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Author Christina Minutillo on her book “cooking with italian roots”

The author shares the story of her Italian American roots and a secret family recipe from her cookbook/memoir.

cookbook author Christina Minutillo

Christine Minutillo, author of “cooking with italian roots.”

I am currently on a journey of self-discovery, one that begins and ends with my Italian roots. Publishing my cookbook, cooking with italian roots, was the start of a journey toward finding my passion in life to inspire others. As I intentionally live a life of greater purpose and passion, I find myself seeking my roots and bringing everything back to the art of food.

As you read through cooking with italian roots, you’ll find it’s much more than just another cookbook. It’s a memoir born from my childhood roots in my Italian American family from Waterbury, Connecticut and dedicated to my grandmother.

As you read the stories that accompany each page in the book, you will be transported down the memory lane of your own childhood roots while feeling the nostalgia. I take you through each of the holidays that we gathered to celebrate back at my great-grandmother, Gram’s house, all thirty of us first, second, and third cousins.

cooking with italian roots by Christina Minutillo.

The book contains 50 recipes organized into holiday menus from appetizer to dessert, each accompanied by a story of how I learned to make the dish with my grandmother or why the dish is celebrated in our family. I create an experience of sitting around a table with loved ones to celebrate the art of food because those experiences are what we carry with us for the rest of our lives. 

You’ll spend a meal with my family as you read through cooking with italian roots, sitting down at our dinner table as we enjoy each of our holidays throughout the year. I first invite you over for a traditional Italian Sunday dinner where we enjoy homemade cavatelli and meatballs. Then I invite you out to California to my home for Easter where we have stuffed shells and roasted rack of lamb. As spring turns to summer, I take you to a backyard picnic to have a pizzelle and eggplant parmigiano. As the air starts to turn crisp, I share a fall themed menu finished with the best pumpkin pie you’ve ever had as you bask in gratitude for the people sharing your dinner table experience. We close out the year as I invite you over to the Feast of the Seven Fishes for Italian classics such as baccala salad while we wait for Santa Claus to knock on our door. Whether or not you celebrate these holidays in your family, you’ll love the feeling of experiencing them with me as I invite you over for a seat at the table. 

The Town Plot section of Waterbury, Connecticut was an Italian neighborhood where our family gatherings took place. Even the stripes down the center of the road were the colors of the Italian flag. Every July, the ladies in the neighborhood volunteered at the Catholic Church, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, to cook for the annual festival fondly known as The Feast. The church was about a block away from Gram’s house and my family looked forward to celebrating each year.

The celebration has changed over the years, but one thing has always remained the same, the culinary classics served in the back parking lot of the church. The most coveted food drawing lines of people to the festival to this day are the fried pizzelles, plate sized fried dough rounds served with marinara sauce topped with a dusting of parmesan cheese.

Gram had her own recipe for pizzelles and would fry them for the family as part of the celebration. I still wonder how she prepared over thirty of these for all of us as we impatiently waited for them to come out of the kitchen. And I now share this secret recipe with you (with the recipe for marinara sauce).

Gram's Pizzelle with Marinara Sauce

Gram's Pizzelle with Marinara Sauce

Recipe by Christina Minutillo
0.0 from 0 votes
Servings

8

servings
Prep time

4

hours 
Cooking time

30

minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp 1 salted butter, softened completely to room temperature

  • 1 large 1 egg

  • 1-1/2 tsp 1-1/2 granulated sugar

  • 3-1/3 cups 3-1/3 all-purpose flour, sifted

  • 1/4 tsp 1/4 salt

  • 1-1/2 tsp 1-1/2 instant dry yeast

  • 1 cup 1 lukewarm tap water

  • 1-1/2 cup 1-1/2 canola oil (+ 1 tbsp, separate)

  • freshly made marinara sauce to serve

  • grated parmesan cheese to serve

Directions

  • With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and egg in a large bowl until well blended and foaming.
  • With the mixer still running, add the sugar and beat until combined.
  • In a large glass or metal mixing bowl, add the flour, salt, and yeast and stir to mix completely.
  • Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the egg mixture.
  • With a fork, gradually mix the egg mixture into the flour until evenly incorporated.
  • Working the dough with your hands, pour the water in a little at a time, mixing it to fully incorporate before adding more.
  • Knead the dough with your hands until all the water has been absorbed, the dough forms one ball and is smooth in texture, about 4 minutes.
  • Pick up the dough ball and pour 1 tbsp of oil into the bowl.
  • Spread the oil around the bottom and sides of the bowl and then place the dough ball back into the bowl and knead again to pick up the oil that has settled at the bottom.
  • Knead the dough again until all of the oil is absorbed, about 3 minutes.
  • Allow the dough to rest at the bottom of the bowl, tucking all sides of the dough into its center.
  • Cover the top of the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and then a dish towel and allow to rise 2 hours or until at least doubled in size.
  • After the first rise, punch the dough down, form back into a ball, and tuck all sides again into the center.
  • Cover the top of the bowl again with plastic wrap and dish towel and allow it to rise another 2 hours or until at least doubled in size.
  • Once the dough is risen, push the dough down and form into a ball; cut the dough into 8 sections.
  • In an 8-inch sauté or skillet pan on the stove top, add 1 ½ cups of oil and heat on medium (the oil will become wavy once hot).
  • Take one of the sections of dough and stretch and shape into an 8-inch flat pizza round.
  • Gently drop the shaped dough round into the hot oil and fry one side until lightly golden brown, about 1 minute.
  • Flip and repeat for the other side.
  • Once browned, allow to drain on a plate set aside that is lined with a paper towel.
  • Repeat steps 17-20 for remaining dough.
  • ​Serve immediately with marinara sauce and grated parmesan cheese.

Notes

  • * the cooking time includes 4 hours of dough resting.

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