Tedesco lives with her husband, Don Wilson, in Coram. A mother of two grown children and a grandmother of three, she is a librarian at Cantiague Elementary School in Jericho.
What kind of food do you like to cook? I like to make Italian food, and when possible I like to use ingredients from my own garden. I grow tomatoes, basil, eggplant, zucchini, string beans, arugula and sunflowers. I order the seeds from Italy.
Did you grow up in a family where cooking was important? My mother's idea of a favorite meal would have been going out to dinner. Her Sunday gravy was good, but she wouldn't have searched out San Marzano tomatoes. She would just get what was on sale.
What would you say is a difference between the way she cooked and the way you do? The ingredients, for one thing. She would never have had extra- virgin olive oil from Italy, which just about everyone has in their kitchens now. She would have used Wesson oil.
How did you learn to make scaccie? This past Easter my husband and I went to Sicily. We were staying in a town called Noto. I was taking a cooking class, which I arranged through a company called Soul of Sicily. We were making scaccie, which are Sicilian pies that my family used to make. This woman was watching me fold the pie and said: "We don't fold our pies like that here. You must come from Ragusa," which is about 15 miles away. She recognized where my family came from by the way I folded the dough.
Scaccie (stuffed breads)
1 teaspoon dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
3 cups unbleached flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 28-ounce cans San Marzano tomatoes, crushed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
Salt, pepper, hot pepper flakes to taste
1 cup cubed provolone cheese
1. Mix yeast, water and sugar in a small bowl. Set aside until mixture bubbles.
2. Mix flour and salt in a large bowl, make a well in center, add yeast mixture and stir. Turn dough onto floured surface and knead until smooth, 5 minutes.
3. Film a bowl with 2 tablespoons oil, place dough in and turn it to coat with oil. Cover with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, at least one hour. Punch down dough.
4. Film a large skillet with remaining oil and cook chopped onion over medium heat till soft. Add garlic, cook for a minute or so (do not let it brown), add crushed tomatoes, parsley, basil, salt, pepper and hot pepper flakes, if using. Reduce heat and cook until sauce is thick and pastelike, about 45 minutes.
5. When the sauce is cooked, divide dough in two and flatten into two rectangles 9 inches wide, 12 inches long. Transfer to baking sheet and spread an inch-wide line of sauce lengthwise down the middle of each, sprinkle with provolone.
6. Fold one long side of dough over the sauce and cheese so they are covered, then spread another line of sauce and cheese onto the folded-over dough. Bring the opposite side of the dough over this second line of sauce and cheese so it is completely covered. Fold up the short ends of the dough and pinch them to seal. The "pie" will look like an envelope.
7. Bake at 400 degrees until browned, 25 to 30 minutes.
Makes four servings. For a main course, serve with a green salad.