Friday, October 9, 2015

“Stuffed Artichokes” To Celebrate “Columbus Day” & “Italian-American Heritage Month,” with Adriana Trigiani….

Every year the United States President signs an executive order declaring October as “Italian-American Heritage Month.” This is a perfect time to enjoy the festivities surrounding "Columbus Day" (this Monday) and to recognize the many achievements, contributions, culture, history, and food, of the Americans with Italian decent. There were over 5.4 million Italians that immigrated to the United States between 1820 and 1992. Today there are over 26 million or more, Italian Americans living in the United States. This makes them the fifth largest ethnic group. The new World was named “America” for Amerigo Vespucci (1451-1512), the Florentine explorer and geographer who was a friend to Columbus.

The first recorded celebration of Columbus Day in the United States took place in New York City on October 12, 1792 when a group known as the Columbian Order held a parade to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the landing of Columbus. In 1866, following the start of Italian immigration to the U.S., another parade was held in New York City, this time by the Italians celebrating their link with American history. In 1937 President Franklin Roosevelt proclaims October 12th as Columbus Day. Then in 1968 President Lyndon B. Johnson declares Columbus Day a federal public holiday, to be celebrated on the second Monday in October, rather than on October 12th. The new Uniform Monday Holiday Act goes into effect in 1971.

On August 3, 1492, Christopher Columbus, a sailor from Genoa, Italy and the 88 members of his crew plus their families attended Mass in the Church of St. George the Martyr. They prayed for a safe voyage. Leaving the church they boarded their three ships the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria which was Columbus’ flagship and began their voyage to the East Indies. Columbus Day is also celebrated in Spain, the country which sent Columbus on his famous voyage and whose Queen, Isabella of Castile provided the financing (money came from the Queen’s personal funds not the national treasury) for his expedition. In Spain the holiday is known as Hispanic Day and it is celebrated with a huge parade in Madrid. In New York City, they celebrate with an annual parade which is also broadcasted internationally to Italy. While it is a nationally recognized holiday, not everyone is quick to participate in the festivities. Many people insist that it is not fair to celebrate a “discovery” that already had inhabitants, which were the Native Americans. Therefore some states celebrate the holiday by a different name.

The arrival of Europeans in the Americas was without a doubt one of the most important events in modern history, including food history. Many foods that were native to the Americas were brought to Europe and even more European products were brought back to America. Many Americans, especially Italian-Americans, celebrate Columbus Day with food. In honor of the meal that Christopher Columbus must have eaten on the sail to the Americas, people cook a typical seaman's dinner. That meal consisted of fish, potatoes, beef, cheese, and a variety of other foods such as rice, dried fruits, and legumes.

Even though it must have been a good meal for them on the sea, it just doesn’t sound Italian enough for me. Where was the lasagna, meatballs, pasta, and we can’t forget Italian cookies, or the Cannoli’s? Well, I am not at sea, but I do have a wonderful recipe of the week for you and it is called “Stuffed Italian Artichokes.” I know, you must be saying, I don’t like them, you are wrong! Till you have tried my mom’s recipe made with spices, cheese, and bread crumbs all tucked together inside the leaves of this wonderful little green vegetable. Then baked with a crispy top, you really haven’t tasted anything like this before! Now, that’s Italian! So in honor of my Italian-American Heritage and Columbus Day, have fun, celebrate, and eat something Italian! “Buon Appetito!” 

Stuffed Italian Artichokes” (Carcioffola in Italian)

6 medium artichokes
1 1/4 cups bread crumbs (plain)
1/2 cup of grated Pecorino-Romano cheese
1/2 cup of fresh chopped parsley
2 tsp of minced garlic (fresh or jar)
3/4 tsp of salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
1/3 cup of olive oil or vegetable oil

Cut off stem and 1/4 off the top of artichoke. Then remove some of the outer leaves at the bottom. Use scissors to clip off top of side leaves. (That removes the sticky point on each leaf) Then wash in deep bowl. Fill large pot with water and boil. Place the artichokes in pot carefully and lower heat to medium for about 7 minutes. Fork test bottom of artichoke for tenderness. If fork goes in and out easily, they are done. Next drain and run cold water on artichokes let them sit and cool off.

While they are cooling down, mix the bread crumbs, parsley, minced garlic, grated cheese and a sprinkle of salt with pepper. Mix in a little oil with hands. When it feels like a sandy consistency then you are ready to fill. Gently spread the leaves a little apart and sprinkle some of the bread crumb mixture between each of the leaves. Place the now stuffed artichokes in a glass Pyrex baking dish. (7x11x1.5) Drizzle a small amount of oil on top of each artichoke. Put a small amount of water in bottom of pan about 1/4 inch deep. Bake for about 25-30 minutes at 350° F. The top should be browned and crispy, when they are ready to eat.    


Ciao a tutti, As October is “Italian-American Heritage Month,” what better time than to share one of my all time favorite Italian authors with you. I know that my readers have heard of my very good friend Adriana Trigiani. Adriana is beloved by millions of readers around the world. She has written fifteen bestsellers, including the blockbuster epic, “The Shoemaker's Wife,” the “Big Stone Gap” series; “Lucia, Lucia;” the “Valentine” series; the bestselling memoir “Don't Sing at the Table,” and a few more. She is the award-winning filmmaker of the documentary “Queen of the Big Time.”

Adriana wrote the screen version and also directed the major motion picture called, “Big Stone Gap, based on her debut novel and filmed entirely on location in her Virginia hometown, to be released nationwide today, October 9th. “Big Stone Gap” stars Ashley Judd, Patrick Wilson, Whoopi Goldberg, John Benjamin Hickey, Jane Krakowski, Anthony LaPaglia, and Jenna Elfman, just to mention a few well known famous stars. 

I have read the Big Stone Gap series and have fallen in love with the small town of Big Stone Gap, nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. This is a story about a self-proclaimed spinster, Ave Maria Mulligan. In the enchanting movie, Ave Maria reaches her thirty-fifth year and resigns herself to the single life, filling her days with hard work, fun friends, and good books. Then, one fateful day, Ave Maria’s past opens wide with the revelation of a long-buried secret that will alter the course of her life. Before she knows it, Ave Maria is fielding marriage proposals, trying to claim her rightful inheritance, and planning the trip of a lifetime to Italy—one that will change her view of the world and her own place in it forever. Full of wit and wonder, hilarity and heart, family, and love. “Big Stone Gap” is a treasure. What fun it will be to see this movie this weekend with your family and friends…

                                    But wait there is more…….

Adriana returns, on October 13, 2015 with her biggest and boldest novel yet, called, All The Stars In The Heavens. I received an advanced copy of this book and I can't put it down.. A mesmerizing tale based on a true story and filled with her signature elements: family, artistry, romance, and adventure. Born in the golden age of Hollywood, this new novel captures the luster, drama, power, and secrets that could only thrive in the studio system, viewed through the lives of an unforgettable cast of players creating magic on the screen and behind the scenes.

In this spectacular saga as radiant, thrilling, and beguiling as Hollywood itself, Adriana Trigiani takes us back to Tinsel Town's golden age. The movie business is booming in 1935 when twenty-one-year-old Loretta Young meets thirty-four-year-old Clark Gable on the set of “The Call of the Wild.” Though he's already married, Gable falls for the stunning and vivacious young actress instantly. Anchored by Adriana’s masterful storytelling that takes you on a worldwide ride of adventure from Hollywood to the shores of southern Italy. This mesmerizing epic is, at its heart, a luminous tale of the most cherished ties that bind. Brimming with larger-than life characters both real and fictional, including stars Spencer Tracy, Myrna Loy, David Niven, Hattie McDaniel, and more. It is the unforgettable story of one of cinema's greatest love affairs during the golden age of American movie making.

You can also connect with "Reading With Robin" where Robin shares her love of books and authors on her radio show. Her audience has become an enthusiastic and engaged reading community both on and off air. Stop by often as there will be lots going on from exclusive author interviews and giveaways to book club contests and author events. If you are a book lover you don’t want to miss out on any of the fun. Like a great book, please share this site with your friends.  Tune into Reading With Robin radio Fridays 4-5 pm Eastern on AM 790 and on I Heart Radio.

Now you have a movie and a book to keep you busy while you are off on this Columbus Day weekend. You can pre-order Adriana’s book on She lives in Greenwich Village, New York with her husband and her daughter. 

Till Next Time…….

Copyright © 2015 “Family Plus Food Equals Love” All Rights Reserved  


  1. Columbus Day definitely does not get all the recognition it deserves, and you paid tribute to it proudly, Dottie! I bet the parade in NYC is awesome to watch. And lasagna, Cannoli, ummm! For many years, there was a huge Italian bakery in Cicero, that made a plethora of Italian desserts and goodies, and their Cannoli was the best.

    I read "The Shoemaker's Wife" earlier this year, it was hard to put down, great story. She's an excellent writer, a "masterful storyteller," as you say. I will be checking out her new book. Looking forward to seeing "Big Stone Gap" soon. Sounds like a my kind of movie.
    Great post, Dottie! Thanks, and take care.

    1. Hi Pam,

      Thank you for your comment and visiting...Yes, I love Columbus day as it is an Italian American holiday that is celebrated by the famous NYC parade. I Love to watch it on TV. That Italian bakery sounds fantastico!

      I am so thrilled that you read "The Shoemakers Wife" by Adriana...I think out of all her books (which I have read them all) was my very favorite. She truly is a fabulous writer and her new book takes you an interesting place in time. Just so awesome.. I will be going to see the movie on Monday...I can't imagine how amazing this will be...

      Thank you again, Pam and you have a great weekend....

      Dottie :)

  2. Hi Dottie, I hope you are having a relaxing weekend. I have been taking it easily today and we went out for a traditional English afternoon tea, where you have tea with lots of yummy cakes and sandwiches. The children loved it of course..they love cakes and scones!
    26 million Italians in America is a lot! Even my grandparents emigrated after the war but to Argentina. They then decided to go back to Italy but some other relatives stayed there and we are still in touch with them.
    I like your recipe for artichokes, I love them with breadcrumbs and when I am in Italy I cook them just like that, we all love them including the children.
    Your friend Adriana seems very talented I had a look at her website.
    I forgot to ask: how is your leg? Have you recovered well from your illness? Un abbraccio ciao!

    1. Dear Alida,
      Yes, my weekend so far is a nice one. I am glad to see that you are relaxing as well. We need to do that every once in awhile. How wonderful Afternoon Tea must have been! I have been to High Teas many times. They always have such wonderful and tasty goodies to go along with your tea. Glad that your children enjoyed the tea. It is good to get them to be exposed to such wonderful treats...
      I have heard that many people who were Italian went to Argentina after the war...including the Pope's family. You still have relatives there..(that is nice that you keep in touch with them) that must be interesting and then other went back to their roots in Italy.
      I thought you may have made the Artichokes like mine. Yes, my son, my nieces, nephews, and I guess the whole family loves them! They are so good and lots of fun eating them.
      You would love to read her books...she is so Italian and family is so important to her...My favorite is "The Shoemakers Wife"...which is a stand alone book and it has family, morals, fun, and memories from a time long ago about the Italian heritage. You will not be able to put it down...
      Dear friend thank you for asking about my health, you are so kind...yes, my leg is all healed up from that horrible and painful bout of Cellulitis. I still have my issues with Lupus and the MS that I have, but other than that I am just fine...
      Thank you again for your comment Alida and for visiting my blog...
      You be well and have a great new week ahead..
      Hugs x Dottie :)

  3. Dear Dottie,
    A wonderful post as always my friend . The history is very important to the Italian familes , Hubby's aunt love telling stories about the old country , teaching the kids songs . Everyone should learned about their herigate .
    Love the articokes , fix them the same way yummy good .
    Love Adriana Trigiani novels , read your post about her new book , called Barnes & Noble to reserved a copy , the book is in , I will pick up mine Tuesday.
    Will ckeck out 'Reading with Robin,'
    Hope you are feeling much better health-wise.
    Had a very severe thunder , lightening storm last month . As in Murphy's Law if anything can go wrong it will .
    Take care and have a great Sunday :-D Nee

    1. Dear Nee,
      So glad to hear from you dear friend. Yes, history about our heritage is very important, no matter where your family comes from. Glad that your Auntie is telling stories of long ago, it is better coming form a relative that knows about the family history. Happy that you enjoyed this recipe about the artichokes. They are so good and much fun to eat...
      I knew that you might have read some of Adriana's books, and glad that they are holding a copy for you...It is a fantastic book that brings you to a magical place long ago between Gable and Young Reading with Robin is a great site, especially if you love books like I do..Her radio show is amazing...Robin used to live here on Long Island, but then moved to RI.
      Thank you for asking about my health, you are kind...Yes, thank God I am doing better with my leg and the Cellulitis is finally gone. But always have to deal with my issues of the Lupus and the MS..But you know me, I try not to let these things get in my way (if I can help it)...Hope that your Auntie is doing well and your children as well as yourself. Will you be coming back to blogging soon? Miss your fabulous recipes...I know we had a bad storm as well, lost power for a few hours that night but thank God I got it back with now problem...
      Have a wonderful rest of the weekend and thank you again for your comment and your visiting...
      Hugs x Dottie :)

    2. Dear Dottie ,
      I am happy to be back . Reading was a big helpin with keeping my sanity .(giggling) . I will start posting Monday (1012-15) . Glad to hear you are better my friend . Keep the faith my friend, stay in control ...all things are possible with God the Father .
      As Louise would say , 'Keep wiggling those toes.'
      See you later
      Hugs ;- D Nee

    3. Hi Nee,
      Glad that you will be back..really missed you....Yes, I am hanging in there...I know I pray to God everyday to thank him as well as to keep me in check. I often say that, Keep wiggling those toes and legs...Thanks so much dear friend...looking forward to your post and recipes....
      Hugs x Dottie :)