I had the "privilege" of growing up in an Italian family on the southwest side of Chicago in the early '50s. My grandmother had a large impact on my life…teaching me the importance of living proudly, loving with all of my heart, and the total joy of cooking. When I was born, my father being the youngest of his generation and I being the youngest of mine, my grandmother decided to share some of her family recipes with me. Unable to read or write (either English or Italian), my cooking lessons came by way of repetition. I never realized how important this would be until I opened a restaurant, specializing in her food, 23 years ago. My son, who is named after my grandfather, my father and me took over the family business in 2011 and I had to teach him all of my grandmothers recipes the same way that I learned them.
Being free from the daily responsibilities of the restaurant gave me the time I needed to get some of my grandmother's recipes out of my kitchen and into yours. I started this project with her Caesar dressing mix, partly because it is wonderful and my favorite and partly because of the way I chose to market it. You purchase it frozen, take it home, thaw it properly, add your own olive oil and you will end up with the "exact" same dressing that we serve in the restaurant.
So, if you feel a "presence" in your kitchen, or if you feel a little pinch on your cheek please know that it is my grandmother and father looking down upon you and letting you know that you are making it the way that they would want to you!