This time of year, comfort food never tastes better. With country stew or Italian gravies on my stove, our home is filled with special aromas. My winter recipes are full of family memories designed to warm the stomach and the heart. Share these with your family and friends - especially during the holiday season.




Big Mamma's Italian-American Cooking

This is one of my husband's favorite dishes. His grandmother, Elizabeth Novello, prepared this for large family Sunday dinners in Richmond, Virginia. All of the grandchildren called her "Mamaw" and she loved using rigatoni pasta because the open hole would catch so much of the gravy.

This is a very simple recipe to follow and it cooks slowly in your oven for 2 - 3 hours. The beef is so tender and the marrow from the bones gives this dinner an incredible flavor. I highly recommend using authentic Grana Padano cheese grated on top. It's one of the world’s first hard cheeses; it was made by monks near Milan, Italy, in the 12th century. Grana means “grain” in Italian, referring to the texture of the cheese. If you can't find Grana Padano, use authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano.

This popular Italian-American meal will have your guest asking for more.​

I​zetta's Southern Cooking

​Brunswick Stew was served at Virginia's tobacco-curing, sheep shearing, barn building, and other neighbor gatherings. The story goes that a hunting party in Brunswick County, well provisioned with tomatoes, onions, butter beans, okra, bacon, salt, and corn, left one man behind to have the dinner ready at the end of the day. He could only find a squirrel within range of the camp. So he shot it, cleaned it, and threw it into the pot with the vegetables. When it was served, all of the hunters agreed that squirrel was the finest and tenderest of all wild meats. Chicken is now substituted...and that's a good thing!

In 1775 my 5th great grandfather, Capt. David Chadwell appeared at the Colonial Capitol Building in the City of Williamsburg to testify against another man who stole his horse. I like to think that maybe that evening he dined at one of the taverns and had Brunswick Stew, probably with squirrel.