Nov. 9, 2022

Learn to Garden and Cook Italian Food with Ciao Italia Host Mary Ann Esposito

Learn to Garden and Cook Italian Food with Ciao Italia Host Mary Ann Esposito

On this episode, we have chef, author, and TV personality Mary Ann Esposito. She's the creator and host of the nationally televised PBS series Ciao Italia with Mary Ann Esposito. The author of fourteen cookbooks, most recently, Ciao Italia: Plant, Harvest, Cook!, Mary Ann has worked beside world-renowned chefs Julia Child, Jacques Pepin, Martin Yan, and countless others. When not filming, Mary Ann can be found giving hands-on cooking classes.

Her new book takes the reader on a seasonal home garden vegetable journey focusing on simple growing tips for anyone interested in growing their own vegetables and how to cook them Italian-style.


MARY ANN ESPOSITO
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Mary Ann's Website
Buy the bookCiao Italia: Plant, Harvest, Cook!

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Transcript

Welcome to Chefs Without Restaurants. I'm your host Chris spear. On the show. I talk to culinary entrepreneurs and people working in the food and beverage industry outside of a traditional restaurant setting. This week I have Chef author and TV personality Mary Ann Esposito. She is the creator and host of the nationally televised PBS series Ciao Italia with Mari Ann Esposito, the author of 14 books most recently Ciao Italia plant harvest Cook, Marianne has worked beside world renowned chefs like Julia Child, Jacques Pepin, Martin Yan, and countless others. When not filming, she can be found giving hands on cooking classes. Her new book takes the reader on a seasonal home garden vegetable journey, focusing on simple growing tips for anyone interested in growing their own vegetables and how to cook them Italian style. Long before there was the Food Network Marianne was cooking on her own show. At this point, she's got more than 30 years doing this making her the longest current host of a cooking TV show. I was so honored that she came on the show to talk about her new cookbook and cooking Italian food and gardening. Her new book will be out next Tuesday, November 15. And yes, it's November, but it's never too early to start thinking about your garden. On the show. We talked about how she plans hers in January. So I think now would be a great time to pick up that book and start thinking about what you want to grow next year. On the show, I talked to her about things like container gardening and gardening in small spaces. And if you're not interested in gardening, this is also an amazing cookbook that focuses on fresh seasonal vegetables. She even talks through some of her favorite recipes. So you'll hear about things like how she makes her preserved sun dried tomatoes, her zucchini roll ups, and even a quick jump Elia ask weeknight dinner. So whether you're a longtime fan of Mary Ann's or you're just discovering her now I think you're gonna love the show, especially if you're really into growing and cooking local seasonal produce and Italian food. I'd also like to take a quick second to say go check out the book conversations behind the kitchen door by Emanuel Laroche. You might know Emanuel as the host of the flavors unknown podcast. He's been a guest on this show. And I'm truly honored that I got to be a part of this book. And of course, the Chefs Without Restaurants, podcast and community wouldn't be possible without the support of my amazing sponsors. So please take a listen to this week's sponsor messages. The show will be coming up right after those words. Over the past 30 years, the world of the personal chef has grown in importance to fulfill those dining needs. While the pandemic certainly upended the restaurant experience, it allowed personal chefs to close that dining gap. Central to all of that is the United States personal chef Association, representing nearly 1000 chefs around the US and Canada. USPCA provides a strategic backbone to those chefs that includes liability insurance, training, communications, certification and more. It's a reassurance to consumers that the chef coming into their home is prepared to offer them an experience with their meal. USPCA provides training to become a personal chef through our preparatory membership. Looking to showcase your products or services to our chefs and their clients. partnership opportunities are available. Email Angela today at aprather@uspca.com for membership and partner info. Are you still keeping your recipes and Docs doing your costing and spreadsheets? Well you should try meez the recipe tool designed for chefs by chefs. Founded by professional chef Josh Sharkey. Mes transforms the recipe content into a powerful digital format that lets you organize scale train and cost like never before. See why MES is loved by over 12,000 culinary professionals sign up for a free account today at get mes.com forward slash CW er that's gtmez.com forward slash C w r. And on a personal note, I've been using mes almost daily. I wish I had this tool years ago. The ability to quickly scale a recipe up or down or to search across all recipes for a single ingredient like pumpkin. And if you really want to get an in depth breakdown, I had Muse founder Josh Sharkey on the podcast a few months ago. That was episode 155, released in July of 2020. So go check it out to find out what Mises all about. This episode is presented by chemists in the kitchen by lab X, a YouTube video series spotlighting the power of chemistry and how science and food can bring people together. In each episode, real scientists walk you through things like making your own pickles, the chemistry behind the VJ, the formula for perfect homemade pretzels, and much much more. It's a love letter to science, cooking and individuality with some great tips on how you can apply real scientific principles to everyday cooking. Plus, it's just a lot of fun. Season two is airing right now. And you can catch up with every episode for free on YouTube by searching chemists in the kitchen or going to youtube.com forward slash L a b XNAS. Hey, Mary Ann, welcome to the show. Thanks so much for coming on today.

Mary Ann Esposito:

Well, thank you and ciao. In many ways, it's Ciao, ciao, hi, and ciao food, right?

Chris Spear:

Absolutely. This is such an honor, because I've watched you for so many years. You know, I have been in the food world for 30 years now. And you've been on Food TV for 30 years, you know, back when I started cooking, and you know, I was a teenager I guess 1992 is when I started cooking while I was still in high school, then we didn't really have Food Network and this whole food TV thing that has exploded was just in its infancy back then.

Mary Ann Esposito:

Yes, yes. Yes. Before Food TV or the Food Network and merge. Actually, Ciao Italia was out there, as you know, the one of the first Italian cooking shows, and it has maintained that now, through these 30 years, it's been an uninterrupted series. That is, you know, the longest running cooking show in the States.

Chris Spear:

Did you ever think that was gonna happen?

Mary Ann Esposito:

No. When I started out, I actually was thinking about just doing like a little cable show, you know, for my local TV station. And then once I did that, the they sent that out to see how, what kind of reaction we would get from the public. And we got really great reaction. And they said, Well, you know, why don't you consider doing a series worse? So then I did and then they they sent it to PBS. And then that was the beginning of Ciao Italia at a national level.

Chris Spear:

Wow. 30 years. So you are the longest current running cooking show.

Mary Ann Esposito:

That's right. Yep, that's right.

Chris Spear:

We have food TV royalty here. And I hear real royalty. Were you knighted? or some such thing by the President of Italy?

Mary Ann Esposito:

Yes. So that was quite an honor. Several years ago, I received the star of Italy. Award for my work with Italian foods always was. It was quite an honor.

Chris Spear:

So you have your 14 cookbook coming out? Yes, yes. 30 years of TV. We're gonna go into the cookbook. But I want to kind of start back with the Food TV. How did that all come about? I know your parents are mother. We're in food and kind of grew up in a family that loves eating and cooking. But how did this whole professional cooking thing come about? Well,

Mary Ann Esposito:

it came about when I made my first trip to Italy, obviously I was just enamored by what was there in terms of not only the food, but the culture, you know, our everything that was the people were wonderful, the food was wonderful. Everything was wonderful. And everything that my grandparents had ever told me about Italy was you know, the light bulb went on. And so I thought, gee, you know, I really I'm really appreciating this. I think maybe I'd like to enroll in a cooking school. So I went to Sorento, and I enrolled in a cooking class and it was I remember the the chef Lorenzo flew, he was a half Italian half Austrian, and I thought, well, what does he know about Italian food? You know, he's half Austrian. He's half Italian. But um, that was my introduction into region. No Italian food because the chef, the first class, we were instructed to make lasagna. And of course, my my grandmother's and my mother. They are professional cooks. And so I knew how to make lasagna. I knew what lasagna sheets would look like. And the chefs were far from what they were doing. But I wasn't going to tell him that. And but that was my introduction. And I just kept going back and forth over the years. Since 1985, I believe, was the first year I went, and I just kept going to different regions of Italy, cooking in their schools. And I am not a I did not go to culinary school, I am a home cook. I've made that clear to people. And everything I know, I've learned from mistakes and from observation and from being in locales, and learning from other chefs. So that's how I got into, you know, doing the cooking show.

Chris Spear:

You know, obviously, there's many different regions growing up kind of in America. And I'm not from Italian heritage, it's kind of generalized is like Italian food and Italian cooking. And you think of kind of actually like red sauce and Italian American type things. Yeah, but there's so much variety in Italy, just the same way we wouldn't want the us generalize, you know, cooking in New England is so different from Creole in New Orleans versus Tex Mex, you know, but we kind of do that with other countries.

Mary Ann Esposito:

Yes, exactly. And so that became the premise of the show, actually, is to to teach people that there's more than red sauce that defines what Italian cooking is, in fact, on my first show, I said, there is no such thing as Italian food, there is only regional food. And that's the common denominator that I've stuck by these 30 years taking people all over Italy, you know, from the Piedmont to Sicily, to show them what this diversity is really like. And that has been a kind of a lifelong, God journey, because there's so much to know about Italian regional food, you would never really cover it in a lifetime, I could do another 30 years.

Chris Spear:

Do you have a personal favorite region or style of cooking?

Mary Ann Esposito:

Well, I'm very partial to the south, of course, because that's my heritage. I'm half a Sicilian, and half Neapolitan. So I've got the two, you know, the two grandmothers ensconced in those two regions. And a lot of the cooking that was done at home was based on what they knew from their regions. But all of the regions are wonderful. I mean, I'm going to be taking a group in a few weeks to Umbria, which is in the central part of Italy, and the food there is very different from what you're going to find in the South. I mean, we're going to be working with pork and lentils, and black truffles, things like that, that are, are particular to that region. And it's this kind of information that I've been trying to impart to our viewers that you know, when you go to Ely, keep your eyes open, because everything that you think is Italian food is not. That sounds

Chris Spear:

like an amazing trip. I've never even been to Italy, it's on my list of unique relatives living there for a while, and we thought we were gonna get to visit and we didn't, I guess we kind of missed that boat. So we're gonna have to go sometime soon. So how is the show evolved over 30 years? You know, you didn't go into it thinking you're going to be on that long. What have you seen change, and it could be within your show, but also, like, the viewers in the public. I mean, I think knowledge of food has also changed so much with the general public.

Mary Ann Esposito:

Yeah, knowledge of food has changed in the fact that people started traveling, you know, like in the in the 90s. People knew what certain cooking shows were like, there was Julia Child and Japan and, and Graham curve out there. And then I came along and started doing Italian cooking, but that just kind of like opened the floodgates, because now even if you couldn't go to these countries, you could be exposed to what kind of foods they ate through with through the media. So I see a big change in people's understanding of foods beyond their comfort zone. I've changed a lot over the 30 years. I mean, when I started in 1989, doing my very first series, my depth of knowledge about Italian regional foods was not what it is today. So in 30 years, I have amassed a lot of information, but that's only because of research and study along the way. And I think people have a real appreciation for ethnic foods in general. But as you know, Italian food is always at the top of the list, right? You go to any city, they've got more Italian restaurants and they do French restaurants. They've got more that happened

Chris Spear:

in sight because you know, we it's almost become Americanized, like we don't even think of it as ethnic anymore, right that happen? Well,

Mary Ann Esposito:

I think you know, part of it is that Italian food is so approachable there isn't that aura of what's complicated to do, you know it's in you need, you need special ingredients, and you have to know all these techniques. Italian cooking Italian foods is very simple because the premise of an Italian Cook is this, use quality ingredients in season and keep the treatment simple. That's it. So when someone says me, well, what's your favorite, a pasta dish? And I say, Oh, easy. Cut your paper, cut your paper, cheese and pepper. And they say, What, where's the rest of the ingredients, you don't need the rest of the ingredients. That's it. These three ingredients are perfect for making a cocktail paper classic, a classic Roman dish. So Italian food is based on that premise. And I think people understand that they don't have to, they don't have to fuss, they can make something that's very simple. A grill piece of fish with a great drizzle of a good extra virgin olive oil, and a squirt of lemon. It's really all you need. You don't have to make a complicated sauce, right. So I think it's the comfort zone to that, oh, I can do that. And I think when people watch my program, that's what they come away with. I can find the ingredients, it's gonna taste good. And I can do it.

Chris Spear:

And quality is huge there because you don't have anything to hide behind. That's right thing, a dish that has four ingredients, you really need to nail it, you really need to know exactly one of those ingredients is obviously produce. And this is kind of a good segue into your new book because your new book focuses on growing, awesome produce to be used in Italian dish. That's right,

Mary Ann Esposito:

ciao, Italia, plant, harvest cook. And even if you don't plant or harvest, you can still cook from this book, because there's over 120 recipes in here. But also what I do is I've selected the most popular Italian vegetables, you know, cauliflower, broccoli, Rob artichokes, zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes. And I've told you the story of how Italians use these vegetables and how they transform these vegetables into some classic dishes and not so classic dishes. And then the other aspect of this book is that if you want to do your own garden, you can and I'm going to give you some simple planting tips. Now I say in the introduction to this book, that everything I know about planting and harvesting of vegetable garden has come from my husband, Gaetano, because since we've been married, we've always had a garden, even a little plot of land. And he is Italian too. And so our grandparents had gardens. And what I'm getting to is that it's in your DNA to do this. So over the years, we have evolved with the garden, of course, just like I've evolved with the show, and over the years, the garden has gotten bigger and bigger and bigger. Now it's 30 by 60, we not only feed ourselves, but I can't tell you the number of people that we give stuff to which is a great feeling. But then you know somebody who's listening to this might say, well, you know what, I live in the city, I don't have a backyard. But you could do container gardening. And if you're in Italy, you look up in the city, up on balconies. And what do you see it in apartment buildings you see pots of basil and tomatoes and you know, things that Italians love to cook with, they make it work, they'll plant it in a container. And if you even can't do that, you can always join a community garden, where you live. Or you could just go to your local farmers market, there are a lot of options with cooking from this book with vegetables that you don't have to plant and harvest. But because we can and we do, I felt that it was important to add that element of how do you plant a vegetable garden? What do you start with? And I always tell people, you start by thinking small, because most people have are like, Oh, I'm going to do a garden. And then they just have no idea what's involved in that. In this book, I tell you that when we plan our garden each year, it starts in January. I'm illegal yellow pad of paper when the snow was flying, and you're hardly thinking that you know, you're gonna get a vegetable or anything and we map out a plan. You make a plan. That's the first thing. Second thing. Where are you going to plant that garden? You have to think about things like is it going to get enough sunlight? Do you have a source of water? These are things I talk about in the book, and I've divided the book into two sections. The spring garden, which deals with spring vegetables was like lettuce, which you would never plant in hot weather. And then the summer guard, where you're planting hot weather crops, like at plant and tomatoes and peppers to give people a sense that you can't put everything in the garden at one time.

Chris Spear:

I think that's what everyone wants to do they want to go, you know, you see everyone at Lowe's on grab grabbing, like 80 plants, and they just drop everything in all at once.

Mary Ann Esposito:

Right? Yeah. So I think it's a good tool, you know, for people because at least in the planting information, it tells you, you know, what certain plants like like, for instance, eggplant and tomatoes, we've got to plant those really where they get a lot of sun most of the day. And then as those plants are growing, for instance, like for tomatoes, you want to cage them so that they're not all flopping on the ground. So these are just simple tips that I'm giving you. You don't have to have a PhD in horticulture to understand the planting part of this, but because I don't, as I said, I everything I know I've learned from my husband guy, and I've learned about the mistakes, what not to do and what to do.

Chris Spear:

Do you do any kind of canning or preserve preservation with Yes,

Mary Ann Esposito:

in the book I talked to you about. There's a story I call season in the cellar, where it's centered around what the house that I grew up in and what my grandmother's and mother did during the biggest part of the summer season, they will be canning, the tomatoes, the peaches, the peppers, the jardiniere I hated this job because my job was to rinse all the canning jars, make sure the lids are clean all that stuff. So I have said no to that. I used to do that but I don't do that anymore. What I did was I invested in a dehydrator number one and two freezers. So because of the work I do as a chef, of course, I realized that everybody has two freezers but I have utilized my freezer and my dehydrator to preserve a lot of the vegetables in our garden. So for instance, on plum tomatoes is an example. I grew over it called radar thoughts and Italian variety, you can find the seeds in a garden store online. I cut the tomatoes in half washed and washed, I cut the tomatoes in half. Then I have a dehydrator with different racks. I put the tomatoes on with the cut side down, making the racks and then I cover it then I put it on low heat, and I let those tomatoes just dehydrate get moist, most of the moisture out until they're bendable, you know almost there to the consistency of a dried apricot when they're at that stage. And you can find this recipe not only in the book, but also on our website ciao italia.com. When they're at that state when they're bendable and mostly dried, I put them in clean sterilized jars, glass jars, with extra virgin olive oil, salt, whole black peppercorns, and then I make sure that I top off the jar with olive oil. You don't want any tomato seeping up through the oil. This is an old old technique that was used in the days of ancient Rome. And then I kept them I put them in a water bath canner and then I just I just let them go for 4550 minutes. And then I have all year long and they're absolutely they're fabulous because it concentrates the sugar in the tomato. And in the wintertime they're great as a sauce for a pasta or as a bruschetta. You know you want to make a little bread slice with some tomatoes over the top and it just brings back a whole taste of summer in the middle of winter and that oil is delicious isn't Oh, and then you use the oil for cooking and you can drizzle that over your you know your Christina or whatever. And I do the same thing with eggplant. For cherry tomatoes. I just gather them from the garden. Put them in plastic bags, stem and everything. Throw them in the freezer, you want to make tomato soup. Great. You take out a bag of these frozen marbles now and you put them in a pot. I add just a smidge of water tape to film the bottom and I let those tomatoes cooked down. Then I take my immersion blender zip zip zip all done nice and pureed. Then I add whatever spices I want to add and you have the most delicious tasting because it's fresh tomatoes that you've captured the best soup and you can add things to it like I add my Parmesan cheese rinds to it or I'll cook some orzo or some rice add that to it or farro I'll put some cooked vegetables in with it. It's It's fabulous. So this is these are several ways that you can you know preserve summer's bounty

Chris Spear:

Do you feel you need to strain out seeds and skins from tomatoes when you do something like that? Because that's like a hot topic and some people are saying yeah, it doesn't matter and some say absolutely you know, I

Mary Ann Esposito:

do it both ways. I really don't think it matters but when I use the immersion blender oftentimes I will then put them in a sieve you know get the seeds in the in the skin out.

Chris Spear:

That's good to know. Yeah, I haven't lot of the grape tomatoes, and that's one of those things we do the same thing is we'll just throw them in and puree them up. And again, it's time some days, I'm just like, it tastes delicious. You know, if you're not getting like the skin bits in your mouth or big, obnoxious seeds, I just go with it. So what do you have for suggestions for container gardening, this is something I want to do more of, but I just find that I don't get the growth in my plants, like we have terrible soil in our backyards. It's like clay. And I've tried to do raised beds where I'm putting a ton of stuff in there and we mulch but it just like that's a mess on its own. With all the weeds and everything, I would love to do more containers. But when I put them in containers, I get these stunted little plants, you know, I know you have to water them more, do you have any tips without kind of knowing what I'm doing? Well, first

Mary Ann Esposito:

of all you want you want to start with really good soil in your containers. And secondly, don't use clay containers. Because clay containers you will be watering every day because they dry out very easily. You can get beautiful looking containers that are I hate to say plastic, but that's what they are, you know, they're recycled from something else. And to me that that is really important because you want to make sure these containers have really good drainage. And even if they do, when you put your plants in here and you want to use good soil, you want to make sure that you put some pebbles or stones down around the holes, you know around the drainage holes, because that's going to help the water seep out through the bottom. Yeah, try that just you just put some stones in there, you know, not don't block the holes, just put some stones in and then plant your your, what do you want to make? What do you want to do tomatoes, if

Chris Spear:

you don't like tomatoes, and peppers would be a great star, like putting some tomato plants and some jalapeno plants and stuff.

Mary Ann Esposito:

Right? So are you starting the plants from seed,

Chris Spear:

a little of both. So I love to start inside with seed for things. And some depending on what it is I'll buy a plant already started.

Mary Ann Esposito:

Okay, so for if you're starting from seed, of course you got to, you got to plant those seeds. And we do that under grow lights in the basement, where we're watching these seedlings come up when they're the right height, and they have enough true leaves on them. And I talked to you about what true leaves are in the book, then you can transfer them at the appropriate climate at time. So you don't want to do tomatoes. You know, in March, you want to make LSD unless you're living in a warm climate. And I tell you that in the book that this book was written for zone five, so in the northeast, because that's where I live. So I say you know, look at your your what zone you're in, and then adjust accordingly, the time that you're going to spend putting your seedlings in and when you're going to put them in because you're on the south in in March, you can put tomato plants in in Georgia, but you can't do that in New Hampshire. So if you're starting with seedlings, you get your seedlings to the point where now you have to harden them off, which means that these little seedlings you have take outside and let them get used to the weather. So you take them outside, you put them in the sun at night, you take them back in, you do this for about a week until you're ready to plant, then you can put them in your container, you could put them in your container and for tomatoes, you want to at some point when they're tall enough, I would say when they're about 14 inches tall, you want to cage them, so that they are going to grow up right through the cage and not flop over on the sides. Because that's not very good for supporting the tomatoes at all. You could also grow basil, you could do cucumbers, because you know you could cucumbers, you can do the climbing variety. So you could do that. On your in a container garden. There's so many things, herbs, all kinds of herbs can go in containers. What else? Peppers, peppers would be perfect for container garden.

Chris Spear:

And that's what I'm hoping is peppers and tomatoes. My herbs do really well in the ground, we found a nice spot for that. And it's just it's a lot. It's been a lot of work doing the gardening. So we're kind of trying to figure out what works. Yeah, that's

Mary Ann Esposito:

it's that's a whole lot easier on the weeds set sense too, because then you don't have to do all this weeding like we have to do. That's the big thing that I'm really trying to get away from. Yeah, so for that I tell you in the book, you know, you need to think about using black plastic and straw to keep the weeds down. If you have a large garden, I mean, ours is fairly large. So you know, we can't be just weeding by hand every day. So we use utilize black plastic and the N hay to help keep the weeds down between the rows.

Chris Spear:

So besides the tips on gardening and the buckets, obviously also a cookbook. Yeah. How have you seen the recipes kind of changed? I mean, I see things like Cauliflower Crust Pizza in your book. So you've obviously evolved with kind of the times and some of the trends Yes, yeah. Do you keep it fresh and interesting after all those books?

Mary Ann Esposito:

Well, I tried to give you Some tips that maybe you don't know about, you know, for Cali fire, like, for instance, people struggle with taking out the core of a cauliflower because it's a mess, right things with those little florets are going everywhere. So I tell you, if you just turn the cauliflower, the whole head upside down, and you just go around the core with a knife, everything will just fall off very easily. And you'll be able to take those little florets and do whatever you want with them. The other thing is, of course, rice, cauliflower, which became very popular, right? In the last six or seven years, everybody's using rice, cauliflower instead of rice. So you know, I keep ahead of these kinds of trends. And I think when that how can I use that to my advantage, one of the other one of the recipes that really comes to mind for this is my mother's upside down stuffed peppers. So she was very ahead of her time as well. So why cook? Why make stuffed peppers right side up who needs to do that? Do them upside down? Why would she do them upside down? Well, because this way they don't dry out. So you would just stuff your pepper you know with your meat next year, the way you would do it or if you're not using a meat mixture, something else that's and there's a binder there. This whole thing that when you have that pepper stock, you just put your hand on top, you turn it upside down into the baked dish and you give it a drizzle of olive oil, you cover it with some foil you bake until the the peppers are starting to get soft and you stick a knife in there and it goes in very easily. And then when you're ready to eat them, you turn the peppers right side up. You put the caps back on what you've also cooked in the oven with the peppers upside down. And you'd be surprised how moist This is. Another thing, another little magic thing I've done for my son Chris who hates vegetables. I have taken zucchini and I shred the zucchini and then I put it in bags, little plastic bags to get in the freezer. Then when I'm making meatloaf or hamburgers or any other kind of a balmy ball, I put the I put the shredded zucchini in there for moisture. He has no idea that it's in there but he loves them. So you know things like that. And then one of the other things I did so Kenya just recently was I made a jelly roll with zucchini. So I took a big sheet and line it with parchment paper and then I sliced around some zucchini thin slices. I usually do that on a mandolin but you could do it by hand. You know how to use a knife and cut those things very thinly. And I took these slices and I tossed them with some olive oil, some Sicilian herbs from oregano, salt, pepper, and I laid them in a lay Singulair covered the pan. Then I took some eggs, like you were making scrambled eggs, I season them, I poured this all over to cover the zucchini. So now I have the egg all over the skin, ovens and 350 Stick it in the oven for about 12 minutes just to those eggs are set I take it out. Meanwhile, I have some project already. And some cheese can be any kind of cheese shredded cheese a good melting cheese like a fontina I put the ham down, I put the cheese over it and then starting at the short end of the parchment paper. I use the paper to roll up this zucchini roll so it looks like a jelly roll now so put it back in the oven. You look scared there and I cook a friend now for another few minutes and you cut it crosswise and you know people think why and then you see these pretty rounds of zucchini within the within the egg mixture and just you know

Chris Spear:

I'm trying to visualize it in my head because I hear Jelly Roll and you know that's always one of those things like with cakes that I'm like it's kind of you know you're on the edge of your seats to see if you did it right that sounds really delicious. That

Mary Ann Esposito:

is very good. I you know what I'll send you a picture of it.

Chris Spear:

I think I you know and with zucchini it's one of those things in the summer that you always have so much of if you're not growing it you know someone at work or a neighbor who is who wants to come and drop off five pounds. That's

Mary Ann Esposito:

right your house. One of the other things I did which is kind of unique is I made a tomato marmalade. I said you know if you have a garden or you're going to the farmers market or you just love tomatoes and you have a lot of them, why don't you try making this tomato marmalade which is really great with all kinds of cheeses. So basically you know it's any kind of tomato that you want to use except I really don't like the plum for this because I think plum tomatoes are really belong as a sauce tomato but you could use cherry tomatoes for this. You could use a beefsteak tomato if you wanted to. I say chop up the tomatoes, and I've got them in a pot with a studded shallot I stood the shallots with whole cloves. I've got a stick of cinnamon in there I've got grated ginger, I have sugar, I've got balsamic vinegar, salt, I let this go I cook this until I can make a trench through the at the bottom of the pot. In other words, you know I can take my spoon go down the center of the pot. It divides like the you know the Red Sea And I can see the bottom of the pot. At that point, I know that the marmalade is thick enough that I just put this in jars and I freeze it. I freeze, I give it away as Christmas presents, people love it. And you you just put a little bit of it on, you know, like a goat cheese or any kind of cheese, a soft cheese, you know, even hard cheeses. And it's just delicious. It's it's a great way to use up tomatoes. So those are some different things that I've tried to do. I also have a section in there about herbs. And one of the things I decided to do, because I love scented geraniums and scented geranium leaves you can eat, you just know I didn't know that you can eat Senator at least. So I had a rose scented geranium plant. So I took the leaves, and I mixed them up, and I put them in a cake batter. Then I took whole leaves, I had a cake pan, I put a disc of parchment paper in the bottom, butter, the parchment paper, I took the whole leaves and put them face side down in the bottom of the pan poured the batter over that baked it. So that when it turned out, it is this beautiful design of you know the least this is simple. I mean, it's not like you had to be a pastry chef or anything. It just, it's just using things in a different way. And it's a very delicious cake. And there's a beautiful picture of it in the book as well. I think

Chris Spear:

sometimes people get hung up on, like following recipe, you know, like cooking needs to be a little intuitive. And I'm sure you know, like people who've come up cooking or chefs can do that a little more. And then you have people who really want a recipe and get kind of scared when you deviate at all. From that

Mary Ann Esposito:

I just opened the refrigerator Today I made a I've already made this for tonight, I made a pseudo shrimp, jambalaya, because I had all these, I had all these vegetables, I had some shrimp and I thought oh, let me see what I can do with this. So I cut up some of these beautiful beings that we have grown in the garden. It's called the memorabilia DNA tcea. It's a yellow polling is fantastic. And it keeps on going keeps on giving. The more you pick it the more it comes in, it'll last way into into the fall. And you can find these seeds online memorabilia D Vinnytsia. And then what I do, what I did was I took a shallot, I chopped that up, I had some garlic, I had a couple of zucchini that were just begging me to do something with them. I had a hot red pepper, so I use a little bit of that. And pureed tomato sauce that I'd made. I added that I let that cook with a little bit of wine, red wine vinegar, some hot red pepper flakes as well. I cooked the the shrimp separately. And then I added some of the stock from the shrimp to this sauce. And now tonight, I'm going to have the the shrimp on top of that over some couscous. So that's what I made for supper, but I didn't use a recipe I just use what I had on hand,

Chris Spear:

I'll be over really soon for

Mary Ann Esposito:

anytime.

Chris Spear:

Do you have any tips for anyone who might want to write their own cookbook, having done this so much, you know, a lot of people, you know, even not necessarily like one that's going to be in a store. But you know, self publishing just like tips like where to get started. If you think you might want to do this, you have any advice?

Mary Ann Esposito:

You know, not everybody is organized enough to write any kind of materials and indeed get scattered themselves here, there and everywhere. I would say you really should have have a plan, have a theme? Have you know, what is it that you want to say? What is the message that you're trying to get across? And then stick with that? Because if you go to a big publishing house, they often ask you, you know, they they want an overview of what you're going to do you know, who's your audience? What are you going to talk about? Who knows you those kinds of things. But I think there's a there is a role in self publishing. For anybody who's interested in that. And in some places, you can find small publishing houses that are looking for new and different material, and you can investigate those.

Chris Spear:

Yeah, cookbook is so much more than just a collection of recipes, especially these days. I mean, the evolution of the cookbook is crazy. But getting into the whole, you know, some books have a story for every single recipe and them.

Mary Ann Esposito:

Yes. And I like to do a head note like that, you know, where I'm telling a little story about the recipe and why I like it or where it comes from and why it's called what it's called.

Chris Spear:

So do you have anything else you're working on? I mean, I know you've got a lot already the books not even out yet. And you have the show, but is there anything else you've got going on?

Mary Ann Esposito:

Well, yes, I do a lot of travel in Italy with groups and so I will be taking in a couple of weeks actually a group to Umbria to cooking school with me so they will work in professional schools using the local ingredients to make some classic wishes. So that's coming up. So I'm working hard on getting all of those ducks in a row. As you mentioned, I have a television series, a new series coming out out, which was filmed in a cooking school. Actually, we did a little different take on this this time, so people can look for it on their public television station, they can find it on Amazon Prime, or on Create. The new book comes out in November. And if people want to preorder it, they can go to our website, ciao italia.com, when the book will be available in bookstores and independent bookstores, online, so there there are a number of ways to get it. And the other thing I'm working on right now and I have been working on for a while, is the foundation that I set up a few years ago to help culinary students like yourself, who was at Johnson and Wales be able to realize their dreams by providing monetary help for them. So we have a scholarship fund through the Mariana Esposito Foundation. And if people want to learn more about that, and how they can help, they can also find that on our website, ciao italia.com. People can also sign up through our website for our postdocs, a free newsletter that comes every month that tells you where I am, what we're doing, has recipes and tips. So it might be something that could be helpful to people. So those are the things that I'm working on. Now.

Chris Spear:

That sounds like nothing much, right? You have tons of free time.

Mary Ann Esposito:

I always have time to cook a meal for you.

Chris Spear:

Oh, well, I will head on up I miss New England and, you know, maybe we can catch up in person sometime. I would love that. I look forward to seeing the cookbook out in the world. I know a lot of people are going to be really interested in checking that out. And as always, I put all the links in show notes. So people will be able to preorder the book and connect with you online.

Mary Ann Esposito:

That would be wonderful. And I hope to cook for you one of these days when you're back up here in New England. So thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it. And don't forget to plant harvest Cook.

Chris Spear:

I'm on I'm going to be so much more ready for next year. And to all of our listeners this has been Chris with the Chefs Without Restaurants podcast, go to chefs without restaurants.org To find our Facebook group, mailing list and check database. The community is free to join. You'll get gig opportunities, advice on building and growing your business and you'll never miss an episode of our podcast. Have a great week.