Co-hosts Joey Nigro and Jim Battaglia showcase the charm of Italian American traditions and the music of Italian American and Italian songbooks. You’ll hear selections from Dean Martin and Tony Bennett; rock-era artists like Frankie Avalon and Neil Sedaka, Italian classical melodies by Luciano Pavarotti and Andrea Bocelli and contemporary Italian singers like Gigi D’Alessio, Antonio Venditti and Laura Pausini.
Joey Nigro-Nilsen has entertained audiences as a singer most of her life in musicals, clubs and concerts. Her recordings and original songs have been featured on numerous radio and CD compilations.
Nigro graduated from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Joey worked in New York City before returning to Central New York. She was raised on Syracuse’s old North Side Italian American community where she interviewed and wrote about immigrant forbears and second-generation Italian Americans in her family. She is a charter trustee of the Landmark Theatre and has worked in workforce development for more than 30 years.
Jim Battaglia was born in the Southern province of Calabria and raised in an Italian American enclave on Syracuse’s Near Westside, where his parents established their home when he was two-years-old. He is fluent in the Italian Calebrese dialect and has toured Italy many times.
Jim graduated from CCBI with a degree in business and was the manager of Nojaim’s Market on the Near Westside for more than 40 years. He is a board member and past-president of the Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame.
Ciao! airs Sundays at noon on WCNY-FM.
Tiramisu by Jim Battaglia
1 16-oz. container Marscopone cheese
3 8-oz. containers heavy cream
1 package Lady Fingers
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup cold espresso coffee
1/2 cup grated semi-sweet chocolate
cocoa or hot chocolate (powder form) to sprinkle
- In a bowl whip the heavy cream until it peaks
- In a second bowl blend Marscopone cheese, 1/4 cup of sugar, and 2 to 4 tablespoons of Amaretto
- Pour a little Amaretto in the bottom of an 8 1/2 x 11 square glass cake dish
- Line the bottom of the cake dish with lady fingers
- Using a tablespoon, pour espresso coffee onto the lady fingers twice
- Blend the heavy cream with the Marscopone cheese mixture into one bowl
- Cover the lady fingers with half of the cream mixture. Sprinkle with grated cheese and cocoa or hot chocolate.
- Layer again with the rest of the lady fingers and repeat another layer
Optional – Amaretto may be poured onto the lady fingers in addition to the coffee
A message from Joey
Limoncello is one of the most popular after-dinner drinks in Italy. There have been claims by some that limoncello was invented around the turn of the last century but others believe it has very ancient origins. If you visit Sorrento, Capri and the Amalfi Coast you’ll find bottles and bottles of this yellow digestivo in all the shops.
I know, on our last visit, my mother dragged me into every one of them looking for exotically shaped bottles to bring home. I first heard about limoncello years ago from my sister, Chele Stirpe, when she came back from visiting her husband’s relatives in Italy. Since then, we learned to make it from a wonderful man who we all call Uncle Gabe. He explained that you can also substitute oranges to make Arancello (which is now my sister’s favorite).
This recipe was given to us by Gabe Convertino who was born and raised in the Southern Italian province of Bari. It’s easy to make but step one does require a lot of patience. We’ve made limoncello using his recipe but in writing this, I reviewed numerous recipes online and Italian recipes “ricette” using the online translation software for those of you who want to experiment yourself and come up
with the perfect taste to suit your palate.
1 liter Everclear 90 proof grain alcohol
12-14 ripe deep yellow lemons
• Wash the lemons in hot water and gently scrub them with a vegetable brush to remove wax and pesticides.
• Carefully peel off small slices of the skin with a small sharp knife (or you can try using a sharp vegetable peeler) making sure that you don’t cut into the bitter, white pith and that you only peel
off the colorful skin.
• Place the peels into a large glass jar with the alcohol and cover.
• Let the mixture sit undisturbed and unrefrigerated for three to four weeks in a cool dark place. You will begin to see the lemon rinds turn white as the alcohol absorbs the color of the limone.
NOTE: Some Italian recipes suggest a 40 day period.
1 ¾ liter water (about 7 12 cups – we use the empty Everclear bottle to measure)
1 ½ to 2 lbs. granulated white sugar
• Strain the infused mixture into a bowl through a large fine sieve and discard the peels.
• Mix the sugar and water together in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer until sugar
• Turn off the heat and let the syrup cool to room temperature.
• Add to the flavored alcohol and store in airtight bottles in either the freezer or refrigerator.
NOTE: Some Italian recipes suggest keeping the skins in this alcohol/water/sugar mixture and letting it “rest” in a sealed container for another 40 days before storing in the freezer for serving.
OTHER IDEAS: I experimented with strawberries but at the suggestion of my co-host Jim Battaglia, stored the steeping alcohol and strawberries in the refrigerator. I decided to steep the strawberries in the grain alcohol for 6 weeks to really bring out the delicate flavor of the strawberries. It is sweeter than the lemon and orange, and, I think, very special if you want to impress your dinner guests. Sorry,
I didn’t measure the amount of strawberries. I just filled the jar of alcohol with as many strawberries as I could.
You can drizzle any one of these liqueurs over ice cream or Jim’s idea of whipping up the liqueur with
heavy cream in a blender!