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Monday, February 17, 2014

Graziano sisters from Mob Wives release collection of recipes in new book

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From left, Lana, Renee and Jennifer Graziano, prepare sausage and peppers, one of the dishes in their new cookbook, “How to Use a Meat Cleaver.”

Even in the kitchen, “Mob Wives: New Blood” star Renee Graziano and her sisters don’t turn their backs on each other.
“ You don’t turn your back on any of us when we’re holding a cleaver,” barks Renee, who co-authored a cookbook out Tuesday called “How to Use a Meat Cleaver: Secrets and Recipes From a Mob Family’s Kitchen.”
It’s is a collection of recipes from Renee and her sisters and collaborators Lana and Jennifer Graziano.
Jennifer created the reality series “Mob Wives,” as it was known when it began airing on VH1 in 2011. It made stars out of Renee and Angela "Big Ang" Raiola. The franchise has even expanded to include “Mob Wives Chicago.”
Food has always been an important ingredient on the show, as the women come together in restaurants or at each other's homes to make war or broker peace over a meal, whether it’s baked ziti or Frutti di Mare.
Recipes for both are in the book, as well as many drawn from cards their mother, Veronica, stored under the kitchen sink in a yellow box in the family home on Staten Island.
Their father, Anthony Graziano, was serving time last year when, according to Gang land News, he was stripped of “all his mobster rights and responsibilities” by Bonanno crime family members annoyed by mention of their legal troubles on the series.
“He will always be mad and angry about the show,” says Jennifer.
“How to Use a Meat Cleaver: Secrets and Recipes From a Mob Family’s Kitchen" is a collection of recipes from Renee, Lana and Jennifer Graziano. 
“How to Use a Meat Cleaver: Secrets and Recipes From a Mob Family’s Kitchen" is a collection of recipes from Renee, Lana and Jennifer Graziano. 
Anthony co-owned an Italian restaurant in Manhattan, Mama Rosa’s, with Lana. The sisters say Lana is by far the most professional cook, while Renee’s dishes have more flair and spice. Jennifer likes to bake.
The recipes in the book are Italian classics running the gamut, perfect to draw on if, for instance, you are welcoming someone home from prison.
“For that you want soup to nuts,” Lana advises. “Antipasto, pasta with Sunday gravy, all of it.”
Renee stresses: “You’ve got to serve everything that they’ve been missing while they’ve been gone.”
The sisters agree that collaborating on the book was a wonderful experience in family togetherness, particularly for Renee.
“Doing this I didn’t have anyone attacking me,” she says . “Not like on the show. I don’t really play well with girls and this has been a very trying season for me.”
At which point, Jennifer interrupts, “Try to be positive, Renee. We’ve talked about this.”
Along those lines, the family is both developing a food line and hoping to open a restaurant on Staten Island, and, in the meantime, they’ve got the cookbook.
As Jennifer says, “Outside of everything, it will always be food that brings us together.”
Recipe: Escarole and Beans
Serves: 4

2 large bunches escarole
½ cup olive oil
5-6 cloves garlic, cut into large pieces
1 cup chicken stock
Salt and pepper, to taste
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans, divided
½ cup grated Pecorino-Romano cheese.
Cut the tough root off the escarole and remove any damaged outside layers. Peel back the leaves and wash the escarole well under cold water. Drain well in a strainer, then cut escarole into 2-inch pieces.
Heat the oil in a 2-quart saucepan and sauté garlic until light brown. Add the chicken stock, escarole, salt, pepper and red pepper, if using, and bring to a boil for 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and add 1 can of beans.
Place remaining beans in a blender and blend on medium speed for 2 minutes. Scoop the mixture out with a spatula and add the beans to pot. Add the grated cheese, stir to combine, and simmer 10 to 12 minutes.
Note: Make sure to thoroughly clean the escarole. For a spicy main dish, serve the escarole and beans over grilled sausages. If you want it soupier, add more chicken stock and some pasta.

From “How to Use a Meat Cleaver: Secrets and Recipes From a Mob Family’s Kitchen,” by Renee, Lana and Jennifer Graziano, by arrangement with Perigee, a member of Penguin Random House, © 2014 Perigee Books.



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