Indeed, you may not know that Scotto is an avid chef. Or perhaps you do, if you’ve visited her family restaurant, Fresco by Scotto, in mid-town Manhattan. Scotto doesn’t run the kitchen at the popular Italian restaurant, which she started with several family members, but she does put in time as a hostess each week. It is in many ways a perfect side gig for the Emmy award-winning reporter, news anchor and current co-host of Good Day New York.
“I’m there and I’m very hands- on,” Scotto said. “But mostly, I’m very good at schmoozing.”
On a typical night this might involve talking up stars like Gabriel Byrne or Bette Midler. But more than anything Scotto said she enjoys serving friends from Brooklyn who know of the place and stop by for a favorite old country dish. At Fresco, Scotto said, “I feel like I’m back in the neighborhood.”
Scotto was born and raised in the Dyker Heights section of southern Brooklyn. She speaks of her childhood fondly; hers was a close knit community, filled with family, friends and busy kitchens. After graduating from Packer Collegiate Institute in Brooklyn Heights and Catholic University of America in Washington D.C., Scotto began her reporting career in Atlanta, before returning to New York in the 1980s. She later landed at FOX 5, and has been there ever since.
Scotto is happy with her recent move from anchoring the news to the morning show Good Day New York. She said she looks forward to the challenge of hosting an eclectic range of guests. One day it might be the governor, the next day RuPaul.
“I’m loving Good Day New York,” she said. “Its very different from doing the 10 o’clock news.”
Though she remains as busy as ever, Scotto still finds time to cook for her family, making her the envy of any journalist who knows the pangs of an empty stomach on deadline. To accomplish this, Scotto said she spends all day cooking on Sunday, preparing food for the rest of the week. On the weekend, she dines with friends or at restaurants.
For the record, Scotto learned everything she knows from her mother, of course, whom she calls “a great cook.” She said if asked, her two children, aged 15 and 20, would probably say that mom’s “a good cook.” So maybe there’s room for improvement, though Scotto seems to be doing just fine.
Don’t take just anyone’s word for it, however; try making her Torta Rustica and judge for yourself. Scotto said she makes the dish every Easter. The traditional torta is filled with Parmesan, mozzarella, ricotta, prosciutto and salami. Then there’s the vegetarian version. Or make it anyway you please.
Scotto said a solid Torta Rustica recipe can be handed down from generation to generation. Here she’s handing hers to you.
TORTA RUSTICA RECIPE
This traditional Easter torta is filled with ricotta, Parmesan, mozzarella, prosciutto and salami.
Makes 8 to 10 servings
• 4 cups all-purpose flour
• 2 teaspoons sugar
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 2 sticks (1 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
• 4 large eggs, beaten lightly
• 4 large eggs, beaten lightly
• 30 ounces whole-milk ricotta cheese, placed in a strainer and set aside for approximately 1 hour to remove excess liquid
• 6 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated
• 1 cup heavy cream
• 1/4 pound thinly sliced prosciutto, chopped
• 1/4 pound thinly sliced Genoa salami, chopped
• Egg wash made by beating 1 large egg with 2 tablespoons milk
To Make Pastry Dough:
1. Using a food processor mix or pulse together flour, sugar, and salt. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal.
2. Add eggs and pulse until eggs are incorporated and dough is formed.
3. Form dough into a disk and chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, for about 1 hour. Dough may be made one day ahead and chilled, covered.
To Make Torta Rustica:
1. Preheat oven to 375° F.
2. In a large bowl, add all the cheeses, eggs, and heavy cream. Mix thoroughly, then fold in the prosciutto and salami; mix well.
3. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a ⅛-inch-thick round about 18 inches in diameter. Fit dough into a 9-inch springform pan, leaving a 2- to 3-inch overhang. Into the shell, add the cheese-meat mixture.
4. Carefully fold the extra dough over the top of the filling toward the center of the torta, leaving the top partially open. Brush dough with egg wash.
5. Bake torta in middle of oven for 1 hour, or until top crust is golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature, cut into wedges.
(Recipe Courtesy of Scotto)