by Lisa Caponigri
Sterling Epicure Publishing
If you're stuck in a rut and trying to figure out a new and different menu to feed your family, you may be ready for Lisa Caponigri's Whatever Happened to Sunday Dinner?. The cookbook holds 52 menus, each menu contains an appetizer, main dish, side dish, and dessert course for a total of 250 recipes "that celebrate family."
This is a sturdy, 322-page cookbook with beautiful matte pages and full color photos of many of the dishes. I have to say that it's quite an endearing cookbook. The first time I thumbed through it, I thought, "This is nice." But, the more I studied it, the more I grew to love it and appreciate the variety of Italian recipes it had to offer.
Because of my husband's work schedule, I don't cook a lot during the week. Most of my cooking is done on the weekend. But, his schedule will be changing soon and he'll be home every night looking for a meal. This cookbook contains a lot of simple side dishes that are perfect for quick, weeknight dinners. And, with simple ingredients such as canned tuna, bread crumbs, and pasta, I'll be able to whip up a hearty main dish. Of course, there are plenty of savory, slow-cooked dishes for leisurely weekend meals.
Each recipe's title is in Italian with an English subtitle so you're getting more than a cooking lesson, you're also getting a lesson in the Italian language and culture. And, while I found many pasta dishes that I know I would enjoy, I was particularly interested in the Italian desserts. The Ricotta Cake was moist and flavorful, a big hit with both husband and son. The Ricotta Cookies were soft and chewy, my favorite kind.
Nana's Ricotta Cake
nana's ricotta cake
1 box (18-1/4 oz.) yellow cake mix
1-1/4 cups water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1-3/4 cups ricotta
3 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13x9-inch glass baking dish.
Prepare the yellow cake mix according to the package directions with the eggs, water, and vegetable oil. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish.
In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta and eggs, adding the eggs one at a time and mixing well after each addition. Add the granulated sugar and vanilla and mix well.
Pour the ricotta mixture over the cake batter. Bake until golden brown, about 1 hour. While still hot, sprinkle the top with confectioners' sugar. Let the cake cool before serving.
1 stick (8 tbsp.) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a large baking sheet.
In a large bowl, beat the butter and ricotta together until creamy. Add the vanilla and mix well. Beat in the sugar and egg. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt and mix well.
Drop the cookie dough by scant tablespoons about 2 inches apart onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake until just lightly golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool on the sheet for 1 minute. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Disclaimer: The publisher provided me with a review copy of the cookbook, but the opinion expressed here is my own.