16 April 2009

David Rocco Makes Pasta anto te!!!

If you have been following More Than Burnt Toast you will know I have started a weekly feature to highlight Canadian Chefs. Through your TV networks, or perhaps on other blogs, or even just right here on More Than Burnt Toast you may have heard of some of our Canadian chefs. For those of you who haven't, I hope you will find it interesting to see what our chefs are up to, a little about their history and how they came to love what they do. For the next few months I will be featuring one of our Canadian chefs each week. As the fourth installment in my Canadian Chef series I will introduce you to:

David Rocco

To use David Rocco's own words, "He is not a chef, he is Italian!" He is one of Canada's favourite TV hosts and lets face it he is also very easy on the eyes!!!

David Rocco credits his love for cooking simple and delicious foods to his Italian heritage. Born in Toronto, to Neapolitan parents who immigrated to Canada in the '50's, the 36-year-old Canadian-Italian is the youngest of three children. He says, "His lifelong appreciation for good food was formed in his mother's kitchen when he was a little boy and it continues to inspire him today". As is the custom in Italy, mealtimes were always special in the Rocco household.

During his school years, David took up acting and modeling which allowed him to travel worldwide while earning his degree in economics. But after graduation, it was the kitchen, not the business word of Bay Street in Toronto, that called him. He and his wife Nina opened up their restaurant “La Madonnina” in Toronto. After 2 years or running their successful business, the couple decided to change course, and merge their mutual passion for cooking and all things Italian with David’s natural abilities in front of the camera. They formed their production company, Rockhead Entertainment. David and his wife Nina, were given the chance to present Avventura: Journeys in Italian Cuisine, a 26-episode travel and Italian cooking show, which aired in Canada. It was a hit and he branched off with his first cookbook. The show is currently syndicated in 40 countries in 6 different languages.

The Roccos wanted to continue to share their love and passion for food and life that reflected their own personal style, so, they created “David Rocco’s Dolce Vita” and pitched it to the Food Network. They oversee every single aspect of the show from planning to editing to final delivery to the networks. David Rocco’s Dolce Vita” is a unique show. According to his web site, "It provides the viewer with accessible and delicious classic Italian food, focusing on fresh and seasonal ingredients and techniques that any home chef can master, along with a taste of the Italian lifestyle." The show is now seen in 120 countries and counting! The show is shot in Florence, Sicily and the Amalfi Coast. David and his wife Nina divide their time between their homes in Florence, Italy and Toronto, Canada. They are the proud parents of twins Emma and Giorgia born in 2008.

David is also personally responsible for picking all of the music on the show. The music is a mix which reflects his own eclectic tastes to specially written themes played under the cooking segments to original songs written by musicians who loved the spirit of the show and wanted to contribute. The music has struck a major chord. As a result, Rockhead Entertainment released their first soundtrack which is available in stores.

Fans have been waiting for his latest cookbook!! Eagerly anticipated, this book is full of everything that makes the TV show such a favourite such as beautiful food photography throughout Italy, and, of course, David's sense of la dolce vita, the sweet life. According to Amazon, "His cookbook is all about taking a relaxed, enjoyable approach to the everyday, and the foundation of this lifestyle is simple, elegant food. David's easygoing style embraces straightforward ingredients and techniques to create wonderful dishes anyone can enjoy without stress. He emphasizes the philosophy of quanto basta, or "just enough," and encourages readers to suit their own tastes. Try some of David's wonderful fizzi, simple but sophisticated snacks: Fiori de zucca (zucchini flowers stuffed with mozzarella and anchovies) or Frico (parmigiano chips). Delight in Spaghetti con pomodorini e pecorino (spaghetti with cherry tomato sauce and pecorino cheese), delicious Beef carpaccio (easier than you think!), or meltin- your-mouth Gnudi ("naked" ravioli)."

I wanted to share a pasta dish with you from his web site. This pasta dish requires using several methods I have not come across before and with the addition of the rosewater it has a distinctive flavour that is really quite delicious.....I think SPRING IS HERE!!!!!!!!!

**Pasta anto te**

1 cup parmigiano cheese, finely grated (228g), plus extra for sprinkling
1/2 cup milk (117ml)
1 T unsalted butter (14g)
0.8 lb fresh tagliolini pasta (362g)
4 T extra virgin olive oil (59ml)
2 T rosewater (44ml)
1/2 cup pistachios, chopped (114g)
0.2 lb fresh sheep­s milk ricotta cheese (100g)
a sprinkle of saffron
a bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
salt to taste

To make the sauce, first make a parmigiano cream­ by combining parmigiano cheese, milk and butter in a stainless steel bowl.

Rest bowl over pot of simmering water. Stir until creamy and uniform and set aside.
Cook the tagliolini in a pot of boiling salted water. Stir to prevent from sticking together.
While the pasta is cooking (fresh pasta takes very little time to cook), place olive oil and rosewater in a saucepan over low heat.

Add pistachios, ricotta and saffron. Mix thoroughly.

Drain the pasta approximately 2 minutes before the al dente­ stage, reserving some of the pasta water.

Add pasta and the reserved pasta water to the saucepan. Mix well. Then add parmigiano cream, salt and stir thoroughly.

Sprinkle with parmigiano cheese and parsley.

Serve immediately.

Serves 4

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  1. I'd love to find one of his cookbooks...or see his show! Sounds like something I'd love...and yup, very handsome :) Hooray for Spring!

  2. i love pasta dishes with the cheese and milk/eggs cream. Love it!! love the addition of rose water. Wonder how interesting the taste will be!

  3. That's a very unusual pasta dish! Very fragrant and interesting, yummy!



  4. This guy sounds a lot more interesting than the celebrities we have on Food Network down here. I'm fascinated by the rosewater in the pasta I bet it tastes fantastic!

  5. Looks amazing! I used to watch his show and really enjoyed it.

  6. I don't believe I've indulged in a pasta dish with rose water...I'm intrigued Val! Thanks for sharing a little bit of David Rocco with us.

  7. That's my kind of man! lol
    The pasta looks divine. Also I gave you an award on my blog:)

  8. I made his bolognese sauce from his latest cookbook. I love to read about him and his family. He has many great recipes. This one you made looks yummy as well.

  9. There are few things more inviting than a big ol' plate of pasta...one of them might be pasta with ricotta and pistachios. :)

  10. Rosewater in pasta is a new for me, but I am sure it was a delight to eat!! I love Davids shows!!!!

  11. Oh Val! What a wonderful post! My mom and I used to watch David's Dolce Vita when I lived in Canada (she still does, the lucky puck!). David Rocco is one of my favourite Canadian-Italian celebraties. He sure knows how to embrace the camera with his good looks and charming smile. Thanks for sharing ... I love your weekly Canadian Chef posts. Keep up the awesome work!

  12. Been seeing a lot of rosewater pop up in dishes lately and definitely interested in.

    Also, keep up the awesome write ups for some reason I am strangely obsessed with other people's lives so always nice to get a glimpse into what made them who they are.

  13. I love David Rocco! He is such a cutie and his show is great. I did buy the cd from his show, as I really like the music too. One day I will get his cookbook!
    Love the Canada series!

  14. What an interesting dish. I have never thought to use rosewater in a pasta dish, but it sounds so interesting...I might just have to try it!

  15. I bet the pistachios are fantastic in this.

  16. Some of my favorite ingredients are in that dish. I thank you for sharing your Canadian chefs with me. Don't keep them all up there.

  17. I've never seen his show on foodnetwork, I'm going over there and see when it's on!! Thanks Val!

  18. spring is here? where? where is that little booger? :)
    this dish sounds extremely and intriguing--i've never had pistachios in pasta, but i love the idea of it!

  19. This pasta dish has a fresh new combo of flavors to me -- saffron, pistachios and rose water is so interesting! I'm trying to decide which flavor would stand out the most! Always good to read about new chefs (to me, anyway!).

  20. I think I have missed all the fun! I haven't seen him cook before, but I will look out for the name now. Thanks Val :)

  21. Your said pasta? I didn't know what to make for dinner ... now I know! THank you.

  22. Rosewater in a pasta dish?! That sounds interesting.

  23. It amazes me how you find the time to cook all this great food and write up excellent posts! I want your energy.

  24. His shows are great and that looks like a perfect Presto Pasta Night dish too!

  25. The rosewater is an interesting addition - I love this look of this dish - yum!

  26. Just attended a one-hour culinary workshop today presented by David Rocco at the World Gourmet Summit 2009 (held in Singapore). It is his first visit to Singapore. David presented 3 receipes:
    1. Insalata di Fagioli e Tonno (Tuna and Bean Salad).
    2. Beet Risotto &
    3. Strawberries with Balsamic Vinegar.
    Seeing him in the flesh cooking was a real 'feast'. His lively and engaging personality added a special flavor to the whole presentation. He is fairer in person than I would have thought. Hope he will take good care of his receding hairline.

    Rocco fan from Singapore


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