Who's cooking: Paulette Esposito, Kings Park

Paulette Esposito shows off her dish of avocado Paulette Esposito shows off her dish of avocado stuffed with vegetables at her home in Kings Park. (Dec. 16, 2012) Photo Credit: Newsday / Ed Betz

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The retiree lives in Kings Park and has two children and three grandchildren. She worked in sales at Macy's and as a restaurant hostess, cashier and bookkeeper.

 

You have a French accent but an Italian-sounding last name. My husband was born in France, but his grandfather emigrated from Italy. I was born in France, and my parents were Italian.

What are some of your earliest culinary memories? My family had a restaurant in Nice when I was young, from ages 6 to 9. My mother did all the cooking. On Saturday at home, I would watch her make all the pasta for her restaurant on Sunday.

Were there other French restaurants in your life? My husband was a chef. After we came to this country in 1958, he worked at Le Veau d'Or on East 61st Street, then at Le Bistro on Third Avenue. Afterward, we had our own restaurant for six years, Le Provencal, on East 62nd Street between Madison and Fifth.

How would you describe your style of home cooking? I cook more Italian, but I learned some French cooking from my husband, too. When my kids were growing up in Astoria, Queens, we always ate French or Italian.

What dishes have emerged as family favorites? I used to make veal scallopini for my children. And my grandchildren love my gnocchi and manicotti. Also, a dish called alouettes sans tête — beef that's cut very thin and stuffed with bacon, garlic and parsley, with a mushroom sauce.

When you entertain friends, what's a surefire hit? I make stuffed avocado with a macédoine of vegetables in a mayonnaise I make myself. You eat it with a spoon, so you get some avocado with every bite of vegetable salad.

Where do you like to eat out, locally? We go to Carraba's in Smithtown. I like Branchinelli's in Hauppauge — I think the food there is wonderful. And I think La Famiglia in Smithtown is a very good restaurant. ---- JOAN REMINICK

 

STUFFED AVOCADO

For mayonnaise:

Yolk of 1 egg

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

¾ cup Canola oil

Juice of 1 lemon

Pepper to taste

For vegetable salad:

1 cup diced potato, cooked until tender

1 cup diced string beans, cooked until tender

1 cup diced carrots, cooked until tender

Salt and pepper to taste

4 avocados, halved and pitted

4 black olives, pitted

 

1. To make mayonnaise: In an electric mixer combine egg yolk and mustard. Slowly pour oil in a thin stream. When mixture has emulsified, add lemon juice. (Or use a food processor, pouring oil into hollow food pusher with tiny hole).

2. Combine cooked vegetables in a bowl; add enough mayonnaise to moisten and bind them together. Taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste.

3. Divide salad, mounding equal portions on top of avocado halves. Top each half with a black olive. Makes 4 servings.

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