Describe an early food experience that has influenced the way you think about food and/or cooking.
I was fortunate to grow up feeling that food was synonymous with family. My two grandmothers expressed love through cooking and feeding their family and friends, so some of my best childhood memories take place around a dining table. Food was also fun -- as the oldest of four, I remember having pizza-making contests with my dad. We kids chose a dough recipe, a sauce recipe, and all our own toppings, and my dad chose his own. I'm sure our pizza was always the best. Cooking with my siblings remains one of my favorite things to do when we are together.
What is your idea of comfort food?
While I could live on spicy, brothy noodle soup, we've been enjoying vegetarian taco night on a regular basis and it makes me really happy. I love seeing how many CSA vegetables I can incorporate into one taco -- a recent favorite included local loquat salsa, dandelion greens and carrot escabeche, seasoned black beans, roasted potatoes, and cojita cheese (see photo below).
What's your least favorite kitchen task?
It's a tie between washing greens for a salad and emptying the dishwasher.
Your favorite kitchen tool?
Lately it is been my microplane zester/grater. I got myself one last year, and can't remember how I lived without it.
What is your greatest kitchen disaster?
Luckily, I tend to collect a number of little kitchen disasters rather than any great ones. Most recently, I was making a batch of breakfast muffins and in an attempt to cut down on the number of dirty dishes, I used my food processor for a step clearly intended for my blender. I got buttermilk everywhere. Do I get a pass by saying it was early and I hadn't had my coffee yet?
Photo of Scallion and Pork Rice by Mark Weinberg