The retired executive assistant lives in Freeport with her husband, Steven. Their son, Michael, 20, is a college student.
How did you get started cooking?
I come from Queens, and my mother and grandmother are Italian. My grandmother lived downstairs and used to cook a lot. So did my mother. I watched them both when I was growing up but did more observing than cooking. I only started when I got my own apartment. In the beginning, I replicated their recipes. I think my very first cookbook was the Polly-O "Cooking With Cheese" recipe book. But then, there were magazines, like Bon Appétit. I broke away from basic Italian and went for some flair.
Word has it your husband raves about the sandwiches you make him for lunch every day.
He has a very stressful job in investment banking and doesn't often have time to go out and have lunch. His favorite sandwich is roasted peppers, prosciutto, mozzarella and eggplant on Italian bread. When I make him turkey and Swiss, I'll spread hummus on it or homemade pesto. I like to use different spreads on the sandwich to jazz it up. Sometimes, cranberry sauce, sometimes a Vidalia onion relish.
What does your family clamor for at dinner?
A favorite, every time I make it, is shrimp and scallops on a skewer, a dish that can be served as an appetizer or main course, over pasta or rice. It's really easy and just so good. Also, what I really love is seafood linguine, which I make with Madeira wine. And my son loves my lasagna.
What else motivates your cooking besides your family's desire to eat well?
My girlfriends are all excellent cooks and there's always friendly competition. When you entertain them, you always have to bring your "A" game to the table.
If somebody dropped in unexpectedly, what could you whip up, using what's in your freezer?
I always have sauce and roasted peppers in the freezer. I also have pesto frozen. And . . . a big bag of shrimp.
Where do you like to eat out when you're not cooking?
When we do go out, we like Peter Luger in Great Neck. And Nautilus Cafe and Rachel's, both on the Nautical Mile in Freeport. But, mostly, Steve and I are the type of people who like to stay home and cook.
SKEWERED SHRIMP & SCALLOPS
½ cup olive oil
1/3 cup chopped parsley
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ cup bread crumbs
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 pound large shrimp, shelled, deveined and patted dry with paper towels
1 pound sea scallops, patted dry with paper towels
1 lemon, cut into wedges
1. In a large bowl, combine oil, parsley, garlic, bread crumbs and salt and pepper.
2. Add shrimp and scallops to mixture. Mix until well coated. Let stand 1 hour.
3. Preheat broiler or toaster oven broiler.
4. Spray 4 to 6 metal skewers with cooking spray. Then alternate shrimp and scallops on skewers, gently pressing any leftover bread crumb mixture onto seafood.
5. Broil about 3 to 5 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.
6. Serve with lemon wedges. Makes 4 to 6 servings.