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Congratulations to fiveandspice, whose Flamin' Cajun Shrimp won this week's contest for Your Best Dish You (Intentionally) Set on Fire, earning her a handsome Ruffoni Copper Gratin Pan with Acorn Handles from Williams-Sonoma, plus big prizes from Viking, OXO and Tiny Prints, and a spot in the next food52 cookbook!
Q&A with fiveandspice
- Describe an early food experience that has influenced the way you think about food and/or cooking.
- I was a really, really picky eater when I was little. But my mom cleverly bought me some really great children's cookbooks with colorful photos of every stage of making each dish. I used to sit around and just leaf through those books, poring over every recipe. Finally, when I was in about 3rd grade, I decided I wanted to cook a fish stew from one of those books for my family for supper. It turned out great and, ever since then, cooking for others and gathering them around the table to hear their stories has been my favorite thing to do.
- What's your least favorite food?
- I just can't seem to learn to like oysters.
- What is the best thing you've made so far this year?
- Oh, that's tough. Well, one of my favorite things every year is the lefse (potato flatbread, see below) that my family makes with our neighbors around Christmas time. We eat it fresh off the griddle either around a hot dog or slathered with butter and sugar. It's simply the best thing in the world. Besides that, well, this is going to sound really silly, but about a month ago I made a grilled cheese sandwich on freshly baked bread with caramelized onions that was really, really amazing, plus it was exactly what I wanted to eat at that moment. Very simple, but also perfect.
- Describe your most spectacular kitchen disaster.
- When my youngest brother was confirmed, my mother enlisted me to make all the desserts for his open house. I made several cakes and tarts, but one of them -- an apple cake, actually -- I baked in a leaky springform pan with no baking sheet underneath it. The batter dripped all over the bottom of the oven, then caught fire and caused a conflagration in the oven that we couldn't put out! We took the charred cake out, and just let the fire burn itself out in the closed oven, oozing black smoke that wafted all through the house just an hour or so before guests were due to arrive. We had to toss the cake, of course, and tried to air out the house, but it was still pretty smokey at the time the party started.
- What is your idea of comfort food?
- I grew up on Norwegian meatballs and fishcakes, so those are my idea of serious comfort food.
- Apron or no apron?
- I try to always wear an apron because otherwise I can guarantee that I will spill all over myself!
- What's your favorite food-related scene in a movie?
- I absolutely love the feast in Babette's Feast, and the way her cooking transforms all those stoic Danes.
- If you could make a show-stopping dinner for one person, living or dead, who would it be?
- That's a really hard one. I think Julia Child would be a blast to eat with. Though maybe I would prefer for her to make a show-stopping meal for me?! Otherwise, I would also love to cook for Jean Brillat-Savarin and hear his commentary.
- You prefer to cook: a. alone, b. with others, c. it depends on your mood
- It depends on my mood. Sometimes, if you are in no hurry and have a dish with lots of little pieces to delegate, it can be fun to cook with others. But, for me, cooking tends to be my daily meditation and I like to have the space that doing it in solitude gives me.
- 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 try to clean as I cook. However, I've been getting much worse about doing so because my husband is proving himself to be a champion dish doer.
- fiveandspice making lefse with family friends; the lovely Ruffoni Copper Gratin Pan with Acorn Handles she's won from Williams-Sonoma!