, children, cousins and friends are direct descendants of the Italians whose names are set forth in the original 1909 Holy Rosary Catholic Church charter.

As a means of raising funds, Holy Rosary conducted the traditional lawn fetes and bazaars, but after 1934 the parish attracted larger summer crowds by erecting stands and rides in the street and offering entertainment. Highly successful, other parishes imitated Holy Rosary. In 1984, parishioners revived the Italian Street Festival. This two-night event features Italian foods and amusements, attracts as many as 25,000 people and has produced a half-million dollar income over the last ten years.

Hundreds of mom-and-pop-owned stores once dotted the neighborhoods of Indianapolis. Before zoning laws restricted businesses in residential neighborhoods, small stores such as groceries, hardware stores, shoe repair shops and restaurants were sprinkled among the houses and their proprietors often lived in quarters behind or attached to the the shop.

One such store was the J. Bova Conti Grocery, which served Indianapolis’s Italian community on the near south side from the 1920’s through the 1950’s. According to Indianapolis Italians by James J. Divita (Arcadia Publishing, 2006), Josephine Mascari and her son Tommaso were experiencing hardship in operating their grocery business on Virginia Avenue. John Bova Conti moved in to run the store and ended up marrying the widow. In 1920 they rented a small, wood-frame grocery with an adjacent residence. Signs on the store and visible goods included, Wonder and Yum Yum bread, fruit, macaroni, olives, cheese, Coca-Cola and East End Dairy products. The store’s business ledger for 1924 through 1927 (housed at the Indiana Historical Society) indicates that many products were imported from Italy and distributed to other stores around the state. According to Divita, “After visiting relatives in Indianapolis, customers from smaller towns would stop at Bova Conti’s to buy 20 pounds of dry pasta for the month. Among his attractive prices were one gallon Berio olive oil, $3; one bottle Florio Marsala, $2.25; five pounds Sicilian caciocavallo, $3.75; and one case Brioschi, 75 cents.”

By the time the photographs, above, were taken in April 1946, the store’s namesake had been deceased for several years. Gus Mascari recalls that his grandparents operated the grocery from the late 1930’s through the late 1950’s. Another Mascari grandchild, Mrs. Terry Shannon, shares that the store had sawdust on the floor, pickles in large barrels and they sold Italian bread baked by Mrs. Mascari.

Iozzo’s Garden of Italy, originally established in 1930, is now the newest, oldest Italian restaurant in Indianapolis. Santora “Fred” Iozzo had a vision of creating the American Dream. Born in Calabria, Italy in 1888, Fred emigrated to the United States of America arriving at age 17. After working on the railroads in Boston and Ohio, Fred was naturalized in 1924 and settled in Indianapolis, Indiana. By 1926, Fred Iozzo had a small empire of 21 grocery stores located in the central Indianapolis area. But as the Great Depression did to so many proud businesses, his chain of stores closed. Later, when economic conditions improved, Fred relied on his background as a chef to build Naples Grill in 1930.

Naples Grill, at the time, was Indianapolis’ first full-service Italian restaurant and it quickly became popular, not only to Hoosiers but to those traveling through the Midwest. After a few years of success, the business moved to the corner of Illinois and Washington Streets, where Fred ran the restaurant with his sons Vincent and Dominic. The restaurant was renamed Iozzo’s Garden of Italy and it continued to be a commercial success. With three bars, a banquet room, two kitchens and a bandstand, it could service an incredible 850 customers at a time. Iozzo’s became a hot spot destination as one of the best restaurants in the Midwest.

Iozzo’s Garden of italy

On October 24, 1940, an unfortunate incident occurred inside the restaurant and temporarily derailed the hopes and dreams of the Iozzo family. That night, a group of sailors came into Iozzo’s and were sitting at the bar, flirting with Fred’s daughter, Margaret. Her brother, Dominic, decided the flirting had gone too far — and a brawl ensued. Fred, who heard the fight from the backroom, burst out and shot the sailor who was choking his son. When the sailor died, Fred was charged and convicted of involuntary manslaughter. He went to prison for 26 months. Fred Iozzo died in 1945, a few years after his release from prison.

After the closing of the restaurant, the Iozzo family continued to pass down their traditions and recipes. In July of 2009, Iozzo’s Garden of Italy re-opened. With traditional family recipes combined with new favorites, Iozzo’s has received awards and recognition from many publications, including “Best New Restaurant”, “Best Italian Restaurant in Indianapolis” and the restaurant has been featured on the cover of “Indianapolis Monthly” magazine.

The Original 1911 Speedway

In 1911 the first car race was held at the Indianapolis Speedway. An estimated 80,000 spectators attended the first 500 mile (800 km) race on Memorial Day when 40 cars competed. A classic race followed in 1912 when Ralph DePalma lost a five lap lead with five laps to go when his car broke down. As DePalma pushed his car around the circuit, Joe Dawson made up the deficit to win. Three of the next four winners were European, with DePalma being the exception as an American national, though originally Italian born. These races gave Indy a worldwide reputation and international drivers began to enter.

Ralph De Palma (December 18, 1882 – March 31, 1956) was an Italian-American race car driving champion who won the 1915 Indianapolis 500. His entry into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame estimates that he won about 2,000 races during his career. DePalma won the 1908, 1909, 1910 and 1911 American AAA national dirt track championships and is credited with winning 24 American Championship car races. DePalma estimated that he had earned $1.5 million by 1934 after racing for 27 years.

In 1958, a budding race-car driver named Mario Andretti first laid eyes on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. His family, who had arrived from Italy three years earlier, had driven from their Pennsylvania home, so that Andretti could watch the Indianapolis 500. After the race, the 18-year-old made it to the infield to walk on the famed 2.5-mile track, which includes a narrow front straightaway lined with grandstands on both sides.

“It was very daunting,” recalled Andretti, now 69. “Just to look at all those grandstands, it was quite a sight, so unique.” At that moment, he said, “I wanted to find out what those other drivers were experiencing. It egged me on even more.” Andretti, of course, would go on to win the 500 in 1969 and become one of the most famous racers in history.

The Speedway As It Looks Today

Clinton, Indiana

At the turn of the 20th century Clinton, Indiana, located approximately 15 miles north of Terre Haute, had a great influx of Italian immigrants to the area to work in the coal mines. Italian immigrants made up the majority of mine workers (both deep-shaft and strip coal mines) in Clinton. At one point the city had a population of over 15,000 people, of which, nearly one-third were Italian. The northwest area of ​​Clinton became known as “Little Italy”, as the majority of its inhabitants had come directly from Italy. Unlike a lot of the Italian immigration that took place at that time, most of the Clinton Italians were from northern Italy. A listing of businesses in the Little Italy section of Clinton in the 1920’s shows (4) grocery stores, (2) meat markets, a bakery, a cheese shop, multiple tailors and clothing shops, shoe and variety stores all owned by Italian immigrants. 

According to The Daily Clintonian, Bollittino Edition, a large bronze statue, the Voice of the Immigrant (on North 9th St.), is located at what is known as, the Piazza Del Immigrante.  As a lasting tribute to Clinton’s Italian heritage, the Airola family commissioned the statue from Italian sculptor, Carlo Avenati,  and called it, The Voice of the Immigrant. But it’s not alone, the statue also shares the spot with a very unusual bullhead fountain and a tall granite fountain. These artifacts were made possible by the Airola family. As a coal mining town, with plenty of Italian immigrants, the granite fountain stands as a reminder of Clinton’s Italian roots.

The bullhead statue is unusual in that that particular style of bull is an image that is normally associated with Torino, Italy. As the story goes…hundreds of years ago, the town of Torino, Italy fought one war after another. The people just about lost hope and so decided to stampede their town with bulls. Lots and lots of bulls. The evil invaders were run down by the masses of bulls and the town then became known as Torino. Toro is Italian for, you guessed it, bull! The town of Torino does not sell their bullhead fountains. Instead, the Airola family, through a series of connections, were given permission from the Mayor of Torino to use a pattern of the fountain for a replica to be built in little Clinton, Indiana.

Clinton, Indiana’s Little Italy Festival

The festival has been held every Labor Day weekend since 1966. Part of every festival is the crowning of the Grape Princess and the Re & Regina. Another big part of the Little Italy Festival has always been learning about the Gondola. On June 27, 1967 Clinton’s gondola left its birthplace in Venice, Italy and shipped to the U.S. The Gondola made is debut at the 1967 Festival and is on display every year.

 

Italian Food Of Indianapolis

Baked Clams

Serves 4-6 as an appetizer

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic chopped very fine
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 24 cherrystone or littleneck clams, top shell removed
  • 2 cups fish or chicken broth
  • 2 lemons, cut into wedges

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Combine bread crumbs, oil, garlic, parsley, cheese and paprika in a medium bowl. Mix together well, mixture should be moist to the touch.

Place clams in bottom half of the shell in a baking pan and pack about 2 teaspoons of the bread crumb mixture into each clam.

Pour broth around clams, making sure not to cover the clams or wash away any bread crumb mixture.

Place in oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until brown and crispy.

Transfer clams to serving plates and drizzle a little of the juice from the baking pan on top of each clam. Serve with lemon wedges.

Caesar Salad at Iozzo's Garden of Italy.

Classic Caesar Salad

The croutons are best made no more than half an hour before assembling the salad.

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:

For The Croutons

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 loaf rustic Italian bread (8 to 10 ounces), crusts removed, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For The Salad

  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 4 anchovy fillets
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 20 ounces romaine lettuce, outer leaves discarded, inner leaves washed and dried
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese or Romano cheese, or 2 1/2 ounces shaved with a vegetable peeler

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Combine the butter and olive oil in a large bowl. Add the cubes of bread and toss until coated. Sprinkle with salt, cayenne pepper and black pepper; toss until evenly coated. Spread the bread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake until croutons are golden, about 10 minutes. Set aside.

Place the garlic, anchovy fillets,and salt in a wooden salad bowl. Using two dinner forks, mash the garlic and anchovies into a paste. Using one fork, whisk in the pepper, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, mustard and egg yolk. Whisk in the olive oil.

Chop the romaine leaves into 1- to 1 1/2-inch pieces. Add the croutons, romaine and cheese to the bowl; toss well. If you wish, grate extra cheese over the top. Serve immediately.

Cook’s Note: If you prefer not to use the raw yolk in this recipe, substitute 1 tablespoon store-bought mayonnaise. Raw eggs should not be used in food prepared for pregnant women, babies, young children or anyone whose health is compromised.

 

Spicy Chicken Rigatoni

The pasta cooks in the sauce.

Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1  (26 ounce) container Pomi crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups packaged dried rigatoni
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 -2 1/2 ounce jar sliced mushrooms, drained
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped cooked chicken (about 8 ounces)
  • Fresh basil leaves

Directions:

In a large saucepan cook onion and garlic in hot oil until tender but not brown. Stir in undrained tomatoes, pasta, water, mushrooms, Italian seasoning and red pepper.

Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer about 20 minutes or until pasta is tender but slightly firm, stirring occasionally.

Stir in chicken; heat through. Garnish with fresh basil leaves.

Osso Buco alla Milanese

Risotto Milanese is the classic accompaniment. Using veal shanks is traditional, but I have had success with this recipe using pork shanks, beef shanks or trukey thighs.

Ingredients:

  • All-purpose flour for dredging (about 1/2 cup)
  • 4 meaty veal shanks, each 2 to 2 1/2 inches thick (3 to 3 1/2 pounds total)
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion (about 6 ounces), chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 celery stalk with leaves, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 small fennel bulb (about 12 ounces), trimmed, cored, and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 strips orange zest, removed with a vegetable peeler (each about 3 inches by 3/4-inch)
  • 1  1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh marjoram or 1/2 teaspoon dried
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup dry white wine or dry white vermouth
  • 1/2 cup veal or chicken stock, homemade, or store-bought
  • 1 cup chopped peeled tomatoes, fresh or canned, with their juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Directions:

1. Heat the oven to 300 degrees F.

2. Dredging the shanks: pour the flour into a shallow dish. Season the veal shanks on all sides with salt and pepper. One at a time, roll the shanks around in the flour coat and shake and pat the shank to remove any excuses flour. Discard the remaining flour.

3. Browning the shanks: put the oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter in a wide Dutch oven or heavy braising pot (6 to 7 quart) and heat over medium-high heat. When the butter has melted and the oil is shimmering, lower the shanks into the pot, flat side down; if the shanks won’t fit without touching one another, do this in batches. Brown the shanks, turning once with tongs, until both flat sides are well caramelized, about 5 minutes per side. If the butter-oil mixture starts to burn, lower the heat just a bit. Transfer the shanks to a large platter or tray and set aside.

4. The aromatics: pour off and discard the fat from the pot. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter to the pot and melt it over medium heat. When the butter has stopped foaming, add the onion, carrot, celery and fennel. Season with salt and pepper; stir and cook the vegetables until they begin to soften but do not brown, about 6 minutes. Stir in the garlic, orange zest, marjoram and bay leaf, and cook for another minute or two.

5. The braising liquid: add the wine, increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Boil, stirring occasionally, to reduce the wine by about half, 5 minutes. Add the stock and tomatoes, with their juice and boil again to reduce the liquid to about 1 cup total, about 10 minutes.

6. The braise: Place the shanks in the pot so that they are sitting with the exposed bone facing up and pour over any juices that accumulated as they sat. Cover with parchment paper, pressing down so the parchment nearly touches the veal and the edges hang over the sides of the pot by about an inch. Cover tightly with the lid and place in the lower part of the oven to braise at a gentle simmer. Check the pot after the first 15 minutes and if the liquid is simmering too aggressively, lower the oven heat by 10 or 15 degrees. Continue braising, turning the shanks and spooning some pan juices over the top after the first 40 minutes, until the meat is completely tender and pulling away from the bone, about 2 hours.

7. The gremolata: While the shanks are braising, stir together the garlic, parsley and lemon zest in a small bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a cool place (or the refrigerator, if your kitchen is very warm.)

8. The finish: When the veal is fork-tender and falling away from the bone, remove the lid and sprinkle over half of the gremolata. Return the veal to the oven, uncovered, for another 15 minutes to caramelize it some.

9. Using a slotted spatula or spoon, carefully lift the shanks from the braising liquid, doing your best to keep them intact. The shanks will be very tender and threatening to fall into pieces and the marrow will be wobbly inside the bones, Arrange the shanks on a serving platter or other large plate, without stacking and cover with foil to keep warm.

10. Finishing the sauce: Set the braising pot on top of the stove. if there is a visible layer of fat floating on the surface, use a large spoon to skim it off and discard it. Taste the sauce for concentration of flavor. If it tastes a bit weak or flat, bring it to a boil over high heat and boil to reduce the volume and intensify the flavor for 5 to 10 minutes.

11. Portioning the veal shanks: if the shanks are reasonably sized, serve one per person. If the shanks are gargantuan or you’re dealing with modest appetites, pull apart the larger shanks, separating them at their natural seams and serve smaller amounts.

12. Serving: Arrange the veal shanks on warm dinner plates accompanied by the risotto, if serving. Just before serving, sprinkle on the remaining gremolata and then spoon over a generous amount of sauce .

Ricotta Cheesecake with Fresh Berries

12 servings

Cheesecake:

  • 4 cups (2 pounds) Ricotta Cheese
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar

Topping:

  • 2 cups quartered strawberries
  • 1 pint fresh raspberries
  • 1 pint fresh blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Mint sprigs (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350° F.

To prepare cheesecake:

Place first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; beat with a electric mixer at medium speed 2 minutes or until smooth. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.

Pour batter into a 10-inch springform pan coated with cooking spray. Bake 1 hour or until cheesecake center barely moves when pan is touched.

Remove cheesecake from oven; run a knife around the outside edge of cheesecake. Cool slightly; remove outer ring from pan. Sprinkle cheesecake evenly with powdered sugar.

To prepare topping:

Combine berries, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and juice; toss gently to combine. Let stand 5 minutes. Serve berry mixture with cheesecake. Garnish with mint sprigs, if desired.



When the fire hydrants begin to look like Italian flags with green, red and white stripes, you know you’re on “The Hill”.  With an Italian American style all their own, featuring Provel cheese and fried ravioli, there’s an unmistakable St. Louis flair in this town’s Italian flavor.

Settlement of what’s now called “the Hill” began in the 1830’s, but the area boomed later that century with the discovery of rich clay mines. The expansion of clay pits and plant production brought Italian immigrants from northern Italy and Sicily to St. Louis and they settled north of the city on the Hill, named for being close to the highest point in the area. Able to find work within the neighborhood, the immigrants, first, bought houses and, then, started businesses — grocery stores, bakeries, restaurants, barber shops and tailor shops, to name a few.

With the growth of Italian immigration came the growth in the influence of the Roman Catholic Church. The Parish of Our Lady Help of Christians, was founded in the downtown area of St. Louis in 1900 to serve primarily Sicilian immigrants and the Parish of St. Ambrose was founded to serve the northern Italian immigrants. By the time the new church of St. Ambrose was built in 1926, the parish had already been an influence in the area for over 20 years. The structure is modeled after Sant Ambrogio Church in Milan, in the Lombard-Romanesque style of brick and terra-cotta. It became a parish church for the area in 1955, after 30 years of focusing on those of Italian heritage. When Our Lady Help of Christians Parish closed in 1975, St. Ambrose became the center of Catholic life among many Italian-Americans in the St. Louis area.

The neighborhood is still predominantly Italian, about 75 percent of the population, and St. Ambrose Catholic Church is still the center of the community. A statue of “The Italian Immigrants” at the entrance of the church demonstrates the bond between the immigrants and their religion. The Hill is also one of the city’s most tight-knit communities. Just as they did a century ago, families on the Hill greet each other warmly at church, local bakeries or while working on their front lawns. 

The Hill has flourished over the last century and somehow managed to repel the decay, neglect and suburban flight that have wracked other neighborhoods. Of all the ethnic-immigrant settlements in St. Louis in the late 19th century and early 20th century (including German, Irish, Czech and Polish), The Hill is the only one that remains intact. The Hill’s streets are virtually free of litter and crime. Its homes are modest but impeccably maintained, and these homes recall an era that predates the three-car garage and bedroom for every child. Some homes, according to Rosolino Roland DeGregorio, a local historian, are framed with free lumber that immigrants hauled in wagons from the disassembled 1904 World’s Fair exhibits.

Yards are lovingly embellished with small flower and herb gardens, fountains, brightly painted flower pots, strings of lights and statues of the Virgin Mary. Across from the Missouri Baking Co., Salvador Palmeri, an immigrant from Sicily, hoses the alley behind his home every day because, he said, “I like to keep it clean.” His wife, Josephine, paints ceramic flower pots and animal figures for a patio menagerie. “I love the area,” said Frank DiGregorio, 49, who arrived from Italy as an 8-month-old baby and helps run family-owned DiGregorio’s Imported Foods. “I can walk up and down the streets and talk to Italian people. It’s a community. We’re a small town in a big city.” Bill Holland, who married into the family that runs the 101-year-old John Volpi Co. Inc., an Italian meat company, said, The Hill is St. Louis’s only 24-hour neighborhood, a fragile ecosystem that has been immune to urban blight and whose anchor is St. Ambrose Catholic Church.” He said the neighborhood has a healthy balance of homes, businesses and entertainment that spins positive energy around the clock. “When the restaurants shut down at midnight, the bakers all come in at 2 a.m.,” Holland said. “We start our business at 6 a.m. There’s always something positive in the neighborhood.”  http://www.thehillstl.com/history.html

The Hill is located south of Manchester Avenue, between Hampton Avenue on the west and Kingshighway Avenue on the east. Its southern border runs along Columbia and Southwest Avenues. One city block of the neighborhood is famous for hosting the boyhood homes of Baseball Hall of Fame members and producing approximately half of the 1950 U.S. soccer team that upset top-ranked England in the World Cup.

The best way to visit the area is with a walking tour of the neighborhood which includes an Italian grocery in business for more than 50 years, a gift shop with a variety of Italian products, a ravioli store and an Italian meat market founded in 1902. Take a stroll down Baseball Hall of Fame Place, a renamed section of Elizabeth Avenue, (between Macklind Ave and Marconi Avenue) where Yogi Berra, Joe Garagiola and broadcaster Jack Buck grew up. You can find their homes, marked by granite plaques listing the names and dates of their inductions into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The streets are loaded with specialty shops, including Volpi Foods (5250 Daggett Ave.), opened by Giovanni Volpi in 1902, which continues to produce cured meats for the city (some argue they’re the best in the country). Viviano and Sons (5139 Shaw Ave.), opened by a macaroni factory worker, John Viviano to supplement his income, has blossomed into a neighborhood go-to shop, selling an array of Italian wines, olive oils and cheeses.

Lunch options are limitless, but will probably include an item made with Provel, the signature shelf stable cheese of the St. Louis Italian community. Amighetti’s (5141 Wilson Ave.), has been offering its namesake sandwich, a classic featuring Provel cheese, since 1921.

Two St. Louis restaurants are credited with the toasted ravioli appetizer’s invention in the 1940s: Charlie Gitto‘s (now a popular chain) and Oldani’s (now Mama’s) in The Hill neighborhood.

Dinner at Mama’s On the Hill (2132 Edwards Ave.), is a must. Opened under the name Oldani’s in 1940, Mama’s claims to be the birthplace of toasted ravioli and Mama will tell you all about it over dinner. Start with the two-pound meatball resting atop a mount of spaghetti soaking up Mama’s marinara sauce. Take Mama’s ultimate meatball challenge and, if you manage to finish the dish, Mama’s will pick up your tab and throw in a t-shirt. 

Charlie Gitto’s “On the Hill”   While there are other claimants, Charlie Gitto’s is generally recognized as the birthplace of the ‘toasted ravioli” when the restaurant was called Angelo’s. Toasted ravioli was invented here in 1947,” says Charlie Junior. “Louis Townsend was the guy who accidentally dropped ravioli in the breadcrumbs. He decided to fry them and brought them to Angelo, who thought it was a great idea, because he could quickly get them out to the bar. In the post-war era, the bars were really busy and Angelo served ravioli as bar food.”  Apparantly, this was much quicker than serving ravioli the traditional way.

Restaurants:

The Hill is known nationally for its great Italian restaurants. It’s often the dining destination of visiting celebrities, as well as, for out-of-town guests. Great places to try include:

Zia’s – A favorite of locals, Zia serves classic Italian dishes. Portions are generous, the atmosphere is simple but warm and prices are fairly moderate.

Lorenzo’s Trattoria – As a relatively new restaurant on the Hill, Lorenzo’s can’t rest on tradition. Actually, it does just the opposite, bringing modern twists to classic Italian dishes.

Rigazzi’s – Best known for its “fishbowls” of beer, Rigazzi’s offers everyday Italian dishes and pizza.

Adriana’s – The Hill’s own Yogi Berra’s famous quote “no one goes there nowadays, it’s too crowded,” could easily be applied to Adriana’s. Its classic Italian sandwiches bring in a full lunch crowd.

Mama’s Two Pound Meatball

Shopping:

The Hill also has quite a few independent shops selling everything from cutlery to ceramics. Here are just three of the shops on the Hill:

Girasole – Girasole sells a wide variety of Italian products, including ceramics, jewelry, handbags, beauty products and books. Located at 2103 Marconi Avenue.

Bertarelli Cutlery – Although geared toward serving the restaurant business, Bertarelli can be exciting for anyone that loves to cook. Shop for new knives and other quality kitchen supplies or take your current knives in for sharpening. Located at 1927 Marconi Avenue.

Atomic Neon – Glassworks studio selling everything from simple glass bead necklaces to elaborate neon signs and art glass. All crafted on site. Located at 4140 Manchester Road.

Italian Recipes of St. Louis

St. Louis-Style Pizza

With its cracker-thin baking powder crust and square slices, there are those who’d claim this dish isn’t pizza. But to residents of St. Louis, it’s one of their city’s culinary icons. There are many “authentic” St. Louis Pizza recipes, but all seem to stem from one particular St. Louis chain: Imo’s, a “mom and pop” business with over 90 stores in and around St. Louis.

Crust

  • 2 cups King Arthur Unbleached Self-Rising Flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons water

*No self-rising flour? Substitute 2 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour; add 1 tablespoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt and increase the water to 1/2 cup.

Topping

  • 2/3 cup pizza sauce
  • 1 cup grated or shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated or shredded smoked provolone cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated or shredded Swiss cheese
  • Pizza Seasoning or dried Italian herbs

*To add smoky flavor without using smoked provolone, add 1 teaspoon Liquid Smoke flavoring.

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Lightly grease two 12″ round pizza pans, or a couple of baking sheets.

To make the crust: Combine the flour, oil and water, mixing until cohesive. Gather the dough into a ball, divide it in half and shape each half into a flat disk, the rounder the better.

If you have time, let the dough rest, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes; it’ll be easier to roll out once it’s rested.

Grease a piece of parchment paper about 12″ square or a piece of waxed paper. Place one of the dough pieces on the paper and top with another piece of lightly greased parchment or waxed paper.

Roll the dough very thin, 1/8″ thick or less. Place the dough on the prepared pans.

Top each pizza with 1/3 cup sauce. Mix the cheeses together and spread half over each pizza. Sprinkle lightly with Pizza Seasoning or dried Italian herbs.

Bake the pizzas for 9 to 11 minutes, until the cheese is melted and beginning to brown, and the edges and bottom of the crust are golden brown.

Remove the pizzas from the oven, transfer to a rack to cool very briefly, cut in squares, and serve hot.

Yield: two pizzas, about 4 servings total.

The Original Toasted Ravioli

Makes 12 to 14 appetizers.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or butter
  • 2 pounds ripe fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and cut up
  • 2 tablespoons snipped fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 slightly beaten egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 -16 to 20 ounce package frozen meat-filled ravioli, thawed
  • 2/3 to 1 cup seasoned fine dry bread crumbs
  • Cooking oil for deep-fat frying
  • Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions:

For sauce: In a medium saucepan, cook onion and garlic in hot olive oil or butter until onion is tender. Stir in tomatoes, dried basil, salt and pepper. Cover; cook over medium heat about 10 minutes or until tomatoes are soft, stirring occasionally. Uncover and stir in tomato paste. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, about 20 minutes or until mixture reaches desired consistency, stirring occasionally. Stir in fresh basil Cover sauce; keep warm.

In a small bowl, beat together egg and milk. Dip each ravioli in egg mixture; then dip in bread crumbs to coat.

In a heavy 3-quart saucepan, heat 2 inches of cooking oil to 350 degrees F. Fry ravioli, a few at a time, in hot oil about 2 minutes or until golden brown, turning once. Drain on paper towels. Keep warm in a 300 degree F.  oven while frying the rest.

To serve: Sprinkle ravioli with Parmesan cheese, if you like. Serve with warm sauce for dipping.

Chicken Spiedini

Zia’s restaurant on the Hill uses provel in this grilled chicken dish. It’s a cheese made in the neighborhood that tastes like a blend of cheddar, Swiss and provolone.

Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 pounds chicken breast tenderloins
  • 2/3 cup Italian salad dressing 
  • 3/4 cups seasoned fine dry bread crumbs
  • 3/4 cup halved fresh mushrooms
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped prosciutto
  • 3/4 cup shredded provel cheese or mozzarella cheese (3 ounces)
  • 1 lemon, quartered

Directions:

Place chicken in a resealable plastic bag set in a shallow dish. Pour salad dressing over chicken. Seal bag; turn to coat chicken. Marinate in the refrigerator for 2 to 24 hours, turning bag occasionally.

Drain chicken, discarding marinade. Place bread crumbs in a shallow dish. Dip chicken in bread crumbs to coat. On five to six long metal skewers, thread chicken, accordion-style, leaving 1/4-inch space between each piece.

For a charcoal grill: Grill skewers on the rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium coals for 10 to 12 minutes or until chicken is tender and no longer pink (170 degree F), turning once halfway through grilling.

For a gas grill: Preheat grill. Reduce heat to medium. Place skewers on grill rack over heat. Cover and grill as directed above.

For oven directions: Arrange skewers in a 15 x 10x 1-inch baking pan. Bake in a 375 degree F.  oven about 15 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink (170 degree F.)

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook mushrooms and garlic in hot butter until mushrooms are just tender, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add prosciutto; cook and stir 2 minutes more.

Remove chicken from skewers; arrange on a serving plate. Sprinkle the chicken with half of the cheese. Spoon the mushroom mixture over chicken. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Squeeze a lemon wedge over each serving.

Salsiccia Bread

Salsiccia is Italian for sausage and it’s a tasty part of the filling in this recipe from Di Gregorio Imported Foods, which also sells the salsiccia. 

Makes: 6 to 8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces bulk Italian sausage
  • 1/2 cup chopped peeled potato
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 of a 10 ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well-drained
  • 8 ounces canned or homemade pizza sauce
  • 2 tablespoons drained, snipped oil-packed sundried tomatoes
  • 1- 16 – ounce loaf frozen bread dough, thawed
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

Directions:

For filling: In a large skillet, cook sausage, potato and garlic until sausage is brown and potato is tender. Drain off fat. Stir in spinach, 1/3 cup of the pizza sauce and sundried tomatoes. Set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 12×9-inch rectangle, stopping occasionally to let dough relax a few minutes for easier rolling. Spread sausage mixture evenly over dough, leaving a 1-inch border on all sides. Starting from a short side, roll up dough into a spiral. Moisten edge and ends; pinch seams to seal. Transfer to a lightly greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise in a warm place until nearly double (30 to 45 minutes).

Lightly brush loaf with oil. Bake in a 350 degree F. oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until loaf is golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack; cool about 30 minutes before cutting. Serve with remaining pizza sauce for dipping. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Note – Store leftovers, wrapped in foil, in the refrigerator up to 2 days. To reheat, bake wrapped loaf in 350 degree F. oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until heated.

Tiramisu

This recipe from Gian-Tony’s on the Hill.

Makes: 16 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons instant espresso coffee powder
  • 1 tablespoon amaretto liqueur
  • 1 tablespoon hazelnut liqueur
  • 2 -8 ounce cartons mascarpone cheese
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons dried egg white powder
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 3 – ounce packages ladyfingers, split
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

Directions:

For syrup: In a small saucepan, combine the 1/2 cup sugar, the 1/2 cup water and coffee powder. Cook over medium heat until boiling. Boil gently, uncovered, for 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in amaretto and hazelnut liqueur. Cool.

For filling: In a medium bowl, stir together mascarpone cheese, the 1/4 cup sugar and vanilla. In a chilled medium mixing bowl, combine whipping cream and the 3 tablespoons sugar. Beat with chilled beaters in an electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form. Fold 1/2 cup of the beaten whipped cream mixture into the mascarpone mixture to lighten; set both mixtures aside. In another medium mixing bowl, beat dried egg whites and 1/2 cup water to stiff peaks according to package directions, adding the 1/3 cup granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, while beating.

To assemble: Arrange half of the ladyfinger halves in the bottom of a 9x9x2-inch baking pan. Brush with half of the syrup mixture. Spread with half of the mascarpone mixture, half of the whipped cream and half of the egg white mixture. Sprinkle with half of the cocoa powder. Arrange the remaining ladyfingers on top of the layers in the pan. Brush with the remaining syrup mixture. Spread with the remaining mascarpone mixture, the remaining whipped cream and the remaining egg white mixture. Sprinkle with the remaining cocoa powder. Cover and chill 4 to 24 hours before serving. Makes 16 servings.

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In doing research for this post, I was sure that Italian immigrants found their way to Detroit, because it was a major industrial center that offered job opportunities the immigrants were seeking in coming to America. What totally surprised me was the number of immigrants who settled in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. A land totally different from the warm Mediterranean country that the Italian immigrants had left behind. As you read, you will see why.

                          The Eastern Market established in 1891.

Italian Americans in Detroit

For more than 350 years, Italian immigrants played important roles in the opening and development of the land that is now Michigan, from their participation in the French fur trade up to the present day. People of Italian descent have been present in Detroit since Alfonso Tonti, second-in-command to Antoine Cadillac, participated in the founding of the city in 1701. By the close of the 19th century, the trickle of Italian immigrants had become a torrent, as thousands rushed to the growing industrial centers. They worked in stone and cement, paving, produce, tile work, at small groceries, as merchants and, of course, as part of the labor force in the auto shops around Detroit. Settling on the lower east side, the community grew rapidly, especially north and east into MaComb County. Italians in Detroit did not remain in a “little Italy,” but mingled with the diverse population of the city. Through a combination of hard work, strong family connections and community ties, the Italians of Detroit achieved their dreams of a better life. They met the challenges of living in a new land, while nurturing the culture of the old country.  Most Italians came to Detroit between 1880-1920. Detroit’s original “Little Italy” started from the lower east side (Eastern Market area) along Gratiot and Riopelle Streets near Black Bottom and Paradise Valley. They also settled in considerable numbers along Oakwood Blvd. in SW Detroit and in Dearborn early in their residency here. As they prospered, Detroit Italians in the 1950’s eventually moved into neighborhoods across Detroit and their cultural and religious institutions dotted the landscape. Their affiliations were Catholic and other Christian religions. 

Church of the Holy Family

On the right is a photo of the yellow-hued church that is very visible when you exit the Chrysler Expressway in downtown Detroit, or drive west on East Jefferson toward the Renaissance Center. It is also Detroit’s first Italian Catholic church. Shortly after 1900, immigrants from Sicily and southern Italy settled in northeast Detroit.They began to worship at Sts. Peter and Paul on East Jefferson, but in 1907, Father Giovanni Boschi arrived from Italy and sought to establish an Italian parish here. In 1908, Bishop Foley gave him permission to do so and named the parish La Chiesa Della Sacra Famiglia or the Church of the Holy Family. In 1909, construction began on a modest Italian Renaissance-style, basilica-type church. More than one hundred years after its founding, this parish is in operation with an Italian language Mass said every Sunday.  There are about 300,000 Italian Americans in Metro Detroit, today. If you are in Detroit and looking for a restaurant with authentic Italian food and a history related to the immigrant’s experience head to Giovanni’s Ristorante, 330 S. Oakwood Blvd., Detroit, MI 48219.

Giovanni Cannarsa was 14 years old when he embarked on a journey from Termoli– a town on the Adriatic coast of Italy, in the province of Campobasso, the region of Molise to the United States of America. Giovanni met a young woman, Rose Tonkery and in 1927 they were married. They moved from New York to Detroit, Michigan so Giovanni could go to work for Henry Ford. Giovanni and Rose settled in a neighborhood near the Rouge River plant, where the assembly line was first introduced during the immerging age of manufacturing. There the young couple started and raised their family, two sons and one daughter – her name is Frances. She and her brothers were born in Detroit. Frances had a best friend, Marie. She came from an Italian family that lived across the street from the Cannarsa family. It was her older brother – Olindo Truant who captured the heart of young Frances. In 1953 she married her sweetheart. Frances and Olindo had three sons, Chris – Michael and Randy. Olindo worked for Detroit Edison and Frances opened a carryout pizzeria, Givoanni’s Pizza Parlor. It was 1968. It didn’t take long for Frances to start taking charge and making changes – it was 1972. Frances decided the family style pizza parlor would one day be an elegant, award winning five-star class restaurant. Everyone thought she was crazy… but the night Frank Sinatra held a private dinner party in the back room of what was now called Giovanni’s Ristorante, was the night the whole family new Frances meant business.

Italian-Americans in Wyandotte

Just after the turn of the 20th century, jobs were opening up at the J. B. Ford Company and the Michigan Alkali Company. The Italian settlement in East Detroit was bulging with a steady influx of friends and relatives coming to Michigan from Italy. Many young men sought work, and Wyandotte the bustling downriver town, offered the opportunity of jobs. A street car from Detroit brought the first Italian laborers to the city. Others joined the workforce and brought their families. Statistics show that in 1890 there were only 338 Italians living in Detroit and downriver and, by 1920, the number had swelled to 29,047. In 1914, a large group of Italian workers and their families were residing in what was then called Ford City. The community had formed in an area bounded by Antoine, Hudson, 2nd Street and the railroad tracks.The families built large sturdy homes and planted gardens. Many of those early family residences still stand as testimony to the skillful construction techniques shown by those first immigrant workers. Most of the families knew each other from Palermo, Sicily in Italy and interacted socially. During the summer evenings, the men could be seen playing bocce (lawn bowling) or playing card games.

Bocce

In 1915, a concert band was organized. Maestro Pellegrino’s Italian Ford City Band attracted musicians from ages 15 to 25 and, in a relatively short time, the new musical group was presenting concerts for the entire community to enjoy. The camaraderie enjoyed by the band also gave birth to two early Italian social organizations. The San Giuseppi Society was a club that assisted many newly arrived Italian immigrants and helped them transition to the American way of life. The second organization, Santa Fara, was formed in Wyandotte during 1924 and named after the patron saint of the small Sicilian village of Cinisi. In order to become a member, one must be a “Cinisarii” or be married to one. Other organizations were formed over the years to serve the Italian community. In the 1930’s, the Non-Partisan Progressive Club was organized. One of the first projects of this club was to host a war bond drive in early 1945. Americans of Italian descent in Wayne County, under the leadership of Anthony D’Anna of Wyandotte, raised $16,000,000 to build a ship. The U.S.S. Cosselin was commissioned October 19, 1945, in memory of Seaman Joseph Polizzi, an Italian-American from Detroit killed earlier during the war. In 1970 fourteen members organized a new Italian organization, the Downriver Italian club and built a hall to host events.

Italian Americans in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Our knowledge of the Italian community in the Copper Country is credited to the research of Russell Magnaghi and to Cristina Menghini’s thesis: “Examining Patterns of Italian Immigration to Michigan’s Houghton County, 1860-1930”. Menghini’s study, the most detailed migration study of any immigrant group in the Copper Country, uncovered specific chain migration links between sending communities in northern Italy and receiving communities in Houghton County. Half of the Italians in Houghton County had emigrated from the province of Torino, in Italy’s Piedmont region and another quarter had emigrated from the province of Lucca, in the Tuscany region. Thus, three-quarters of Italians in Houghton County had emigrated from just two of Italy’s 110 provinces. Not surprisingly, Menghini found that nearly three-quarters of Italians in Houghton County in 1910 worked either in the mines or mine related occupations.  Source: Recorded in Stone is a collection of the oral histories of immigrants to the Marquette Iron Range in the central Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Produced by the Central Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan University Archives and funded in part with a grant from the Michigan Humanities Council. Italians were attracted to Marquette County through the efforts of “barasa” or what is known as chain migration: Immigrants arrived at a location and then sent letters back to Italy, which then brought their friends and relatives to America. At first the Italians who were from northern Italy: Lombardy, Piedmont, Venice and the Tyrol settled in Negaunee. Initial­ly 50 Italians arrived; followed in the spring of 1888 by an additional 100. Although they inherited the jobs at the lowest end of the employ­ment scale as trammers (miners) or iron ore shovelers, they wrote back to Italy and encouraged others to join them. The wages and living conditions on the Marquette Iron Range were a great improvement over economic and work conditions in Italy. In the 1890’s southern Italians, primarily from Calabria but also from Naples and Sicily, settled in Ishpeming. They experienced a similar migration process. By 1910 Italians comprised 15% – 16% of the labor force on the Range. In 1910, of the 907 Italians with occupations, 741 or 81.6% were miners. There were also 51 Italians (6%) working on the railroad, 24 (2.8%) listed as laborers and 20 working in the iron furnaces in Mar­quette. 

Copper Miners; Calumet, Michigan; between 1907 – 1920.

The first Italians who arrived on the Marquette Range were usually single men, who once they got settled, sent for their wives or got married. At first, many lived in company housing but, as soon as was possible, they purchased their own homes. Families took in boarders from the same Italian village and/or family members, as a means of providing housing and adding to the family income. Most of the Italian businessmen were located in Negaunee and Gwinn at that time. There were 16 boardinghouse keepers, 11 saloon keepers, 5 merchants, 5 bakers and 3 shoemakers.  Each family maintained a garden which provided the household with much of the vegetables that the household needed during the year. Besides what was planted, the women and children gathered fruits and berries and made jams and preserves from them. If possible families kept a pig and cow. In November the pig was usually butchered and prime pieces were preserved in a crock jar, covered with liquefied lard, and the small pieces were processed into different types of sausage. The cow pro­vided milk, butter and cheese for the family and, if there was a surplus, it was sold to neighbors. The Italian family became self-sufficient, so that they only had to purchase certain items, like coffee, sugar or olive oil. Pasta and Italian bread were often made at home, but were sometimes purchased. In the late summer, orders were taken for grapes and beginning in September train loads of grapes arrived at railroad sidings in Negaunee and Ishpeming. Most families made as many as 150-200 gallons of wine, which would last them through the year. Most of the Italian immigrants who settled on the Marquette Range were literate. As a result many of them kept in touch with the news through Italian-language newspapers. Some subscribed to papers published in New York City, like the popular Il Progresso, while others read the Il Minatore Italiano (The Italian Miner) which was published in Laurium, MI between 1896 and the 1930’s or the transient papers, such as La Democrazione Italiana of Hancock or La Sentinella (The Sentinel) published in Calumet, MI.

Portrait of an Italian Musician
From the collection of the Central Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan University Archives

The Italian love for music is well known. As early as 1884, the Marquette Mining Journal noted that an Italian band provided excellent dance music in Marquette County. A number of Italian music teachers appeared in the various communities, such as Nettie R. Calamata, who in 1906 offered mandolin, guitar and banjo lessons. The Italian Band of Negaunee was organized by January 9, 1907, when it provided music for Mike Marrietti’s saloon, called Hogan’s Place and in the summer, it provided music for picnic dances. The most famous band in Ishpeming’s history was Vampa’s Band. Professor Vampa arrived in the community in 1915 and organiz­ed the band. He was able to get even the most musically illiterate to read music and, by January 1916, his band with thirty-four members, played for the first time and was an immediate success. Vampa’s Band played at the Marquette County Fair, Memorial Day and Columbus Day celebrations and at other dances and festivals given by local clubs and lodges. The local Italians directed their entertainment and recreation toward their families. Home parties were popular with an accordion and violin or guitar providing the music on a Saturday night.The men played bocce in their backyards or saloon-side courts or played the Italian card game, morra. Some of the Italians fished and hunted both as recreation and also a means of augmenting their families’ food supply. The mutual beneficial societies were a characteristic feature of all Italian communities, wherever the immigrants settled. At a time when there were no Social Security benefits for unemployment or disability insurance or death benefits, the Italians  established these societies. The oldest of the Italian fraternal organization in Marquette Coun­ty was Società Fratellanza e Mútuo Soccórso/Fraternal and Mutual Aid Society which was established in Negaunee in 1890. The biggest activity for the lodge was the annual picnic ,where there was boating, swimming and athletic events, eating contests and card games. Over the years a number of fraternal organizations were formed in Negaunee. Società Italiana di Mútuo Soccórso Giuseppe Maz­zini/Italian Mutual Aid Society Giuseppe Mazzini was founded on June 24, 1908. They built a series of Italian Halls, which were used for  meetings and social events. Like many benefit societies, the Italian Mutual Beneficial Society transformed itself in a social organization. It was through such organizations that Italian immigrants and their children located housing, found work, organized political blocks and met their prospective mates.

Calumet’s Italian Hall

Funeral of the Victims of the Italian Hall Disaster, Calumet, Michigan, December, 1913.

On Christmas Eve, 1913, members of the Upper Peninsula mining community of Calumet, Michigan gathered in the upstairs of the Italian Hall for a party. The gathering was supposed to be one of a few happy times for the town, which was ravaged by a bitter strike between miners and owners. Popular history has it that someone ran into the party and yelled “fire”, causing a stampede down the stairs into doors that opened inward, resulting in a deadly pile-up. Some claim the incident was plotted by local copper bosses. So was it murder or an accident? Author and lawyer, Steve Lehto, goes back to find the answer in his book, Death’s Door: the Truth Behind Michigan’s Largest Mass Murder. Lehto uses his skills as a lawyer to investigate the deaths of 74 people, mostly children. His research led him to the conclusion that the doors opened out and were purposely held closed, resulting in the murder of the party-goers. Claims that the tragedy was an accident, Lehto believes, were the result of carefully placed stories in the mine-controlled newspapers.

Cuisine of the Early Italian Families in Michigan

Antipasto of Italian vegetables and fish Baccala – Italian dried cod fish Bagna Cauda – garlic, olive oil dip Rustic Bread Cornetti -Italian rolls Grissini – Italian breadsticks Porchetta, Abruzzi Style  Salame Milanese for sandwiches Cudighi Italian Sausage – Italian sausage originating in northern Italy and made in the homes of many Michigan Italian Americans. It is made from pork meat on the hind section of the hog, this sausage is a combination of coarse ground pork, pork fat, red wine, and seasonings such as salt, pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. The meat is then typically aged only for only a few days before being served. (See recipe below) Sautissa Piedmontese Sausage – pork sausage from the Piedmont region of Italy that uses cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and cloves to impart a unique flavor. Often used as a filling ingredient for ravioli.  Suppressa – Italian cured meats Garden Vegetables Pasta Torchetti cookies Cookies: biscotti, pizzelle, cialde Grappa  – Italian brandy Homemade wine

Try Some Michigan-Italian Inspired Recipes At Home

Northern Michigan Cherry Bruschetta

Ingredients:

  • 18 1/2 inch thick slices of small baguette-style bread
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 1/2 cups pitted fresh sweet cherries, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup each diced yellow sweet bell peppers and green onions
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tablespoon thinly sliced fresh basil

Directions: Toast one side of baguette slices at 350 degrees F for 5 minutes. Turn slices, brush with the 1 tablespoon of olive oil and bake 5 minutes longer. Combine cherries, bell pepper, green onions, lime juice, salt, pepper and remaining olive oil; mix well. Top each slice of baguette with a thin slice of fresh mozzarella cheese, a heaping tablespoon of cherry mixture and sliced basil.

Homemade Cudighi Sausage

Unique to the central part of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the cudighi is an excellent example of the Italian-American food of this region. This one is made the more modern way, dressed like pizza. The classic sandwich is sausage with mustard and onions.  (Paisano’s in Negaunee, MI, an Italian-American restaurant on the shore of Lake Teal in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula) Ingredients:

  • 6 lb coarsely ground pork butt
  • 1 clove garlic chopped fine
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
  • 6 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons fennel seed

Mix well and refrigerate for 24 hours. Directions: Form into thin, 1/2 thick patties into or oblong shapes. Brown in oil , cover and simmer in a little water to help with the dryness, for 25-30 minutes or until no red shows and pork is fully cooked. Serve on a Ciabatta roll or italian bread with grilled green pepper rings and grilled sliced onion, mustard, ketchup, pizza sauce or mozzarella cheese. Freeze extra cooked patties. Some other serving suggestions: You can make this into links or leave in bulk. Use it in Italian cooking for lasagna, pizza, etc. You can also serve this as a sandwich, either grilled or pan fried. Can be served with mustard and onions, but the most popular way is to top with mozzarella cheese and some spaghetti sauce. You could add some green peppers and mushrooms also. Can be served as an appetizer with cheese and crackers. Roll the sausage into log. Wrap in foil and boil in water for 45 minutes. Let cool and serve sliced.

Iron Mountain Vegetable Lasagna

Ingredients:

  • 2 zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup fresh peas
  • 2 cups fresh asparagus, cut on the bias
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cups besciamella (recipe follows)
  • 8 ounces freshly grated Parmigiano cheese
  • 1 -16-ounce package lasagna noodles (or use fresh)

For besciamella sauce:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 6 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 cups milk, heated
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

For vegetable filling: Heat oil in a skillet and lightly saute vegetables, in steps if needed, until vegetables are just tender. Cool to room temperature. For besciamella sauce: In heavy saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add the flour and cook, whisking constantly for 2 to 3 minutes, not allowing mixture to brown. Slowly whisk in the hot milk and bring just to a simmer, whisking frequently. Reduce the heat to low and cook, whisking often, until the sauce has thickened to a creamy consistency, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the salt, pepper and nutmeg. Allow to cool for a few minutes before using. For lasagna: Preheat oven to 350°F. Cook lasagna noodles to desired tenderness, drain. In a 12-by-18-inch pan assemble the lasagna, beginning with a layer of besciamella in the bottom of the pan, followed by a layer of pasta, a scattering of vegetables, a layer of besciamella, a sprinkling of grated Parmigiano, until all sauce, vegetables and pasta are used up. The top layer should be pasta with besciamella over it. Top the lasagna with grated Parmigiano and bake, loosely covered with foil in the oven, until the sauce is bubbling, about 45 minutes. Remove and allow to cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.

 

Pork Roast alla Porchetta

 Ingredients:

  • 4 pounds boneless pork loin roast
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 bulb fennel, fronds chopped and reserved, bulb thinly sliced
  • 2 pounds ground pork or Italian sausage with casing removed
  • 2 tablespoons fennel seeds
  • 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 4 red onions, halved

 Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Have your butcher butterfly the pork to an even 1 inch thickness, you should have a flat piece of meat about 8 inches by 14 inches. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and set aside. In a sauté pan, heat olive oil until smoking. Add the onion and fennel bulb and sauté until softened and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add ground pork, fennel seeds, pepper, rosemary and garlic and cook until the mixture assumes a light color, stirring constantly, about 10 minutes. Allow to cool. Add chopped fennel leaves and eggs and mix well. Spread the mixture over the pork loin and roll up like a jelly roll. Tie with butcher’s twine and place in roast pan on top of halved red onions. Place in the oven and roast for 2 1/2 hours, until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F. Remove and allow to rest for 10 to 20 minutes. Slice into 1 inch thick pieces and serve.

Northern Michigan’s Mario Batali Shares His Recipe for Ciambella with Summer Berry Compote

The chef summers in Northern Michigan. By: Mario Batali A ciambella is a simple ring-shaped bread made of egg, shortening and sugar. Ciambelle were for a long time a symbol of luxury in Italian culture; a fancy bread pictured next to royalty and aristocracy in Renaissance painting. Today, ciambelle are often served as an afternoon snack at a bar or cafe. They can be dressed with glazes, syrups, or, in this case, a berry compote. In this recipe, I incorporate berries abundant in this area, but you can easily substitute whatever berries are available at your farmers’ market. With the listed ingredients, this ciambella makes the perfect summer dessert in this fertile area that I’ve come to love—Mario Batali (www.mynorth.com) Serves 8 Ingredients:

  • 1 pint blueberries
  • 1 pint blackberries
  • 1 pint raspberries
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 cup cold milk

Directions: In a large saucepan, combine the berries, lemon juice,and 3 tablespoons sugar. Place over medium heat and heat just to the boiling point, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a cookie sheet. Combine the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, flour and the baking powder in a food processor and pulse quickly to blend. Add the cold butter and pulse quickly until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. In a separate bowl, beat the egg, almond extract and milk until smooth. With the food processor running, add the liquid all at once and blend 10 to 15 seconds, until the dough just forms a ball. Transfer the dough to a well-floured cutting board and shape into a log about 14 inches long and 1 1/2 inches thick. Form the log into a ring in the center of the cookie sheet. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until light golden brown. Remove, transfer to a rack, and cool to room temperature. Cut the cake into slices about 1 inch thick, top with 2 tablespoons of berry compote, and serve.    


 

Ellis Island in New York harbor is well-known as the main entry point for European immigrants in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. What many do not know is that Baltimore was the second-leading port of entry at that time. The establishment of the nation’s first commercial steam railway, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, in 1828 opened the way to the West. As the westernmost major port on the East Coast, Baltimore was a popular destination.

Irish and German settlers were the first to use Baltimore as a point of entry. Immigration increased after the Irish potato famine of the mid-1840’s and the German political uprisings of 1848. The number became so great that after 1850, immigrants were no longer brought directly to Fell’s Point, Baltimore’s first port. Instead, they were unloaded at Locust Point, next to Fort McHenry. Between 1790 and 1860, Baltimore’s population rose from 13,503 to 212,418. Word spread and, for those who worked hard, there were jobs to be had with the railroad and businesses in the city. By 1913, when Baltimore immigration was averaging forty thousand per year, the federal government built an immigration center at Locust Point. But just as the center was being completed, World War I closed off the flow of immigrants, so the building became a military hospital. After the war there were not enough new arrivals to justify reopening the center. In the 1920’s, the building was transferred to the Treasury Department and used by Prohibition agents as a depot for confiscated liquor bound for Baltimore.

The B&O had constructed two large buildings at Locust Point that served as terminals for both the steamship lines and the railroad.

Italians began to settle in Baltimore during the late 1800s. Some Italian immigrants came to the Port of Baltimore by boat. The earliest Italian settlers in Baltimore were sailors from Genoa, the capital city of the Italian region of Liguria. Later immigrants came from Naples, Abruzzo, Cefalù, and Palermo. These immigrants created the monument to Christopher Columbus in Druid Hill Park. Many other Italians came by train after entering the country through New York City’s Ellis Island. The Italian immigrants who arrived by train would enter the city through the President Street Station. Because of this, the Italians largely settled in a nearby neighborhood that is now known as Little Italy. Little Italy comprises 6 blocks bounded by Pratt Street to the North, the Inner Harbor to the South, Eden Street to the East, and President Street to the West. Other neighborhoods where large numbers of Italians settled include Lexington, Belair-Edison and Cross Street. Many also settled along Lombard Street, which was named after the Italian town of Guardia Lombardi. 

Italian immigrants who made their living as sailors settled in Baltimore. Some heading west to seek their fortunes during the tail end of the California Gold Rush — stopped in Baltimore to prepare for the long journey across the country. Baltimore was a growing city and many immigrants made the decision to stay and work there instead of continuing their journey west. Some worked in construction, helping to build the city; some become fruit vendors and importers of Italian food and others were tailors, shoemakers and barbers.

st leo the great catholic church catholic in Baltimore

St Leo’s in Little Italy.

Baltimore’s Little Italy got its first church when the Roman Catholic complex of St. Leo’s Church was built in 1880. Today the church is listed as a national historic shrine. In 1904 the Great Baltimore Fire wind-whipped into an uncontrollable conflagration that engulfed a large portion of the city. The story goes that the population of Little Italy prayed to St. Anthony to spare the district and the fire stayed on the west side of the Jones Falls River. Little Italy was not damaged. Today St. Anthony is honored with annual dinners around the neighborhood as people give thanks to him for answering the prayers of their predecessors in 1904 to keep the fire at bay. This celebration has become known as the Festival of St. Anthony, which takes place around the historic church of St. Leo. Dancing, processions and, of course, lots of eating takes place over the two-day event in June. 

1904 Great Fire of Baltimore

The Italian community is still vibrant today with a large Italian American population and a very active Order of Sons of Italy in America. Numerous feasts, an open air film festivals and bocce tournaments are some of the annual events. Parish dinners, an Italian Golf Open, a Columbus Day parade, a tree lighting ceremony with a choir, an Italian-speaking Santa Claus and close to 25 Italian restaurants attract over seven million visitors to Baltimore’s Little Italy each year.

In 1994 the first of Little Italy’s open-air film festivals took place. Every year since then, it has grown in size and today it takes place each Friday night throughout July and August. The event is free, with movie-goers bringing their own chairs, blankets and snacks, as they sit back to watch a featured Italian-related movie. Free popcorn is provided along with live music and the festivals are open to the public.

This community is best appreciated for its fantastic foods and charming restaurants. Beyond the delicious, authentically prepared foods representing each distinct region of Italy, this neighborhood has much more to offer.

Pasta is a staple of Italian cuisine. Germano’s (300 South High Street) offers a unique opportunity for kids and adults to try their hand at making pasta. The chefs at Germano’s present a pasta-making demonstration and explain the history and culture associated with Italian cuisine. The presentation is followed by lunch where you enjoy the pasta that you helped to create!

Vaccaro’s Italian Pastry Shop

Gioacchino Vaccaro established Vaccaro’s Italian Pastry Shop in 1956. He was born and raised in Palermo, Italy. Mr. Jimmy, as he was so aptly known, brought with him the recipes and the knowledge of how to make the finest Siciliano pastries Baltimore had ever seen. Soon after opening, it was evident that the cannoli and rum cake had created a sensation among Baltimoreans. Today, Nick Vaccaro continues the family tradition begun by his father with the same old world recipes brought over from Italy.

Chiapparelli’s Restaurant

In 1925, at the age of 26, Pasquale Chiaparelli arrived in the United States aboard the Conte Rosso from Naples, Italy. A tailor by trade, he came to Baltimore to join other family members who had immigrated here before him. In the early 1940′s he opened a pizza place with his brother that would later become Chiaparelli’s restaurant. He married Anna Mary Pizza (yes, Pizza was her last name !) better known as, Miss Nellie. She made fresh ravioli for the restaurant daily until well into her 80’s. Miss Nellie died in 2004, just a few months shy of her 101 st. birthday. Pasquale preceded her in 2002. Today, the restaurant remains in the family.

Chiapparelli's House Salad

Chiapparelli’s House Salad

  • 2 heads Iceberg lettuce
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
  • 1 can black olives, sliced
  • Pepperoncinis, sliced
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons oregano
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

Chop the lettuce, red onion, hard-boiled eggs, black olives and pepperoncinis in a large bowl.

Combine the white vinegar, olive oil, garlic, oregano and sugar into a dressing. Pour over the salad, add the grated cheese and toss.

lasagnabaltimore

Butternut Squash Lasagna

For the lasagna:

  • 3-4 butternut squash, peeled and sliced lengthwise into 1/2-inch sheets
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 6-8 links Italian sausage, casing removed and browned
  • 3 cans artichoke hearts, thinly sliced
  • 1 container baby spinach
  • 2 cups sun-dried tomatoes in oil
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Olive oil

For the sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 cups dry champagne
  • 2 cups half & half (fat-free works also)
  • 1 bunch rosemary, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

 Directions:

Season squash with olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast on a parchment-lined pan at 350 degrees F. until softened. Butter the bottom of a casserole dish and pour in a thin layer of heavy cream. Put a layer of squash sheets in the bottom of the dish, then add a layer of artichokes, then sausage and then spinach. Repeat until ingredients have been used up, ending with a layer of squash. Top with sun-dried tomatoes and cover with Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 20-30 minutes. Garnish with a ladle of the champagne-cream sauce when serving.

For the sauce: Saute the garlic and shallots in butter until soft. Add the champagne and reduce until almost dry. Add the half & half  and reduce for 5 more minutes. Add the rosemary at the end and season with salt and pepper.

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Double-Decker Soft-Shell Crab Club

 Ingredients:

  • 1 oz. avocado
  • 1 oz. Remoulade sauce
  • 2 slices beefsteak tomato
  • 2 slices yellow pear tomato
  • 2 slices bacon
  • 2 slices Bibb lettuce
  • 3 slices sourdough bread
  • 1 small prepared crab cake
  • 1 soft-shell crab

Toast sourdough bread and set aside. Stuff the crab cake inside the soft-shell crab and fry until golden. Drain. Cut crab-cake-stuffed crab in half. Spread half the remoulade sauce on one slice of bread and top with half the lettuce, tomatoes and bacon. Add one half of the crab and top with the second slice of bread.

Spread second slice of bread with avocado and top with remaining lettuce, tomatoes, and bacon. Add second half of crab. Spread remaining remoulade sauce on the third piece of bread and place it face down on the sandwich. Serve.

truffles-540x399.jpg baltimore

Rosemary Olive Oil Truffles

  • 1 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 branch rosemary
  • 1 lb. bittersweet chocolate
  • 1/2 teaspoon rosemary flavored olive oil
  • Cocoa powder, for dusting

Gently boil heavy cream and rosemary branch in a saucepan. Remove pan from heat and cool 3-5 minutes. Strain out the rosemary and return cream to the pot; discard rosemary. Bring cream back to a boil. Remove from heat and add chocolate.

When the chocolate mixture cools, add the rosemary oil. Pour the mixture into a clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap (press the wrap against the surface of the chocolate to keep air out).

Refrigerate for 4 hours. After that, use a tablespoon measuring spoon to scoop up balls of chocolate. Dust your hands with cocoa powder and roll the chocolate into truffles. Transfer truffles to an airtight container, stacking truffles in a single layer and refrigerate up to 2 weeks. Bring truffles to room temperature just before serving.


 

The Port of Erie, PA

Many of the Italians who came to Erie worked for the railroad. Little Italy’s boundaries at that time were along the New York Central and the Nickel Plate tracks. Others worked in the factories that grew up near the railroads and they built their homes in the same area. They worked many hours and labored hard. Some of the factories they worked in were Erie Forge and Steel, Griffin Manufacturing Company, Superior Bronze and Continental Rubber.

By 1911 there were about 3,000 Italians living in Erie. Little Italy had grown to include nine city blocks, from Huron Street south to West 17th Street and from Chestnut to Poplar. In 1920 the population was estimated at about 8,000 Italians and, from 1920 to 1940, the population expanded and spread southward. Prominent among the family names of the old Italian settlers in Erie were Fatica, Yacobozzi, Palmisano, Scolio and Minadeo.

Much of the social life of Italian-Americans in Erie centered around St. Paul’s Church. It served the immigrants and their children from baptism to death, while meeting their religious needs. The church also functioned as the social center of the Italian community, a function it still maintains. Because of the cultural and language barriers, the immigrants established their own social organizations within their neighborhoods. In 1907 the first social organization was La Nuova Aurora Club. Here the Italians met with their friends, played bocce and morra (a hand game) and drank a few beers. Eventually, these activities expanded into social and civic clubs for Italian-Americans.

After World War II, the first and second generation Italian-Americans returned home after serving their country and gave thought to their future. They went to the nearby colleges and universities to become eligible for professional positions. Others went on to trade schools with the same ambitions for better job opportunities. By 1960 a large Italian settlement was established outside of the city in Millcreek, however, by 1970 many of the second and third generation Italians were gone from Erie’s Little Italy.

This past January the doors were locked and the shelves were bare at Arnone’s Bakery and Italian Deli, an institution in the Little Italy section of Erie since the mid-50’s. 

Pittsburgh

Almost every large city in North America has one. In western Pennsylvania there are enclaves of Italians in every community from New Castle in Lawrence County; Monaca, Aliquippa and Ambridge in Beaver County; Coraopolis, McKees Rocks, Oakland and Morningside in Allegheny County; New Kensington and Vandergrift in Westmorland County; and Canonsburg and Cecil in Washington County. In the Pittsburgh district, the official “Little Italy” is located in Bloomfield !

Bloomfield is a neighborhood in Pittsburgh that is located three miles from the Golden Triangle, which is the city’s center. Pittsburgh architectural historian, Franklin Toker, has said that Bloomfield “is a feast, as rich to the eyes as the homemade tortellini and cannoli in its shop windows are to the stomach”. In the early 1900s, Italian immigrants settled in Bloomfield, drawn to the area by jobs in the steel mills and on the railroads. As the Italian population increased, businesses providing Italian products and services began to line the streets. A church, along with restaurants, bakeries, markets and other shops added to the culture of the neighborhood creating its Italian atmosphere. While the area is more culturally diversified today, it still has a large Italian American population.

Various Italian and Italian American associations help keep the culture alive and the Heinz History Center includes an extensive collection of Italian American artifacts representing Western Pennsylvania’s Italian Americans. Little Italy Days, held each September, adds to the neighborhood’s character, drawing crowds of more than 20,000 with Italian food, merchandise, music, entertainment, games and a Madonna della Civita procession. In October, the Columbus Day Parade is one of the country’s largest.

Red, white and green parking meters attest to the fact that Bloomfield is “Pittsburgh’s Little Italy.” In fact the neighborhood’s Italian roots reach back more than five generations. Its colorful mix of shops and restaurants attracts thousands of visitors from throughout the Pittsburgh region. The business district along Liberty Avenue puts most of life’s necessities and several luxuries within an easy walk for Bloomfield residents.

Strolling down Liberty Avenue and meandering off on side streets, there is a distinctly European ambiance coupled with small-town America friendliness. Groceria Italiana (237 Cedarville St.) opened almost 50 years ago and continues to draw crowds with its 14 varieties of handmade ravioli and rich ricotta-stuffed pastries.

Fresh Tuscan bread at Groceria Italiana.

Donatelli’s Italian Food Center (4711 Liberty Ave.) is another neighborhood favorite founded by Frank Donatelli in 1932 and now run by his son who continues the tradition of passionately providing the freshest Italian prepared foods and imports in town, including bottles of Grandma Donatelli’s sauce.

Meats, cheeses, bread and olives are on display at Donatelli’s Italian Foods in Bloomfield.

Down the road, a second generation of brothers, Alex and John, run their father’s (and uncle’s) Sanchioli Brother’s Bakery (4731 Juniper St.), which provides many of the restaurants in the area with their famous onion bread. Sanchioli’s has been in this location since 1922. “I started bagging bread here when I was little,” says Alex Sanchioli, part owner of the shop for a quarter century, who has seen changes over the years. “ Yet some things remain the same,” he says. “We’ve always gotten the old Italians from the neighborhood. Now, their kids come in.” Sanchioli’s makes bread, buns and pizza shells for most of the eateries in the area. Many of them have been around almost as long as the bakery.

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Del’s Liberty Ave Bloomfield-1970

Del’s Bar and Ristorante Del Pizzo (4428 Liberty Ave.) was founded by Grandpa and Grandma Del Pizzo, who came to Bloomfield in 1908 and opened a small grocery store and, a few years later, they changed the business into a small restaurant they called the Meadow Grill. For more than two decades, it was a Pittsburgh landmark. Customers came from all over for the delicious housemade food, including sandwiches, pasta dishes, and Pittsburgh’s first wood-fired oven pizza. When they sold the Meadow Grill in 1949, Dino and Bob, their sons, carried the family tradition and opened Del’s,on Liberty Ave, in the heart of Bloomfield. They continue to supply Bloomfield with Italian American classics, like veal scaloppini and they have also begun a historical renovation. So far, the exterior has been rebuilt to reflect Bloomfield’s architectural history, and they have expanded and remodeled the bar in a style that recaptures the feel of the original Meadow Grill. The restoration project will continue for the next several years.

Newcomers

Since its opening in November, Stagioni has been the talk of the town or in this case, critics and foodies alike. The menu is described as “elegantly conceived” with dishes like beef short ribs braised in Chianti and balsamic vinegar and a vegetarian dish of acorn squash risotto with walnuts, sage and chestnut honey, that was described by the reviewers as “a masterful combination of flavors and textures — sweet, earthy and herbal”.

Domenico Aliberto’s, Café Roma, could easily be the first place you think of for a plate of linguine with New Zealand mussels sauteed in tomatoes, garlic, extra-virgin olive oil and fresh herbs. Specials often include: gnocchi with fresh tomato and basil; chicken with spicy lemon sauce; rigatoni with artichokes in a light-red sauce and eggplant parmesan. “I cook when you order,” stresses chef/owner Domenico Aliberto. “It’s like buying the groceries and eating in your own house, only I make the pasta fresh,” he says. Even the soups – including Tuscan-style white bean and cream of butternut squash – are made in small quantities intended for one night’s consumption only. The chef’s special, Sicilian lasagna, is made with soft noodles from semolina instead of flour “already al dente because I make them myself,” Aliberto notes.

Lidia’s Pittsburgh opened in March of 2001, only two years after Lidia Bastianich and her son Joseph Bastianich opened the popular Lidia’s Kansas City, their first venture outside of Manhattan. Well known architect, David Rockwell, designed the interior to reflect an open-warehouse atmosphere and the restaurant is located in the heart of the Bloomfield strip district. The menu features a daily pasta tasting with homemade pastas that incorporate seasonal ingredients in addition to hearty Italian favorites, such as a braised Heritage Pork Shank with barley risotto.

Bloomfield’s Little Italy Inspired Cuisine

The Primanti Brothers opened their restaurant in Pittsburgh in the 1920s. Their idea was to create an eating place that offered simple but tasty food. The Primanti Sandwich was the result — it’s a whole meal in each bite. Ham, french fries, tomato, provolone cheese and coleslaw are stuffed between two slices of Italian bread and served on wax paper. 

FYI: The Washington Post did a nuitritional analysis of the sandwich and here it is: 775 calories, 33g fat, 10g saturated fat, 48mg cholesterol, 1729mg sodium, 87g carbohydrates, 6g dietary fiber, 17g sugar, 34g protein.

Primanti Brothers Sandwiches

 8 servings

Ingredients:

For the slaw

  • 1 pound (about half of a medium-size head) green cabbage, shredded or finely chopped (about 6 cups)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • Freshly ground black pepper

For the twice-fried potatoes

  • 6 to 8 large (4 to 5 pounds) russet potatoes, washed well
  • 8 cups vegetable oil, for frying
  • Kosher salt

For the meat and cheese

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 pounds spicy, thinly sliced capicola ham
  • 8 thin slices provolone cheese (about 5 ounces)

For assembly

  • 4 vine-ripened tomatoes, cut into 16 thin slices
  • 16 large slices of soft Italian bread (18 ounces total)

Directions:

For the slaw: Combine the cabbage, sugar, salt and celery seed in a colander set over a medium bowl. Let stand at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours; the cabbage will be wilted (about 4 cups total).

Discard the draining liquid in the bowl; rinse and dry the bowl, then transfer the wilted cabbage to the bowl. Add the oil and vinegar; toss to coat. Season with pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

For the twice-fried potatoes: Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Line a few large baking sheets with several layers of paper towels. Fill a large bowl with cold water.

Cut the (unpeeled) potatoes lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick sticks. Submerge in the cold water. Rinse in subsequent changes of cold water to remove all visible starch, then drain in a colander and spread the potatoes on the paper towels, patting the potatoes dry.

Heat the oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat, until the oil temperature reaches 320 degrees F.

Fry the potatoes in 4 batches; each batch will take 2 to 4 minutes. Stir occasionally as they cook, until the fries are soft and cooked through but still pale. Allow enough time for the oil to return to 320 degrees F. between batches; use an instant-read thermometer to monitor the oil. Use a slotted spatula to transfer the potatoes to the lined baking sheets.

Increase the heat to high (or as needed) so that the temperature of the oil reaches 375 degrees. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Refresh the paper towels on the baking sheets as needed.

Cook the fries a second time, working in 4 batches; each batch will take 2 to 3 miinutes, until the fries are crisp and golden brown. Transfer to the lined baking sheets. Immediately season lightly with salt, then place in the oven to keep the fries warm.

For the meat and cheese: Melt the butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Have ready a large baking sheet.

Separate the ham slices and add to the skillet, turning them as needed until the slices are warmed through. Transfer the slices to the baking sheet, creating 8 equal portions. Top each with a slice of provolone cheese. Place in the oven (along with the fries) just until the cheese has melted.

For assembly: Place the portions of cheese-topped ham on 8 bread slices. Top with a large handful of the warm fries, then pile about 1/2 cup of the slaw on each portion. Garnish with 2 tomato slices for each portion; use the remaining 8 pieces of bread to finish each sandwich. Serve warm.

Fettuccine with Mafalda Sauce

Serves: 6

This dish is served at Del’s Bar & Ristorante DelPizzo, on Liberty Avenue in Pittsburgh. This tomato and cream sauce is served on a variety of pasta shapes.

 Ingredients:

  • Kosher salt
  • 3 cups Marinara sauce
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 pound fettuccine
  • 10 large fresh basil leaves, shredded
  • ½ cup grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano

 Directions:

To make the marinara sauce, see post https://jovinacooksitalian.com/2012/04/19/hello-world/

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil for pasta. Bring the marinara to a simmer in a large skillet. Stir in the heavy cream, bring back to a simmer and cook until thickened, about 5 to 6 minutes.

Add the fettuccine to the boiling water. When the pasta is al dente and the sauce is ready, drain the pasta and place it directly into the sauce. Add the shredded basil, then toss to coat the pasta with the sauce. Remove from heat, stir in the grated cheese and serve immediately.

Braised Short Ribs

Ingredients:

  • 4 lbs short ribs of beef, trimmed
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 cups finely chopped red onions
  • 1/4 cup minced garlic
  • 2 cups low sodium beef broth
  • 1 cup Chianti red wine
  • 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 cups chopped plum tomatoes 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300°F.

Over medium-high temperature, heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large Dutch oven.

Season the ribs with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

Brown half the ribs in the heated pan, about 8 minutes, until browned; remove from pan.

Repeat with the remaining oil and ribs.

Add the finely chopped onion to the pan and saute until lightly browned, about 8 minutes.

Add the minced garlic and saute for 1 minute.

Add the browned ribs back into the pan, then add the broth, wine, vinegar, brown sugar and tomatoes and bring to a simmer.

Cover pan, transfer to the oven and bake at 300°F for 90 minutes or until tender.

Remove from oven and let cool slightly, then transfer pan to refrigerator and let chill for 8 hours or overnight.

After chilling, skim the solidified fat from the surface of the broth mixture and discard fat.

Over medium heat on the stove, cook the ribs in the Dutch oven for 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Season with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper and serve with potato gnocchi.

Seafood Risotto

For the seafood

  • 2 lbs calamari cut into 1/4 inch strips
  • 12 large sea scallop, cut in half
  • 12 shrimp, cut in half
  • 3 chopped plum tomatoes

For the risotto

  • 1 small sweet onion chopped
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 16 oz carnaroli rice
  • 1/4 cup half & half
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • chopped parsley
  • 1/2 gallon of vegetable stock or chicken stock or clam juice

Directions:

Heat oil in a heavy bottom pan and add the onions.

Cook, stirring continuously, on medium until they become translucent.

Add the rice and keep stirring on low until the rice is toasted and also becomes translucent.

Heat the stock in a saucepan and keep it simmering while you prepare the risotto.

Add stock to the rice, 8 liquid ounces at a time (depending on the rice, the process should be repeated as the rice absorbs the liquid, 4 to 5 times). total time about 18 minutes.

When the rice reaches the al dente stage, add 4 oz of stock, the seafood, chopped tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 4 minutes  more or until seafood is cooked.

Remove from heat, add butter, half & half, cheese and parsley.

Place in serving dishes and drizzle with a good extra virgin olive oil

Number of servings: 6

Italian Cream Puffs

 Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water
  • 8 tablespoons oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup flour

Filling

  • 1 pound whole milk ricotta (drained)
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons rum
  • Chopped candied orange peel
  • Chopped chocolate pieces or mini chips

Pastry:

Bring water to a boil. Add the oil and salt. Add the flour all at once and stir until it forms a ball. Remove from the heat.

Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until each egg is incorporated before adding the next.

Drop dough by teaspoon or tablespoon (depending on desired size) onto a greased or parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake at 450 degrees F. for 15 minutes.

Lower heat to 350 degrees F. and cook until golden-brown. Remove from the oven and cut a slit into the side of each puff to release steam.

Filling:

Drain the ricotta in a fine strainer overnight in the refrigerator. Beat the ricotta with the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and rum until creamy. Refrigerate for 1 hour or more. Add the chopped candied orange peel and chocolate pieces just beforw assembly.

Assembly:

When the puffs are completely cool, fill with cream and sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.

 



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