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Mama Michele

While growing up my grandfather used to give me a chair to stand on and he would let me stir the pasta while he made the sauce. My grandmother would make the chop meat and meatballs for the sauce.

At ten years old they took me to Monte's restaurant in Manhattan and it was the first time I ever had lamb. That was when my love affair with food started.

My mom would love to try out new recipes and I was always her little helper.

She would always make chicken cacciatore for my birthday. On holidays I would have to cream the sugar and mix the cream cheese or butter for the cookies and cheesecake.

That was my assignment my grandmother gave me every year. Little did I know that was one of the hardest tasks. That was my work out for the day to say the least. This was where my love for cooking started.

When I got married my grandfather sat me down and taught me the basics of cooking, even though I already knew pretty much all I thought I needed. Specialties I didn't know quite as well, so he would show me how he made everything, especially stuffed artichokes. He learned from my great grandmother who was an impeccable woman that could take anything in the kitchen and turn it into a masterpiece.

As the years passed, I have taken over all the traditions and have mastered the holidays. Some may even call me Mrs. Clause. At Christmas time it is typical to have people coming in and out of my home up until the day after Christmas as I prepare different meals for each day. It is my favorite time of the year.

I hope you have enjoyed using this cookbook in your home and for many times to come. These recipes are near and dear to my heart as they hold memories of very special times in my life.

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