Give a Little Whistle

… and always let your Conscience be your guide!

I have to say I LOVE Jiminy Cricket and there are very few people who don’t know the immortal ‘When You Wish Upon a Star’ but it is often forgotten what film they came from. Based on the novel Adventure of Pinocchio by Italian Author Carlo Collodi, Pinocchio follows the adventures of a wooden boy, brought to life by The Blue Fairy, who wants more than anything to be a real boy.

For this dinner I went back to the movie’s Italian roots. I went with primarily coastal Italian seafood as a nod to the time that Pinocchio and his creator, a wood carver, Gepetto spend in the belly of a whale.

The Design:


My inspiration for the overall design was Stromboli’s puppet show. I hand made some nylon marionettes- tutorial to follow and placed them in a puppet theater. This was a cardboard theater from Shindigz which I purchased for the occasion. It is reversible with a circus scene on the other side (this could be used for a Dumbo night as well.) Amazon has some amazing puppet theaters  which are definitely the direction I would have gone in if I had children and knew it would be used beyond one night. Melissa and Doug has a great one as well.

I chose the starry backdrop as homage to the iconic ‘When You Wish Upon a Star’ and added a few wooden elements (found in the Wood section of Joann’s Fabrics) as a tie in to Gepetto’s work shop where Pinocchio was created.



The Menu:

Pinocchio’s Nose Breadsticks

Monstro’s Mussels and Fried Calamari


Cleo’s Crackers

The Coachman’s Cannolis

With the holidays coming up things have been a little crazy at work so I took some shortcuts with this menu. I used a refrigerated can for the breadsticks and the Stromboli crust- I had planned on making a cannoli cupcake but ended up just picking some up from the bakery.

The Mussels:

For the mussels I used a recipe that my father has created and perfected over many years.


Chop shallots (2) and onions (1) into 3/4 inch size pieces


Dice pancetta into once inch by 1/4 inch pieces

Cut plum tomatoes (about 6) into about six pieces

Chop garlic (5 cloves) into 1/4 inch slices

Heat up a little olive oil in pan – add pancetta until it gets crisp (a little softer than bacon)  once pancetta is set add onions and shallots – in a couple minutes add garlic – saute until translucent.

Add a cup of white wine – reduce down until alcohol has cooked off about 2-3 minutes.

If you have a lemon squeeze juice of one half in now along with a stick of butter

Add salt (kosher or sea salt,) pepper, and parsley (if you have some on hand) to taste.

Add tomatoes cook for a minute

Add about a pint up to a quart of chicken broth

Bring heat down to and let simmer for at least an hour

When ready to serve mussels – bring heat up to a boil – add mussels (they only need to be pre-rinsed) make sure they get down into broth. They should begin to open after a few minutes – all together they will take from 5-7 minutes to open and be ready to serve. Do not attempt to eat unopened ones.




The Calamari:

I was very apprehensive about the calamari. Every time I told someone I was making it they warned me how difficult it was. I actually thought it was pretty easy. I bought whole squid from the grocery store, cut them into rings, dipped them in egg and then dredged them in a flour mixture. I mixed salt, pepper and a tiny bit of paprika into about 1 1/2 cups of flour and coated the calamari. I put them in preheated oil and fried for about 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.

The Stromboli:

I took some shortcuts with the Stromboli as well. I took a roll out refrigerated pizza crust lightly spread sauce on it and filled it with all my favorite Italian cured meats and shredded mozzarella cheese. I then rolled the dough and meat in a spiral and baked for 30 minutes.

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