NEW YORK (Reuters) - Nadia G. (Giosia), the edgy, stiletto-shod creator and star of the comedy-cooking cable TV show "Bitchin' Kitchen," knows you don't have to be a five-star chef to cook a great meal or a foodie to enjoy one.
From a Montreal kitchen decorated in candy colors, leopard skin and leather, the proudly home-schooled Giosia, a second-generation Italian-Canadian, dispenses her simple food and cheeky humor in equal measure.
Giosia, 31, spoke to Reuters about the upcoming release of her book, "Cookin' for Trouble," her core demographic of 25-to-30-year-olds, and how she feels about being labeled the Julia Child of the net generation.
Q: Why is your kitchen 'Bitchin'?"
A: "Bitchin is a term from the 50s that they used in California, meaning cool. If there's one thing 'Bitchin' Kitchen' is, it's cool."
Q: Your show mixes comedy and cooking. Which came first?
A: "I grew up in a food-obsessed Italian family, so food was always front and center in my life. I was a food obsessed person who morphed into a comedian and tried to figure out a way to make fun of my cake and eat it too."
Q: Where do your recipes come from?
A: "(They are) a mix of family recipes and tastes that have inspired me. The women in my family were fantastic cooks so I've definitely gotten a lot from them, and added my spin. Other recipes are inspired by my travels, or stuff I tasted at restaurants."
Q: How does your show fold humor into the cuisine?
A: "Each week we pick a theme, say recession recipes, and we have a couple of laughs as we cook a meal that goes with that theme. For example, the breakup brunch: you want to keep it light because you want that person out the door."
Q: What are the staples of your pantry?
A: "I always have a good quality extra virgin olive oil. A cheap quality oil will end up cheapening your dishes. And I love sweetening my dishes with maple syrup. It has a bit of a bitter kick at the end that works wonderfully in savory dishes. Also a good quality aged balsamic vinegar and of course I always have pasta."
Q: What's the message of your book and TV show?
A: "I believe that anyone can cook a great meal. Basically all you need to do is get your hands on some fresh ingredients and not be afraid to make a mess in the kitchen."
Q: You've been called the Julia Child of the net generation. Do you think the stiletto fits?
A: "It's a huge honor. I think it came about because Julia Child wasn't afraid to have fun. She made fantastic food but knew how to have a good time and not be too stuck up about the kitchen space."
Q: You've said "Bitchin' Kitchen" is not just a cooking show, but an attitude. What's the attitude?
A: "Fun, fearless, and not afraid to grab life by bra strap."
Nonna's Penne al Forno (serves four to six)
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1/2 tsp chili flakes
1 red onion, finely diced
1 lb ground sirloin
3 cups canned San Marzano plum tomatoes, hand crushed
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1/2 tsp dry oregano
1 bay leaf
1/2 tbsp raw sugar
1/2 tbsp sea salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 lb penne (1 package)
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup grated mozzarella
1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano
Heat the extra-virgin olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and the chile flakes, and sauté for about 1 minute, until the garlic is golden and fragrant.
Add the red onion and sauté for 8 to 10 minutes, until the onion has some crispy edges. Add the ground sirloin and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, until the beef crumbles.
Pour in the plum tomatoes, and then add the parsley, oregano, bay leaf, raw sugar, sea salt, and freshly ground pepper. Stir and simmer for 20 minutes, partially covered.
Cook the penne in a large pot of boiling salted water until almost al dente, about 10 minutes. You don't want to fully cook the pasta because you'll also be baking it. Drain.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Add the penne to a large bowl, and mix in half of the Bolognese sauce. Generously grease a baking dish with the unsalted butter. Add a 1-inch layer of penne, 1/2 cup of sauce, 1/3 cup of grated mozzarella, and a heaping tablespoon of grated Parmigiano.
Repeat this until all the pasta is used. Top it off with grated mozzarella and Parmigiano cheese. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, until the cheese is golden and bubbling.