Greg Goggin of Naples found his love of cooking and baking by necessity. He was studying for an MBA at Columbia University in New York City and living at home with his parents in New Jersey. When he came home after class, his parents were out for the evening, so he had to prepare his own dinner.
He said he started with the Chef Boyardee package of sauce and pasta and branched out to making his own pesto sauce. When he graduated, Goggin’s job took him abroad, where he ate in the best restaurants and tried to copy what he had eaten when he arrived home. He later studied cooking at Johnson & Wales and a small cooking school in northern Italy.
Goggin said he cooks and bakes at home almost every day and makes his own soups, breads and gourmet meals. He sold his baked goods, soups and jambalaya at the Third Street Farmers Market from 2004 to 2005. His wife is a vegetarian and usually eats a salad with six to seven ingredients, so Goggin’s bridge club benefits from his baking and enjoys his efforts every week.
Naples Daily News: Do you get your recipes from a cookbook, or do you make them up as you go?
Greg Goggin: I get my recipes from one of about 50 cookbooks, and I own various cooking magazines. I also get recipes from chefs when I travel and have a unique dish. This summer in Billings, Mont., I had a James Beard meatloaf, and when I got home, I looked up the recipe and will probably make it when my children visit.
I also brought back about 25 recipes, including my tiramisu recipe, when I attended a one-week cooking school in Italy.
NDN: You bake and cook, but do you have preference to what you really like to do better and why?
GG: I like to bake, even though I’m diabetic. I think people really enjoy sweet food. One day I made a blueberry almond tart, six dozen chocolate chip, peanut butter chip, Heath bar and black walnut cookies, a peach and blueberry crisp and brownies with chocolate chips, walnuts and instant espresso coffee.
Another day I baked a red velvet cake and a caramelized upside-down pear tart. I bake almost everyday and give all of it away to friends and neighbors. I also make and give away most of one or two soups every week to my duplicate bridge partners each week and bake for fundraising activities for the Naples Bridge Center.
NDN: Is there something you would love to make but have never got around to it?
GG: I have had beef Wellington at some of the best restaurants in England and on the continent, but I’ve never tried to make it at home.
NDN: Where did you have your most memorable meal?
GG: I had my most memorable meal about 20 years ago in a private home in Milan at a dinner party for 20 people. Our host was a wealthy friend who had a staff of five to serve. His butler/valet served in formal attire including white gloves. The highlight of the meal was a homemade gnocchi di patate con pesto, and four or five equally impressive courses followed.
NDN: What was your favorite childhood meal or food?
GG: I grew up in northwestern New Jersey which was countrified and fresh vegetables were homegrown. So I love tomatoes and strawberries and used to pick both of these at Mike’s U-Pick when it was in Bonita Springs.
Here is the recipe for Goggin’s cinnamon bread pudding with apples and raisins to serve eight:
GREGS'S APPLE-RAISIN BREAD PUDDING
4 apples, cored and thinly sliced (he prefers Fuji apples)
Photo by DANIA MAXWELL // Buy this photo
½ cup raisins
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
½ cup sugar
6-8 slices cinnamon raison bread, crust removed
6 large eggs
3 cups half and half
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
2 Melt butter in a large skillet and then sauté the apples and raisins until the apples are tender and the syrup is lightly caramelized.
3 Beat the eggs, half and half, sugar and vanilla until blended.
4 Butter a 7-by-11-inch Pyrex or ovenproof porcelain an and lay the bread slightly overlapping in one layer.
5 Spread the apple mixture evenly over the bread and then pour the egg mixture evenly over the apples.
6 Bake until eggs are set, approximately 40 minutes.
7 If desired, sprinkle lightly with sifted powder sugar and serve warm.