by Debra on July 11, 2012

I met Grace via Twitter long before we actually met in person; eager to share, to assist, to help in any way, Grace is one of those people you want for your neighbor. And not just because of her genuine kindness but also because Grace is a master when it comes to making jaw-dropping Italian desserts.

The second to the youngest of nine children, Grace comes from a large Italian family steeped in both American and Italian culture – a home where ‘there’s always room for one more at the table.’ Food is to be shared and celebrated – a tradition and philosophy that her large family still enjoys.

Grace has mastered the art of Italian pastry and is an excellent teacher – I’ve always said that I’m not a true baker. What I’ve meant by that is I’m someone who learned to bake cookies following the recipe from the back of the yellow chocolate chip package. And I’ve pulled more than my fair share of the ‘tear here’ perforated tabs from the tops of boxed cake mixes, peeled aluminum seals from the edges on plastic cans of frosting – all of which were fine and good and my family enjoyed. But this is the book to reach for if you want learn the art of Italian pastries – including the ‘how-tos’ for making pastry cream, meringue, pastry dough and more – Grace makes it all feel easy.

I’ve recently discovered I can no longer tolerate gluten and was a bit nervous about how to bake from this book; but because all the measurements are listed both by cup and by weight, I can take these recipes and convert them into the gluten-free baking I now do – it’s exciting to look at these beautiful recipes and know that they are within my reach to create. Simple, using the freshest ingredients available and step-by-step directions that are easy to follow will provide the results of a real pastry chef.

I really do wish Grace were my neighbor – I might invite myself over for a latte and some pastry!

Summer is here. Berries are in season. I can’t think of anything better than a warm-from-the-oven berry crumble – with or without ice cream this one is a winner. Raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, black raspberries – whatever you like – mix them together and sprinkle with buttery chunks of oats and nuts. No crust to roll out and you probably already have everything on hand.

Summer at its best.