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Interview with Valerie Hart, Author of "The Bounty of Central Florida"
Irene Watson, Publishing Editor of Reader Views, is pleased to have as our guest, Valerie Hart, author of “The Bounty of Central Florida.”
Hi Valerie, thank you for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Irene: Valerie, why do you feel “The Bounty of Central Florida” was an important book for you to write? What were your goals?
Valerie: Local cookbooks have moved onto the market. Southwest, Northwest, Cuban, Caribbean, Cajun and combinations of these include the American innovation called Fusion that combines Asian with one of the other, regional and creative new chefs that incorporate fresh regional ingredients. does
When we moved from Miami to Central Florida 15 years ago, the kitchen changed a lot. In addition to local Italian cuisine that includes tomato-heavy Sicilian dishes, and Mexican food from migrant workers in this citrus region, mama-papa restaurants in north Orlando offer a unique cuisine. This was based on their South American roots with a rustic edge of ripe fish and game simply grilled or fried along with fruits and vegetables picked fresh from the trees and soil.
Any spring-fed lake produces bass. Large lakes are stocked with alligators and tilapia. The pristine river of St. Wood ducks seem to exist only for the pleasure of the pan, and, in Osceola County a little further south, they breed in abundance for lucky hunters. And, as in the rest of the south, barbecue dominates with its sweet, spicy, and mustardy flavors slathered on giant slow-smoked pork ribs.
My goal, as a food writer for The Daily Commercial, was to make people aware of the bounty of the area.
Irene: What difficulties did you have while writing this book and how did you overcome them?
Valerie: The problems were fun. Many of my trips on the St. My membership and affiliation with the NWTF (National Wild Turkey Federation) has not only taught me how to roast a whole turkey, but has given me respect for this dedicated group of conservationists who teach women about wilderness survival as well as responsible gun control for children. does, did
The hardest challenge, however, was writing the book while facing a Monday deadline to write my Thursday newspaper column and teaching cooking at a homeless shelter. There was no time to do it all, and I was creating more and more hours of delay
at night and turning on my computer to record them before the sun comes up.
Irene: Are your recipes created by yourself? Have some of them been passed down to you in the family?
Valerie: My recipes are my own, they come from my sense of taste and smell and my desire to create. My educational background in France, (later, the Cordon Bleu courses after I started teaching cooking in Miami), and our 30 years of business in Italy, where we had an apartment in Florence and traveled extensively in northern Italy. contacted. with many
country cooks and “nonna” (Italian grandmothers) in home kitchens share “secrets” passed down through the generations.
Irene: How did you start cooking? Did you cook as a child? Where did you learn to cook? Do you have any funny stories to relate when you were learning to cook?
Valerie: I would like to say that I learned to cook from my Mother and Grandmother but, fortunately, that is not true. My mother and grandmother were not perfectly skilled in the kitchen, probably because they always cooked to make it for them. The meals my mother knew how to cook were roast beef, turkey and lamb. Those were the days when all the fat was left to sing in a shell. We didn’t just eat the top fat on the beef and between the bones of the cauliflower; we enjoyed it. And, the trick was to eat the meat and the beef before the garlic ran over it and turned into a hard, white mass.
We had a German chef for years. My parents traveled a lot, leaving me in her care. The kitchen was a wonderland of chocolate and custard and custard, which she gently dipped into beaten eggs and then into homemade breadcrumbs before baking into a golden brown delicacy she called a Wiener. Schnitzel, which she served with fried potatoes and buttery noodles. Elizabeth never used an electric mixer, but beat butter and sugar and egg whites by hand to make herself a 6-layer Doboschtorte, a rich chocolate Viennese Sachartorte and a Hungarian Caramel Cake. She was my first culinary mentor, and her recipes appear in my first cookbook, The New
Irene: I note in your bio that you wanted to be an opera singer but ended up in a food writing career and then a cooking career. Are there times when you wish you could turn the pages and pursue a singing career?
Valerie: Sometimes, though my life would be very different. I will always remember studying with the great André Bogé on the stage of the Grand Opéra in Paris. Obviously I didn’t have that much, or maybe realized that I didn’t have the voice meant to grow up.
Irene: Do you have a favorite recipe from this book? Why?
Valerie: Guests and family who dine with us often request that I make Key Lime Cheesecake or Individual Flourless Chocolate Soufflés for dessert. My stew is a favorite of the kids and I will offer 2-3 variations of the sauce for their enjoyment. I really like butternut squash soup and
Fresh Strawberry Salad. I make dozens of hors d’oeuvre Mushroom Rolls and Dessert Profiteroles to freeze for unexpected company and, since our lime trees are so prolific, you’ll always find a frozen Lime Pie.
Irene: This is the second cookbook for you. The first was the New Tradition Cookbook, published in 1988. After writing the first one you turned into your second book, The Bounty of Central Florida, what did you learn?
Valerie: My first cookbook was written as a result of my years as a food writer for the newspaper in Miami Beach and the lunch restaurant I owned for 15 years at my husband’s furniture store, Imports for the Trade. Food was my test kitchen. We didn’t sell food, but served it to designers and their customers, as one would do at home. The buffet, which changed daily, was so popular that people lined up around the block. We served 100 people every day in the restaurant we built in the showroom out of bricks from the old Union Station in Chicago that was demolished.
Although most of the format of the first book was based on American cuisine and my transition to French and Italian cuisine, the wonderful ethnicity of Miami Beach led me to discover recipes for Matzo Balls, Gefülte Fish, Stuffed Cabbage, Beef Bisque and Potato Pancakes. . which I included in the newspaper during the days of the Jewish holidays. I would go down to what had become the “in” area now known as “SoBe”, which in the late 60’s and 70’s was still inhabited only by elderly Jews. I will approach women who buy. Everyone had a different recipe for the same dish, and everyone thought hers was the best. Then I would go home and test and test and test and test again until the combination of ingredients was to my liking. Then I will write my food column.
What both books have in common is my belief that people like to read about fine cuisine but want to cook and eat basic meals.
Irene: What do you hope to get out of this cookbook experience? Do you plan to write another one?
Valerie: I don’t know if I’ll ever write another cookbook, but I have so many recipes that don’t appear in the first two that I’m trying. Anyone who cooks knows that there is always a new and different method of preparation to please the heart. There is never a final part of cooking.
Irene: Thank you Valerie. Is there anything else you’d like to add to your cookbook or experience?
Valerie: I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to express myself. This is the first time I have been asked these questions and the interview went very well.
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