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Cook Spotlight: em-i-lis

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First and foremost in the kitchen, em-i-lis has one rule: don’t be afraid. She believes that taking risks and experimenting is part of the joy of cooking, and with inventive recipes like Mango Honey Mustard and Mint-Pistachio Pesto, she proves that experimentation is not only joyful, but successful as well. Most importantly? She wants to let her main ingredients shine; a lesson long-learned from growing up in a family that held food near and dear. 

I grew up in the same town as my maternal grandparents, and every Sunday my grandmother laid out a spaghetti and roast feast on their ages-old kitchen table. There was always fresh Italian bread from the Italian bakery, sliced and then warmed on an ancient round pan that I now have, and my grandfather -- quite the Sicilian -- continuously yelled for more cheese! That table is still in my grandmother's kitchen (she's 91) and I remember it so clearly as the centerpiece of a loud, familial love.

Her grandmother, who owned and cooked in a restaurant for many years, passed recipes on to her: 


My grandmother baked thousands of cheesecakes for [her restaurant]. I use that recipe often, as well as her recipes for lemon fluff pie, chicken salad and so many other favorite dishes. 

And she wants to pass that food passion on to her children:

I want them to truly enjoy eating, be willing to taste everything and have an awareness of how our food is grown/raised and then harvested/slaughtered. We grow what we can, participate in Meatless Monday each week, and they love to cook and experiment in the kitchen.

Check out our profile Q&A with em-i-lis below, or visit her blog here.

What is the strangest food you have ever eaten?

Sea urchin (good), scallop roe (not good)

What do you cook when home alone?

Mostly veggies but always something pretty and fresh

Your most treasured kitchen possession:

2T measuring cup, Microplane, citrus reamer with seed-catching screen, many!

The ideal number of guests for a dinner party is: