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Tag Archives: Italians

The true spirit and recognition of sports at the international level took place with the introduction of the Olympic games in Greece. Written records point to the first Olympic games being held in 776 BC. Historians believe that games were held much earlier than the recorded times. Ancient Olympics had two major events—the Equestrian and the Pentathlon events and it later added events like jumping, running, wrestling, javelin and disc throwing. The Equestrian events introduced chariot racing and riding.

Olympic games were held every four years for around 1200 years. The Roman Emperor Theodosius banned Olympic events in 393 CE owing to the game’s pagan origin. Some 1500 years later, the Olympic games found revival through Pierre de Coubertin’s efforts. It was in 1890 that he established an organization called USFSA (Union des Sociétés Francaises de Sports Athlétiques). In a meeting of the USFSA in Paris on November 25, 1892, Coubertin voiced his desire to revive the Olympic games. His speech did not invoke any serious interest at the time, but, two years later, in a meeting attended by 79 delegates from nine countries, he again proposed the idea and it was met with success. The delegates at the conference unanimously voted for hosting Olympic games and Athens was chosen to host the events.

Sports play an important part in daily life in Italy. Some of the most popular Italian sports include soccer, cycling, Formula One racing and basketball. When you analyze the track record of Italian sports, you will realize that they have made history in various different fields of sport. But nothing compares to the success that the Italians have achieved in the sport of football over the many years that it has been participating in the game. This is definitely the most important game in the country in terms of participation and spectatorship and the Italians have a formidable track record in football history. The national team has managed to bring home the World Cup four times in its history of its participation. The Italians became world champions in 1934 for the first time. Success followed in 1938, 1982 and the Italians are the proud winners of the 2006 world cup tournament.

Some famous Italian athletes include Alessandro Del Piro, Valentino Rossi, Alberto Tomba, Roberto Baggio, Christian Vieri, Alex Zanardi, Antonio Rossi, Carlton Myers, Alberto Ascari, Gino Bartali, Primo Cantera and Valentino Mazzola. Italy has produced many well known and talented athletes and, as of 2013, many of these athletes compete throughout the world in various sporting events as well as in the Winter and Summer Olympics.

Auto Racing is another sport in which the Italians have made their mark in more than one way. The Italians are not only credited with having top class racing car drivers rather some of the world’s best sporting cars are built in the country. One of the major achievements in the world of Auto Racing is by an Italian car manufacturer, Ferrari, which has managed to win more Formula One races than any other sports car manufacturer in the world.

The Italians have also been world renowned motorcycle racers. The all time leader in terms of victories of the motorcycle Grand Prix is a proud Italian by the name of Giacomo Agostini. Even the second all time best performer in the Grand Prix is an Italian, who is famous in and outside of the country, Valentino Rossi.

Cycling is another sport that has been well represented by the Italians over the years. Fausto Coppi and Gino Bartali are two of the most well renowned Italian cyclists that have won many championships throughout the years.

File:Alberto Tomba Zagreb 2009.jpg

Alberto Tomba

born in Bologna in 1966 and raised in Castel de Britti, a village in the municipality of San Lazzaro di Savena, is a former World Cup alpine ski racer from Italy. He was the dominant skier (slalom and giant slalom) in the late 1980s and 1990s. Tomba won three Olympic gold medals, two World Championships and nine World Cup season titles; four in slalom, four in giant slalom and one overall title. He was popularly called Tomba la Bomba (“Tomba the Bomb”).  As a child, he participated in sports like tennis, soccer and dirt biking, but he found that his greatest passion was for skiing.

In 1984 he took part in the Junior World Championships, where a fourth-place finish won him a position on the national B team. That year, in a parallel slalom exhibition in San Siro, Milan, he surprised everyone by beating every member of the A team. After three wins on the Europa Cup circuit, Tomba made his World Cup debut in December 1985 at Madonna di Campiglio, Italy, three days before his nineteenth birthday. Two months later, in Åre, Sweden, he surprised the skiing world by finishing sixth from the 62nd starting position. He won a bronze medal in the giant slalom at the 1987 World Championships in Crans-Montana, Switzerland and in November 1987, Tomba scored his first World Cup victory, in a slalom at Sestriere, Italy. Two days later he won the giant slalom, beating his idol, Ingemar Stenmark.

From December 1994 to March 1995, he amassed an impressive 11 victories in the technical events including seven in a row in slalom to capture the overall World Cup title that had eluded him in years past and bringing the Crystal Globe back to Italy, twenty years after Gustav Thöni’s last title in 1975. At the 1996 World Championships, Tomba finally added the final missing pieces to his trophy case, winning two gold medals at Sierra Nevada, Spain.

Alberto Tomba retired at the end of the 1998 season, but not before winning a last World Cup race at the Finals at Crans-Montana where he won the slalom, becoming the only alpine male skier to have won at least one World Cup race per year for 11 consecutive seasons.

Torta di Riso

A regional dessert from Bologna, Emilia-Romagna.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups milk
  • Strips of zest from 1/2 orange
  • Strips of zest from 1/2 lemon
  • 2/3 cup Arborio rice
  • Unsalted butter and plain dry bread crumbs, for the baking dish
  • 1 1/3 cups fresh ricotta cheese (about 10 1/2 ounces)
  • 3 large whole eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons Sambuca
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Confectioners’ sugar

Directions

In a medium heavy saucepan, combine the milk with 1 2/3 cups of water and the strips of orange and lemon zest. Bring to a boil over moderate heat.

Stir in the rice and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 30 minutes. Let cool and remove the citrus zests.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375°F. Generously butter a 12-by-8-inch glass baking dish and coat it with bread crumbs.

In a medium bowl, gently whisk together all of the remaining ingredients except the confectioners’ sugar.

Stir in the cooled rice mixture and transfer to the prepared baking dish; spread it evenly.

Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden brown and set. Let cool for 1 hour. Dust the cake lightly with confectioners sugar.

Stefania Belmondo 

(born in 1969) is an Italian former cross-country skier, two time olympic champion and four time world champion in her career. Belmondo was born in Vinadio, in the province of Cuneo (Piedmont), the daughter of a housewife and an electric company employee.

She started to ski at the age of three in the Piedmontese mountains of her native city. She made her debut at the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in 1987. The next season she joined the main national team of Italy and then participated at the 1988 Winter Olympics, held in Calgary, Canada. In 1989, she won a World Cup event for her first time in Salt Lake City and ended that season second overall.

At the 1991 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships, she won a bronze medal in the 15 km trial and a silver in the 4 × 5 km. The 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville brought the first gold medal for Belmondo. At the 1993 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships, she won golds in the 5 km + 10 km combined pursuit and in the 30 km and a silver in the 4 × 5 km before an injury to her right hallux required surgery and caused a 4 month absence from competition.

After a second operation, Belmondo participated in the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, gaining two bronze medals; after this disappointing performance she decided to continue skiing, against the advice of her physician. The 1996–97 season was one of her best since the surgeries, when she won three silver medals (5 km, 15 km, 30 km). In the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, she won third place with the 4 × 5 km and an individual silver in the 30 km. The bronze medal in the relay was a remarkable win because the Italian team was 9th as Belmondo started her anchor leg. The 1999 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships saw Stefania win two gold medals (5 km + 10 km combined pursuit, 15 km) and a silver (4 × 5 km).

In her final year of competition, 2002, she won a gold medal, as well as a silver and a bronze, in the Winter Olympics. She ended the year as a third place winner at the World Cup. At the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, in her native region of Piedmont, she lit the Olympic Flame at the opening ceremony.

Bagna Cauda

Bagna Càuda is a warm dip typical of Piedmont, Italy, but with numerous local variations. The dish, which is served and consumed in a manner similar to fondue, is made with garlic, anchovies, olive oil, butter and, in some areas of the region, cream. In the past walnut or hazelnut oil would have been used. Sometimes, truffles are used in versions around Alba. The dish is eaten by dipping raw, boiled or roasted vegetables, especially cardoon, carrot, peppers, fennel, celery, cauliflower, artichokes and onions in the hot sauce. It is traditionally eaten during the autumn and winter months and must be served hot, as the name suggests. Originally, the Bagna càuda was placed in a big pan (peila) in the center of the table for communal sharing. Now, it is usually served in individual pots, called a fojòt, a type of fondue pot traditionally made of terra cotta.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 12 anchovies preserved in olive oil, drained and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks

For dipping:

A variety of raw vegetables, including fennel, cauliflower, Belgian endive, sweet peppers, zucchini and Italian bread.

Directions:

Put the olive oil in a pan with the garlic and anchovies and cook over a low heat, stirring, until the anchovies melt or break apart. Whisk in butter and, as soon as it has melted, remove the pot from the heat and whisk for a few more turns to blend everything together. Pour into a heatproof dish that fits over a flame or Bunsen burner, so that it does not get cold at the table. Serve with the crudities.

Franco Harris

played American football for the Pittsburgh Steelers. A record-breaking rusher, he led his team to its first divisional title in 40 years and then won two league championships in 1974 and 1975. He held the record for the most yards gained in a Super Bowl — 158 against the Minnesota Vikings in 1975.

Harris was born in Fort Dix, New Jersey. His African-American father served in World War II; his mother was a “war bride” from Lucca, Italy. Harris graduated from Rancocas Valley Regional High School in Mount Holly Township, New Jersey and then attended Penn State University where he played for Penn State’s Nittany Lions.

It all began in Pisa, Italy, where Sergeant Cad Harris of Jackson, Mississippi met Gina Parenti, whose village had been destroyed and whose brother, an Italian soldier, had been killed by the Nazis. She married Cad and went with him to Mount Holly, N.J. Harris is the third in a family of nine children—Daniella, Mario, Franco, Marisa, Alvara, Luana, Piero and Giuseppe. Franco’s father stayed in the Army, at Fort Dix, N.J. after World War II and Franco grew up in a firmly disciplined family.

In his first season with the Steelers (1972), Harris was named the league’s Rookie of the Year by both The Sporting News and United Press International. In that season he gained 1,055 yards on 188 carries, withan average of 5.6 yards per carry. He also rushed for 10 touchdowns and caught 3 touchdown passes. He was popular with Pittsburgh’s large Italian-American population: his fans dubbed themselves, “Franco’s Italian Army” and wore army helmets with his number on them. In his 13 professional seasons, Harris gained 12,120 yards on 2,949 carries, a 4.1 yards per carry average and scored 91 rushing touchdown.

Franco is perhaps best known for the “Immaculate Reception”, a 60 yard reception in the final five seconds of the game that gave Pittsburgh a victory over the Oakland Raiders in a first-round playoff game in 1972. Franco states, “Going into the huddle, my thought was ‘this is going to be the last play of my rookie year.’ I was going to play hard to the end, savor every moment. A pass play was called and my job was to stay in the backfield and help block. When the pass protection broke down and Brad (quarterback Terry Bradshaw) started to scramble, I decided to go out on a pattern as a safety measure. Brad threw downfield to Frenchy Fuqua. Seeing this, I headed in the direction of the pass, thinking I could throw a block, recover a fumble or do something to help out. Before I knew it, the ball was coming back to me.” Franco was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990.

Pici

Pici is a thick, hand-rolled pasta, much like a fat spaghetti that originated in Tuscany.  The dough is typically made from flour and water only. The addition of egg is optional, being determined by family traditions. The dough is rolled out in a thick flat sheet, then cut into strips. In some families, the strip of dough is rolled between one palm and the table, while the other hand is wrapped with the rest of the strip. It can also be formed by rolling the strip between the palms. Either method forms a thick pasta, slightly thinner than a common pencil. Unlike spaghetti or macaroni, this pasta is not uniform in size and has variations of thickness along its length. Serve with a butter and cheese sauce or a tomato garlic sauce.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups semolina flour
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 to 1 1/4 cups tepid water

Directions

Place both types of flour in a large mixing bowl and stir to mix well. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the water a little at a time, stirring with your hands until a dough is formed. You may need more or less water, depending on the humidity in your kitchen.

Place the dough on a floured work surface and knead it like bread until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes. Cover the dough and let it stand for 10 minutes at room temperature.

Roll the doughout and cut it into long dowels about 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick. Place the pasta strands between 2 hands and lightly roll back and forth to create a lightly spiraled, snake-like noodle. Place the pici on a sheet tray that has been dusted with semolina flour, cover the pasta with a clean dish towel, and set aside until ready to use. At this point, the pasta can be frozen for several months.

Lawrence Peter Berra

was born in the Italian neighborhood of St. Louis called “The Hill”, to Italian immigrants Pietro and Paolina (née Longoni) Berra. Pietro, originally from Milan in northern Italy, arrived at Ellis Island on October 18, 1909, at the age of 23. In a 2005 interview for the Baseball Hall of Fame, Yogi said, “My father came over first. He came from the old country. And he didn’t know what baseball was. He was ready to go to work. And then I had three other brothers and a sister. My brother and my mother came over later on. My two oldest brothers, they were born there— Mike and Tony. John and I and my sister, Josie, were born in St. Louis. Yogi’s parents originally nicknamed him “Lawdie”, derived from his mother’s difficulty pronouncing “Lawrence” or “Larry” correctly. He grew up on Elizabeth Avenue, across the street from boyhood friend and later competitor, Joe Garagiola; that block, also home to Jack Buck early in his Cardinals broadcasting career, was later renamed “Hall of Fame Place”.

He began playing baseball in local American Legion leagues, where he learned the basics of catching, while playing outfield and infield positions as well. While playing in American Legion baseball, he received his famous nickname from his friend Bobby Hofman, who said he resembled a Hindu yogi whenever he sat around with arms and legs crossed waiting to bat or while looking sad after a losing game.

Following his service in the U.S. Navy during World War II where he served as a gunner’s mate on the USS Bayfield during the D-Day invasion, Berra played minor league baseball with the Newark Bears. While playing for the Bears, Berra was called up to the major leagues and came under the mentorship of Hall of Famer, Bill Dickey, whose number Berra took. The following season he played 83 games for the Yankees. Berra was a fifteen-time All-Star and won the league’s MVP award three times, in 1951, 1954 and 1955.

As a catcher, Berra was truly outstanding. Quick, mobile and a great handler of pitchers, Berra led all American League catchers eight times in games caught, six times in double plays (a major league record), eight times in putouts, three times in assists and once in fielding percentage. He was also one of only four catchers to ever field 1.000 for a season, playing 88 errorless games in 1958. He was the first catcher to leave a finger outside his glove, a style most other catchers eventually emulated. Later in his career, he became a good defensive outfielder in Yankee Stadium’s notoriously difficult left field. In June 1962, at the age of 37, Berra showed his superb physical endurance by catching an entire 22-inning, seven-hour game against the Tigers. Casey Stengel, Berra’s manager during most of his playing career with the Yankees and with the Mets in 1965, once said, “I never play a game without my man.” After Berra’s Yankee playing career ended with the 1963 World Series, he was hired as the manager of the New York Yankees and later, as manager for the Mets. In 1972, Berra was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Cassoeula

Sometimes called Cazzuola, a typical winter dish popular in the Lombardy region in Northern Italy. The meat used in the dish includes mostly pork meat (usually less valuable parts like ribs, rind, head, trotters, ears, nose and tail), Verzino sausage and sometimes other meats like chicken and goose. These are cooked in a casserole with ingredients, such as, onion, carrot, celery, cabbage and black pepper for a few hours. Usually, cassoeula is served with polenta and a strong red wine. It is tradition for this dish to be eaten starting after the first frost of the season, to let the cabbage be softer and tastier

Ingredients

  • 3 carrots chopped
  • 2 celery ribs chopped
  • 1 / 2 onion chopped
  • 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 spare ribs
  • 8 sausages
  • 8 pieces of pork rind
  • 1 head of Savoy cabbage
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato sauce

Directions

Place the extra virgin olive oil, the carrots, the celery and the onion in a large pan and let them cook for about 5 minutes.

Add the spare ribs and let them brown, then add the pork rind and after 5 minutes the sausages.

Cook for about 10 minutes and then add the Savoy cabbage.

When the cabbage wilts add the tomato sauce, mix all together, sprinkle with some salt and continue to cook for about 1 hour and 30 minutes.


Italians were some of the first European explorers and settlers in California. Religious work and the search for new fishing grounds were initial reasons for Italians to explore what later became the thirty-first state, but their reasons for staying, expanded after arriving in California. Though we often associate Italians in California with San Francisco, the initial settlers, who were from the region of Liguria in Italy, established themselves in such diverse communities as Monterey, Stockton and San Diego during the years of Spanish Rule. The arrival of the”Genovesi” in California, beginning in the 1850’s, coincided with the early development of the state. It wasn’t long before Italian fishermen had established themselves in fishing villages from Eureka to Benicia, Martinez, Pittsburg, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, San Diego and Monterey. By the 1880’s, California had become a leading fishery and its coastal waters were dominated by Italian fishermen and their graceful sailing “feluccas”.

Italian Feluucas

Chumming for tuna 

The Italian immigrants who settled near downtown San Diego in the 1920s were mostly fishermen from Genoa and Sicily. They worked on or owned fishing boats and opened seafood markets or processing plants. Also, many Italians moved to San Diego from San Francisco after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake in search of tuna and other deep-sea sport and commercial fish.

Fishing Family 1917

The example of Joseph Busalacchi is typical of the Italian fisherman who left fishing and succeeded as a merchandiser of ocean products. Mr. Busalacchi was born in Palermo, Sicily, in 1899 and came to San Diego in 1921 to join his brother Mario, who was a fisherman there. In 1925, Joe opened a small market at Fifth and E Streets. Soon after this, the owner of the Union Fish Company, Anthony Trapani, asked Joe to work for him. Mr. Busalacchi worked for the Union Fish Company for nineteen years, most of the time as manager. In 1944 Mr. Trapani retired and left the business to Joe and to the bookkeeper of the company, George Bissel. In 1950 Mr. Busalacchi bought out Bissel’s share. When the Navy took over the company’s location at the foot of Market Street, Mr. Busalacchi opened a new storage and freezer plant at 1004 Morena Boulevard, where it is still located. Then, in 1965, Mr. Busalacchi opened the Sportsman’s Seafood Market at 1617 Quivira Road, where he sold fresh fish and provided smoking and canning services for sportsmen who brought in their catch. 

Anthony's Fish Grotto 1946

Original Anthony’s Fish Grotto 

Anthony's Fish Grotto 1996

New Anthony’s Fish Grotto (1966)

Women of the Italian fishing families also made their contribution. For example, Catherine Bregante was born in Riva Trigoso, Italy, on the seacoast not far from Genoa. In 1912 her family came to San Diego and settled at 2136 Columbia Street. In 1916 her father, Anthony, opened a small fish market on F Street between Fifth and Sixth Streets. Catherine and her brother Anthony, Jr., operated the market. In 1926 the store moved to a larger location at the foot of Broadway, where both wholesale and retail business was conducted. A food counter was installed and seafood cocktails and chowder were served and the company prospered through the depression years. Michael Ghio, Catherine’s husband since 1916, worked in the Bregante business, however, in 1934 Michael Ghio died. Catherine supported her children by continuing to work in the seafood restaurant. In 1946 when her sons, Tod and Anthony, came home from service in the war, they opened the first Anthony’s Grotto, a restaurant on the wharf with a seating capacity of sixteen. From the first Grotto the business grew into a multi-outlet industry with about 600 employees and an annual payroll in excess of $4 million.

The tuna clipper Venetian

The tuna clipper, Venetian

Commercial fishing is a risky enterprise that requires hard work, a willingness to take a chance and the propensity to rely on one’s own ability to survive. All successful fishermen have had, and still have, these qualities. The Italian fishermen, however, had another trait that was vital to the success of the San Diego fishing industry. This trait was an entrepreneurial instinct that impelled them to develop the fresh fish marketing structure that first encouraged the fishing business to grow. Those early fishing boats, which were built and then enlarged to supply that market, were the foundation upon which the modern tuna fleet was built. Although fishing, which the Italians dominated, is now a minor part of San Diego’s industry, it must be recognized that the city’s seafood industry has its roots in that early Italian fishing/marketing structure.

Source: Center for Migration Studies and San Diego History Center.

When Italian immigrants settled along San Diego’s waterfront in the early 1900s, they formed the “Italian Colony,” a tightly knit community that provided refuge and a shared culture and heritage. Extended families, new businesses and church traditions formed the foundation for a lasting social code. It was no coincidence that the area would become known as “Little Italy”—it was exactly that for its inhabitants—a home away from their native land. But by the mid-1960s, changes brought by war and urban modernization began to unravel the community. By the early 40s, thousands of Italian families lived in San Diego and the fishing community was the center of the Pacific Coast tuna industry, but Italy’s involvement in World War II — and the restrictions the US government imposed on Italians in America — limited the fishermen’s livelihood. After the war, competition from Japanese fishing fleets and new industry regulations further impaired the fishing industry. In the late 50s, the landscape of the neighborhood was drastically changed with the construction of Interstate 5. The Interstate construction destroyed 35% of the neighborhood and, during the same time period, the California tuna industry began to decline which caused the neighborhood to suffer economically.

In the past 20 years, San Diego’s Little Italy has experienced a resurgence. The Little Italy Association was formed in 1996 and has implemented street improvements, renovations and new buildings to create a thriving waterfront community filled with retail and professional businesses, restaurants, specialty stores and artwork depicting the Italian American experience.

OLR was the center of San Diego’s “Little Italy” 1925

Thanks to Italian American residents, like Sicilian baker and Sicilian Heritage Foundation organizer, Mario Cefalu, San diego’s “Little italy” is thriving once again. The area is beautifully maintained and full of tributes to the Italian history of the block. Every Saturday the Mercato, Little Italy’s Farmers’ Market, offers food, flowers and merchandise with an Italian perspective. Carnevale, a Sicilian Festival, Taste of Little Italy, a restaurant tour with special menus and live music, Art Walks through studios and galleries and a Christmas tree lighting ceremony are some of the annual events. In October, Our Lady of the Rosary Church holds a procession that has been an annual event for more than 50 years and the Little Italy Festa is one of the largest Italian festivals in America.

India Street is lined with restaurants, sidewalk cafes and shops and, most of them are new, coming after the renewal projects. For some of the best pizza on the block, served in appropriately decorated Italian American checked-tablecloth-fashion, head to Filippi’s Pizza Grotto (1747 India St.). Vincent De Philippis and his wife Madeleine came to America in 1922 and in 1950 opened a deli on India Street. That deli expanded into a small pizza empire named, Filippi’s. If it’s pasta you’re after, try family run Assenti’s Pasta (2044 India St.), offering homemade pasta.

The original Filippi’s Pizza Grotto is still owned and operated by the family

Italian Seafood Cuisine from San Diego

Steamed Mussels with White Wine & Chiles

You should buy the mussels on the day that you are going to cook them. Scrub and debeard them in advance of cooking.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 4 lbs mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon flat leafed parsley, plus a little for garnish
  • 4 scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 red chiles finely chopped
  • 1 large baguette

Directions:

Place the olive oil in a large wide pot over medium heat.

Add the garlic and saute for about 2 minutes.

Add the scallions and the chiles and saute for another minute.

Add the mussels and toss quickly to coat.

Add the white wine and and cover the pot.

Continue to cook over a medium-high heat for about 3 minutes or until the mussels begin to open. 

Add the tablespoon of chopped parsley and toss to combine.

Continue cooking until all the mussels have opened. Discard any mussels that do not open.

Place the mussels in warmed serving bowls or one large bowl (family style) and spoon over the wine mixture.

Sprinkle with the additional parsley and serve with the baguette. for dipping

Tuna with Tomato-Caper Sauce

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 tuna steaks (such as albacore or yellowfin; each about 6 oz. and 1 in. thick)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion (8 oz.), peeled, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 1 can (14 1/2 oz.) crushed tomatoes in purée
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon drained capers
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

Directions:

Pat tuna steaks dry with paper towels. Sprinkle lightly all over with salt and pepper. Pour oil into a 10- to 12-inch nonstick frying pan over high heat. When hot, add onion and stir frequently until limp, about 5 minutes.

Push onion to the side of the pan and add tuna steaks. Cook, turning once, just until browned on both sides, 3 to 4 minutes total. Stir in crushed tomatoes, wine, vinegar, capers and oregano.

Reduce heat to maintain a simmer, cover, and cook until tuna is no longer pink in the center (cut to test), about 15 minutes. Transfer tuna to plates and top equally with sauce.

Seafood Pasta

Chef Geno Bernardo

Ingredients:

For spaghetti:

  • 8 ounces cooked linguine
  • 4 per serving of shrimp
  • 2 ounces cooked Alaskan king crab meat, per serving
  • 1/2 per serving of Maine lobster tail, claw, elbow (with tail shell, cut into pieces)
  • 4 per serving of Little Neck clams or Manila clams
  • 2 ounces calamari, per serving
  • 8 per serving of mussels
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves
  • 3/4 cup celery, cut into thin strips
  • 3/4 cup fennel, cut into thin strips
  • 3/4 cup leeks, cut into thin strips
  • 3 ounces butter
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

For seafood marinara:

  • 1 cup lobster stock (made from lobster shells)
  • 1 teaspoon toasted saffron
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed, toasted and ground
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 quart tomato basil marinara

Directions:

For seafood marinara:

Mix ingredients together in a bowl.

For spaghetti:

In a small pot steam the mussels and clams in the wine.

In a large skillet sauté the shrimp and calamari. Add the seafood marinara. Add the basil, vegetables, butter and linguine.

Season to taste and serve family-style topped with the crabmeat and lobster.

Cracker-Crusted Pacific Cod with White Polenta

Steve Black Executive Chef at the Sheraton Hotel & Marina on Harbor Island – his comments on this dish.

“At a recent offsite gig, our client chose the humble Pacific codfish for their main course because it is one of the best-eating fish and it comes from a healthy, sustainable stock unlike the Atlantic codfish that continue to struggle. Atlantic cod have been overfished in the Gulf of Maine for decades. I paired the fish with white polenta, another favorite that comes out creamy and delicious the way we slow-simmer it, adding in a lot of cheese. I wanted to give the plate some color to make it visually appealing so I added the roasted roma tomatoes, asparagus and some edible flowers.You can find white polenta in specialty food stores and I like it as it’s less grainy than regular polenta. Just like all polentas, it does bloom up a bit so I would say 12 to 16 ounces is plenty for this dish and will leave you with some leftovers.‘

Serves 6

For the Creamy White Polenta:

  • 12 ounces White Polenta
  • 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Chopped Garlic & Shallots
  • 2-3 Pints Chicken Base/Stock
  • 1 Pint Heavy Cream
  • 1 Wheel Herbed Boursin Cheese
  • 1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 Cup Mascarpone Cheese
  • 1/4 Cup Chopped Chives
  • Kosher Salt and Fresh Ground Black Pepper

For the Cracker-Crusted Cod:

  • 6 Boneless Cod Fillets (6 to 7 ounces)
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 1/4 Cup Whole Milk
  • 1/4 Cup Flour
  • 2-3 Tablespoons Seasoning Salt
  • 2 Sleeves Ritz Crackers, ground up fine
  • 1/2 Cup Panko Bread Crumbs
  • 1/2 Cup Canola Oil
  • 30 Pieces Blanched Green Asparagus
  • 1 Cup Oven Roasted Roma Tomatoes (coated in olive oil and roasted for 30 minutes at 200 degrees)
  • 4 Ounces Sweet Butter
  • Lemon vinaigrette, directions below 

Directions:

Start by making the polenta. Take a stockpot and heat up the olive oil along with the chopped garlic and shallots. Simmer on low heat for five minutes.

Turn up the heat and add the polenta, starting with two pints of chicken base or stock (you can always add more) and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to a low, gentle simmer and cover the pot. Let simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.

Take a look to see how the water has been absorbed. Now you can add the heavy cream and all three cheeses. Cover and let simmer again for 15 to 20 minutes. You will also want to taste the liquid and add some salt and pepper and even some extra chicken stock if need be.

The polenta is almost done at this point. You are looking for the same consistently of loose mashed potatoes. You may have to simmer with the cover removed for the liquid to evaporate quicker. Once you have the right consistency and flavor, place the polenta on the side, covered. Just before service, you can stir fresh chives into the polenta.

I like to make the preserved lemon vinaigrette by using a basic dressing and simply blending in some preserved lemons. You could also use fresh orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit or whatever juice you want. Put half a bottle of champagne vinaigrette into a blender with a quarter-cup of preserved lemons (we make our own here in the hotel and I add sugar instead of straight salt for a better-flavored preserved lemon). Blend at high speed for two minutes and taste. Adjust the seasoning with sugar, salt and pepper or sweet orange juice or lemonade. Turn the blender on high again and drizzle in a half-cup of olive oil. You can make this in advance and store in the fridge.

Now it’s time to move on to the fish. Combine the crackers and the panko crumbs. Mix the egg, milk and seasoning salt together. Add the flour and whip until you have a thick batter. Pour enough of the egg batter over the fish to create an even coat of batter on the fillets. You only need a little as the Ritz/panko mix will adhere to the batter really well. If you want to make this healthier, use olive oil to coat the fish instead of the egg batter.

Bread each piece of cod with the Ritz/panko mix and set aside.

Take a saute pan and heat to medium, add the canola oil and then brown off the battered fish on both sides. I prefer to brown the fish quickly and then finish roasting it in a 350-degree oven for 15 minutes until the internal temp hits 145.

Spread your dried tomatoes on a pan and heat up in the oven. While the fish is roasting melt the butter in a sauté pan and heat up your asparagus. Season with salt and pepper.

Mix the chives into your white polenta and spoon a nice portion onto each plate followed by the asparagus and tomatoes. Top with the cod, drizzle some vinaigrette on top, garnish and serve.

Basil & Artichoke Crusted Halibut

Steve Black Executive Chef at the Sheraton Hotel & Marina on Harbor Island.

“While there are a lot of ingredients used in this recipe, it’s really relatively simple to prepare. The preparation combines many fresh flavors with one of the best-tasting, flaky fish out there —halibut. The braised fennel and tomato sauce used on the halibut is also delicious on just about any other seafood, including shrimp and mahimahi to name a few.”

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 6 Ounces fresh cleaned basil leaves
  • 6 Ounces drained, marinated artichoke hearts
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 Tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 Teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 6 Ounces extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 Cup grated parmesan
  • Kosher salt and fresh-ground pepper
  • 6 pieces halibut fillets weighing 6 to 7 ounces each
  • 4 Ounces Japanese panko breadcrumbs

Sauce:

  • 3 oz. Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 Cup diced fennel
  • 1/2 Cup diced onion
  • ½1/2Cup diced zucchini
  • 1/2 Cup diced red pepper
  • 1/2 Cup diced yellow squash
  • 1/2 Cup diced eggplant
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1/2 Cup white wine
  • 2 Cups marinara sauce
  • 1/4 Cup chopped basil
  • 1/2 Tablespoon fresh chopped thyme
  • 1/2 Cup heavy cream

Directions:

For this recipe, I like to start off by making the braised fennel and tomato sauce. Heat the olive oil on medium high in a saucepot. Add the fennel, onion, zucchini, red pepper,  squash, eggplant, garlic and thyme. Season with salt and pepper and saute for three minutes, then turn down the heat to a simmer and add the wine and marinara. Let the sauce simmer for 15 minutes. Add the heavy cream and simmer another 15 minutes until the sauce reduces and thickens. The vegetables will turn soft with the tomato cream sauce for a nice consistency. Pull from the heat, taste for seasoning and add the basil and hold on the side.

Now move on to making the crust for your halibut. In a mixer or hand immersion blender, puree the basil, artichoke hearts, lemon juice, lemon zest and garlic. Add a quarter cup of the parmesan and then drizzle in four ounces of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and set this mix in the refrigerator.

Season the halibut fillets with salt and pepper on both sides and in a medium size nonstick sauté pan, add two ounces of olive oil and let it come up to heat. Add in the fish, letting each side sizzle until brown.

Once both sides of the fish are seared, remove the pan from the heat and spread the basil/artichoke mix on the top of each fillet. Mix the panko crumbs with two ounces of grated parmesan and then top the basil/artichoke mix with the breadcrumbs and finish the fish by baking it in a 350-degree oven for 10 more minutes.

For plating, spoon the fennel-tomato sauce into the bottom of a bowl and top with the cooked halibut.

Yellowtail & Lobster Stew

Steve Black Executive Chef at the Sheraton Hotel & Marina on Harbor Island.

” I went on a five-day trip on the Royal Polaris a while back and the yellowtail fishing was incredible with anglers loading up on fish up to 40 pounds. With the yellowtail season on the horizon, I thought I’d share this incredibly simple recipe that can be used with lobster to create more of a Northeast-style stew or chowder. I had to add the fresh yellowtail I brought home from that trip and man, was it good! “

Ingredients:

Serves 8

  • 1.5 Pounds of spiny baja lobster, steamed, meat removed, cut into large chunks
  • 1 Pound fresh yellowtail, (a type of Amberjack) seasoned and cut into large chunks
  • 8 ozs. Sweet butter
  • 4 ozs. Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 ozs. Cognac
  • 1 Tablespoon Paprika
  • 2 Cups heavy cream
  • 2 Cups evaporated milk
  • 2 Cups whole milk
  • 1/4 Cup chopped fresh chives
  • Kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper

Directions:

In a large saucepan, heat up the oil and butter. Add the yellowtail and brown the meat for three minutes. Add the lobster and cognac and flame off the alcohol.

Add the paprika, heavy cream, evaporated milk and whole milk, chives and salt and pepper, and let simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, but keep an eye on it. You do not want to let this to come to a boil or it may curdle the milk. Let the stew simmer until all of the flavors are well combined.

The stew should take on a nice red color from the paprika and lobster meat. Taste the stew to check the seasoning and then serve with crisp, warm bread.


Individuals of Italian extraction constitute one of the most important ethnic groups in West Virginia. These Italian-Americans date their connection with the state to ancestors who were recruited during the early years of the 20th century to work in West Virginia’s rapidly developing industrial economy. With more than 17,000 Italian immigrants in the state by 1910, they made up 30 percent of West Virginia’s foreign-born population. In fact, so many Italians had entered the state that for over a decade before the First World War, the Italian government maintained a consular office in northern West Virginia.

The majority of the Italian population were located in the northern part of the state, with Marion County leading the way, followed by Harrison, Tucker, Randolph, Preston and Monongalia. Significant clusters of Italians were also drawn to southern West Virginia. McDowell County, with 2,300, could boast the most Italian immigrants in the state in 1910, although the Fayette County communities of Boomer, Harewood, Longacre and Smithers constituted the greatest single concentration of Italians in the state. While immigrants were attracted to West Virginia from all over the Italian peninsula, the majority came from the southern regions of Campania, Calabria and Sicily.

The great majority of Italian immigrants were employed in the coal industry as pick-and-shovel miners. West Virginia mines were among the most mechanized in the US and miners born in America generally operated the new machines. They usually earned better pay than their foreign born counterparts, who were left with the hand tool work. Despite this disparity, West Virginia Italians were able to significantly improve their financial position. In part, the Italians achieved economic progress and acceptance by their work ethic. The records for coal production by hand tools are all apparently held by Italians. For instance, in 1924, Carmine Pellegrino of Rosemont mined 66 tons of coal in one 24-hour period and earned the nickname ‘‘sixty-six’’. Eleven years later, Dominic Pesca of Boomer mined by hand 48 tons of coal in one day and 52 tons the next at the Union Carbide mines at nearby Alloy. Italian miners in West Virginia also improved their economic position by self-sacrifice and frugality. Raising livestock and tending gardens kept down expenses and helped them save a great deal of their earnings. The U.S. Department of Labor noted that such Italian miners sent more money back to their home country than any other comparable group of immigrants.

Loading coal into horse drawn carts to be distributed to businesses or homes. (Image courtesy of Google Books)

Although large numbers were involved in digging coal, West Virginia’s Italians were an occupationally diverse group. Even in the coal camps, they often held a variety of jobs such as teamsters, carpenters, blacksmiths, shoemakers, stonemasons or general laborers. In many areas, Italians were a vital part of the business community. The occupational diversity of Italians was especially notable in the northern part of the state where urban industrial settings were more common. For instance, historian William Klaus has written that Italians in Marion County were not just miners, but also worked in glass and other manufacturing establishments, on railroads, in skilled trades, on farms and in their own small businesses.

Historians have explored the significance of the high concentration of Italians in the work force of the Mountain State. As a result, we know they came mostly as an indirect result of wanting to work in the West Virginia coal industry. What emerges from this literature is that these immigrants were desperately poor individuals fleeing their old world peasant communities for a chance at a better life in America. Confused and unable to speak English, they were met at ports of entry by employment agents or representatives of private firms and whisked away to the mountains, where they had little idea of where they were or what they were going to do.

Dispersed without input to coal, lumber, transportation and construction companies, they were seemingly powerless to determine their own destiny. However, despite this background, they earned respect for their hard work and were seen as assimilating rather easily into the mountain culture. The purpose of this historical study was to take a first step at understanding the Italian experience in West Virginia. By focusing on the group of Italians who were drawn to Fayette County, the research attempted to move beyond the impact in which West Virginia’s culture and institutions had on such immigrants. Rather, the research aimed to determine how the Italians influenced the institutions and values of the southern West Virginia coal workers, in what was emerging as a critical period in the state’s mining history.

Italian Family 1929

A seam of coal, measuring between five and six feet thick, ran through the hills above the town of Boomer in Fayette County. This coal was first developed in 1896 by West Virginia merchant, William Masters. Boomer Coal and Coke operation became possible because of the extension of the Kanawha and Michigan Railroad. Completion of the K and M also aided W. R. Johnson in opening a mine in Harewood and Samuel Dixon in Longacre. By the spring of 1903, the Boomer Coal and Coke operations was purchased by Hocking Valley of Ohio. Since Boomer’s three mines were among the most productive in the district, their acquisition placed the Hocking Valley Corporation on the verge of a significant expansion in their capacity to produce coal.

Shortly after, the Boomer Coal and Coke Company began a vigorous campaign of attracting Italian immigrants as part of its workforce. The hostile labor relations atmosphere created by the Coal Strike of 1902 in West Virginia gave the recruitment of Italians and other foreign labor a sense of urgency. The work stoppage of West Virginia’s miners in the great Coal Strike of 1902 is historically pictured as a sympathy strike to support the anthracite miners in eastern Pennsylvania. However, in southern West Virginia the strike was basically about local issues. During this situation, the Boomer Coal and Coke Company did everything it could to keep the union out and keep its production going full strength. Among other things, it forbade meetings on its property and obtained restraining orders, forbidding any attempt at interference with the employment relationship at any of its operations.

File:W. Va. coal mine 1908.jpg

1908 West Virginia coal mine entrance

It became clear that Boomer Coal and Coke and the other Hocking properties decided that their expanding enterprises would depend essentially on immigrant labor, but it is not clear why these coal operations placed particular emphasis on recruiting Italians. It may have been as simple, as the fact, that there were so many of them available. On the other hand, the preference of Boomer Coal and the other Hocking operations for southern Italians may have had another source. It was well known that the vast majority of southern Italian immigrants were agricultural workers. However, anyone who conducted interviews with the Italians in the southern West Virginia coal fields, learned that a substantial number were not new to mining work. For example, Luigi Curatolo migrated from a Sicilian community where he and his brothers, Salvatore and Guiseppe, had entered the sulfur mines at the age of eight. These brothers, as had their father before them, expected to spend the rest of their lives in such mines. However, at the turn of the century, the ancient mines of Sicily were no longer profitable and eventual emigration to a place like West Virginia was an opportunity to do something that had a familiar feel to it.

KANAWHA COALFIELD

Whatever the reasons may have been for recruiting them, a steadily increasing stream of Italian immigrants flooded onto the properties of Boomer Coal and Coke and its sister companies. As more and more Italians made the trip to Boomer, they soon filled up the clusters of little houses the company built and the area became know as “little Italy.” In less than a decade there were over a thousand Italians in Boomer, making it the largest concentration of Italians relative to total population of any city in the state.

If Boomer Coal and Coke Company and the other Hocking Valley interests recruited so heavily among the Italians in the hope that these immigrants would constitute a more docile, controllable work force than their native West Virginia employees, who had caused so much trouble during the 1902 strike, they would soon be disillusioned. They would learn that Italians could respond aggressively and with remarkable solidarity to injustice. For example, in July, 1905, the foreman of a construction crew, working on a railroad grading crew in Fayette County, reprimanded an Italian laborer by knocking him down an embankment. The foreman’s actions incensed many of the Italian crew, who threw down their tools and grabbed rocks to throw at the foreman. The Italians were soon joined by workmen from other nearby railroad construction crews. A battle between the Italians and company men soon broke out. The Italians and their allies were winning until William Nelson Page, the owner of the area’s coal properties, got word of the trouble and sent law enforcement officers to break up the melee and arrest eleven of the instigators. 

While many Italian immigrants eventually left West Virginia, many others stayed and made a long lasting impact on the state and its institutions. Italian union members and organizers, such as Tony Stafford and Armando Folio, helped to make the Mountain State one of the most union-oriented states in the nation. West Virginia Catholicism and its ancillary institutions were strengthened considerably by the infusion of Italian parishioners. The continuing influence of Italians in West Virginia was symbolized by the growth of the yearly Italian festivals held in the state at Clarksburg and Wheeling in the north and Bluefield and Princeton in the southern part of the state. As late as 1970, Italians with at least one parent born in Italy constituted West Virginia’s second-largest ethnic group. By the third generation, Italians had moved into the center of political life in many parts of the state. In 2005, Joe Manchin became West Virginia’s first governor of Italian descent. His uncle, A. James Manchin, secretary of state and treasurer, had preceded him as one of the state’s most popular politicians.

West Virginia Italian Heritage Festival

The first West Virginia Italian Heritage Festival was first held in downtown Clarksburg in 1979. The idea was proposed by the librarian at the Clarksburg Harrison Public Library and a board of directors was formed, consisting mostly of prominent citizens of Italian descent. A parade, street concerts, authentic Italian food, cultural events (including art shows and opera), crafts, sports (bocce, morra and golf) and the crowning of a festival queen were all part of the first Italian Heritage Festival and continued in later festivals.The West Virginia Italian Heritage Festival is held each Labor Day weekend beginning on Friday and concluding on Sunday.

Sources: http://www.wvencyclopedia.org/articles/924 and http://muwww-new.marshall.edu/csega/research/minewars.pdf

The Food of West Virginia Italians

The West Virginia Pepperoni Roll

As the story goes… Italian miners, like most miners, needed something non-perishable and easily portable to pack into their lunch pails (or pants pockets) as they often worked very long hours, so lunch frequently consisted of a piece of bread and a couple of pieces of cured meat. It wasn’t long before an entrepreneurial miner in Fairmont, W.V., Frank Agiro, decided to experiment with baking a couple of bits of salumi inside a yeast roll and, thus, the pepperoni roll was born. Not soon after, Agiro put down his pick ax and opened the now famous Country Club Bakery, which is still in operation today.

Like its cousin, the pizza, a pepperoni roll varies greatly in taste and quality and ranges from: flour-dusted, brownie-size rolls stuffed with sliced pepperoni and sold by the dozen in bread bags at gas stations; to individually wrapped rolls as big as an overstuffed burrito with pepperoni sticks in the middle sold at Mountaineer Field, home of West Virginia University’s football team; to heated rolls, split open and topped with cheese and tomato sauce, such as those served at Colosessano’s in Fairmont.

Sticks versus slices are probably the biggest dividers among bakers–sticks are definitively the purist’s take. You’ll also find some hackles raised over the matter of cheese. To add or not!

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast (1 packet)
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 large egg
  • One 6-ounce stick pepperoni, cut into 4 logs and each split in half lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded whole milk mozzarella

Directions:

In a small saucepan, gently heat the milk and butter until the butter is melted. The milk should be just a little hotter than warm, between 100 and 115 degrees F, but not over 115 degrees F. Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in the sugar, salt and yeast. Let the mixture sit until the yeast is activated and foam covers the top, 5 to 8 minutes.

Add the flour to a large bowl and make a well in the center. Crack the egg into the middle and pour in the yeast liquid. Make the dough by mixing all ingredients together with a rubber spatula. Make sure all ingredients are incorporated; the dough will be sticky and loose. Leave the dough in the center of the bowl when it is fully incorporated.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 2 hours. Remove the plastic and gently re-knead the dough while still in the bowl. Form into a ball, as best you can, and cover with plastic wrap. This time allow to rest in a warm place for 1 hour.

After the second rise, remove the dough to a very generously floured surface, kneading to bring together. Cut the dough into 8 pieces, about 3 1/2 ounces each. Gently form each piece of dough into balls, incorporating more flour as needed. Use your hands to flatten each ball to a 4 1/2-inch circle. Brush a piece of pepperoni with oil and place in the center of the circle, along with 2 tablespoons shredded mozzarella. Fold the dough over the pepperoni, like a burrito, and place on a parchment-covered baking sheet seam side down.

Repeat with the remaining pepperoni and cheese. As you place each pepperoni roll on the sheet tray, leave at least 1 inch around each roll to allow for a third rise (therefore you will need 2 baking sheets). Cover the rolls loosely with plastic wrap and place in a warm place for 30 minutes. The rolls will puff up just a bit.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Brush the tops of the rolls with the remaining oil and bake in the oven 30 to 35 minutes. The rolls will have a rich golden color and crispy crust.

Note: This dough is very wet dough. Use a rubber spatula when incorporating flour into the dough. Make sure to always flour your hands and the surface you are working on when working with the dough.

Tiella

The dish is very popular among Italians in North Central West Virginia and a great way to use up fresh summer vegetables. Supposedly, the word “tiella” (like so many Italian recipes) means pan. A vegetarian version can also be made by omitting the meat.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound Italian sausage
  • 1 large can tomato sauce (about 3 cups)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 5 parboiled potatoes, peeled and sliced (if using red potatoes, leave the skin on)
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 medium zucchini, sliced same size as the potatoes
  • 2 cups bread crumbs
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons fresh basil and parsley chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil

Directions:

Brown the meat in a skillet. Pour tomato sauce and water over meat mixture and let simmer about 15-20 min. In another pan saute the onions and garlic in olive oil and set aside. In a separate bowl combine the fresh bread crumbs with the grated cheese, parsley, basil, salt and ground black pepper.

In a round deep dish pizza pan or casserole cover the bottom of the pan with some of the meat sauce and then add a layer of potatoes, zucchini and onions. Top with some of the bread crumb mixture. Just like making lasagna, repeat with another layer, pour any remaining sauce over the top and sprinkle the top with the remaining bread crumb mixture. Drizzle with olive oil and bake at 350 degrees F. for 45 minutes.

Zuppe di Pesce Venetian

Carlotta Yonkers remembers the long hours her mother, Sylvia Potesta, spent in the family’s East End kitchen. Potesta’s maternal grandparents, who came from Calabria, in the southern coastal region of Italy, settled first in Boomer, where most of the men became miners. Her mother was born in Charleston, WV. Her father, who was born in Bruzzi (Italy) preferred city life and moved to Charleston where he became a tailor and worked for years at the Diamond department store. Potesta remembers that her father ordered seafood from New York City, which was shipped to them in a large barrel, for the family’s Christmas Eve dinner because no Charleston grocer carried the required ingredients.

Carlotta Yonkers’ Recipe

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 head garlic, chopped
  • 3 medium yellow onions, chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3 cups cleaned and chopped leeks
  • 4 cups chopped tomato
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 2 quarts cold water
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 8 black peppercorns
  • 2 cups chopped fresh fennel tops
  • Any combination of: whole shrimp, clams in their shells, mussels, crab pieces in the shell, scallops, white fish of any kind, fresh, cut into 2-inch chunks

Directions:

Place butter, olive oil, garlic, onions, carrots, leeks and tomato in a 12-quart heavy stockpot and cook over medium heat, stirring, until things begin to brown a bit, about 15 minutes.

Add parsley, wine, stock, water, fennel seed, peppercorns and fennel tops to the pot and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 1 hour. Drain the stock from the kettle and discard all the ingredients, returning the stock to the pot.

Bring the stock to a boil when ready to serve and add any or all of the seafood, using any amount desired. Start with the heavy-shelled seafood and then add scallops and fish last. Simmer until the clams and mussels are open, the shrimp pink and all is tender, but not overcooked, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Ladle into bowls and serve with crusty toasted bread.

Oliverio Family Tradition

In 1932, in her small kitchen at the back of her retail store in Clarksburg, WV, Antoinette “Ma” Oliverio perfected her recipe for peppers in Italian sauce. Her son, Frank, took her recipe out of the kitchen and into the business world.

In 1972, he began canning peppers under the Oliverio label. Today, his son Mark Oliverio and daughter Deanna Mason continue running the business that was a labor of love for their father. Three generations later, the Oliverio family have combined their love of good food with their recipe for success. In sharing their fathers dream, they are also continuing the legacy of Antoinette, whom they credit with instilling respect for heritage and love of family. Oliverio products are made from a family recipe using only the finest ingredients. Today, the peppers are used in restaurants and line store shelves throughout the East Coast.

Oliverio Meatloaf

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs lean ground beef or turkey
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
  • 1 16 oz jar Oliverio Peppers and Sauce (hot or sweet)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl add ground beef and all ingredients except 1/4 of the peppers with sauce and cheese. Mix together. Place in a loaf pan and press gently to relieve any air pockets.

Pour remaining peppers and sauce on top of the ground beef mixture. Sprinkle with mozzarella.

Cover baking pan with foil (greased on the side facing the meatloaf) and place in the oven for 1 1/2 hours or until the meatloaf reaches an internal temperature of 170 degrees.

Remove the meatloaf from the pan and drain any grease, let stand for 10 minutes. Slice and serve. Makes 6 servings.

Italian Cream Cake

Patricia Haddy bakes lots of Italian Cream Cakes, her most popular cake. She bakes for friends, family and others who request her cakes after they taste them. “The Italian Cream Cake took off like wildfire when I started making it,” she said.

When a friend requested she bring the cake to a reception years ago at the Marriott, the chef tasted it and offered her a job. She turned him down, but sold her cakes to him for years as his job took him to local country clubs and restaurants. She found the Italian Cream Cake she makes faithfully from a local source, “Seasons and Celebrations” by former West Virginia Gazette food contributor Rosalie Gaziano.

Yield: 3 9-inch round cakes

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 2 cups sifted flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 small can coconut
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 5 egg whites, beaten

Cream butter and sugar well. Add egg yolks, one at a time.

Sift flour and soda together; add alternately with buttermilk to creamed mixture. Add vanilla, coconut and pecans.

Fold in beaten egg whites.

Pour into three greased 9-inch cake pans. Bake 40 minutes at 350 degrees F.

Frosting for Italian Cream Cake

  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine (1 stick)
  • 1 pound confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts

Cream together cream cheese and butter or margarine. Add sugar and vanilla, beating until smooth.

Spread between layers and on top of the cake. If frosting is stiff, add a little milk.

Sprinkle nuts on top of the cake.

 



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