You've seen her striking face in countless photo slideshows. You've read her elegant reviews in Editors' Pick headnotes. You've tasted the fruit of her testing -- many times over. At long last, the time has come to reveal to you Jennifer Vogliano, food52 Test Kitchen Assistant & Recipe Tester extraordinaire.
When not at a Tuesday photo shoot, where she is a fixture (and desperately missed on days when other duties call), Jennifer is testing up a storm in her home kitchen, with a calm only a mother of two young boys could maintain (they're often the benefactors of said testing). She grew up at the stove and makes osso bucco even the in-laws can get behind (and hers own a restaurant!).
Read our interview with Jennifer, a.k.a. jvcooks, below.
- Always at the ready, Jennifer (right) lends a hand to Amanda -- after all, aioli's a two (wo)man job.
- What do you like to cook with your sons?
- Maxwell (11) and Lorenzo (7) both like to cook with me, but Maxwell is a “real chip off the old block”. He recently learned how to make risotto and wants to make it all the time. Lorenzo more enjoys baking and, every Christmas, the three of us make homemade roll-out cookies with frosting and colored sugars.
- Describe an early food experience that has influenced the way you think about food and/or cooking.
- I’m not sure there is one defining experience, but there was always food -- good food. My mother is a great cook and I watched and learned from her. Without sounding cliché, my Mom watched Julia Child on TV and so, in turn, did I. As far as I can remember, all my birthday parties had a food/cooking theme. And as I got older, some of my first jobs were working in pastry shops, for caterers and in local sandwich stores – always in kitchen.
- You swam competitively growing up, yes? What did you eat pre/post meets?
- Pre-swim meets I would eat a Snickers bar. Post-swim meet would be a thin steak fried up in a skillet and mashed potatoes or a dish of pasta. My mom always had homemade tomato sauce in the fridge or freezer.
- With in-laws who own a restaurant, what's on the table at family reunions?
- With my mother-in-law being from Friuli, a special family dinner would include prosciutto San Daniele, Montasio cheese, chicken cacciatore, polenta and a simple green salad. And of course no meal would be complete without an after dinner grappa.
- What's your go-to dinner party menu?
- All fall and winter, I love to make osso bucco. I consider it one of my best dishes. I adapted a recipe from the River Café Cook Book by Rogers & Gray. Served over risotto or polenta and paired with seasonal roasted veggies. In the summer, things are simple and the vegetables so bountiful -- corn, tomatoes, squash with grilled meat or fish.
- What's your least favorite food?
- What do you cook to feed the masses (i.e. the boys + playdates + hockey teams + sleepovers)?
- My boys love meat, especially steak. I cook up a couple flank steaks, steam some broccoli and oven roast some potatoes. And then again, there’s always pizza.
- Describe your most spectacular kitchen disaster.
- Not really a spectacular disaster, more like a danger. I’m always burning myself and I have the scars to prove it!
- You never leave the grocery store without ...
- Cheese: I’m always picking up an aged Gouda or something soft and gooey like a Camembert or Robiola to snack on.
- The ultimate chef's question: Your desert island meal?
- Stoli vodka on the rocks and spaghetti pomodoro.
- What are your favorite recipes you've tested for food52?
- Variegated Spiced Latkes by Sagegreen, Morel Crostini by Waverly, and A Bowl of Red by wssmom.