Describe an early food experience that has influenced the way you think about food and/or cooking. Though my mom's a fantastic baker, but my parents didn't have a lot of time to devote to cooking when I was growing up. My dad once went a whole year where he only ate baked potatoes for dinner, and one of our most common weeknight meals was spaghetti and "pesto" made from a packet (you mix an envelope full of dried herbs with 1/2 cup of olive oil). So, if I'm being completely honest, I think my love of cooking comes from watching cooking shows as a little kid- my very favorites were Yan Can Cook and The Galloping Gourmet.
What's your least favorite food? I've never been a big fan of ground meat.
What is the best thing you've made so far this year? Unquestionably the White Bean Stew with Rosemary, Garlic, and Farro from Melissa Clark's Cook This Now. I can't say enough good things about this recipe- to me it is perfect. It was made all the more lovely by the finishing touches of local spinach and meyer lemons, which came in an enormous box of local produce- a Christmas gift from my dear friend Erin.
Describe your most spectacular kitchen disaster. I had the most fantastic saffron-almond soup with avocado and croutons at Olivia, a wonderful restaurant here in Austin. I was so enamored of it I tried to recreate it at home a few days later. I spent a ton of money on blanched almonds and saffron and proceeded to render them completely inedible. I can't remember exactly what I did, but some combination of not grinding the almonds enough and halfheartedly mixing them with stock and saffron in a stockpot led to a horrifyingly-chunky near-flavorless pot of hot almond water :/ I'm going to try again using the White Gazpacho with Almonds and Grapes recipe from Amanda's Essential NY Times Cookbook as a base.
What is your idea of comfort food? Most anything warm, creamy, and carb-y- I really love chicken stew with biscuits. Also, I find good, moist cupcakes to be especially comforting.
Apron or no apron? After ruining most of my shirts, I am now officially pro-apron.
What's your favorite food-related scene in a movie? When we were kids, my sister (helenthenanny) and I watched Mannequin Two: On the Move about four hundred times. There's a scene where Kristy Swanson eats a hot dog from a street vendor, paper wrapping at all. Man, I wanted that hot dog!
If you could make a show-stopping dinner for one person, living or dead, who would it be? Recent events have reaffirmed for me the importance of showing your friends and family how much you love them. I can't pick just one person. I will try to put as much love as possible into the food I cook for others.
You prefer to cook: a. alone, b. with others, c. it depends on your mood Alone. I'm totally bossy, domineering, and focused in the kitchen :/ That doesn't go too well with my mantra from the previous question, does it?
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 a bit as I cook to keep my workspace tidy, but my husband Andy almost always washes the dishes for me. He's super dreamy.