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VPR Cafe: Mama Gucc

Sunday, May 12, 10:40am  Mary Anne Gucciardi was the den mother for UVM Athletes for more than 30  years.  Affectionately known as Mama Gucc (pronounced Gooch), her huge spaghetti suppers are legend.  On this Mother's Day edition of The VPR Cafe, Melissa Pasanen recounts the magic of Mama Gucc, and Italian 'motherliness'. 

Melissa writes for the Savorevore Section of the Burlington Free Press.  The VPR Cafe is produced in collaboration with the Burlington Free Press and made possible on VPR by The Vermont Community FoundationFood and Farm Initiative.

In 1999, The University of Vermont's recreation and fitness center was named after Mary Anne Gucciardi and her husband Richard.

Italian Recipes from Mary Anne Gucciardi “Mama Gucc”
Italian Sauce

1 pound Italian sausage links, sweet or hot
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 large cloves garlic, finely minced (or 1teaspoon garlic powder)
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1 large (28-ounce) can crushed Italian tomatoes
1 large (35-ounce) can whole Italian tomatoes, pureed with their juice in a blender or food processor
1 tablespoon dried basil
2 tablespoons dried parsley
1 teaspoon black pepper
Salt to taste
1 to 2 tablespoons sugar, to taste
Preheat oven to 350. Lay sausages on a small roasting pan or rimmed cookie sheet and prick with a knife. Roast sausages until cooked, about 30 minutes, and remove sausages to a plate. Scrape fat and brown drippings from sausages into your sauce pot and add olive oil. Set over medium heat and add onions and garlic to pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, 5 to 6 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, 3 to 4 minutes. Fill empty tomato paste can with 6 ounces water and stir into mixture. Bring to a simmer for 2 to 3 minutes.
Add crushed and pureed whole tomatoes, herbs, pepper and salt to taste to pot. Bring to a simmer and cook on low for 1 hour. Taste and add sugar to balance acidity as needed. Add meatballs (see recipe) and sausage to pot and simmer another hour. Serves 6-8 with pasta.


1 ½ pounds ground beef (80-85% lean)
½ pound ground pork
1 slice day-old Italian bread, soaked in water, squeezed of excess liquid and crumbled
½ cup Italian-seasoned dry bread crumbs
½ cup grated Romano cheese
1 egg
2 tablespoons dried parsley
1 tablespoon fine salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced (or ½ teaspoon garlic powder)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a rimmed cookie sheet or roasting pan. In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients until well blended. Use a small ice cream scoop to measure out meatballs about 1 1/2 -inch in diameter and roll with hands to make completely smooth and place on cookie sheet. Bake for 25 minutes. Turn meatballs and bake another 15 minutes. Add to sauce per above recipe. Makes about 28-30 meatballs.

Italian Cheesecake

For crust and topping:
2 tablespoons butter, softened
6 graham crackers (the whole cracker as it comes from the sleeve)
1 cup sugar
For filling:
4 eggs
2 pounds whole milk ricotta (“full-bodied” as Mama Gucc calls it)
½ cup heavy cream
¼ cup flour
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ to 3/4 cup sugar (the original recipe calls for ½ cup but some might prefer it slightly sweeter)
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Liberally butter sides and bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Using a food processor, process graham crackers into fine crumbs. Stir in sugar. Coat sides and bottom of prepared pan with graham crumb mix, reserving about 3 tablespoons for topping. (Note: this is more of a light coating than a real crust.)
In a standing mixer or in a large bowl using a handheld electric blender, beat eggs well until lemony in color. Add ricotta, cream, flour, lemon juice, lemon zest, vanilla and sugar and beat until well blended. Pour into prepared crust. Sprinkle remaining graham crumb mix evenly on top. Bake for about 60-70 minutes just until cheesecake is almost firm in center. Turn oven off and leave door ajar. Leave cheesecake in oven for another 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature. Run a butter knife between springform collar and cake (but leave collar on until serving). Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Franny was VPR's Director of Programming & Production.
Ric was a producer for Vermont Edition and host of the VPR Cafe.
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