Amelia Bonacorsco's bookshelves overflow with thumbed and tabbed cookbooks that cover just about every style of cuisine imaginable. Now she can tuck her own published collection of culinary delights into the collection.
The Greenwich resident published her first cookbook, "Amelia's Kitchen: Mangiare a Casa," over the summer. With no formal training, Bonacorsco started cooking at age 15 under her mother's tutelage and with a sibling to play taste-tester. Her first recipes came from the pages of a Betty Crocker cookbook, which she still has, and evolved from there.
"Mom was a great cook," said Bonacorsco. "As a child, I wasn't much of an Italian food fan. But the Sunday gravy, and the roast and the chicken with mushrooms," she paused and smiled. "I can't duplicate that."
When not writing, Bonacorsco teaches cooking at Adult Continuing Education and dabbles in educational cooking for kids. The key to good cooking, according to Bonacorsco, lies in the ingredients: fresh produce and meats. She avoids red meat, eating just enough chicken and fish to skirt the vegetarian line. The vegetables she cooks with are fresh, not out of cans.
"I always worked, and I would get up in the morning and wash all of my vegetables for the evening and put them back in the refrigerator. And then they would be ready for me to cook when I got home. I just don't like things in a can," Bonacorsco said.
One of the most difficult ingredients for people to master is time, and busy schedules can leave little time for cooking. "I think if you want to cook, you can find a way to organize your time and meals to make it work," said Bonacorsco.
While "Amelia's Kitchen: Mangiare a Casa" is Bonacorsco's first cookbook, it won't be her last. She's cooking up a sequel dedicated to desserts. In the meantime, home cook's can snag her first foray into publishing from Amazon.com or other online retailers. For the holidays, Bonacorsco wanted to share a recipe for a maple, brown sugar and pineapple baked ham.
Maple, Brown Sugar and Pineapple Baked Ham
Youll love this sweet sugary glaze that contrasts so well with the saltiness of the ham.
Makes: 16 -20 servings.1 smoked bone-in Virginia ham (14 to 16 pounds), rinsed, patted dry
2 (15 ounce) cans of sliced pineapple slices, in heavy syrup (strain syrup into a measuring cup to make 2 cups)
A small jar of Maraschino cherries, drain and save syrup
1 cup of honey
1-1/2 cups dark brown sugar
1 stick of butter
1-1/2 cups of maple syrup (not light)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. With a sharp knife, score parallel lines in a grid pattern, with cuts 1-inchapart and 1/4-inch deep, across the rounded, skin and fat side of the ham. Insert whole cloves inthe cross-points of the diamond shaped slits. Decoratively arrange the pineapple rings, securing withtoothpicks inserted in cherries into the centers of pineapple.
Cover ham with foil, place in a large roasting pan; pour 1 inch of water into the bottom of the panand place in the heated oven. Bake for 1 hour to heat up; then remove to add the glaze.
Glaze: In a 2-quart saucepan, melt 1/2 stick butter. Mix in brown sugar, pineapple syrup, maplesyrup, cherry syrup and honey. Bring to a simmer; reduce the heat and cook uncovered until thickand syrupy enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 20 minutes. Cover pot and remove from heat.After 1 hour, remove the ham from the oven; remove the foil and evenly baste on all sides with thereduced glaze. Tent the foil over ham and return to oven. Baste every 30 minutes. Total bake time is 3-1/2 to 4 hours. Check to make sure temperature is at 170 degrees on meat thermometer.
When ham is done, remove from the oven onto a serving platter and let rest for 15 minutes beforecarving. Strain the glaze/pan drippings into a big enough pot to hold. Maintain heat on low to keepwarm and stir now and then. Taste for re-seasoning. When ready to serve, place in a gravy boat forpassing. Serve ham with pineapple rings and the glaze/pan sauce.
Note: Bake 10 to 15 minutes per pound and when an instant read thermometer reads an internal temperature of 170 degrees.
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