My Master Chef Audition

I moved to Vancouver from Italy to follow the love of my life 13 years ago; when I came here I did not know any  English, I had no family support, I had to leave all my friends and my beautiful country full of culture and good food, I had to reinvent myself.

After 13 years in Canada I was called to a Master Chef audition, to audition for one of the top 40 home cooks in all Canada, it felt pretty awesome. I’m really proud of myself and I can’t wait to see what destiny will bring to me. I think this country is pretty fantastic and full of opportunity.

I seriously never thought to participate in the program,  I don’t know what happened one morning  while my kids were getting ready to go to the pool I decided to fill out the online application just to see which kind of questions you had to answer! I was 100% sure that I would never be called so answered all 56 questions very sincerely  without trying to impress anybody. Two hours later I received a phone call from one of the producers. I didn’t get it right away, I mean I didn’t understand what he wanted ..lol..This gentlemen asked me more questions about my life and of course I was happy to answer him in a very honest way always thinking in my head that Master Chef Canada will never ask ME to do an audition! Well I was wrong because at the end of the conversation he did invite me to the audition in Vancouver on July 27. I was shocked, in my head I thought it was some kind of joke, I could not believe that this little Italian mom that came from Italy 13 years ago with nothing, got an invitation to Master Chef Canada audition. Inside my head I thought again that it was a joke. Sometimes I don’t believe in myself, unfortunately when I was a teenager I was rejected from my biological dad, so even after all this years, and all the love that my husband and children give me every day, sometimes I feel insecure.

The day after I got an email with all the details about the audition, in that moment I did realize that it was real and I felt pretty awesome about it. My cooking dreams are to open a cooking school, write a recipe book and to have a cooking channel so I thought if I gave all of myself, this wonderful opportunity can help me to reach my dreams.

At the audition I had to bring a signature dish, that could be eaten at room temperature. For room temperature it was really difficult to decide what to bring. I wanted to bring a nice home-made from scratch with love lasagna or gnocchi or cannelloni or simple a plate of pasta but everybody knows that those dishes cold are not really good. My last choice was her Majesty “Eggplant Parmigiana”. I still remember when I was a kid going to the beach with my family with the coolers full of yummy food and one of them was the parmigiana. I used to eat it cold on a nice piece of delicious bread. Eggplant parmigiana is one of my favorite dishes, in Italy it’s a dish that you can find on most of the Sunday/festive tables.

Audition day was really crazy, the night before I didn’t sleep at all I was so worried about my dish because we had to plate it in 3 minutes in front of the chefs and all the Master Chef Crew. The Eggplant Parmigiana is really good but there is not so many cool ways to decorate so I kept it simple just like me. I did prepare the dish at home, I usually make it in a deep dish but this time I made it like in a tower with 10/12 layers and left it in the round mold until I had to plate it in front of everybody.The 3 minutes were pretty crazy, so many peoples made awesome dishes! I plated my round eggplant parmigiana in a middle of a white square plate, put some basil on the side and some oil. That was it. Very simple. The chef came and asked me technical questions, tasted it and that was it! He had a piece of paper to fill in, the green one in the picture. After that, the Master Chef winner of season 2, David Jorge, came too taste it and we had a little chat! What an awesome guy seriously, my daughter is still mad that I didn’t take a picture with him, she was a big fan of him in the show. Matthew Astorga was there too and also an awesome guy. They both were very down to earth.

After the plating I had to wait few hours for the audition in another room in front of the crew, that was another awesome experience. I would have never thought to be able to do something so magnificent, I feel so good about my self right now! The casting audition ended  yesterday so I  have to wait another week for the results.I feel good about it, I gave all of myself, all the love in me went on my dish! Even if I don’t pass it will be an experience that I will never forget and I’m so proud of.

Below are some pictures of the event. Unfortunately I didn’t take a picture of my parmigiana because I forgot the phone in the other room!

Thanks all and thanks to all my friends, my customer that believe in me, without your love I wouldn’t be here. Finger crossed for me, next week we know the results.

 

 

CHEESECAKE WITH BERRIES SAUCE

Its daddy’s birthday and of course he requested a cheesecake again! This time I wanted to try a different recipe from a book that a dear friend gave to me. Cheesecake for me is one of the easiest dessert, you just need to follow few important rules for example: all the ingredients must be at room temperature, eggs especially room temperature and when it’s time to add them to the cream add them one at the time mixing for a minute for each egg. If you do this operation properly your cheesecake won’t crack in the middle! If it does crack don’t worries about it just cover it with a decorative topping, it will taste delicious.

I really hope you like this recipe like we did; daddy was very impress especially because our daughter Isabella helped me to make it with lots of love.

 

Ingredients for the crust:

  • 1 ½ cup cookies crumbs
  • 3 tablespoon butter melted

Filling:

  • 3 package of cream cheese room temperature {250 grams each pachage}
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 yolks
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 2 ½ tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • A sprinkle of love

Berries sauce:

  • 500ml berries fresh or frozen
  • 3 tablespoon of sugar
  • 2 tablespoon water
  • Juice of half lemon
  • A sprinkle of salt

 

Method:

  • For the crust: in a bowl mix cookies crumbs and melted butter. Press into bottom of cheesecake pan and freeze it for 30 minutes at least. I highly suggest a 9-inch {23 cm} cheesecake pan; I cover it with parchment paper so it doesn’t stick.
  • For the filling: in a mixing bowl{I used my kitchen aid with paddle attachment} beat the cream cheese, sour cream and the sugar for a few minutes on a medium speed. Add the eggs now one at the time. Every time you add the egg mix very well for a minute. Put the flour, the vanilla and the lemon juice.
  • Pour the yummy batter over the cookies crust and bake it on a preheat oven 350 for 55 minutes until the top is light brown and the middle start to jiggle a bit. Let it cool down for an hour and then refrigerate for at least 4/5 hours.
  • For the berries sauce: put the berries in a pan, add the water and the sugar and let it boil mixing once a while. Add a pinch of salt and the lemon juice and let it simmer for 10 minutes, squishing the berries with a fork.
  • When it’s ready you can use it like that or like I did I did pour everything in a blender!
  • You have now the option to pour over to the cheesecake or, like I did, put it in a small bowl and serve it on a side of your cheesecake.
  • Buon Appetito2016-08-04 16.52.34-1

RICOTTA GNOCCHI

 

Gnocchi are a must in every Italian family! There are so many kinds of gnocchi like: potato gnocchi, beet and potato, pumpkin gnocchi, gnocchi made with bread, durum wheat gnocchi and cheese gnocchi! My family absolutely favorite are the classic potato and flour with a nice meat sauce or butter and sage sauce.

The other day my son, the gnocchi lover, he woke up and the first thing he said to me was; “mamma, can you make gnocchi for me today? Pretty please with cherries on top”? Of course I could say no but I had just one small problem, I ran out of potato but I opened the fridge and I found some ricotta so I decide to make ricotta gnocchi for him, well for the family!

Ricotta gnocchi are very delicate and way easier to make, they don’t require any too much work and you can make them in 15/20 minutes!Yup..not too long so what are you waiting for? Follow this recipe and challenge yourself, make them for your family or friends.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 500 grams of ricotta
  • 1 egg
  • 100 grams parmigiano cheese/parmesan 2016-07-19 11.15.27-1
  • 200 flour
  • Salt
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • A sprinkle of love

Method:

In a bowl put the ricotta, the parmesan cheese, egg, nutmeg, the sprinkle of love and start to mix with your hands or a spoon! Add the flour not all at once but a little bit at the time, add the salt and mix until the dough is nice and firm{it will take just few minutes}.

When the dough is done place it on your working surface, get a small piece and with your hands start to roll it out, very gently without pressing down! When you are ready you can start to cut the gnocchi out with a knife! Put them in a plate and sprinkle some flour so they won’t stick together.

Cook the gnocchi in salted water for 1 or 2 minutes, when they float they are ready.

Finish cooks them in a nice butter and sage sauce or tomatoes sauce.

For the butter and sage sauce: in a frying pan put some butter, let it melt and add the sage! Stir fry for minutes or two and add the gnocchi in. Sautee’ for a minutes and add more cheese if you like.

Buon appetito

If you wanna see the video of this recipe click on this like from my Facebook page

 

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fbellacibo72%2Fvideos%2F965156093593391%2F&show_text=0&width=400

BLUEBERRIES PIE

 

BLUEBERRIES PIE

 

I love blueberries and every year I have my little tradition to go pick them up with my kids! It’s a fun activity for them and it is something that I want them to remember when they are older…the precious moments with mamma.

This is my first time making blueberries pie, I got the recipe from an Old Italian Magazine and I have to say I really liked the result; the pie came out not too sweet so I could really taste the blueberries! I love natural flavours! For this recipe I made with my hand the Pate Brisee {Pie Dough} but, if you don’t have time, you can buy it frozen already made.

I highly suggest making this cake with your kids so you can start your own tradition and you can challenge yourself.

INGRIDIENTS FOR THE PIE DOUGH

  • 12 ounces flour
  • 4 ounces butter from the fridge
  • 70 ml water
  • Salt just few pinch
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • A sprinkle of love

INGRIDIENTS FOR THE BLUEBERRIES SAUCE

  • 12 ounces blueberries
  • 5 ounces brown sugar
  • 4 ounces cornstarch
  • ½ lemon

METHOD:

  • First thing you have to make the Dough Pie so it can rest for a little bit before you work it on it!
  • In a bowl put the flour, salt, egg, sugar and the butter cut in small pieces. Mix very well with your hands and when you see that the dough start to look very sandy add the cold water. Mix for few minutes and let it rest in the fridge cover with plastic paper.
  • Now it’s time to make the blueberries sauce so in a pan put the blueberries, the brown sugar and the juice of half lemon, cook everything on a medium heat for few minutes and then add the corn starch e cook for 2 minutes. Put your blueberries mixture in a blender and blend everything! Let it rest for few minutes.
  • Get your dough from the fridge, and whit a rolling pin roll it out. What I usually do is this: I put some parchment paper on my working surface, the dough and on top more parchment paper so it will be easier to work it out because the dough won’t stick to the rolling pin. Bring your cake pan and put the rolled dough in, don’t forget to leave few pieces of dough for the decoration, now pour the blueberries sauce, level everything with a spoon and put some decoration on top. In my case yesterday my kids wanted to make few hearts , but you can do stripe or star or whatever you like. In your kitchen you can do whatever you like, you are in control.
  • Bake the cake for 35/45 minutes at 350
  • Buon Appetito

 

QUINOA SALAD

Quinoa is very versatile and easy to prepare. It is also considered a Super food so you should add it to your diet.

This recipe is born with the intention to clean-up my fridge, whatever I had I add it; you can add more or less, in the kitchen you are the queen so feel free to use Your imagination in your dish, don’t be scared …challenge yourself.

Ingredients:

  • 1 glass of quinoa2016-07-10 19.07.19
  • 2 glass of water
  • 2 carrots diced
  • Half eggplant diced
  • 1 potatoes diced
  • 1 tomato diced
  • broccoli
  • 1 zucchini diced
  • Oil
  • Half onion
  • Salt
  • A sprinkle of love

Method:

  • In a pan put your glass of quinoa, 2 glasses of water and let it boil for 10/15 minutes. The quinoa needs to absorb all the water, when is ready put it in a side and let it cool.
  • In a frying pan put some oil and stir fry the onion and add the vegetables. Cook them for 10/15 minutes depending on how crunchy you like the vegetables. If you like the veggies more mushy cook them longer.
  • In a big bowl now put your quinoa and add the cooked vegetables, give it a good mix and voila’ it’s ready!
  • You can either eat it warm or cold, you going to love it.
  • Buon Appetito and don’t forget the sprinkle of love

Caprese Salad

Yesterday Italy bet Spain on the Euro 2016, to honor that I decided to make one of the most simple and delicious salad in the Italian Cuisine: the Caprese Salad. The colors honor the Italian flag, red, white and green.

In Italy its usually served like antipasto or side dish, its a perfect dish for hot summer day.To make this dish delicious I suggest you to use a good Oil Extra Virgin and a good mozzarella, the one in the water,  that you easily find in the regular super market. Follow this recipe and challenge your self, make it for your family and friends.Most of the time the more the dish is simple the better…this is my Mantra.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 mozzarella or bocconcini
  • 2 ripe tomatoes
  • basil
  • salt
  • Oil Extra Virgin
  • Balsamic Vinegar if you like
  • a sprinkle of love, never forget that

METHOD:

  • Wash your tomatoes, dry them out.With a small knife cut out the small green part and then cut them out in the length side.Your slices has to be more or less than 1 cm.Do the same thing for the mozzarella.
  • Get a nice serving plate and put the tomatoes in a circle way, like I did in the picture, put the mozzarella slices on top and at the end the basil leaves.
  • Now you sprinkle some love, the EVO, salt and if you like Balsamic Vinegar! I usually add some balsamic but this time I ran out, if you add it you will have a nice vinaigrette perfect for a nice “scarpetta”/ deeping bread.
  • Buon Appetito

caprese salad

 

 

 

Chocolate chip cookies

My kids love chocolate chip cookies and I always look for new recipe to get best result!

This is Betty Crocker’s recipe that I found on-line http://www.bettycrocker.com/, my kids really like them, the comment was “they are better than amazing”!

With this recipe you will make a big batch of cookies, I made 58 cookies but if you make them smaller you can have more.

I also posted a YouTube video about it, if you want to have a good laugh check it out

 

Ingredients

  • 1 and ¼ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 and 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 and ½ butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups cups chocolate chip
  • A sprinkle of love

Method:

  • Heat the oven to 375°F.
  • In large bowl with electric mixer, beat granulated sugar, brown sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla and eggs until well blended. Beat in flour, baking soda and salt. Stir in chocolate chips.
  • On ungreased cookie sheets, drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart.
  • Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks.

 

Buon appetito

NUTELLA COOKIES

These cookies are simply amazing and easy to make.

We are Nutella lover so we use this recipe often, I suggest making these cookies with your children.

Cooking or baking together is a great family activity and you will make a lot of precious moment.

 

Ingredients:

  • 150 grams flour
  • 180 grams Nutella
  • 1 egg
  • a sprinkle of love

Method:

  • Beat the egg and add 180 grams of Nutella (3 tablespoon).
  • Mix very well until it is nice and smooth.
  • Slowly add the flour and turn the oven on at 350.
  • If you have time you can put the dough in the fridge for 20/30 minutes for better result.
  • Now it’s time to make the cookies so take a little piece of dough (25 grams) and make little balls.
  • Put them on the baking sheet (covered with parchment paper) and with a wooden spoon make a little pressure in the middle of every cookie so you can make a nice hole where we will put the Nutella.
  • Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.
  • Buon appetito

NOBAKE LEMON CHEESECAKE

Lemon Cheesecake

I’m in love with this recipe, I made it for my mother in law birthday and it was a huge success!

This cheese cake doesn’t need to be bake and, because there is not mascarpone cheese, I found it very light! Also the lemon sauce on top it’s very refreshing.

The only suggestion that I want to give you to make this recipe successful is to get all the ingredients ready and to follow all the steps.

Are you ready? Challenge yourself and do it

Ingredients:

For the base:

·         200 grams graham cookies crumbled

  • 100 grams butter melted

For the cake:

  • 10 grams gelatin
  • 250 ml whipping cream
  • 300 grams Lemon yogurt
  • 200 Philadelphia
  • 100 grams sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • A sprinkle of love

For the lemon cream:

  • 100 ml orange juice
  • 100 ml lemon juice
  • 15 grams corn starch
  • 70 grams sugar

Step 1:

  • The first thing to do is to get the base of your cheese cake ready.
  • Get your cookies crumbled in a bowl and add the melted butter. Mix very well and pour everything in a round cake pan 9 ½ inch, I suggest to use a Springform cake pan, press firmly onto bottom of the pan and put it in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Step 2:

  • Bring your gelatin, put it in a bowl and cover it with water, if you use Knox follow their instruction because I used a brand from the Italian store.
  • Whip your whipping
  • In another bowl put the lemon yogurts, the Philadelphia and the sugar. Mix very well with a hand-mixer and add the whipping cream whipped.
  • On a side squeeze out 1 lemon and put it the juice in a small pan adding the gelatin, bring it over to the stove to a low- medium heat and let it melt for 1 or 2   minutes; when its melt add it to the whipping cream mixture. Mix very well, bring your cake pan out of the fridge and pour it over the crust. Put it back to the fridge for at least 3 hours or in the freezer for 1 hour.

Step 3:

  • Now it’s time to make your lemon cream:
  • bring 100 ml orange juice and 100 ml lemon juice and pour it in a small pan, add the 70 grams of sugar and 15 grams of corn starch and on a medium-heat cook it for 4/5 minutes until the cream is nice and thick {it’s very important that the cream is thick, it might take few minutes longer}.Let it cool down before to pour it on the cheese cake for 2/3 minutes

Step 4:

  • Get the cake out of the fridge, open your pan, very gently, and pour the lemon cream on top. Use some lemon for decoration.

Buon Appetito and most important don’t forget the sprinkle of love.

 

IMG_4546

About Marzia

About Marzia

Marzia’s love affair with Italian cuisine was sparked at a young age – as soon as she was tall enough to reach her mother’s countertops.

The Langley, B.C resident was born just outside of Naples in a small town called Sant’ Antimo, which had a population of 24,000 people at the time.

Her parents would soon move her family to a small rural village in Northern Italy called Traona – a town with less than 1,500 residents, but plenty of cows, chickens, and rabbits.

Marzia’s childhood in the rolling hillside was a joyous one.  She got to eat fresh local food, daily, and the best cheese in the entire world. Her mother was also happy for the extra hand in the kitchen and with helping to care for her two brothers.

Summers were spent in Southern Italy at her Nona’s beach house. There were always plenty of cousins, aunts and uncles around.

Nona made sure she did her chores and helped with cleaning up the house each morning.

Her golden rule for women was: “Man have to be happy, so all the ladies in the house have to clean up, make breakfast, get lunch ready while the men are at the beach.”

Nona instilled the virtue of hard work, but also the importance of living well.

 After lunch was eaten and all the dishes were cleaned and put away, it was time to unwind and have some fun. This meant heading to the beach, sun tanning, eating appetizers – living la dolce vita.

At the end of August it was time for the tradition of canning all those ruby-red tomatoes off the vine with Nona.

This would leave her family with enough fresh sauce to last the winter.

The end of summer was always sad. It was never easy to say goodbye to her big funny family.  

Speaking of family…

In 1995, she‘d meet Dan – a quirky Canadian traveller who would set her heart on fire and change her destiny.

He was from Vancouver, which at the time, Marzia, nor anyone in her family knew very little about.

Marzia thought he was a bit strange, especially since he seemed to enjoy the rain.

Note: If you are a true Italian, you don’t like the rain one little bit!!!

Long story short, they both fell in L.O.V.E, and in 2003, Dan convinced her to move to Vancouver.

The lifestyle change was difficult in the beginning, but in the end, it proved to be the best decision for the couple. They now live happily ever after in the suburbs of Langley, B.C with their two beautiful children.

Today, Marzia enjoys teaching her passion of cooking authentic Italian cuisine and sharing her stories of growing up in Italy. Her dream is to one day soon, open a cooking school.

She hasn’t stopped missing her Mom, Nona, aunt and all her large family in Italy, but she is proud of the little family and life she has made for herself on the West Coast. She knows everyone back home is proud she is bringing a little slice of Italy to Canada.

16HPIM2512ISABELLA 2 GIUGNO 2007  ITALY 03925.jpg

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