"One of the delights of life is eating with friends, second to that is talking about eating. And, for an unsurpassed double whammy, there is talking about eating while you are eating with friends." ~Laurie Colwin 'Home Cooking'
Oh and be sure to give your congrats to Kristian, he is a newlywed! Last weekend, he married the love of his life, Julia and they are having the time of their lives celebrating in style on their honeymoon. Congratulations Kristian! I am so happy for the two of you!
Also, thank you so, so, so much for your recipe of the Mozzarepas! Every time I go to New York City I absolutely have to get one of these things at their weekend flea markets. They are my favorite! Serious Yum! Now I can make them myself here at home- I am super excited! Yay!
What is your favorite thing to cook?
Medleys of any sort...it could be some concoction where I mix pork, sweet potato and apple. Or it can be an omelet filled with refrigerator leftovers. This also includes pasta sauces consisting of various ingredients (I don't make traditional red sauce) and sushi as well.
How about your least favorite thing to cook?
Fish dishes. And I love fish. But it has to be cooked just right and I get nervous about over/under cooking it.
What is your favorite local restaurant and what is one you are dying to try out?
Favorite - I absolutely love Pacific East. And since it's an hour drive from me, it's always a special treat.
A second restaurant a little closer to home would be India Garden in Lakewood.
To Try: I'd really like to try L'Albatros
Music and food go together so beautifully. You are hosting a dinner party, what would be on your playlist?
Hmm...I'd want nice melodies that didn't get too loud so that we could still talk. I think I'd go with something like Zero 7, Air, Joan as Police Woman, and Cat Power.
What would you choose to be your last meal on earth?
A fine assortment of sushi, baked scallops topped with a steamed egg custard I used to get in Columbus, raw oysters, and maybe some coconut shrimp.
For dessert, I'd be happy with a snoogle and a corner piece of cake from Kiedrowski's bakery (Amherst). Maybe even a well-frosted sugar cookie.
What are you currently reading?
Lately, I've just been reading food blogs and astrological websites. I've been getting pretty good at reading charts and figuring present aspects. Maybe I'll pick up a side job.
What is your favorite Kitchen Gadget?
Although I don't use it too often, I love the double boiler for making custards and ice cream. It has saved me a lot of unnecessary stress.
Do you have a signature go-to dish?
I make green bean salads a lot in the summertime. I'll pickle thinly sliced cucumbers before adding them for extra flavor.
I also make sushi or mozzarepas (corn pancake sandwiches filled with melted cheese) for pot lucks or parties.
What is your favorite thing about the Cleveland area?
Its history of immigration. It affects our restaurants, grocery stores and supplies tons of great ethnic festivals. It helped make me who I am.
Do you have a favorite meal from your childhood and do you cook it today?
There's a scalloped potato and ham casserole that I absolutely loved. I haven't thought about it in a long time, but it really sounds good now and it's easy to make.
Top 3 Movies of all time?
From left to right: Getting ready for the meatball eating contest at the Dean Martin Festival, Pawpaw Contest judge photo with the giant pawpaw, and the Dublin Irish Festival
What was your happiest moment in life?
There are actually a few moments that stand out:
1.) making a wish at a Japanese temple to find my soulmate
2.) learning that, before he died, a college professor got to read my letter and loved it
3.) driving down Route 2 during a fall overcast day and realizing that things were going to be OK
4.) Getting my first reply from the tons of letters I sent to Italy to find family - it changed my life forever.
5.) being with my girlfriend and family at my 100th festival last year and really feeling like I accomplished something
6.) learning that my wish in 1.) came true
I guess I'm just a happy guy!
Where do you do your grocery shopping?
I'm all over the place. Overall, I go to Giant Eagle, but I'll try to go to Marc's for cheaper produce and certain groceries and maybe Heinen's for fish and some things. If I can make it to some local farm market, then that's even better.
What is your favorite guilty pleasure when it comes to food?
I'm such a sucker for potato chips. I can't even keep them in the house.
Can you tell me about what you are most proud of?
Reconnecting my family's Italian heritage, the entire Ohio Festivals Project and the children's book I wrote and illustrated.
Do you have Culinary Resolutions that you would like to accomplish this year?
I think I would like to make grape ice cream (not sorbet). I had some in Geneva once at their Grape Festival and it was like a grape creamsicle. I loved it.
One word that best describes you is:
And now can you please share one of your favorite recipes?
Mozzarepas (or Arepas with Mozzerella cheese)
1 cup milk
5 tablespoons butter
1 cup freshly boiled corn on the cob (2 cobs)
1 1/4 finely ground yellow corn meal
1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Mozzarella or Provolone (sliced)
After boiling 2 cobs, use knife to cut corn off and then grind in blender. You should have a nice pulp. Mix the yellow cornmeal (pass through coffee grinder to make finer if necessary), flour, sugar, salt and shredded mozzarella and mix well. Add the corn pulp to the mixture and stir to combine well.
Bring milk to a boil as you add the butter (be careful not to burn milk).
Make a well of the mixture in the bowl and gradually add the hot milk mixture while mixing.
Get to a good pancake batter consistency. If you end up not needing to add the rest of the milk, so be it. If it's too thick, then add more milk.
Heat a lightly buttered griddle or pan and spoon batter to make small pancakes. Flip when golden brown.
you can add the cheese once it flips and then add the second pancake when done. Or you can just cook them all, make sandwiches with the cheese and nuke them in the microwave to melt the cheese.