Laurie Figone, who grew up as Laurie Leveroni on her family’s multi-generational dairy ranch nestled in the Marin county hills of rural Novato, this month joins the Sonoma-Marin Farm News as a food columnist.
Each month Laurie will offer her award winning recipes and also write about the farmers and artisan food producers she encounters in her travels about the North Bay. Because of her deep roots in the region, Laurie knows many of the farmers and ranchers in Sonoma and Marin counties and will share her stories with readers of the Sonoma-Marin Farm News.
Growing up on the Leveroni Ranch as the daughter of Joyce and David Leveroni III, Laurie’s closest neighbors were grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. She went to elementary school at a quaint, one- room schoolhouse and the fellow students were children from neighboring ranches. Families were close- knit, work was hard and the hours were long, but everyone came together at the end of the day for a wonderful meal at the family table. It is from these roots that Laurie’s passion for good food was born.
Laurie was a profoundly shy young girl, yet she found herself at ease and confident in the kitchen. With encouragement from a patient and willing mother, Laurie started cooking at a young age, chopping, creating and helping to prepare meals for the family table. Years later, married with a family of her own, Laurie went back to her Italian roots and began cooking with her paternal grandmother, Ida Leveroni, perfecting the art of making her own hand- made raviolis. She became famous in her community for her delicious raviolis and started on a path in the foodie world she never knew she would be brave enough to follow.
Laurie began experimenting in the kitchen and entered a few contests. She soon had a collection of winning recipes and found them published in cookbooks. With courage and confidence, she accepted an offer to host her own TV show “Cooking with Laurie”. The program showcases locally grown and raised products, which she then turns into culinary masterpieces.
Laurie still lives in one of the most beautiful areas of Northern California, though the landscape has changed a bit. Hayfields have become residential subdivisions and generational dairies have gone out of business, but these economic pressures, combined with consumer demand, have forced agricultural diversity. Grass fed beef, organic vegetables, free range chickens and eggs are just a few of the local products that are still produced on the ranches in the valley where Laurie grew up. She is proud of this area, proud to cook with its wonderful bounty and proud that her roots are in this land, for it is from these roots that Laurie’s passion was born.
Laurie is married to Dan Figone of Hunt & Behrens Feed Co. in Petaluma. She has two children, Garret Medeiros and Sabrina Figone, and is the proud owner of Bart, her black Cocker Spaniel.
My visit to McClelland’s Dairy
In January 2011 my neighbor, a plumber by trade, told me I should have a cooking show on the P.C.A. (Petaluma Community Access) channel 27…I looked at him like he was CRAZY!!
Needless to say, ‘Cooking With Laurie’ was born. I didn’t want the show to be just about me cooking…I wanted to bring in the wonderful bounty of deliciousness that is being produced right here in Sonoma and Marin Counties. I wanted to introduce the audience to the faces behind the scenes…faces of many that I recognized, having grown up on a dairy ranch in Novato.
My most recent visit was to McClelland’s Dairy in West Petaluma where the McClelland Family produces Hand Wrapped European Style Organic Butter. The Two Rock valley coastal breeze makes for the ideal climate for their herd of 900 organic cows. “The Special Girls”, as Jana calls them, don’t care for the temperature to be over 68’ and are predominately grass fed.
I had a confession to make…I had never milked a cow by hand!! Jana changed that…she gave me Lily, a Grand Champion, to milk. She also gave me some of her delicious artisan butter to bring back to my kitchen where I whipped up my ‘Fettuccine Al’a Figone’ and compound butters. Compound butters are great to have on hand…they make great toppings for grilled meats, pastas, polenta and fresh locally baked bread.
I’m sharing one of my favorites today. Just remember the possibilities are endless, let your taste buds guide you.
Fettuccine Al’a Figone
This is a super simple dish filled with fresh flavors!! What I love most about it is how quick it comes together and the beautiful colors are sure to entice your appetite!!
- ½ cup McClelland’s Artisan Organic Butter, room temperature
- 2 TBSP. minced fresh parsley
- 2 TBSP. minced fresh basil
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 lemon, zested
- 3 cloves fresh garlic, sliced
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 cups fresh green beans cut into 1 in. pieces
- 1 lb. prawns, peeled, cleaned and patted dry
- ¼ cup vermouth
- 9 oz. fresh fettuccine
- Sea salt, to taste
- In a small bowl, blend together fresh herbs, lemon zest and butter. Put this mixture into a large frying pan over medium heat; melt butter. Add the halved cherry tomatoes, cut green beans and sliced garlic; simmer over medium heat just until the tomatoes start to break down. This should take about 3 minutes.
- While your sauce is simmering; bring 7 cups of salted water to a boil in a large pot.
- Once the cherry tomatoes have broken down; add the prawns and vermouth to this mixture and stir and cook just until the prawns are cooked through (they will have lost all of their gray color and turned pink). Right after you add the prawns to the frying pan, add the fresh fettuccine to the pot of boiling water. Pasta and prawns should both be ready in 3 minutes.
- Drain the fettuccine and put in a large serving bowl. Pour the prawn mixture on top of the pasta.