The Contests

Week 31

January 27, 2010 • 12 Comments

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Congratulations to this week's winners!

Lastnightsdinner won this week's contest for Your Best Home Alone Dinner with Mussels for One (or Two).

Mariaraynal won this week's contest for Your Best Broccoli/Broccoli Rabe Dish with Roasted Bagna Cauda Broccoli.

 

(Lastnightsdinner's Providence, Rhode Island kitchen)

Lastnightsdinner

Describe an early food experience that has influenced the way you think about food and/or cooking.
My grandma’s kitchen was, and still is, always full of people, laughter, and the aroma of delicious food. I have wonderful memories of the whole family getting together at her house for regular Sunday dinners and holiday meals, of standing at her kitchen table literally up to my elbows in masa while she taught a bunch of us how to make tamales, and of stopping over at her house after my college classes to sit and chat with her over a bowl of her “garbage soup.” I think what I have taken away from these memories is that food brings people together, and while I do enjoy preparing a meal for myself, I’m happiest when I’m sharing a meal with my husband or feeding a crowd.

What's your least favorite food?
I can’t say I actively dislike any food – I’ll try anything at least once!  Oranges and grapefruits make me break out in a rash, though, so I avoid them.

What is the best thing you've made so far this year?
I think I’ve finally come up with my perfect meatballs and sauce recipe. 

Describe your most spectacular kitchen disaster.
When I was dating my first long-term beau and just starting to get adventurous in the kitchen, I had a bright idea to make a big pot of duck and sausage gumbo for his parents, just like one we had when we vacationed with them in the Florida panhandle. It was a weeknight, and I started with a whole, very large, very frozen duck. I put it into a huge stockpot to cook, made my roux and prepped everything else I would need to assemble the gumbo after the duck meat and stock were ready. Several hours and glasses of wine later, that duck was still frozen solid. We ordered pizza.

What is your idea of comfort food?
Mashed potatoes, refried beans, grits or polenta – something creamy, spoonable, and better with a little cheese.

Apron or no apron?
Apron if we’ve got company, no apron if it’s just us.

What's your favorite food-related scene in a movie?
A Lady, a Tramp, and a plate of spaghetti and meatballs – it doesn’t get much sweeter than that.

If you could make a show-stopping dinner for one person, living or dead, who would it be?
Honestly, our families are so spread out now, and we rarely get the chance to get together, so having everyone together around a big table and feeding them well would be a dream come true.

You prefer to cook: a. alone, b. with others, c. it depends on your mood.
I’ll admit that I can be a little type-A in the kitchen, but sometimes it’s fun to cook with a crowd.

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.

I clean as I cook.  I can’t stand dirty countertops, stacks of bowls in the sink or drips on the stove.
 

(Mariaraynal shows off her skills at the Culinary Center of Monterey)

Mariaraynal

Describe an early food experience that has influenced the way you think about food and/or cooking.
When I was 13, I spent a month in Mexico with my mom, living with a host family. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it marked my first true experience of eating seasonally and locally. Every meal was so simple, fresh and vibrant, and all handmade in a humble kitchen. I remember lovely tomato and pasta soups, luscious papayas and mangos and warm, earthy tortillas from the stand down the street.  On the flip side, on this trip I was allowed to drink Coke for the first time, since we couldn’t drink the water.

What's your least favorite food?

Green bell peppers.  The smell, crunch and taste make me cringe. But I like the red, orange and yellow varieties.

What is the best thing you've made so far this year?
Short ribs with pancetta over pappardelle on New Year’s Day.  The perfect way to ring in a new decade!

Describe your most spectacular kitchen disaster.
My husband’s family has a summer cottage, and we cook up huge breakfasts just about every weekend. Last summer I was cooking bacon on a cookie sheet and set the inside of the oven on fire. Just a little fire, but still! (Pretty sure none of my in-laws know this.)

What is your idea of comfort food?
Pasta. Always pasta. Al dente, usually with lots of sautéed shallot and garlic, prosciutto, sliced grape tomatoes, wilted greens and parmesan. I’m Italian, what can I say? Dark chocolate is a close second.

Apron or no apron?
No apron, unless I’m at my mom’s cooking a holiday meal. She breaks out these beautiful white eyelet aprons from Europe that I pretty much immediately ruin. She also allows her (young!) grandchildren to drink from her Waterford crystal.

What's your favorite food-related scene in a movie?
There are many, but I’m going to go with "Ratatouille" – the whole movie – because our family has a huge soft spot for anything by Pixar.

If you could make a show-stopping dinner for one person, living or dead, who would it be?
I’ve never thought about this before, but maybe my grandfather. He was a farmer in upstate New York and from what I hear, was an enthusiastic eater. Growing up, I listened to story after story about his larger-than-life personality, his ability to eat a dozen ears of corn after dinner, and his pure passion for food.  He died when I was a baby, so it would be real treat to cook and share a meal with him.  I also would love to cook with the food52 crew and community!

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

C.  For me, cooking is like running. I say I want a running buddy, but in the end, I love being alone with my thoughts.  Yet, some of my best food memories are of cooking with my husband, my kids, my family and friends.  I’m full of contradictions.

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.

A and C. I try to keep up as I cook, I really do, but inevitably the kitchen sink spills over with piles of dirty dishes that my husband kindly washes.  He’s a gem.

Jump to Comments (12)

Comments (12)

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over 4 years ago ENunn

Congratulations!

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over 4 years ago KelseyTheNaptimeChef

Congrats ladies! Another great round-up of recipes and stories!

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over 4 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Congrats to the winners! I love your stories, as well as your recipes. ;o)

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over 4 years ago Jennifer Ann

Congratulations, and thanks for the lovely recipes

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over 4 years ago shayma

congratulations, all. best wishes,shayma

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over 4 years ago Maria Teresa Jorge

Congratulations to all three winners. Brilliant recipes. Thank you for sharing them.

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over 4 years ago eatboutique

Congrats to everyone! Great, great dishes.

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over 4 years ago lastnightsdinner

Wow, thank you all so much! And big congrats also to Maria, arielclementine and Savour! I can't wait to try your dishes at home.

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over 4 years ago mariaraynal

Thank you so much, and CONGRATS to Lastnightsdinner, arielclementime and Savour. Your recipes are fabulous!

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over 4 years ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

Congratulations to all the winners. Wonderful inventive recipes.

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over 4 years ago aargersi

Abbie is a trusted source on General Cooking.

CONGRATS! Both such great recipes - well deserved!

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over 4 years ago TasteFood

Congratulations to this week's winners and runner-ups!