The Natural

You may know Valerie Bertinelli from her work as an actress on such hit television shows as One Day at a Time and Hot in Cleveland, but recently, she’s been doing some of her best work in the kitchen. Both her new cookbook and hit show for the Food Network are aptly named Valerie’s Home Cooking and draw upon her passion for food, family and friends.

Bertinelli’s utter lack of pretense is only surpassed by her joyful zest for life. It’s that zest, like the lemon zest she so often uses in her recipes, that gives her show its vibrant flavor.

“I never thought of myself as a great cook,” she admits. “Growing up, I watched my mother, my aunts and my Nonnie (grandmother) cook. I can’t imagine what it would have been like not to have had that experience. That’s when I started to love cooking. Recently, I found out that my great-grandmother was a chef at a summer home in Italy and had a gelato cart. I thought, ‘Wow, it really is my heritage.’ I come from an amazing lineage of great cooks.”

And although some of her recipes have been handed down, Bertinelli reinvents them into modern and easy to prepare dishes.

“I want people to know that cooking isn’t difficult. It really isn’t,” Bertinelli insists. “I’m a really good home cook, but I still make mistakes.”

How much time does she spend thinking about food? 

“Far too much,” she admits with an unbridled laugh. “Far, far too much!”

Favorite recipes from her new cookbook? 

“There was this soup I loved at a local restaurant. It was shrimp in a spicy broth,” she recalls. “The restaurant left, and I missed this dish so much that I thought, ‘I have to develop this recipe.’ It took a couple of days and a couple of go rounds, but I did it. So I’m super-duper proud of it! If I put it side by side with the soup from that restaurant, I’d be able to fool people. In fact, I think it’s better.”

Favorite ingredient? 

“I did Pasta Alle Vongole in my first book, but I had to have a steamer recipe in this book because I am so in love with clams.”

Favorite comfort food? 

“It changes depending on what needs comforting,” she confides. “A lot of times it is lasagna or pizza. Rarely is it sugar… although I have a sweet tooth. So I don’t know. I don’t get me. I can’t explain myself; it’s just too difficult,” she continues with one last delicious laugh.

There’s more! › Visit our blog at ocalastyle.com for more about Valerie and her recipe for Steamed Clams with Spicy Garlic Bread, and check out Valerie online at valeriebertinelli.com.

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