Cookbook cover for CIAO ITALIA: My Lifelong Food Adventures in Italy

CIAO ITALIA: My Lifelong Food Adventures in Italy

Mary Ann Esposito

Peter E. Randall Publisher
November 1, 2018
ISBN-13: 978-1942155171

Sample Recipes
Request a Copy

Mary Ann Esposito’s nationally televised PBS show, “Ciao Italia,” is America’s longest-running continuous cooking show with over 1.2 million viewers per episode. This longevity speaks to the trust that fans have in Mary Ann and to the passion and dedication she brings to teaching a wide audience about Italy’s artisan foods.  Author of 12 cookbooks with appearances on programs, such as “The Today Show,” “Regis and Kelly,” QVC, the Food Network, Discovery Channel, and FOX have given Mary Ann a unique platform. She has worked beside world-renowned chefs like Julia Child, Sara Moulton, Jacques Pepin, Jasper White and countless others. Various organizations have recognized Mary Ann for her efforts to preserve Italian food and cultural traditions: the Italian Trade Commission named her a 2010 Hall of Fame honoree; The President of the Republic of Italy honored her with a knighthood, the Ordine della Stella d’Italia (Order of The Star); She received the Premio Artusi award in Italy for her promotion of Italian regional food. The National Italian American Foundation and The Order of The Sons of Italy in America (OSIA) honored her with Lifetime Achievement Awards in the Culinary & Cultural Arts and St. Anselm College bestowed an honorary doctorate for her dedication to teaching and preserving authentic Italian cuisine.

Legions of loyal fans of Mary Ann Esposito’s groundbreaking PBS cooking show CIAO ITALIA have enjoyed cooking with and learning from this beloved television personality, a trailblazer who helped spark a billion dollar food media industry and paved the way for countless other television chefs. Fans have three words to describe her cooking style: traditional, authentic and passionate. From creating and launching CIAO ITALIA in 1989 to authoring 12 cookbooks, Esposito has inspired a worldwide audience who want to know more about Italian food and culture.

Cavatelli con Cime di Rapa e Pangrattati
Little Caves with Broccoli Rapa and Breadcrumbs

Serves 6 to 8

Cavatelli means “little caves” because the dough is shaped similar to gnocchi. There are no eggs in this dough. Water, durum semolina flour (a finer grind of semolina), and a pinch of salt are the sole ingredients. The dough is rolled into long ropes the width of your pinkie finger and traditionally cut into ¼-inch pieces with a small spatula-like tool called a rasola, but a butter knife will do. Each piece is rolled under your finger to create an indentation. The little hollows of the cavatelli nicely trap the slightly spicy sauce.


  • 2½ cups fine durum semolina flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup warm water



  • ½ cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 oil-packed anchovy fillets, drained and coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small dried red chile, crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 pound broccoli rapa, tough stems trimmed and leaves coarsely chopped

First, make the dough. In a large bowl mix the flour, salt, and enough water to make a dough that is the consistency of bread dough. Add more flour or water as needed. Knead the dough until smooth, then cover the dough and let it rest for 30 minutes.

Cut the dough into 6 pieces and roll each piece under the palm of your hand to create a log that is the thickness of your pinky finger and 14-inches long. Cut each log into ¼-inch-long pieces.

With your finger, draw each piece of dough across a wooden butter paddle, cavarola board, or wooden cutting board, leaving an impression or “little cave,” and place them on floured towels. At this point, you can freeze the cavatelli on the trays and then transfer them to plastic bags once hard, or cook them immediately.

To make the sauce, toast the breadcrumbs in a large sauté pan over medium heat until golden, then transfer them to a bowl.

In the same pan, heat the olive oil; add the anchovies, garlic, and dried chile until the anchovies almost dissolve. Cover the pan and keep the sauce warm while the cavatelli cook.

Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil over high heat; add the salt, cavatelli, and broccoli rapa and cook until the cavatelli are al dente, about 4 minutes. Drain and reserve 1 cup of the cooking water.

Transfer the cavatelli and broccoli rapa to the sauté pan and combine well over medium heat with the sauce, adding some of the reserved cooking water if the sauce is too dry. Transfer the mixture to a platter and top with the breadcrumbs. Serve hot.

Note: Cavatelli makers can save time; they are available online at Rasola tools are available from

Rame di Napoli
Sicilian Chocolate Spice Cookies

Makes about 28 large cookies

Rame di Napoli are spicy chocolate cookies prepared especially for the Day of the Dead, November 2, and are given to adults and children as a gift in memory of their deceased relatives. Even though the name suggests that these cookies are Neapolitan, they are in fact Sicilian because Sicily and Naples were once part of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, lasting from 1815 until 1860. The capitals were Naples and Palermo. Rame means “copper,” and these cookies were meant to resemble the copper coins that were minted to replace the gold and silver ones when the kingdom of Sicily was annexed to the Kingdom of Naples.

  • 1 cup plain tea biscuit cookies, such as Stella D’Oro, ground into coarse crumbs
  • 1 to 1 ¼ cups milk
  • 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon orange marmalade
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ⅞ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves


  • 1 cup dark chocolate chunks
  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter
  • 1½ cups coarsely crushed pistachio nuts

Put the cookie crumbs in a medium bowl and just barely cover them with milk. Allow them to sit and soak until the crumbs have absorbed the milk, then stir well until the mixture reaches a creamy consistency.

In a separate large bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients. Add the milk-soaked crumbs to the mixture and combine well. Add more milk to the batter, a little at a time, and, using a wooden spoon, stir it until the mixture reaches the consistency of a thick paste, like that of pastry cream. The amount of milk added will depend on the type of cookies used, but should not be more than 1½ to 2 cups. Look for a somewhat loose and creamy consistency that still holds its shape on a spoon and is not runny or liquid. Let the batter rest at room temperature for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper. Use a ¼-cup measure or scoop to form the batter into rounds, spacing them 1 inch apart on the baking sheets.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the tops of the cookies appear dry. Remove them from the oven and cool completely on a cooling rack. Begin making the glaze only when the cookies have cooled completely.

To make the glaze, melt the chocolate and butter together in a double boiler over low heat, stirring constantly. Once the chocolate has completely melted and the consistency is a thin liquid, remove it from the heat and pour it into a bowl.

Dip the top of each cookie into the glaze, coating the surface evenly, and place them on cooling racks to dry. Sprinkle the tops of each cookie with some of the pistachio nuts while the glaze is still warm, then cool completely.

These recipes may be reproduced with the following credit:

Recipes from CIAO ITALIA: My Lifelong Food Adventures in Italy by Mary Ann Esposito. (Peter E Randall Publisher; November 1, 2018; $39.95/Hardcover, ISBN: 978-1942155171).

Contact: David Carriere