Winner of Your Best Dish in the Raw

by:
July 14, 2011

Congratulations to creamtea, whose Dilled, Crunchy Sweet-Corn Salad with Buttermilk Dressing won this week's contest for Your Best Dish in the Rawearning her big prizes from VikingOXO and Tiny Prints, and a spot in the next food52 cookbook!

creamtea  Dilled, Crunchy Sweet-Corn Salad with Buttermilk Dressing

Q&A with creamtea

  • Describe an early food experience that has influenced the way you think about food and/or cooking. 
  • My mother, who immigrated at the age of 19 after World War II, encouraged us to “always try new things.” An excellent cook, she took immediately to the country that provided her with a new life. She learned to cook American classics from her neighbors, and to experiment with recipes from other countries. Julia Child made frequent appearances in our home—on the small screen. Of my mother’s many dishes, beery Carbonnade flamande was not a huge hit for me—though my sisters adore it. Stuffed Derma (a Jewish specialty), Caesar Salad, or a puffy German pancake were and still are personal favorites.
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  • My parents taught us how to eat well. We would drive into Los Angeles from our home town, Riverside, for a concert or play and finish the big day with a meal of chilled cucumber soup, Gravlax Smørrebrod and Chocolate Mousse Cake in the garden room of the beautiful old Scandia restaurant. The more plebeian, formica-clad El Centro Basco was the setting for generous farm-country meals. Once, we drove a hundred miles out of our way to visit Johnnie’s Steakhouse in Omaha. And I’ll always be grateful for the permission to order an ice-cream sundae breakfast at a Howard Johnson’s somewhere outside of Chicago after one of my father’s wearying red-eye drives on that same cross-country road trip.
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  • There were many such journeys. A field of ripening tomatoes in California’s Central Valley suggested an impromptu roadside picnic. Seeds and juice dripped down our chins and stained our blouses, but I’ve never again tasted any tomato quite like those. A heel of crusty bread, the crust rubbed with a cut clove of garlic and the cut side smeared with generous lashings of sweet butter, was heralded with the words, “this is how the peasants ate where I grew up. Taste.” It was a meal worthy of royalty.
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  • Although I do not serve my family quite the same way, I am grateful to have experienced the flavors of truly well-prepared foods. Friday nights bring our family together around a dinner table laden with freshly baked challahs, roast chicken, and perhaps lemon cake or brownies. I try to bring the excitement of those remembered flavors into my own kitchen and to share them with family and friends.
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  • What's your least favorite food?
  • Meat loaf. Medium-rare, charred burgers are a better expression of ground beef to my mind.


    • What is the best thing you've made so far this year?
    • A favorite of family and friends is a chocolate cream roll. It is based on Susan G. Purdy’s chocolate roll in her book, A Piece of Cake, but filled with a simple whipped-cream filling, stabilized with only confectioner’s sugar. Her chocolate sponge is as light as a whisper. It is the most-requested birthday cake at our house.


    • Describe your most spectacular kitchen disaster.
    • We had invited a family friend over to help finish the Thanksgiving turkey on Friday night. The upstairs neighbors were away on vacation, but somehow, their apartment flooded. The water dripped down through the ceiling and all over the turkey, which was sitting out on the stovetop. It poured like rain 3 stories on, down to the lobby. As for the ruined main dish, well, there was no backup plan.


    • What is your idea of comfort food?
    • A bowl of spaghetti with marinara sauce and Parmesan cheese brings me back to my childhood.


    • Apron or no apron?
    • Usually an apron, although sometimes I may be in the middle of dinner preparations before I remember.


    • What's your favorite food-related scene in a movie?
    • The exquisite meal in Babette’s Feast. The wines and food, lovingly prepared, soothe old wounds, melt past transgressions, re-kindle aging hearts and envelope the townspeople in a cloak of warmth and forgiveness.


    • If you could make a show-stopping dinner for one person, living or dead, who would it be?
    • My high-school English teacher, Mrs. Hernandez. I wish I could thank her properly for all she taught me.


    • You prefer to cook: a. alone, b. with others, c. it depends on your mood
    • Mostly alone.  But we have Sunday brunch for the family each week, and I do like it when the kids help.


    • 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 like to clean as I cook. Nevertheless, there does always seem to be a lot of cleanup at the finish line.

    41 Comments

    borntobeworn July 14, 2011
    Congratulations! I picked 5 huge bags of corn last Saturday at a friend's farm (gave a lot away but still have a LOT) and your recipe was one that I tried that night - YUM!!! It will definitely be a repeated many times in my kitchen. Thanks for sharing your inspirations from your family. I hope I'm producing some of those for my kids :)
     
    Author Comment
    creamtea July 14, 2011
    Thank you very much! Freshly-picked corn, what a treat. I, too, hope I'm making some memories for the family. The time goes by so fast.
     
    Sagegreen July 14, 2011
    Congrats again! So nice to hear more of your voice in the Q & A sharing such wonderful memories.
     
    Author Comment
    creamtea July 14, 2011
    Thanks again, Sagegreen. And good luck to you with those impressive poolside quaffs. Wow! We don't have a pool on our apt. balcony. I may have to settle for a footbath and one of your concoctions as I look over the traffic below.
     
    Lizthechef July 14, 2011
    Congratulations on your win! Enjoyed your Q & A very much.
     
    Author Comment
    creamtea July 14, 2011
    Thank you so much, Lizthechef. This is quite a thrill.
     
    SKK July 14, 2011
    Congratulations! I love your winning recipe and your picture and your q&a. Enjoy your gifts!
     
    Author Comment
    creamtea July 14, 2011
    Thank you, SKK!
     
    gingerroot July 14, 2011
    Congratulations, creamtea! It was wonderful reading your Q & A, thank you for sharing such lovely memories.
     
    Author Comment
    creamtea July 14, 2011
    Thank you, gingerroot. It's good to sit back and reflect sometimes.
     
    mrslarkin July 14, 2011
    Congrats on your win! What lovely memories to cherish. I have the book A Piece of Cake, and will try the Chocolate Roll!
     
    Author Comment
    creamtea July 14, 2011
    Thanks mrslarkin. I was up against a pro. I and the kids are going to try your (virgin) snowcone as soon as I can pit some cherries. Hope you try the chocolate roll too, it's lovely.
     
    Author Comment
    creamtea July 15, 2011
    I multiply it by 1.5 for a an 11 1/2 x 17 jelly-roll pan, just fyi, and leave out the cinnamon (not really into cinnamon for sweets). Do use a little extra care in unmolding.
     
    nannydeb July 14, 2011
    Congratulations! Great to know more about you!
     
    Author Comment
    creamtea July 14, 2011
    Thank you, nannydeb.
     
    Winston July 14, 2011
    Congrats on this fabulous recipe!! I would also love to try the chocolate roll as we have a birthday next week and I could WOW the family...All the best from Boston
     
    Winston July 14, 2011
    Congrats on your win and fabulous recipe. I would also love to make the chocolate roll cake you noted. Would you be able to share that recipe as I have a birthday coming soon and would love to surprise the family ! Thank you again for the great Q and A. All the best
     
    Author Comment
    creamtea July 14, 2011
    Maybe I'll add to my recipes, except I can't take credit, since I haven't changed a thing!
     
    Author Comment
    creamtea July 14, 2011
    Thanks Winston, I might send it as a message, since it's not my original recipe. Not right away though, guests coming Saturday and I must shop!!
     
    Author Comment
    creamtea July 15, 2011
    I did post it in a personal message to you. Hope you got it!
     
    ChefJune July 14, 2011
    Congrats on the win. What a lovely salad. ;) <br /> <br />Loved your q & a.
     
    Author Comment
    creamtea July 14, 2011
    Thank you, ChefJune!
     
    Author Comment
    creamtea July 14, 2011
    thank you ChefJune, loved your aioli, and could have eaten the whole container myself in one sitting.
     
    aargersi July 14, 2011
    Congratulations! Such a great recipe - keep them coming! Love all of your memories ...
     
    Author Comment
    creamtea July 14, 2011
    Thanks aargersi, keep yours coming too, so original.
     
    EmilyC July 14, 2011
    Congrats on your win! Enjoyed your Q&A...and can't wait to enjoy your salad...I'm making it this weekend!
     
    Author Comment
    creamtea July 14, 2011
    Thanks EmilyC, hope you like it!
     
    Panfusine July 14, 2011
    Congratulations Creamtea, the sephardhic mejjedara that you introduced thru the EP testing at home is now a regular beloved dish at home..looking fwd to trying the salad as well!<br />
     
    Author Comment
    creamtea July 14, 2011
    thanks, Panfusine, I'm so pleased you like that Mejjedara. It's a staple here too.
     
    Kitchen B. July 14, 2011
    Congratulations cream tea - I loved your memories of growing up with food. What a great legacy your parents gave you.
     
    Author Comment
    creamtea July 14, 2011
    Kitchen Butterfly, thanks. My parents deserve the credit!! Now if only I could get them to go here to the website & read about themselves -- aye, there's the rub.
     
    drbabs July 14, 2011
    Congratulations, creamtea. So nice to get to know you.
     
    Author Comment
    creamtea July 14, 2011
    thanks very much, drbabs. Here's to Amanda & Merrill for their interest in home cooking!
     
    Author Comment
    creamtea July 14, 2011
    thank you, hardlikearmour. so impressed with your submissions, especially the yummy-sounding sweets.
     
    Bevi July 14, 2011
    Congrats on your win. Thanks for sharing your food-inspired memories!
     
    Midge July 14, 2011
    Congratulations on your wonderful salad creamtea. You have me craving a good tomato and crusty bread for breakfast!
     
    Author Comment
    creamtea July 14, 2011
    thank you, Midge! now that you mention it, I may have the same...
     
    lapadia July 14, 2011
    Congrats, again, nice to meet you! Visited relatives in Riverside every summer, when I was growing up, but haven't been there for a few years, now.
     
    Author Comment
    creamtea July 14, 2011
    Small world, lapadia! Riverside has grown into a relative metropolis, from what I understand. Back then, the cowboy kids had the school bus stop after mine, and there was still an orange grove down the block from me.
     
    hardlikearmour July 14, 2011
    Congrats on your win! Lovely Q&A.
     
    Author Comment
    creamtea July 14, 2011
    thank you, harlikearmour, so impressed with your submissions.