Cookbook Reviews

"I love it! The memories, the recipes all brought me back to my own childhood. When my grandmother passed away she left wonderful and loving memories but took all of her recipes with her. That's why I love your book it's filled with recipes that were once lost."

- Maryann Maniscalco, Flushing, NY

"I used to have a sign in my kitchen that read "This kitchen is closed due to illness. I am sick of cooking!" Since receiving my copy of "Festa del Giardino" the sign has been removed. I have many favorites in your book. A stand by and regular in my kitchen is "Fusilli alla Primavara." It is a marvelous Spring recipe, but I use it year round with whatever fresh vegetables I can find in the market . The vegetarian in my family compliments me every time I serve it as well as any company I prepare it for. The soups are great too. Thank you for sharing your family memories and especially their recipes with me and my family.

-Cynthia Young, Nantucket, MA

"My wife and I were paging through your cookbook last night and she remarked that your recipes are exactly how we eat.  Your prelude left me with a tear in my eye and a nostalgic longing for my extended family and family dinners in Brooklyn and Queens, where I grew up .  I'm really afraid that unless our generation holds on to some of those traditions they will be lost in 25 years."

- Bruce Donatuti, Fairfield, CT

By Rosemary Black, Food Editor; New York Daily News

Whenever friends stop by to poke through my cookbook discard pile (for I periodically try to weed out my collection and keep only what I know I will use), they invariably ask if I have a good italian cookbook. What they're looking for are simple, traditional dishes that don't rely on too many exotic Ingredients - meals that are made from scratch, without a lot of fuss. Sally Maraventano's new "Festa dal Giardino" is such a book.

Born and raised in a large, close-knit Italian clan in the Bronx, Maraventano knows Arthur Ave's food shops - and their owners - as if they were members of her family. She's also an expert on Italian cuisine who teaches cooking classes, leads culinary shopping tours around Arthur Ave. and leads trips to Italy for her students.  Her latest project, the cookbook, is a collection of recipes and reminiscences about what it was like growing up in a food-centered household.

An Informative guide for beginners, the book is filled with tips on the various shapes of pasta and how to cook it, baking advice on bread and pizzas, and how to stock a pantry with Italian staples.  A useful source list for imported Italian products includes Arthur Ave. shops, as well as some other companies around the country. The 125 recipes are grouped by course and run the gamut from risottos and gnocchi to lasagna and pizza, with, some wonderful dessert offerings (almond biscotti, Sicilian fig and nut cookies) providing a satisfying finale.

By Pat Bruno, Food Editor; Fra Noi

"Festa del Giardino," Sally Maraventano's new Italian cookbook, is a veritable minestrone of good eating, a book that manages to incorporate a harvest of vegetables into its 125 Sicilian-inspired recipes.

The secret of Italian vegetable preparation, says the author, who learned it firsthand in her mother's and grandparents' kitchens, is to use the freshest seasonal vegetables in combination with good quality olive oil and fresh herbs. One taste of Zuppa di Scarola e Fagioli, one of the recipes from her book that I tested, convinced me that Maraventano understands how to balance flavors and use ingredients to their full advantage.  Drawing deep from the well of her Italian heritage, Maraventano sets the book up in the usual fashion—antipasti, insalate, risotti e gnocchi, pizza, secondi, contorni — but within each of those delicious courses she manages to come up with some new and interesting ideas.

For example, while Risotto alla Primavera is a wonderful dish, but hardly anything new, a few pages later, she comes up with Risotto ai Carciofini e Pesto, a ravishing risotto arrangement that includes artichoke hearts, (she uses the frozen version, which I heartily approve of) and a touch of pesto to round out the flavors.

Maraventano studied Italian language and culture at Georgetown University's School of Language and Linguistics and the University of Florence, Italy.  She is the founder of Cucina Casalinga, an Italian cooking school in Wilton, Conn.

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