By David Ruggerio
David Ruggerio's Italian Kitchen is a delicious salute to the author's ancestral roots in Naples and Sicily and a loving tribute to his family, who passed down their kitchen secrets over the generations.
After the success of his first book, Little Italy Cookbook, which celebrates the Italian-American culinary traditions of his youth, Ruggerio found inspiration for his next book in the homeland of his forebears. Family life had always revolved around his grandmother's table, and each meal was a bridge to the past. "This book is my homage to the strength of our Italian family and to the cuisine that sustained it," Ruggerio tells us in his introduction.
As he explains, the temperaments of Naples, the birthplace of his mother, and his father's native Sicily vary greatly, and the cuisines distinctly reflect those differences. The "passionate" character of Naples lends itself to basic, earthy, elemental recipes, while the "heart and soul" of Sicily produces dishes of rich color and complexity.
More than 150 recipes, collected from family and friends, amply demonstrate the two personas and run the gamut from antipasti to dolci. Antipasto dishes include Tuna and White Bean Salad, Artichoke and Mushroom Tart, Focaccia Stuffed with Broccoli Rabe, and Arancini, little rice balls. Zuppa and pasta classics follow: for example, Seafood Soup with Fennel and Saffron, Lentil and Penne with Eggplant, Tomato, and Ricotta Salata. Southern Italy's abundant land and seas are showcased in traditional and new dishes such as Chicken Baked in Clay, Roasted Quail with Figs, Panroasted Bass with Fennel, Sicilian Style, and Mussels and Sausage, Fried Mushrooms with Lemon and Garlic. and to finish with great flourish— Italian Cheesecake, Amaretto Cake, and Brutti Ma Buoni (Ugly But Good Cookies). Recipes are also provided for such invaluable basics as chicken stock, pizza dough, pastry cream, and focaccia.
Maura McEvoy's vivid photography captures the warm spirit of the southern Italian character and lusciously teases the palate. Colorful portraits of the people, traditions, outdoor markets, indigenous delicacies, and lovingly preserved culinary traditions bring to life the experience and true flavors of David's homeland. With David Ruggerio's Italian Kitchen, the author has created a volume full of the delightful scents, tastes, and sights of his Italy. He writes, "Nothing beats a trip to Italy. Short of that. I can save on the airfare, take a trip to the kitchen instead, put on some music, and cook Italian. That takes me back too."
David Ruggerio is a three-time, three star chef based in New York City. While his restaurants are French, his roots are strictly Italian. Born in Brooklyn, New York, he began his career in a small neighborhood Italian restaurant and went on to apprentice at a number of New York's finest restaurants, including La Caravelle. During this time he also boxed professionally. He then honed his skills under the tutelage of some of the greatest chefs in France, including Michel Guerard, Roger Verge, and Paul Bocuse.
Maura McEvoy is a photographer specializing in interiors, food, and people. She resides in New York with a husband, a daughter. And two dachshunds.
David Ruggerio's Italian Kitchen:
Family Recipes from the Old Country
By David Ruggerio
Artisan, May 2000
Color photographs throughout
Information provided by the publisher.
This page created August 2000
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