for those who burn to learn


Nov 2013

My Five Minutes of Culinary Fame

Posted by / in Into the Fire Blog, Press & News /

When our publicist, Ann Ewing, called to tell me, with guarded enthusiasm, that I was scheduled to create a signature Jillyanna’s pizza at a local TV station that did not have an oven, I was reminded of a guest appearance that Julia Child made in the 1980’s on Late Night With David Letterman. Julia’s singular goal was to create a perfectly cooked hamburger. As it turned out, the only cooking equipment Letterman had to offer the French Chef was a portable electric burner–and the “stove,” which looked like a toy, did not work. Ever resourceful, Julia turned the hamburger into “Steak Tartare” then pulled out a blow torch and preceded to melt some cheese on top of the raw meat. She called her dish “Steak Tartare Gratinee” and insisted that Letterman have a bite. Terror got the best of the neurotic host and he spit out his first nibble. Eventually, Letterman did try again and swallowed some of the Tartare and the whole skit went down in history as one of the funniest guest appearances on the Letterman show.

Despite or because of the memory of this encounter, I decided to take advantage of my live television opportunity–especially since I was promised that instead of pizza, I could make a sauce for pizza (or pasta) and that Good Day Maine did have an electric cooktop with several burners that worked. At this point in my life, I have to agree, at least in theory, with one of Julia’s great quips: “In cooking, you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”

The night before my appearance, Valerie grabbed a stopwatch and discovered how long it takes for a pot of pasta water to boil. “Fourteen minutes,” she told me as I assembled small condiment bowls filled with carefully measured chopped thyme, garlic, shallots, grated Parmesan cheese, rehydrated mushrooms, strained mushroom liquid, truffled salt, pepper and heavy cream. Since my allotted time on television was a maximum of five minutes, I realized I would have to boil the water and partially cook the pasta before the cameras turned to me. I tossed and turned all night, reciting the recipe and praying I hadn’t left out any ingredients. Valerie kept her eyes trained on the digital clock so that she would remember to get up at 4:30 AM and fill the car with the needed pots and pans, and Ann woke up at 2:30 AM, wondering if she should bring a pasta strainer with her…just in case we forgot to bring one.

As it turned out, our segment was not nearly as funny as Julia’s, but on the other hand, we remembered all the ingredients, and all the cookware. The burners worked and the pasta cooked properly. Best of all, the camera crew watched with some envy as the female anchors licked their pretty lips and, around the forks we provided, twirled, then devoured their luscious homemade fettucine with porcini cream sauce.  By the way, here’s that unforgettable cooking segment of Julia with David Letterman.

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    Oct 2013

    Celebrating The Great Marcella Hazan

    Posted by / in Into the Fire Blog, Special Dinners /

    Given the well established fact that she never suffered fools gladly, and given that patience is a virtue, especially if you are an educator, it’s amazing that Marcella Hazan succeeded as a teacher. Still, after cooking from her wonderful cookbook Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking and reading her memoir, Amarcord, I grew to have deeper appreciation of her life experiences. I had read that Marcella was tough, but many are now remembering that she was also kindhearted

    I never did get the chance to meet Marcella in the flesh, but, I had the good fortune to meet and study with her gentle son, Giuliano–certainly, her best student. In a villa in Verona, Italy, where Giuliano, along with his wife Lael and partner Marilisa Allegrini, run a luxurious cooking school, I learned to make pasta by hand, pound veal scaloppine correctly, so that it was evenly stretched thin, and create a flaming dessert with one of Allegrini’s finest Italian wines…Amarone.

    On Saturday, October 26th I would like to recreate some of the dishes I learned to make thanks to both mother and son. Please join us for this special dining experience. As is customary at Jillyanna’s Woodfired Cooking School, some of the class will be demo, some will be hands-on and although we will not be making pizza, we will make some appetizers in the wood-fired oven. So do bring a light jacket and a big appetite and feel free to BYOB.  Click here to attend:


    Grilled Littleneck Clams on the Half Shell

    Homemade Fettuccine with Alfredo Sauce

    Veal Scaloppine with Lemon

    Mushroom Salad with Parmesan Cheese, Crispy Pancetta and White Truffle Vinaigrette

    Braised Pears with Bay Leaves and Amarone Wine

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