Congratulations to zindc, whose Savory Masa Corn Cakes with Green Chile, Cheese, and Lime Crema won the contest for Your Best Corn!
Describe an early food experience that has influenced the way you think about food and/or cooking.
For me, food has always been both an outlet for creativity and a way to express affection. When my husband and I met in New York City, we were both “starving” artists in our early 20’s: He was studying painting at Cooper Union and I was an actress. Not long after we were introduced by a mutual friend, I cooked a meal for him on a two-burner hot plate in the unfinished cement-floor basement where he lived. I remember making Chicken Marengo, rice pilaf, and asparagus with hollandaise sauce, all dishes I had learned to cook by watching Julia Child on television. That meal clinched it for him, and we are about to celebrate our 43rd anniversary.
What's your least favorite kitchen task?
Anything involved with cleaning. I love to cook but hate to clean. I always pray that no one looks too closely at my kitchen floor.
What is your idea of comfort food?
Comfort foods that I gravitate towards most often are tamales, enchiladas, refried beans, and cooked salsas. I grew up in Los Angeles and my parents were fairly adventurous eaters. As a child I was taken to Mexican restaurants, and the flavors of corn masa and chiles are fundamental to the development of my personal palate.
What is your greatest kitchen disaster?
As a young cook, I invited a fairly sophisticated older couple to my house for dinner. I chose to cook a complex recipe from a Dione Lucas cookbook which I’d never made before -- big beginner’s mistake. It was a boneless lamb leg stuffed with a sausage forcemeat; rolled, tied, and roasted, and served with a caper sauce. I knew that lamb should be served pink, but didn’t troubleshoot the recipe. If I had, I would have realized that if the lamb stayed medium rare, the pork sausage in the center wouldn’t cook through. When I sliced the roast I found raw sausage in the center, and everyone had to wait while I frantically broiled the sliced roulade. The lamb, of course, was well done when I finally served it. It was an important lesson about the need for good cookbook editing, and I’ve never slavishly or unquestioningly followed a recipe since. However, I sometimes court danger by serving company a dish I’ve never made before.
This article was brought to you by Sunshine Sweet Corn.
Photo by James Ransom