Describe an early food experience that has influenced the way you think about food and/or cooking.
I’m five years old; my mom is holding my hair back and I am throwing up. She asks me what it was that I ate. I answer, “I think the mushroom soup had a flour thickener in it.”
My guess is that most five year olds don’t know what a flour thickener is. I was born with celiac sprue disease (gluten intolerance) and at a very young age I began to really think about what I was eating. I learned to identify textures and ingredients in my food. Guessing ingredients was sort of my “stupid human trick” around the lunchroom table.
What's your least favorite food?
White pepper and sautéed chicken livers.
What is the best thing you've made so far this year?
Thus far, 2011 has been filled with lots of traveling and eating, but not much time spent at the stove…. I think the pork belly curing in my fridge for this month’s Charcutepalooza challenge is going to be the tastiest treat I have made so far.
Describe your most spectacular kitchen disaster.
The most recent was the morning of a going-away brunch I was hosting for a friend. I made six quiche crusts the night before; they were baked and ready to fill. I thought I was being clever when I stored the crusts in the oven over night. It was not so clever when I turned the oven on, forgetting about the oven-cum-crust-cabinet and burned all six.
What is your idea of comfort food?
When I am sick, it is the soft boiled eggs my mom makes and hot ginger, lemon, honey tea. For the cold, I comfort chilled bones with soups and meaty braises. When I am sad, I reach for creamy, rich ice cream.
Apron or no apron?
Definitely apron. I’m a messy cook.
What's your favorite food-related scene in a movie?
Oddly, the scene that sticks most vividly in my mind is in Christmas Story when Ralphie’s mom is trying to get Ralphie’s little brother to eat. He has a typical childhood-induced aversion to food. Mom, in a desperate moment, suggests he ditch his utensils and eat like a “little piggy”. Using his mashed potatoes as a landing pad for his face, he begins snorting up his food, giggling happily. How often have I wanted to do that?
If you could make a show-stopping dinner for one person, living or dead, who would it be?
I am going to cheat and lump the whole line of the first kitchen I worked in after culinary school (La Toque)?specifically Ken Frank (chef-owner) and Nancy Kaplan (chef de cuisine). They are the people who really taught me to cook, taste and move like a chef?the rhythm of it all. And they would undoubtedly bring spectacular wines!
You prefer to cook: a. alone, b. with others, c. it depends on your mood
C. Alone and with friends, it depends on my mood. (Although when other people get involved I can be a little controlling.)
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. I clean as I cook, but inevitably most of the pots and pans are left for my husband. (He would probably call foul on the first part of my answer.)