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Winner of Your Best Recipe with Coffee

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Congratulations to gingerroot, whose Late Night Coffee Brined Chicken won this week's contest for Your Best Recipe with Coffeeearning her a handsome Alfi Thermal Carafe from Williams-Sonoma, plus big prizes from VikingOXO and Tiny Prints, and a spot in the next food52 cookbook!


gingerroot at the farmer's market  Late Night Coffee Brined Chicken

Q&A with gingerroot

  • Describe an early food experience that has influenced the way you think about food and/or cooking. 
  • I was fortunate to have two wonderful grandmothers who were both amazing cooks. They both expressed love through cooking and feeding their loved ones. I have vivid memories of helping each of them, at an early age -- maybe around 3 or 4, in the kitchen. For my paternal Grandmother, I was always in charge of grinding the pecans for her pecan pie in a hand mill. I remember sitting right on the kitchen floor to do this. At my maternal Grandmother’s house, I was in charge of opening the can of Libby’s corned beef for her corned beef hash. I remember thinking it was a big deal. The fact that they both welcomed me into their kitchens and immediately made me a part of the production definitely instilled in me an early love and curiosity for food and cooking.

  • What's your least favorite food?
  • Hmm ... I don’t really care for the shellfish that is in Ozoni, traditional Japanese New Year’s soup. I always gulp it down though, for the good luck. I also don’t really like or eat processed fast food. That said, hot fries from McDonalds are my best hangover cure. 

  • What is the best thing you've made so far this year?
  • My answer for this is twofold. First, definitely, all the friends I have made here! Cooking and eating is such an intimate activity, the act of sharing ourselves through recipes seems akin to inviting someone over for dinner. I think it would be amazing to have the chance to cook together (and hope to someday!). Second, everything that I have tested -- being able to test recipes is one of the best parts of food52. It has introduced me to recipes that, while I might like to make, the hustle and bustle of life may preclude me from actually trying. This year I have tested some exceptional food and my life is all the better for it! Of my own recipes, I really enjoyed making and eating my Ricotta Risotto with Dandelion Greens and Orange. The ricotta addition was magical with the rice and I loved the contrast of the bitter green and the sweet, fragrant orange.

  • Describe your most spectacular kitchen disaster.
  • Thankfully I have not had any spectacular ones to date (spectacular to me connotes fire and blood). Ironically, a few weeks ago, during the Your Best Dish You (Intentionally) Set on Fire contest, there were a few moments when after the initial whoosh, the flame just kept on whooshing. Completely out of sorts, instead of grabbing the lid, my first thought was, where is the fire extinguisher?! Is this my spectacular kitchen disaster? It seemed like that flame was never going to end!


  • first carrot harvest  the whole family
  • Gingerroot's daughter Lily's first carrot harvest (left); a sunny family photo

  • What is your idea of comfort food?
  • Definitely some variation of hot Asian soup with or without noodles -- Chicken Pho, Spicy Vegetable Tan Tan, Saimin in Paitan Broth, my mom’s after Thanksgiving Turkey Jook, Tom Kha Gai, or just a simple bowl of Miso soup.

  • Apron or no apron?
  • I would love to say apron, but as my wardrobe attests, no apron. A good friend gave me an apron for Christmas and I am actively working to change this.  

  • What's your favorite food-related scene in a movie?
  • So many great movies involve food! Rather than one specific scene, I am a big fan of Tarantino and love how food plays out in his films. From Reservoir Dogs all the way to Inglourious Basterds, food is never simply a prop. Food is almost a character in a scene, sometimes filled with emotion, sometimes as part of a gaff, sometimes a flex of power. Just like in real life.  

  • If you could make a show-stopping dinner for one person, living or dead, who would it be?
  • I will always want to cook for my grandmothers, who helped shape the cook and food lover in me and never really experienced my cooking. I’d also love to cook for some of my favorite writers, such as Cormac McCarthy. Anyone who can write such beautiful, spare prose would certainly make for interesting dinner conversation. At least he’d likely tell me exactly what he thought about my cooking! And I’d still love to make pasta with Paul Newman. 

  • You prefer to cook: a. alone, b. with others, c. it depends on your mood
  • At home, it is either alone or with my children. Even though he is only three and a half, my son Calder is a terrific sous chef. My six-year-old Lily has a wonderful palate and is developing a sense of food but wants to be in charge, which sometimes proves difficult, since I want to be in charge too. I love cooking with my siblings, and now that we all live in different states, whenever we are together we cook as much as possible.  

  • When it comes to tidying up, you usually: a. clean as you cook, b. do all the dishes once you've finished cooking, c. leave the kitchen a shambles for your spouse/roommate/kids to clean.
  • Definitely try to clean as I cook, especially since I am a pro at getting a lot of dishes, pots, bowls, spoons, etc. dirty in no time flat when cooking. When I cook with my Mom, she spoils me, as she cannot stand dirty dishes in the sink and often gets to them before I have the chance!
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