Losavio family adapts La. favorites

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNISSarah Losavio puts Italian Olive Mix on Kaiser rolls as she makes Mark Monistere's Muffulettas in her Baton Rouge kitchen. The muffuletta recipe is a family favorite devised by a distant relative.
Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNISSarah Losavio puts Italian Olive Mix on Kaiser rolls as she makes Mark Monistere's Muffulettas in her Baton Rouge kitchen. The muffuletta recipe is a family favorite devised by a distant relative.

Like many American homemakers who love to cook, Sarah Losavio juggles time spent in the kitchen with numerous other duties and projects. She plans meals that are easy and healthful, but they are filled with flavors familiar to Louisiana families.

Sarah and her husband, Wayne T. Losavio, have three daughters — Caroline, 7; Maggie, 3; and Anne, 1. Meals in the household center around the needs of the girls, but they also reflect the preferred tastes of Sarah and Wayne, who both grew up in Baton Rouge.

Wayne, son of Tom and Ava Losavio, is the oldest of nine children. So Sarah Lovasio has learned to think “big” when planning for family gatherings. She often uses recipes handed down through generations from both of their families.

Sarah Lovasio, daughter of Dave and Carol Goldsmith, graduated from The Dunham School and from LSU with a degree in environmental engineering.

“When I was in high school, about the only thing I knew how to cook was an omelet,” said Sarah Lovasio. “So, when we married, Holly Clegg’s ‘Trim and Terrific’ was a wedding present. Almost everything I cook is from that book.”

She also relies on a special cookbook that comes from her husband’s family. Titled “Maggie,” the book is filled with recipes from Wayne Losavio’s great-grandmother Margaret Farrara. It was put together by Farrara’s daughter and Wayne’s aunt, Margaret Stadiler.

Sarah Lovasio also adapts her recipes so they appeal to her daughters as well as the adults. She often prepares a family muffuletta recipe devised by Mark Monistere, a distant relative. It features a delicious Italian olive mix.

When preparing muffulettas for her daughters, she layers the meats and Italian cheeses, but leaves out the olive mix. “We call them ‘Muffa-notas’, ” she said laughing.

Ideas she’s adapted include small chicken breasts on corn skewers or popsicle sticks which are baked in the oven.

“The girls won’t eat anything that touches,” said Sarah Losavio.

So, she places cooked long-grain rice in rice forms shaped like a bear, fish and elephant. She found the forms in San Francisco’s Chinatown.

“I turn the forms upside down on their plates, and it’s the only way they will eat rice,” she said.

The Losavio girls are being introduced to flavors that add so much to south Louisiana cooking. “They love pan-fried salmon with soy sauce and honey,” said Sarah. “And they eat sensation salad with lettuce, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic powder, salt and pepper.”

The girls also love fresh vegetables grown by their grandfather, Dyer Lafleur. “They help in his garden,” their mother said. “They pull carrots themselves, and they’ll eat raw lettuce leaves.”

For an extra treat, Sarah Losavio makes pralines from a recipe passed on by her grandmother, Joyce Lafleur. “I have a YouTube video of her making the pralines,” said Losavio. “It’s great because she uses evaporated milk and freshly cracked pecans. My grandmother learned this recipe from her grandmother. At Christmas, she brings my girls to her house and we make the pralines together.”