I’m chef and owner of a little café in the heart of Florida. As an Italian American with a Southerner’s bold charm, I teach fun, interactive cooking classes & cater small intimate events for every occasion at my venue. My place has the feel of a European café with the same old world touches and warm ambiance. This means, I get the best of both worlds, living in the little green tree town called Gainesville, full of its college kids, hippies, and southerners, and still feeling like I’ve stepped into the streets of Italy when I’m at the café. In my classes I start out by telling my students there is no big secret to cooking, besides cooking with love. It is just a matter of taking the time to cook something well and to cook it with the idea of watching someone’s happy face as they eat it. Of course, the other big secret I tell them, is to ply guests with a constant stream of wine which helps in case you accidentally happen to burn anything. ‘A little more wine’ never hurts in cooking, whether for the food or for yourself, Ha. As for my teaching style, picture a mixture of the Swedish Chef from the Muppets, Julia Childs with an Italian flair instead of French, and an Italian Grandmother. Specifically my Grandmother, Nonna Maria, who was the best chef and teacher of how to love food. She was a woman who taught me to see beauty and love in food & cooking from her simple kitchen table in Rome when I was a child. From her, I learned how to eat with my eyes and enjoy food, with not just my taste buds, but to experience food with touch and smell and memory too. All the senses, coming together to play a part in learning to enjoy life at its simplest pleasures. And so, I opened the Fat Tuscan and began teaching with hopes to pass on some of her wisdom. You don’t have to go halfway around the world to learn these things, because I am here to teach and inspire each one of you if you will let me. Below is one of my first recipes I created on my own, right before I opened the Café. It was probably the first true original recipe I made, and I would like to share it with you. It is for Almond Biscotti, which is basically an Italian cookie meant to be dipped in hot espresso or cappuccino in the morning for breakfast. I hope you enjoy it and hope to see you soon in a cooking class or two.
2 + 1/2 cup Sugar
4 eggs plus 2 egg yolks at room temp. (save whites for later)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
2 cups sliced almonds, toasted and roughly chopped.