by Wanda Tornabene, Giovanna Tornabene, Michael Evans, Michele Evans (Contributor)
Wanda and Giovanna Tornabene run a restaurant in Gangivecchio, their 600-year-old family home in Sicily. This is their second cookbook, and it focuses on home cooking, Sicilian style. Italians are well known for their generous hospitality, and the Tornabene women are great ambassadors. Through dozens of personal stories, some funny, some sad, they invite you into their home to sit at their kitchen table while they reminisce, gossip, educate, and feed you some of the most enjoyable comfort food and conversation you’ve ever experienced.
Wanda learned to cook from her mother-in-law and passed those lessons down to her daughter. She admits that she was reluctant to share her secret family recipes, but has found great joy and pleasure in doing so. The conversation in the Tornabene home wanders from nutty old Aunt Elvira who collected bus-ticket stubs and used matches to Eggs Poached in Fresh Tomato Sauce. Granny Elena’s Bean and Pasta Soup warms the soul, and the naughty escapades of Ciccio, one of Gangivecchio’s dogs, will make you laugh. Aromatic Risotto with Gorgonzola and Fennel may be dinner the night you read about Felice, the little lamb who was allowed into bed after he was bathed, but Wanda’s Veal Cutlets served with a flavorful sauce made with garlic, onions, tomatoes, and a dash of cayenne will still make your mouth water. Stories of parties with family and friends entice you to make Sicilian-style pizzas topped with four cheeses, zucchini, and thyme or potatoes, sausage, and rosemary, or maybe you’ll treat the crowd to “Midnight Spaghetti” variations like Spaghetti with Garlic, Oil, and Hot Pepper or Ruote with Radicchio and Gorgonzola. Sicilian sweets like Ricotta Tart with Nuts and drinks like Strawberry Liqueur round out the menu and ensure that you’ll be back to visit with the Tornabene women of Gangivecchio again and again.