The Contests

Week 25

December 16, 2009 • 3 Comments

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Congratulations to this week's contest winners!

Aliwaks won the contest for Your Best Broiled Steak with Cowboy Rubbed Rib Eye with Chocolate Stout Pan Sauce.

The Internet Cooking Princess won the contest for Your Best Polenta Recipe with Andouille and Dijon Polenta.

We asked them both to answer a few questions about eating and cooking...

Aliwaks

Describe an early food experience that has influenced the way you think about food and/or cooking.

I was lucky enough to spend my early childhood in East Hampton, Fire Island and New York City... My early food experiences were varied and wonderful. I remember taking deep breaths full of coffee beans at Dean and DeLuca, eating steamers that were barely an hour out of the water, picking wild blackberries and getting fresh apple cider doughnuts from the farm stand. I remember breakfasts of fresh eggs from our very own chickens with my mother’s homemade rye bread and grilled sausages. At the other end of the spectrum were Sundays with my grandparents, smoked salmon (nova, sliced thin), whitefish, fresh bagels, bialys, scallion cream cheese, black and white cookies from Zookies, dim sum brunches and/or dumplings and Peking Duck at Peking Duck house in Chinatown, grilled sausages at the San Genaro festival, warm pastrami on rye with mustard and a cold cream soda at the 2nd Avenue Deli, a folded-over slice from Mariella's on 16th & 3rd, eaten on the way home from school. Then there was the crispy duck with blackberries at 65 Irving Place in the winter and steamed lobster at Le Dock in the summer. I spent some time in India as a young girl and I still remember the taste of the mangoes and tea and toast, both cooked on a cast iron stove and doused with sweetened condensed milk. There were so many many foods that were part of my early life, it is difficult to describe one that influenced me. They all come together in a multifaceted spectrum of tastes and textures, colors and smells.

What's a food you really don't like?

Eggplant. It's a texture thing. It's ok if it's really really thin and fried, but then again, most things are good when fried. And I am not a fan of chicken with any type of cheese; brie stuffed chicken breasts just don’t do it for me.

What holiday dish(es) do you most look forward to every year?

I love Rosh Hashanah dinner. I feel really connected with my family and my ancestors when I make matzoh ball soup, and tsimmes, potato kugel and roast chicken (sometimes brisket). It feels very very grounded and right; whether I make traditional dishes or play around with Sephardic recipes I just love it. Also it’s not as crazy as a Seder or Thanksgiving, it's small and wonderful.

What was the last meal you made just for yourself?

Last night when I got home from work, I made tuna with chopped radishes, carrots, celery, red onions, dill, lemon juice and Hellman’s mayo. I ate it with Everything Crackers from Trader Joe's and a big glass of orange juice. Other than that it’s been awhile since I cooked for just me. When I lived alone, I love-love-loved roasting a chicken for myself. The first night I would slice all the meat off the bones and set it aside to eat during the week and have the crispy skin and wings and gnaw on the bones for dinner.

Apron or no apron?

Now that I’ve started culinary school I’m getting into the apron. I wore one at Thanksgiving.

What is the kitchen activity that is most cathartic for you? Least cathartic?

Most cathartic: getting my mise en place together, chopping and slicing and putting them into little bowls or arranging on a plate. And I really love having something bubbling away on the stove -- a ragu, a soup a stew. It's so wonderful. Least cathartic: the dishes. I can’t stand doing dishes, and I can’t stand when they pile up so I have to do them and it makes me mad.

You prefer to cook: a. alone, b. with others, c. it depends on my mood.

a. alone, though I like when there are other people in the kitchen with me, as long as they are just chatting and not helping.

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.

d. All of the above.


The Internet Cooking Princess

Describe an early food experience that has influenced the way you think about food and/or cooking.

My mother took me on a Michelin tour of the Loire Valley when I was 14 to help me gain weight before major jaw surgery. (In hindsight, though, I think the trip may have been more for her.) I was a painfully picky eater and refused to try anything new. My mother and I very quickly "came to an understanding" when she forced me to try roasted duck with mint and melon. I pretended to hate it...but instantly realized what I had been missing for so many years. Certainly a life-changing experience.

What's a food you really don't like? 

Dried fennel is fine, but if I see something with fresh fennel on the menu, I tend to take it as a personal slight.

What holiday dish(es) do you most look forward to every year? 

I look forward to changing things up! My family is laid back enough to let me create a new menu every year. (Although, I somehow can't get away from incorporating potatoes dauphinoise.)

Describe your most spectacular kitchen disaster. 

When I was in the fourth grade, I woke up one morning wanting to bake some chocolate chip cookies. The recipe called for water, but our pipes had been turned off temporarily for some construction. I thought peanut oil would be a good substitute. I thought wrong. It took me an entire Saturday to clean that mess.

What was the last meal you made just for yourself? 

Blue cheese and new potato hash topped with a fried egg.

Apron or no apron? 

Apron - it's like I'm dressing up for the occasion!

What's your favorite food-related scene in a movie

I love the scene in Spanglish when Adam Sandler comes home from a late night at work and makes himself a gorgeous fried egg sandwich. The close-up of the yolk spilling on to the plate makes me drool a little.

What is the kitchen activity that is most cathartic for you? Least cathartic?

Cleaning out the fridge makes me feel like I'm really accomplishing something. Cleaning pots and pans, on the other hand, makes me feel like I'm being punished for something.

You prefer to cook: a. alone, b. with others, c. it depends on my mood

With my personal sous chef, who also moonlights as my boyfriend.

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.

Clean as I cook, it soothes the Type A inside of me. 

 

 

 

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Comments (3)

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almost 5 years ago meredithhimelfarb

Thank you! It was so much fun to be a finalist!

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almost 5 years ago KelseyTheNaptimeChef

Congrats everyone - these look amazing!

Winnie100

almost 5 years ago WinnieAb

Congrats to the winners! Can't wait to make these yummy dishes!