Fix-It and Enjoy-It Potluck Heaven by Phyllis Good [dinner recipes]

  • Full Title : Fix-It and Enjoy-It Potluck Heaven: 543 Stove-Top and Oven Dishes That Everyone Loves
  • Autor: Phyllis Good
  • Print Length: 284 pages
  • Publisher: Good Books
  • Publication Date: October 1, 2011
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1561487325
  • ISBN-13: 978-1561487349
  • Download File Format: epub


          Imagine yourself at the world’s grandest potluck meal! Where to start? What to try first? That is the feast you’ll experience when you open Fix-It and Enjoy-It Potluck Heaven. More than 600 recipes for stove-top and oven cooking, gathered from home cooks, fill these pages. Exhilarating and tantalizing as it is, a potluck meal quickly turns into a memory. Nor can you sample all the dishes spread before you. And you’re left without a way to re-create the delicious food you’ve eaten. Fix-It and Enjoy-It Potluck Heaven remedies all of that! Its recipes are the signature dishes of great home cooks from across the country. They are easy recipes to make—and to take. These recipes are also treats for your daily meals. They will bring your family happily to your table. Use them at home (and not just for carry-ins). The recipes work. The ingredients they call for are readily available.

Skyhorse Publishing, along with our Good Books and Arcade imprints, is proud to publish a broad range of cookbooks, including books on juicing, grilling, baking, frying, home brewing and winemaking, slow cookers, and cast iron cooking. We’ve been successful with books on gluten-free cooking, vegetarian and vegan cooking, paleo, raw foods, and more. Our list includes French cooking, Swedish cooking, Austrian and German cooking, Cajun cooking, as well as books on jerky, canning and preserving, peanut butter, meatballs, oil and vinegar, bone broth, and more. While not every title we publish becomes a New York Times bestseller or a national bestseller, we are committed to books on subjects that are sometimes overlooked and to authors whose work might not otherwise find a home.


About the Author

     Phyllis Pellman Good is a New York Times bestselling author whose books have sold more than 11 million copies. Good is the author of the nationally acclaimed Fix-It and Forget-It slow-cooker cookbooks, several of which have appeared on the New York Times bestseller list, as well as the bestseller lists of USA Today, Publishers Weekly, and Book Sense. The series includes eight titles. The most recent are Fix-It and Forget-It Pink Cookbook, to benefit the Avon Foundation and Fix-It and Forget-It Diabetic Cookbook, Revised and Updated, with the American Diabetes Association. Good is also the author of the Fix-It and Enjoy-It series, a “cousin” series to the phenomenally successful Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbooks. Phyllis Pellman Good is Executive Editor at Good Books. (Good Books has published hundreds of titles by more than 135 authors.) She received her B.A. and M.A. in English from New York University. She and her husband, Merle, are the parents of two young-adult daughters. For a complete listing of books by Phyllis Pellman Good, as well as excerpts and reviews, visit or



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k it out of the drawer, weighed it, and wrapped it in deep blue, rustic paper. It was difficult then, with no cars and only horses, to go the few miles from the country into town. So when we did, we bought a large amount, enough to feed our families for a couple of weeks.

Pasta was the cheapest thing you could buy. The people of Gangi bought as much as they could afford, and cooked it in a big pan on a wood-burning stove (the one that also served as the central heating for the house). They tossed the pasta with a simple tomato sauce or greens, like borage and chard, that grow wild in the mountains here. The point of the pasta was that it nourished them, and that it was enough to fill the stomach for several hours. So I suppose it is to the peasant class that we owe the heralded “Mediterranean Diet.” The irony is not lost on the peasants. Years ago, one of our workers, an old man, told me: “I am sure that the first doctor who spoke of the Mediterranean Diet was sated with meat and sausages.”

Here at Gangivecchio, I learned to cook from my husband’s mother, and from my heart, as I cooked to feed my husband and children. In the beginning, Granny, as my children called her, would cook all the meals. She didn’t allow anybody in her kitchen. But slowly she began to let me watch, and then to teach me. She became like a mother to me, and taught me to make many of the classic Sicilian dishes, like pasta con le sarde, in the old-fashioned way.

Many of the recipes in this book are those she taught me, passed on from one generation to another. Many are classics of Sicily. Many I made for my husband to re-create dishes we discovered on trips to the seaside or at a wonderful restaurant in Palermo. Many are those favorites that I make especially for my son, Paolo, others especially for my daughter, Giovanna. And many are those I invented playing in the kitchen as I do every day, cooking for our guests at the restaurant on Sundays, for Peppe, Mariano, Loredana, and the others who work for us, cooking for our beloved cats and dogs every day. My kitchen is my home; it is the place where I express my creativity and my love. And with these recipes, I open up that place to you.


All the recipes in this book, as in our two previous books, La Cucina Siciliana di Gangivecchio and Sicilian Home Cooking, were born, tested, and tasted here at Gangivecchio, our family home. For those of our readers who haven’t read our other books, we want to introduce you to this place that is both the inspiration for our cooking and the protagonist of our writing.

Gangivecchio, which means “old Gangi,” is a former Benedictine abbey of the fourteenth century nestled on a hillside in the Madonie Mountains, about two hours by car from Palermo and two miles from the medieval town of Gangi. Gangivecchio was abandoned by the monks at the end of the sixteenth century. After a long period of loneliness, Gangivecchio became a private property. And for the last 150 years it has belonged to our family. It is not just our home, of course—now it is a restaurant and an inn. As we often say, we do not own this place; this place owns us. Gangivecchio drives our lives and our desires. It is the place where we have our roots, where we live, and where we work, often with joy, and always with the feeling that we have chosen the right life by living here.

To be truthful, it was in order to maintain this place financially that we invented a restaurant in the west wing of the abbey. But we like to think that it was the answer to a whispering desire of these walls that we have returned Gangivecchio to the ways of the ancient monks, welcoming and nourishing those who knock at our door.

It is only natural that a pasta book should be born of this place. You can imagine, through the centuries, how many dishes of pasta have been cooked, dressed, and eaten at Gangivecchio, starting from the big common plates of the monks, to the big wooden dishes of the workers, eaten in the large, dark, smoky dining room on the first floor of the abbey, where the only light was a candle. Perhaps it was a comforting bowl of soup with ditalini, or a masterpiece of homemade ziti tossed with a meat gravy sauce, perfumed with cinnamon, dusted with grated pecorino, and embellished by chicken kidneys and béchamel. To finish, my mind flies to more recent meals at Gangivecchio: a dish of spaghetti bright with red tomato sauce and a fresh basil leaf, anelletti al forno brought out for a picnic, or ravioli glistening in melted butter sauce on the Christmas table.

Pasta Lessons

When we began writing this book, our new coauthor, Carolina, came to stay with us at Gangivecchio in order to see how we cook—and especially how we cook pasta. As she spent time with us in the kitchen, she was constantly asking us: “Why are you doing this? Why did you just do that?” Sometimes we would give her the real answer, other times we would tell her, “Everyone knows that!” But, of course, what we really meant is that every Italian knows that. Even after writing two books, we were astonished at how many things we do in making pasta that others are not accustomed to doing. If we didn’t believe her then, we did after watching an American cooking show on television one morning. What we saw was so unbelievable that when Carolina came to the house, we asked her: Is it true? That Americans throw a string of spaghetti against the wall? The man on the show said that this is how Americans test pasta: if it sticks, it is done. She said, yes, it is true. We howled with a combination of horror and hilarity, imagining cooks all over America throwing spaghetti against their kitchen walls. To keep all of your walls clean and pasta-free, see the following pages for our short lesson on pasta. And throughout the book, we give you all our little “tricks” that make pasta in Sicily, and in Italy, so good. Of course, you must remember that the only real trick to making good food is passion.


We Italians have more shapes for pasta than you can imagine. Pasta fills an entire aisle of the grocery store. We all have giant larders or drawers filled with bags of different shapes of pasta. We can have forty or a hundred bags and still go to the store for more if we do not have the exact right shape. If we call for a particular shape in one recipe and you cannot find it, use a similar shape, or one with the same qualities. Short pasta shapes are used when you want to be able to stab the food with a fork, as you would if you had cut vegetables or meat in a pasta. Long thin strands, like spaghetti and linguine, are used with light, slippery sauces that will coat them. A rich, creamy sauce often wants a wide and substantial pasta shape, like pappardelle or festonate; otherwise the sauce will drown the pasta. Pasta with holes, like penne and rigatoni, hold ingredients inside them, if the ingredients are small, like peas or ground meat. And the grooves on the outside of rigate, “ridged” pastas, help to hold a sauce.


The first thing you do when you cook pasta is fill a pot with water Remember, don’t use too much. You need about 1 gallon of water for 1 pound of pasta. Then you salt the water. For long pasta, we add oil. Otherwise not. We always stir the pasta when we put it in the water, and again while it is cooking—especially long strands, but no pasta wants to be ignored. The most important thing when cooking pasta is to check on it frequently. If you ignore it, you will overcook it. For an Italian, this is unacceptable. We absolutely cannot eat overcooked pasta.


When we originally wrote our recipes, we wrote to “salt the water to taste.” Then we learned that many Americans are in the habit of salting the pasta water with a few dashes of the shaker in a big pot of water Pasta water should taste like broth. It should have the amount of salty taste in it that you want for the finished pasta dish. We have a big jar of Sicilian sea salt next to our stove and scoop up un pugnetto, “a small fistful,” to put in the pot of water. Then we taste the broth to see that it has enough salt, and we add more if necessary as the pasta is cooking. We never, ever, salt a pasta dish after it has been tossed with the condimento. Then you can feel the salt on the food, and that is all you can taste. By salting the water, the salt gets in the pasta and brings out the flavor.


We have two words for cooking pasta: tender and al dente. Al dente means “to the tooth.” It refers to pasta that is cooked so you can still feel it under your teeth, really bite into it. Tender is cooked just slightly longer. The only pastas that we Tornabenes like to eat al dente are the long thin shapes, like spaghetti, linguine, and fettuccine. The others, we cook until tender. That said, we know that Americans have a tendency to overcook pasta. It would make us very happy to be sure you know that “tender” does not mean mushy!


One thing that makes a good pasta is the texture. It should be wet and slippery, not dry and sticky. The condimento must coat the pasta perfectly, and what makes that possible is using pasta water. Some pasta dishes, like a simple oil and garlic pasta, demand more pasta water than others, but there is not a single pasta that we make that we do not add pasta water to. We would never use another water—the pasta water has starch in it from the pasta, and it is salty. It is integral to the dish. So never forget to save some pasta water before draining the pasta, or after the pasta is removed from the pot. You will find it very helpful.


Draining pasta has its own rhythm in our cooking. We do it two ways. In the case of long strands, like spaghetti and linguine, we use a scola spaghetti, a spaghetti strainer, to lift the pasta out of the water and into the bowl or pot with the condimento. We don’t drain these long strands through a colander because they have a tendency to stick together if you do. In the case of hollow tubes or short pastas, we drain the pasta quickly through a colander in the sink. In either case, the time from the pasta leaving the water to the time it reaches the condimento happens in seconds. We do not try to get all the water out; a little dripping water is good for the condimento, and we will be adding more hot pasta water anyway. We have seen some people—not Italians!—drain pasta in a colander in the sink. And then they let it sit there and sit there until they are ready to serve it. We have also heard that some people rinse pasta after it is cooked. After either of these crimes, the pasta is sure to have lost all its life.

“When you use your hands to make food, you transfer the love from your hands to the food. Also, the hands are warm, just the right temperature for working with dough.”



The most important thing to us when making and serving pasta is that almost no time pass between when the pasta is tossed, when it is set on the table, and when the first person reaches into the bowl to serve himself. After all, pasta that is steaming hot is a beautiful thing to see and to eat. Pasta that has been sitting for five minutes first gets cold. Then it begins to turn to something else: glue. It is a ritual that we have everything else ready before the pasta is put in the water: the table is set, everyone is around the table waiting to eat, the cheese is on the table, the wine is poured, and the only thing left to do is boil the pasta. Just before the pasta is served, you will hear the words in any Italian house: “A tavola!” “To the table!” This means the pasta is almost ready. Better that you wait for the pasta than that the pasta waits for you. When everything is all set, we put the bowl of pasta to our left, serve ourselves, and quickly pass it along.

Fresh Pasta Dough

Makes about 1 ½ pounds of pasta

Mound the flour into a hill on your work surface. Create a hole in the middle. Break the eggs into the hole, and add the oil and salt. Using the tips of your fingers, work the eggs into the flour from the outer walls inward. Continue mixing to form a dough. Lightly flour your work surface, shape the dough into a ball, and knead it until it is smooth and silky, adding more flour if the dough gets sticky. This will take about 10 minutes. Divide the dough in half. Roll each half into a ball and press into a flat disk. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Roll through a pasta maker or roll with a rolling pin. Cut into thin strips or make ravioli (page 100).

6 cups all-purpose flour

6 small eggs

1 ½ tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

TIP Use only cold water when making homemade pasta dough. Otherwise you will get lumps.

We always knead pasta dough by hand. This way we can feel when the dough has come together just right.

Fresh Tomato Sauce

Makes about 2 quarts

Fresh tomato sauce is the base of much of our cooking. In the summertime, when we harvest tomatoes from our garden, we hire a woman here in the countryside who makes fresh tomato sauce from them and bottles it for us. She takes half the bottles as payment, and we are left with a larder full of sauce, to use throughout the year. When we see so many bottles lined up, it is impossible to believe that we could ever run out— but we always do. And then we make fresh tomato sauce dish by dish, as we need it. We use good canned Italian tomatoes, since by the time we run out, tomatoes are out of season. Making fresh tomato sauce is a simple process, something that comes so naturally to us, we could do it in our sleep. Specialty stores in America have recently begun importing bottled fresh tomato sauce from Italy. You’ll usually find it in tall bottles, like our water bottles. It is different from supermarket pasta sauces, which are cooked longer and are therefore thicker, and have added seasoning.

We add dried oregano, not fresh, to our tomato sauce.

1. Combine the tomatoes, onions, and basil together with the water in a large pot. Season with salt and cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes, stirring often.

2. Pass the tomato sauce through a food mill. Return the sauce to the pot you cooked it in. Add the olive oil, whole basil leaves, sugar, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Adjust the salt, pepper, and sugar to taste.

5 pounds fresh tomatoes, cored and chopped (or four 28-ounce cans peeled whole Italian tomatoes, drained in a colander and broken up with your hands)

1 large white or yellow onion, chopped

1 bunch fresh basil leaves, chopped (about ½ cup), plus 6 whole basil leaves

4 cups water

½ cup olive oil

1 tablespoon sugar (or more to taste)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Soffritto can refer to anything with olive oil, garlic, and onions in a frying pan. The mixture of carrots, celery, onions, and garlic is the classic Italian soffritto and the base of many Italian dishes.

Condimento comes from the word condire, which means to mix or to dress, as in to dress the pasta with whatever you choose. This can be any topping for a pasta that is not “sauce.” Sauce means one thing and only one thing: tomato sauce. Condiamo la pasta means “Let’s dress the pasta.” In other words, it’s time to toss it with the condimento and eat!

Scola spaghetti is the tool we use to pick spaghetti strands out of the pot. You call it a spaghetti strainer.

Sformato means “turned out.” A timballo that has been flipped over and out onto a platter is a sformato.

Al dente means “to the teeth.” We use this phrase to refer to pasta that is cooked until it is just before tender, so you can feel it on your teeth. This is the way we prefer spaghetti and linguine.

Pugnetto means a small fistful. It is how we measure many things, especially salt.

Un ciuffo is a word we use in the kitchen for leafy herbs, such as basil, oregano, mint, marjoram, parsley, and sage. It means a small bunch, like the way you would carry the herbs or flowers back from the garden. We also use this to describe the part of your hair that you let fall over your face. You can also use the word ciuffetto, which simply means a small ciuffo.

Ragù is any mixture of meat or ground meat cooked in a frying pan with olive oil and other ingredients, like soffritto, for a long time. We often add tomato sauce to ragù, but not always.

Una noce di burro, “a walnut of butter,” is a very loose measurement that refers to the size of an unshelled walnut. The equivalent is about 2 tablespoons.

Butta giù la pasta! means “Put on the pasta!” These are the words we yell from the dining room to the kitchen. It means that the table is set, everyone is ready, so start cooking the pasta. All the activity in the kitchen and of those who are eating is planned around the pasta. There must be no time between when the steaming bowl of pasta is set down on the table and when the first person begins to serve from it.

Pirofila is what we call a baking dish that you can put in the oven and that is also nice enough to put on the table. We use it for things like lasagne that must be served straight from the pan.

Legare la salsa means to “tighten the sauce.” The meaning of “tight” is a little different when you use it in the kitchen. It means to bring the sauce together so it is creamy rather than runny. Usually this means adding some flour and cooking it longer. If you cook it too long and it needs “loosening,” we say restringere la salsa.

Ravioli is one of the few pastas we make by hand. Making ravioli takes all morning and many hands.

Quick and Easy Pastas

(Pasta Sbrigativa!)

Quick Spicy Pennette with Anchovies and Buffalo Mozzarella (Pennette Sbrigativa con Acciughe e Mozzarella di Búfala)

Farfalle with Sweet Green Peas and Prosciutto Cotto (Farfalle Verdi)

Gnocchetti with Sweet Peppers and Cherry Tomatoes (Gnocchetti con Peperoni e Pomodori)

Simple Midnight Spaghetti with Garlic, Oil, and Hot Pepper (Spaghetti di Mezzanotte con Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino)

Fiery Spaghetti with Anchovies, Olives, and Capers in a Quick Tomato Sauce (Un Saporito Piatto di Fuoco)

Gobbetti with Fresh Ricotta, Gruyère, and Nutmeg (Gobbetti con Ricotta Fresca, Groviera e Noce)

Spaghetti with Raw Tomato, Garlic, and Basil (Pesto di Trapani)

Spaghetti with Tomatoes and Pancetta from Amatrice (Spaghetti all’Amatriciana)

Bucatini with Pancetta, Smoked Provola Cheese, and Peperoncino (Bucatini Affumicati)

Paolo’s Summer Fettuccine with Crème Fraîche and Orange Zest (Fettuccine Estive di Paolo con Panna e Scorza d’Arancia)

Giovanna’s Tagliatelle with Tuna and Curry (Te Tagliatelle di Giovanna con Tonno e Curry)

Alda’s Pastasciutta with Green Beans and Pecorino (Pastasciutta e Fagiolini di Alda)

Sedanini with Ricotta, Saffron, and Rosemary (Sedanini con Ricotta e Zafferano)

Tagliatelline with Zucchini Flowers and Fresh Herbs (Tagliatelline con Tiori di Zueca)

Classic Spaghetti with Tuna Roe (Classici Spaghetti alla Bottarga)

Agrigento-Style Garlic and Oil Spaghetti with Saffron (Spaghetti Aglio e Olio di Agrigento)

Mezze Maniche with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Green Olives (Mezze Maniche con Pomodori Secchi)

Tagliolini with Green Apple Pesto and Speck (Tagliolini con Mela Verdi e Speck)

Cavatelli with Arugula and Pecorino (Cavatelli con Rucóla e Pecorino)

Spaghetti Carbonara (Spaghetti alla Carbonara)

Pink Spaghetti with Anchovies and Breadcrumbs (Spaghetti con Acciughe e Mollica Rossa)

Linguine with Scallions, Raisins, and Turmeric (Linguine con lo Scalogno e Curcuma)

Tagliatelle with Fresh Tomato and Garlic (Tagliatelle con Sals


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