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Shut Up and Mangia!, Issue #013=Christmas Cookies and Pastries
December 16, 2007

"Shut Up and Mangia!"

Merry, Merry Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childhood days, recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth, and transport the traveler back to his own fireside and quiet home! - Charles Dickens
Buon Natale

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Welcome to my first Christmas issue of "Shut Up and Mangia!". This months issue will be in two parts. The first part of “An Italian Christmas” will focus on my favorite Italian cookie recipes and pastries. The second part will concentrate on a full Christmas Eve and Christmas day menu.

During this holiday season, Italian-Americans prepare for a feast to celebrate the birth of our Lord. Christmas Eve is usually the busiest day for family gatherings and celebrations. In my family plenty of food is spread across a table for an open house of family and friends to enjoy all through the day and evening before going to midnight mass. Preparation for a Christmas menu is planned weeks in advance.

Christmas day is for the children to wake up to presents under the tree with joy and laughter in their hearts. And hopefully, the same holds true for us adults who have sometimes long forgot the joy that Christmas brings. During this time of the year some of us must be reminded that there is a Santa Clause. He lives in our heart and soul even through our toughest times. He lives through our children and grandchildren and for generations to come. Have a great Christmas to you and your families!

Site News

Great Chicago Italian Recipes is dedicated to adding new and traditional Italian recipes for your enjoyment. The site is getting bigger and better with the “The Italian Grocer“ and “The Great Italian Music Store“ for your convenience.

Don’t forget to add your personal family recipes by contacting me through my "Share Recipes" section. Just send me one of your favorite recipes and I’ll post it immediately for all the world to see.

Restaurants for Christmastime

Very few restaurants are open on Christmas day but a few are serving some great Christmas Eve dinners. Topping the list is….

  • …A Mano
  • located at 335 North Dearborn Ave.. A Mano is hosting “The Feast of Seven Fishes: An Italian Christmas Eve” celebration on December 24th. For reservations call 312-629-3500.

  • The lavish and elaborate grand Chicago restaurant The Pump Room
  • is hosting great Christmas Eve and Christmas day dinners. The Pump Room is located at 1301 North State Parkway. For reservations phone 312-266-0360.

  • Aria
  • is located at 200 North Columbus Drive is featuring their regular menu plus traditional items on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. For reservations phone 312-444-9494

  • SushiSamba Rio
  • is offering a 6 course Omakase menu on December 24th and 25th. SushiSamba Rio is located at 504 North Wells Street. For reservations call 312-595-2300 and ask for my good friend Anthony Potenzo. Anthony will take care of everything for you.

    Great Christmas Cookie Books

    Here are a couple of great cookie recipe books to help celebrate the holiday. The first book Sweet Maria's Italian Cookie Tray: A Cookbook by Maria Bruscino Sanchez is filled with recipes including drop and molded cookies to filled ones, biscotti and biscuits, taralle and pizelles, and many more. This is a great book to have for the Holidays.

    The second book, Cookies & Biscotti (Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Library) by Kristine Kidd has excellent biscotti recipes plus specialty cookie recipes for you to enjoy.

    Chicago Christmas Events

    There is so much to do in Chicago during Christmas that it’s impossible to list here. My favorite things to do around the holidays with kids is the Winter Wonderfest at Navy Pier. It’s a must see for the whole family. Many activities for the kids including their indoor ice skating rink.

    Also every year I like to visit the Christkindlemarket located in the Daly Center Plaza. The market consists of all kind of shopping opportunities plus some great events for everybody

    For a full list of Chicago holiday activities visit the Chicago Traveler for more details.

    Great Christmas Sites

    Here are a couple of great Christmas sites for you to visit before the holiday. The first is North A great site for kids, parents and teachers to enjoy. The other site I found that was a lot of fun is All Things This site is the most comprehensive site about Christmas. It has everything you’ll ever need to get you through the holiday.

    Great Italian Christmas Cookie and Pastry Recipes

    Here are a few of our Italian Cookie and Pastry Recipes to bake for this week. Along with a few of my favorites that are already included on my site, there are Struffoli (Italian Honey Cookies), Ricciarelli, Italian Chocolate Cookies, Almond Biscotti and one of my favorite Spumetti recipes. So gather the kids around and start making those cookies. Enjoy!

    Final Thoughts

    Feel free to email this newsletter to a friend so they can Subscribe to "Shut Up and Mangia!" and begin to enjoy the many Italian recipes we have to offer.

    Take Care and have a very Merry Christmas,

    Phillip J. Speciale

    That's a discovery! That's Italian! That's
    Great Chicago Italian

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