Maui Chef Sabra Ricci cooks under the stars, by the stars and for the stars. With her hot Hollywood clientele always consulting her on astrology while she created their dishes, she decided it was time to write a cookbook combining the two disciplines. At her very first Maui Writer’s Conference in 2005, she pitched the idea to an agent and got signed on the spot. But soon after the economy took a wrong turn, and her original luxury book plan needed reworking. Six years later, the finished product, Lobster for Leos, Cookies for Capricorn, is for sale.
Ricci says it was a painstaking journey, but she never gave up. It was her tenacity and passion for the book that eventually got her publisher (St. Martin’s Press) to sign the deal. Ricci is a seasoned astrologist, having picked it up as a teen and continued to study it all her life. She’s contributed articles to Tarot.com and Daily Astrology but decided to keep the books light so that anyone can understand the astrology and relate to the recipes.
The premise of the cookbook is entertainment: each astrological sign has a part of the body that it lords over, so each chapter includes a series of recipes for a particular sign that advocates for their zone of the human system.
Now I’m not a huge devotee of astrology, but the book’s lighthearted approach made it fun to read. The book tells you what the signs are like in the kitchen, and what to expect if your dinner party guest is of a certain sign.
Another way to read the cookbook is to go by what ails you. I loved the Cancer sign’s chapter on foods that are great for your stomach. It has a list of the items that sooth the tummy and a little bit about how it helps the stomach, and then the recipes that follow incorporate those items into delicious dishes and drinks. My own sign’s chapter on the neurotic Virgo tells how to ease my high-strung self with broccolini, lavendar and tryptophan. (what no hard liquor?). I also got into the brain foods for the Aries, the artichoke heart hummus recipe has already landed in my regular repetoir.
“After I narrowed down the list of foods that supported the sign, I took some of the recipes from similar dishes I make for my clients,” said Ricci. “Others I developed specifically for the chapter. Some of them are inspired by the personalities of the signs, like lobster for Leos. Everything has to be the best for Leos.”
Chef Ricci will be on the Today Show on Monday, Jan. 2 at 8 am with celebrity gal pal Jenny McCarth (both are Scorpios). They will be helping Ann Curry (also a Scorpio) and Matt Lauer (Capricorn) figure out what foods to eat to start the new year healthy. On Feb. 13, Ricci and McCarthy will appear on Chelsea Lately where anything can happen.
Lobster for Leos is the first book in a series of 12 books that Ricci will be writing on astrology and food. The next one will focus on how to romance each astrological sign with food.
LOBSTER MACARONI AND CHEESE
My Leo client was getting married and asked me if I could make this for his bride.
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 quart half and half
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon white pepper
3 cups shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
2 cups shredded fontina cheese
2 pounds cooked lobster meat
1 pound penne pasta, cooked and drained
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 cup grated parmesan
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Melt butter in a heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Using a whisk and stirring constantly
add flour to butter and continue stirring for two minutes. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly
until thickened and smooth. Add salt, nutmeg and pepper. Remove from heat and whisk in
cheddar and Fontina cheese until cheese is melt and incorporated into the sauce. Stir in lobster
and pasta and mix thoroughly.
3. Spray 8-10 ounce ramekins with non-stick spray. Fill the ramekins leaving room for
breadcrumb topping. Mix panko and parmesan together in small bowl. Add butter and mix
together until crumbly. Top each ramekin with breadcrumb mixture and bake in the oven for 30
minutes or until browned and bubbly.
Find Chef Ricci’s website at sabraricci.com.