Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Everyday Celebrations with Maria Loggia (Cookbook Spotlight and Giveaway!)

I want to introduce you to local author and chef, Maria Loggia. If you love Italian food and cooking, check out her second cookbook and try one of her recipes posted here! Don't forget to enter the giveaway to win a beautiful hardcover copy of this cookbook.


Maria Loggia’s kitchen door is always open. Her home and garden are a gathering place for friends and family, who come to share her easygoing enthusiasm and generosity – and her inspired Italian cuisine. In this, her second book, Loggia celebrates the seasons with 16 sumptuous menus – from a spontaneous al fresco garden party to a slow-simmered midwinter feast and a traditional Sunday family lunch.

Everyday Celebrations with Maria Loggia is on a spotlight tour from July 14 to 18.

Author & Chef: Maria Loggia
Category: Non-fiction
Genre: Cooking, Food & Wine, 176 pages
Publisher: Cardinal Publishing
Published: Oct 1, 2012

Amazon.ca  *  Cardinal Publishing  *  Amazon.com

Try One of the Recipes!


Petto di Pollo Farcito con Uva e Noci
Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Grapes and Walnuts


Ingredienti

For filling:

1 tbsp (15 ml) unsalted butter
2 tbsp (30 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
¾ cup (180 ml) walnuts, coarsely chopped
½ cup (125 ml) red seedless grapes, quartered
2 tbsp (30 ml) finely chopped fresh chives
2 tbsp (30 ml) bread crumbs
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
7 oz (200 g) soft goat cheese, cut in 6 slices 

For chicken:
6 tbsp (90 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
6 bone-in chicken breasts, skin on
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
3 tbsp (45 ml) unsalted butter, softened
1 orange, cut into wedges
3 sprigs fresh rosemary, each cut in half
5 bay leaves
 
To serve:
Freshly squeezed juice of 1 orange

Preparazione
Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).

To prepare filling: Heat butter and oil in a large skillet and sauté shallots until soft, 1 to 2 minutes, and remove from heat. Stir in walnuts, grapes, chives and bread crumbs. Season with salt and pepper and set aside to cool slightly. Leave goat cheese aside for now.

To prepare chicken: Oil a 14-inch (35 cm) round earthenware tiella or roasting pan with 2 tbsp (30 ml) of the olive oil and set aside. On a baking sheet, season chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Make a lengthwise slit in each chicken breast, being careful not to cut all the way through. (This will form the pocket for the stuffing.) Rub remaining 4 tbsp (60 ml) olive oil into the chicken (including in the pockets). Divide stuffing equally among chicken breasts, stuffing it into the slit in each breast, and top with a slice of goat cheese. Pull the chicken skin over the filling and secure with toothpicks. Smear butter over the skin and season again to taste with salt and pepper.

Gently transfer chicken to prepared tiella. Scatter orange wedges, rosemary and bay leaves around chicken. Roast 35 to 40 minutes, or until juices run clear when the thickest part of the breast is pierced. Then broil 2 to 3 minutes, or until skin is crisp and golden. Drizzle with orange juice and serve warm with pan juices.

Serves 6

Tips from Maria:

Consigli di cucina (kitchen tips)
The chicken breasts can be assembled the day before, covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated. When ready to serve, bring chicken to room temperature and cook as instructed. Doing it this way allows the flavours time to meld together beautifully.

Che cos’√®? (what is it?)
I’m convinced food tastes better when cooked in a shallow, glazed earthenware dish known in Italian as a tiella. I find earthenware dishes distribute heat slowly and evenly as the food cooks. Aromas and flavours are intensified and casseroles never stick or dry out.

To season a tiella: Before using your tiella the first time, immerse the dish in cold water to soak overnight. The next day, empty the tiella and wipe it dry. Rub the inside with olive oil and place in a preheated 300°F (150°C) oven for 1½ hours. Remove seasoned tiella from oven and place on a wooden board or thick tablecloth to cool. (If placed on a surface like granite or a cold stovetop, it will crack.) To clean a tiella, soak it in warm, soapy water, then scrub with a soft sponge.


Meet the Author



Maria Loggia is one of Montreal's best-loved Italian cooking teachers. Her Tavola Mia cooking school in the village of Hudson is a warm, inviting place to learn about Italian cuisine. She also appears regularly on television, is featured in newspapers and magazines, and leads culinary tours in Italy.

Maria finds inspiration in her Italian heritage and draws on family recipes that go back generations. She founded Tavola Mia, her at-home cooking school in 1999. Through her study of Italy's regional cuisines, which has included numerous sojourns back to her native country, she has acquired great expertise in the art of Italian cooking. Her passion, humor and dedication to excellence have made her an inspiring teacher. Using fresh local ingredients, Tavola Mia celebrates the seasons in authentic, irrepressible Italian style.


An Interview with Maria Loggia



Maria Loggia from Pierre Blais on Vimeo.


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Monday, June 2, 2014

Transporting us to Venice and the Art of Gondola Making

Today, I'd like to spotlight Laura Morelli, art historian and award-winning author of The Gondola Maker. Morelli is currently touring her book with iRead Book Tours, and I had the opportunity to meet her at BookExpo America in New York City this past Thursday, where she accepted the Silver IPPY Award for Best Adult Fiction.

The Gondola Maker is also finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award Category, shortlisted for the da Vinci Eye Prize and finalist for the Indie Excellence Award.


Laura Morelli accepting the IPPY Award

Laura Morelli is a lovely woman and I thoroughly enjoyed my conversation with her. In the fall, The Gondola Maker will be on tour again with Italy Book Tours, another tour company that I am launching this month. I will be spotlighting more books set in Italy and their authors. So if you love everything Italian like a lot of bloggers I know, stick around for some great upcoming titles!

Morelli is also launching a series of travel guides, especially for travelers who love to discover and learn more about Italy's beautiful artwork. I'll be spotlighting those as soon as they are published.

Me with Laura Morelli at BEA 14
You can learn more about The Gondola Maker by reading Sandra's review and interview with Morelli on my review blog Library of Clean Read. If you love historical fiction and atmospheric books, this one is sure to please! It will transport you to medieval Venice and the art of gondola making.

Here's a brief synopsis of the book:
From the author of Made in Italy comes a tale of artisanal tradition and family bonds set in one of the world's most magnificent settings: Renaissance Venice.

When Luca Vianello, the heir to a renowned gondola-making enterprise, experiences an unexpected tragedy in the boatyard, he believes that his destiny lies elsewhere. Soon he finds himself drawn to restore an antique gondola with the dream of taking a girl for a ride. Lovers of historical fiction will appreciate the authentic details of gondola craftsmanship, along with an intimate first-person narrative set against the richly textured backdrop of 16th-century Venice.



Where to buy the book:
Amazon
Barnes & Nobles
Book Depository
Indigo Chapters

About Laura Morelli:

Laura Morelli earned a Ph.D. in art history from Yale University, where she was a Bass Writing Fellow and an Andrew W. Mellon Doctoral Fellow. She has taught college art history in the U.S. and at Trinity College in Rome. She is the creator of the authentic guidebook series that includes Made in Italy, Made in France, and Made in the Southwest, published by Rizzoli. Laura is a frequent contributor to National Geographic Traveler and other national magazines and newspapers. A native of coastal Georgia, she is married and is busy raising four children. The Gondola Maker is her first work of fiction.

Connect with Laura here: www.lauramorelli.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lauramorelliphd
Twitter: https://twitter.com/lauramorelliphd
about.me/lauramorelliphd

Do you like books set in Italy, in particular Venice?