Meet Deborah Mele, also known here as italianfoodforever. And those photos above are her recipes here at Tasty Kitchen. Yes, every single one, as of this writing.
With entries for drinks, salads, canapes, soups, main courses, desserts, and of course, pasta, you can theoretically print out her entire Tasty Kitchen recipe box and have an Italian cookbook in your hands.
Deborah also has her site, Italian Food Forever, where she shares cooking tips, cookbook reviews, travel journals, and of course, more recipes. She says that although she may not be Italian by birth, she is undeniably Italian by heart. While she does occasionally branch out, almost everything she prepares at home is either Italian or inspired by Italian ingredients, like her Panettone French Toast with Caramelized Apples below.
It was in Italy that Deborah says she “learned to prepare everything from breads to pastas, and anything in between.” Or, as we say here, from soups to nuts. Which, incidentally, she’s managed to combine in one bowl, in her Creamy Porcini Chestnut Soup pictured below.
While Deborah believes in making everything from scratch in her own kitchen, she also understands that this may not always be possible for those who have limited time in their busy days. Mindful of that, she offers ideas for cutting steps whenever possible. But sometimes, shortcuts are unnecessary, and her Quick and Easy Zesty Sausage Pasta below is a 30-minute meal that tastes like it was simmering for hours.
Deborah maintains that the essence of Italian cooking is simplicity, using the freshest seasonal ingredients and basic cooking techniques to bring out the natural flavor of the food. And she shares many such simple, basic and incredibly heart-warming recipes, like the Warm Goat Cheese In Tomato Sauce pictured below. It really doesn’t get any simpler than that.
We’re truly happy to have Deborah here. From demystifying panna cotta to gorgeous dishes like those Herbed Goat Cheese Mini Flans that I can’t stop thinking about, Deborah has so much to offer us, and she does so in such a generous way.
So let’s jump right into the part where we ask her questions, and get to know the lovely Deborah Mele a little better!
Q: What do you enjoy most about cooking?
A: I love cooking with ingredients that inspire me and that are usually fresh and locally grown. When we are spending our yearly 6 months in Umbria overseeing our farmhouse rental, I visit the outdoor markets almost every day and look for my inspiration for what I will cook that day from the seasonal local ingredients I find there.
Q: Any favorite chefs or food celebrities? Who inspires you?
A: The person who inspired my love of cooking the most would have to be my Italian mother-in-law, who never measures anything and who taught me that being a great cook was as much from the heart as it was from the head. Of course, if one loves Italian cuisine, it is impossible not to be inspired by such celebrities as Marcella Hazan, Mario Batali, or Lidia Bastianich.
Q: What is your go-to dish or meal?
A: Pasta, of course! I LOVE pasta because I can create an amazing sauce in the time it takes to cook the pasta and have a meal on the table in less than 30 minutes.
Q: What if you had to eat something right now and had only 3 minutes to get it ready? What would it be?
A: It’d be a peanut butter and banana sandwich (a childhood favorite I never outgrew).
Q: Give us one of your favorite kitchen tips that you wish you’d always known.
A: That when making bread, weighing your ingredients is much more accurate than measuring them.
Q: What gives you the most trouble in the kitchen?
A: I am embarrassed to admit that I do not like—and am even nervous about—deep frying. I always worry I will end up with my entire kitchen on fire!
Thank you for answering our questions, Deborah! And since cooking truly is a matter of the heart, thank you for sharing yours with everyone.
For more of Deborah, her cooking, travels, and her great love for the Italian kitchen, head to her site, Italian Food Forever. Her passion for food is such a joy to experience.