How To Throw A Crowd-Pleasing Italian Feast This Christmas
Sisters Angela Marotta and Melisa Marotta-Paolicelli have a passion for food and wine that comes from a childhood spent learning to love it. Their award-winning winery, Two Sisters Vineyards, in Niagara- on-the-Lake, Ontario, produces Bordeaux-style and the menu at the vineyard’s restaurant, Kitchen76, is inspired by trips to Italy and old family recipes.
Angela is known for parties where she cooks multicourse dinners for her friends, while Melissa entertains the whole family on Sundays for lunch. This Christmas, the family is gathering at Angela’s home in Vaughan, Ontario. The menu is filled with the family’s favorite dishes. “We’re a big family. When you count all of us together, we’re 13 hungry people,” says Melissa. “But as crazy as our lives can get, we never skip our family dinners.”
Scroll down to discover how to throw an Italian Christmas feast.
“Because our lives are so busy, cooking gives us a sense of peace,” says Angela (left). “And it allows us to continue to have that bond with our children, as we did with our parents and grandparents growing up.”
Family meals always start with a delicious cheese board, including preserves made by grandmother Domenica Galati.
“This is something our grandmother used to make on special occasions like Christmas or Easter. You can make these light and fluffy gnudi as big or as small as you like, but we like them a bit larger so everyone gets one. A lot of holiday meals are very meat-heavy, so it’s nice to have a light first course.”
Get the recipe for Spinach & Ricotta Gnudi.
“Rosemary and lamb are a match made in heaven. Make incisions all over the meat and use an espresso spoon to push in the paste. The paste is a mix of garlic, coarse salt, finely chopped rosemary, lemon rind and olive oil; the lemon brightens the flavor and cuts the fat of the lamb.”
“This is a recipe we inherited from our mother, Louise. It’s very light and has that nice sweet and savory combination from the squash’s natural sugars and the salty smoked ham. Mom’s tricks are to keep the phyllo under a wet cloth so it stays moist, and to butter each layer.”
Get the recipe for Squash & Smoked Ham Tart.
“It’s hard to make time for dessert when you’re entertaining. This sundae is great because you’re just scooping, drizzling and dishing it out. The combination of tangy cherries, sweet gelato and crunchy wafers makes this sundae absolutely irresistible.”
Get the recipe for Italian Gelato Sundae.
“The light licorice flavor from the fennel is a great way to end a meal because it cleanses the palate. Plus, whenever we’re planning a dinner, we always want the plate to look beautiful. The color of the fennel is nice against the orange segments and radishes.”
Get the recipe for Orange & Fennel Salad.
A generously sized island makes entertaining easy in Angela’s kitchen.
A tray of gold ornaments brings out the console’s bird motif.
The sculptural glass sconces in Angela’s living room are from Venice and have been in the family for more than 25 years.