I love her show. I’ll just come out and say it because this is my page and my rules (you are welcome to share your thoughts). You might not like her stilettos, hot red lips, sass, humor or language but I do. I find it fresh, light and not so plain vanilla. Let’s face it every TV host has a personality that shines when the lights come on and I like the punk rock spark she brings.
She’s the reason Dan and I drove out to Harrisburg on Saturday, braving the crowds, and Sunday, braving the weather. Her flight was delayed because of the snow and she hit the stage on Sunday encouraging the crowd to cheer “GO” Nads” as she flung Bitchin’ Kitchen t-shirts into the crowd. Was her play on words lost on the crowd? I don’t know?
This post is a doosey! We’ll talk about her cooking demo, I’ll share her full interview and her recipe closes the post. ** I have a giveaway!! Nadia signed a 2014 Farm Show cookbook. It’s 95 pages of recipes and a page with her autograph! Details at the bottom***
The 98th annual PA Farm Show opened with a bit of snow and sleet but not without the sass of Celebrity TV chef Nadia G. of the Cooking Channel’s The Bitchin’ Kitchen. She’s the author of 2 best-selling cookbooks, early pioneer in the online lifestyle business, and recipient of several awards for both her cooking and comedy.
Nadia is first generation Italian and a Montreal native. Just like my grandmother her’s also picked dandelions for salads (that was before it was a food trend). Her family’s kitchen is the foundation of her cooking skills, trained at the culinary institute of Hard Wooden Spoon Whacks.
Her demonstration centered on one of her favorite family dishes, Penne al Forno. The recipe is at the bottom of the post.
“Penne al Forno is simple, fresh and anybody can make this. You just need a little inspiration, unless you are a total twit,” she said. The base consists of onions (cooked past their translucent stage to caramelized pieces), garlic, spices, herbs, sugar, San Marzano tomatoes (crushed between your hands to keep some chucks, not pureed) and real Parmigiano. “Anytime you see cheese not in the refrigerated section you should be asking questions,” she said.
Her other recipe tips also include:
- seasoning the pasta water with as much salt as you would season your soup
- don’t over-season the sauce because you want the ingredients to shine and not taste like a packaged seasoning mix
- adding a bit of sugar (to help out the tomatoes that suffer from the lack of flavor due to over-industrialized farming)
- get creative by adding other vegetables, like eggplant.
Now let’s talk about Nadia and some of the questions burning a hole in my apron. Shoes and lipstick questions are included, duh…
Are you living in Montreal or California now and how does that affect your cooking style?
I’m living in Los Angeles. It makes a big difference because it’s practically summer all year round and with access to organic and locally grown produce the exceptional ingredients can’t be beat. There is also a strong Mexican influence and this affects what foods are offered. I make a delicious guacamole and top with pomegranate seeds. I have a lot of fun creating new fusions because of the various influences which are a little different from my hometown.
If a home cook could splurge on one pantry ingredient what would you suggest?
Good quality balsamic. A lot of people use balsamic and it has been popular for a decade but the problem is people buy cheap balsamic, a $4 liter. That is not good, quality balsamic. Look for the term mosto cotto on the ingredients label. It’s grape must, a concentrated grape juice. Cheaper balsamic uses thickeners or artificial flavors. Pick a bottle that’s a minimum of 7 years old. It will cost about $13-14 but is worth it to drizzle on desserts, it makes amazing reductions and it has a whole different flavor profile.
As the Julia Child of the tech generation how do you see the food industry changing between so many bloggers, instagram, and YouTube? Where do you see it going?
It’s a beautiful thing food becoming more ingrained in pop culture. It’s amazing because it gives people knowledge. For the longest time people didn’t cook for themselves and people would find it funny that they can not cook thing to say, “I can’t even boil water!” It’s like really, can you wipe your butt because it’s a pretty important life skill being able to feed yourself and eventually feed your family, if that’s your thing.
So, I think that’s great. The more people talking about food, blogging and instagraming it’s lovely because it gets the word out there about how to make a great meal, knowing your ingredients and feeling comfortable enough to experiment with them.
What is your favorite family recipe or a go-to recipe for the busy cook?
Penne al Forno.
Although, Grandmother’s Sunday Sauce is a favorite. It basically cooks for 8 hours. It’s a brisket and spicy italian sausage cooked in a sauce until the meat falls apart, it’s incredible. You can cut the sausage with a spoon. Homemade pastas too but the Penne al Forno is a favorite because anyone can do it and you can do it in under an hour. The Sunday Sauce is more of a delicacy and it takes some time.
Do you have an epic recipe fail, something you just don’t enjoy making or that recipe you just don’t need in your life anyway?
I often mess up. I mess up lots, in general, because you have to experiment to see what works. You have to fall off the horse to make tartar out of it. I mess up low fat desserts. So, I’ll take a wonderful dessert recipe and I’ll be like, instead of white flour I’ll use whole wheat and instead of milk I’ll use non-fat yogurt and instead of butter I’ll use applesauce and it’s a mess, it’s disgusting! It’s no wonder it’s a low-fat dessert because you won’t eat any of it.
Between twitter and tapings what do you to chill?
I love to read. Reading is one of my favorite things. One of my favorite authors is Junot Diaz, who wrote “The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.” He’s an exceptional writer. I like Donald Ray Pollock, Irvine Welsh, and Chuck Palahniuk. I re-read books every year. There are 5 books that I love to re-read from year to year, they are like my bibles. I’m re-reading “Perfume” right now.
Bolognese or chocolate chip cookies?
Bolognese although chocolate chip cookies baked with crumbled bacon on top would be rather good.
If there was a recipe tip or a tool that you can suggest to make a home cook into a rock star cook in the kitchen what would that be?
I would say kitchen decor. I have a new show, Sick Kitchens with Nadia G. on ulive.com.
What I do is revamp kitchens in a bitchin’ way, loud and fun and quirky. I find kitchens are not inspirational in most people’s homes. You’ll see someone’s personality shine through the living room or the bedroom but for some reason the kitchen is very boring and when you walk into a space that is boring you get bored. I would say decorate it to suit your personality, if you love the color teal well then, paint the walls teal. If you like leopard print throw in some leopard print towels. Have fun with the space and then you’ll be more inspired.
It’s true, she’s young, funny and can cook up a storm in three-inch cherry stiletto heels. I had to know where she finds those vixen pumps. She said her sources are Louis Vuitton, Prada, Dolce and Gabbana. She prefers quality to quantity. Those signature lips, that’s MAC, Girl Around Town lip color. I already ordered mine. So… smoochy, smoochy!
Be sure to check out her newest ulive.com project and tune in on the Cooking Channel for a mouthful of moxie, recipe inspiration, and a few laughs.
Penne al Forno,
By Nadia G. of the Bitchin’ Kitchen
•2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
•2 cloves garlic, smashed
•1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
•1 red onion, minced
•8 ounces organic ground sirloin
•2 portabello mushrooms
•4 cups San Marzano tomatoes, hand crushed
•1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, minced
•1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
•1/2 teaspoon raw sugar
•1 bay leaf
•1/2 teaspoon sea salt
•Freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and chili flakes, and fry until golden, about 1 minute. Add the onions and sliced Portobello, and sauté 8 to 10 minutes. Add the sirloin and sauté for 5 minutes until the beef has crumbled. Add the crushed San Marzano tomatoes, fresh parsley, oregano, raw sugar, bay leaf, sea salt and fresh cracked pepper. Stir and simmer for 20 minutes.
•1 pound penne lisce pasta (smooth-sided penne)
•1 tablespoon unsalted butter
•1 cup grated mozzarella
•1/2 cup grated Parmigiano
Bring salted water to a boil. Throw in the pasta and cook until almost al dente’, 8 to 9 minutes. Drain.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 15-by-10-inch baking dish, 2-to-3-inches deep, with the butter.
In a bowl, mix the pasta with half the bolognese sauce. Lay down a thin layer of pasta, 1/4 cup sauce, 1/3 cup mozzarella and 1 tablespoon Parmigiano. Repeat until all the pasta is used. Top off with mozzarella. Place in the oven and bake until the edges are golden and bubbling, about 30 minutes.
Pair with local Mazza Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon