Now he’s got a new cookbook, “A Place at the Table,” a collection of family recipes, found recipes and gifted recipes.
“Aubrey and I always have a personal connection with our audiences — people we’d hang out with and share our experiences,” said Mr. Donnelly, referring to his wife and singing partner, Aubrey Atwater. “It was natural progression to have this new project.”
Mr. Donnelly said he has fond memories of spending time as a child around the kitchens of his Italian mother and her four sisters. “I grew up in the kitchen with them,” he said. “It was kind of a regular thing to eat great food.”
Some of the recipes are from that period, while others are from another Italian “grandmother” who hardly wrote anything down, and from friends he’s met along the way.
The cookbook covers everything from starters (Sean’s Shrooms) to salads (Pickled Root Salad), soups and chowders (Eleanor’s Quahog Chowder), side dishes (Zucchini Pancakes), entrees (Skillet-Braised Pork Chops, Stringbean Soup), desserts (Thumbprint Cookies) and more. There’s also information on home canning and how to preserve jams, pickles and more.
Sprinkled among the recipes are missives that Mr. Donnelly has written over the years — “personal moments in time with children and loved ones, thoughts and queries, wonders and awarenesses — on topics such as clutter and kindred, pain and joy and friendship and forgiveness,” he said.
His hope is that the recipes will come in handy during the holiday, dinner dates and pot lucks, “and perhaps the missives might initiate conversations, precipitate exchanges.”
Mr. Donnelly shared one of the recipes from his book here. Italian Wedding Soup, which originally came from his former mother-in-law — called “grandma” by all — was slightly altered by Ms. Atwater over the years.
“This was an old family recipe. But Aubrey perfected it,” said Mr. Donnelly.
Italian Wedding Soup
Makes 12-15 large servings
• 1/2 pound lean ground beef
• 2 small eggs
• 1/8 cup grated romano cheese
• 1 large clove of garlic, chopped or grated
• Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
• 1 large boneless chicken breast, diced
• 1 large onion, chopped
• 2-3 stalks of celery with leaves, chopped
• 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
• Salt, pepper, hot pepper flakes, thyme, sage, parsley flakes to taste
• 8-10 cups chicken broth
• 1 head of escarole, rinsed and chopped
• 7-8 large carrots, sliced
• 16-ounce box of soup pasta, cooked
With clean hands, mix the ground beef and eggs. Add grated romano cheese and chopped garlic. Mix in enough breadcrumbs to make the mixture consistent for meatballs. Form tiny meatballs and set aside.
Sauté onion and celery with olive oil in a large soup pot until tender, adding in the chicken about halfway through. Add spices to taste. Add chicken broth and bring to a gentle boil. Add escarole and carrots to the simmering broth; cook for about five minutes. Add the meatballs and cook for another five minutes. Turn off heat and let the pot of soup sit for a while, although it is now ready to eat. Keep the pasta separate until serving time. You can freeze soup in whatever container sizes you like and freeze the pasta separately.
Your can order a copy of “A Place at the Table” for $15 (or two for $25) by sending an e-mail to Mr. Donnelly at [email protected] You can also order a pdf version of the book for $10 from the website, www.atwater-donnelly.com.