Category Archives: Author

i8tonite with Food Scientist Dr. Stuart Farrimond & How to Make the Perfect Vegetable Stir-Fry

i8tonite with Food Scientist Dr. Stuart Farrimond & How to Make the Perfect Vegetable Stir-FryWho wouldn’t love to cook like a Michelin star chef? According to Dr. Stuart Farrimond, the only way to truly uncork our culinary potential is to get a handle on the science of cooking. In his new book The Science of Cooking: Every Question Answered to Perfect Your Cooking (DK Books), he provides cooks of all abilities with a comprehensive and visually stunning guide to every question you’ve ever had on sautéing, searing, slow cooking, and more, providing the building blocks for becoming a great chef.

Specializing in food science, Dr. Farrimond is a science and health writer, presenter, and educator. He has conducted wide-ranging food science research and makes regular appearances on TV, radio, and at public events, and his writing appears in national and international publications, including the BBC, The Daily Mail, and New Scientist. Stuart is an experienced science communicator and founded the online lifestyle-science magazine Guru, which won support from the Wellcome Trust – the world’s largest medical research charity.i8tonite with Food Scientist Dr. Stuart Farrimond & How to Make the Perfect Vegetable Stir-Fry

The Science of Cooking answers over 160 of the most common culinary questions, drawing on the latest research available, to give a deliciously accessible jargon-free read, full of practical know-how. He explains flavor and alcohol pairing, cooking techniques, essential equipment and more, making it the go-to book to master any dish.

Food People Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

What is your favorite food to cook at home?
Anything stir-fried. When you cook small pieces of food in a searing-hot wok, you coat them with a unique complex smoky flavor, called ‘wok hei’ (meaning ‘breath of wok’). Stir-frying is a fast and exciting way to turn out great tasting dishes. Unfortunately, most of us Western cooks do stir frying a disservice by not letting our pan get hot enough, meaning that ingredients simmer and steam, rendering them soft and oily.

i8tonite with Food Scientist Dr. Stuart Farrimond & How to Make the Perfect Vegetable Stir-Fry

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
A selection of cheeses. At a minimum, there is a super-strong mature Cheddar, something very stinky (like a traditional Camembert), and a more delicate-tasting soft cheese (like a goat cheese). Who would have thought fermented, moldy milk could taste so good?

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Someone who can be both silly and serious.

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
Wine. Preferably red.

Your favorite cookbook author?
Ken Hom. I discovered his cookbooks while at University, and his easy-to-understand writing opened my eyes to the idea that cooking was more than simply putting frozen food in the oven. I was never taught how to cook anything other than scrambled egg when a child!

Your favorite kitchen tool?
Surely the quintessential kitchen tool is a chef’s knife? If a knife doesn’t count as a ‘tool,’ then my instant read digital thermometer is easily worth its weight in caviar.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
I think good, old-fashioned stews are woefully underappreciated. With nothing more than heat, time, and a sturdy casserole dish, an inedible, rubbery joint will miraculously transform into mouth-wateringly succulent morsels that are deeply infused with deep meaty flavors. Beef bourguignon is my favorite slow-cooked meat dish. Because, let’s face it, few countries do it better than the French.

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Beef. Good quality fillet steak, bought from a local butcher, served rare or medium-rare.

Favorite vegetable?
The humble carrot.

Chef you most admire?
The British chef Michael Caines is truly inspiring. Despite losing his right arm as a young chef in a road accident in 1994, he returned to the kitchen in just two weeks. He defied the odds by going on to become one of the world’s best chefs, winning multiple Michelin-stars and countless awards. I have had the privilege of eating at one of his restaurants several times – and his fantastically flavorful dishes are elegant and unfussy, with a focus on seasonal produce.

Food you like the most to eat?
Ice cream. Sweet, icy-cool and soft – I love ice cream so much that I have sometimes wondered whether it should be considered as a food group in its own right! (Just kidding.) The Italians and (oddly enough) the Germans know how to make truly great ice cream.

Food you dislike the most?
Pork rinds. They are a traditional British bar snack, but these pieces of deep-fried and salted pork rind are utterly repulsive. I’d rather chew on my shoe.

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?
Cycle. The freedom of riding a bicycle on the open road on a summer’s day is hard to beat. It helps to clear the mind and the spirit.

Where is your favorite place to eat?
A small eatery in the city of Bath, in the South West of England, called Menu Gordon Jones. Tuesday through Saturday evenings it opens up to serve a six course ‘surprise’ tasting menu, which is put together by the chef based on the fresh food that he has been able to source that morning. You don’t know what you are going to be served – it could be snails and chocolate bread – but it always tastes great. It is quirky and achingly stylish and has fun little touches, like flavored oil served out of test tubes.

What is your favorite restaurant?
My all-time favorite restaurant is The Dining Room restaurant at Whatley Manor. This two Michelin star restaurant is in a manor house hotel nestled in the picturesque green rolling hills of the English countryside. They understand that eating is an experience that involves all the senses and every dish is like a work of art – that tastes even better than it looks.

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
No tattoos. Although if I were to have a food-related tattoo, it would probably have to be a strawberry. Because who doesn’t love a strawberry?

Make a stir-fry

i8tonite with Food Scientist Dr. Stuart Farrimond & How to Make the Perfect Vegetable Stir-Fry

To capture an authentic-tasting stir-fry flavor, get the wok as hot as you dare on a burner running at full-tilt. The metal should be smoking or shimmering.

Add a good slug of groundnut/peanut oil. This is the best oil for stir-frying as it can tolerate very high temperatures without burning.

Never use olive oil.

When the pan is steaming and smoking, drop in finely chopped fresh ginger and garlic and stir-fry for a few moments to brown off and flavor the oil.

Now add other, ingredients chopped into equal-sized slices. Add onion first then other ingredients in small batches in quick succession – too much at once will cool the pan down. Crank up the heat and keep the food moving! Add vegetables in the order of how long they take to cook – harder vegetables first. If food starts to burn and stick, try adding some more oil. Don’t turn down the heat but instead add extra ingredients to cool the pan or momentarily lift it off the flame/hob.

If some ingredients won’t soften, add a tablespoon of water and immediately cover with a tightly fitting lid. Keep the heat up on maximum and don’t lift the lid. After a couple of minutes, everything should have been steamed to ‘al dente’ perfection.

For a ‘quick marinade’ of meat:
Place cubed chicken in a bowl and cover with equal quantities of light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, rice wine and sesame oil – about a tablespoon of each is sufficient for a pound/500g of meat. Add a crack of black pepper or Sichuan pepper. You can leave the meat to soak for 30 minutes in the fridge (leaving for too long can make the meat turn mealy). Mix in about a tablespoon of corn flour so that the chicken is coated. Drain off excess liquid then add to your stir-fry!

Tips:
Steaming, as is described above, is a technique known as chao (pronounced as ‘chow’, as in chow mein). Rather than using water, try adding a good splash of light soy sauce with an equal quantity of rice wine (optional). It is well worth getting hold of some rice wine as it helps gives a dish genuine flavor. When you have tried it in your cooking, you won’t go back!

Experiment with other ingredients and flavors – try adding lemon grass or Chinese Five Spice!

Dark soy sauce is a stronger tasting, stickier sauce that has been fermented for longer than light. Use it for marinades rather than for adding to a stir-fry. (‘Light’ soy sauce does not mean it has been diluted or is low in calories!) Always go easy on the soy sauce – our sense of saltiness is dulled at high temperatures and will taste saltier when served. Diners can always add more later.

When cooking meat or fish, make sure that it has been cubed or thinly sliced evenly. Don’t add meat too early to a multi-component stir fry else it will overcook. This is especially true if finishing with some ‘chao’ steaming. Instead, try cooking the meat pieces at the start with garlic and ginger until they have a nicely browned crispy coat then set aside. Add it back in with the other ingredients toward the end of cooking.

Finish your dish with a drizzle of sesame oil. For a warming, spicy kick, grind some Sichuan peppercorns. Don’t cook with sesame oil because it will smoke and burn, producing an acrid taste.

 

– The End. Go Eat. –

i8tonite with Chef and Simply Fish Author Matthew Dolan & Recipe for Smoked Salmon Frittata

i8tonite with Chef and Simply Fish Author Matthew Dolan & Recipe for Smoked Salmon FrittataMatthew Dolan  is an established chef and restaurant owner who trained at The Culinary Institute of America in New York. His restaurant, Twenty Five Lusk, was named Esquire magazine’s Best New Restaurant and Open Table Diners Choice Top Hot Spot Restaurants in the United States since its opening in 2010.

Dolan notes, “I am an American, aware of my Celtic roots, and I blame these roots for the passion that I carry forth in all things, especially my love of cooking and creating dynamic experiences through food. Cooking for others is a joy rewarded by seeing the enjoyment of others. Passion and care are the fundamentals of excellent food, and I am passionate about fish.”

Chef Dolan has a new venture out, one that is accessible to food lovers around the world. His new cookbook, Simply Fish, is a treasure.

i8tonite with Chef and Simply Fish Author Matthew Dolan & Recipe for Smoked Salmon Frittata

“Simply Fish is your definitive guide to preparing seafood that is sustainable, healthy, and delicious. Matthew Dolan’s recipes are accessible and brilliant, and his stories are engaging. The bounty of the sea is here, in a book you’ll treasure.” — Drew Nieporent, restaurateur, Tribeca Grill, Nobu, Bâtard

Simply Fish explores many recipes, techniques, and secrets to delivering a restaurant-quality experience in your own home, simply through cooking fish. You’ll learn about fish, sustainability, and enjoying cooking with seafood, and get inspired by the beautiful, delicious, seasonal recipes (including no-fish desserts!). I especially love the section of each recipe entitled ‘what to tell the fish guy’ – because I think many people are stumped by fish right from the point when you need to purchase it. Genius!

Chef Dolan has also included a few stories of travel, fish, and eating that showcase his humor, quick wit, and thoughtfulness. About a sauna, swimming in the frozen sea, and the meal afterward, Dolan said, “One by one, these crazy Finns leapt in and swam about as if it was noon and they were at Club Med somewhere in the Caribbean. What else was I to do except take the plunge—literally. What a contrast as I felt my heart implode and an unexpected feeling of warmth. I thought I was dying. Then this passed and it was time to get out. Thanks to a little insane moment of ice swimming, we were ravenous and alive. At the center of the table was a beautiful arctic char, roasted whole and awaiting its place in our bellies. Dill and butter-poached potatoes, smoked whitefish, pickled herring, roasted beets, butter lettuces, caviars, and mind-blowing sour breads encircled this magnificently roasted cold-water fish. There were marinated cucumbers known as grandma’s cucumbers, sausages, wine, and beer. The inherent simplicity and care with how this feast came together would later redefine my cooking.

Chef Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

What is your favorite food to cook at home?
Risotto, seasonally driven, usually with mushrooms.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Beer and ham. Simple staples.

Caviar+Lobster. i8tonite with Chef and Simply Fish Author Matthew Dolan & Recipe for Smoked Salmon Frittata
Caviar+Lobster

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Excitement for the experience, the food, and the effort that surrounds it.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Inferior table manners. I am worried that we are losing sight of the importance of table manners. I still believe that good manners shows that we respect each other, as well as the time we have committed to one another. And speaking with food in your mouth is silly and awful…it would be nice if we stood when others join the table, but I realize this is asking too much.

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
Beer mostly, softer and gentler wines always, but I am not a tough guy who can handle heavier brown spirits, so if it’s cocktails, we are talking Dark and Stormy or a very fresh margarita – no salt nor triple sec.

Your favorite cookbook author?
Michel Roux

Your favorite kitchen tool?
Tasting spoon. The difference between good and great is determined by this tool.

i8tonite with Chef and Simply Fish Author Matthew Dolan & Recipe for Smoked Salmon Frittata

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
Tough question. I’m an Irish-American with a classical French background. I employ the French and Italian, borrow from the Chinese at times, but the favorite path is driven by sustainable seafood and making the most of ethical choices that are market driven.

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Pork.

Favorite vegetable?
Asparagus

Chef you most admire?
Pierre Gagnaire

Food you like the most to eat?
Szechuan Dumplings

Food you dislike the most?
Kidneys. Can’t do it.

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?
Sky dive – only been once, but need to go again quickly

tuna cucumber persimmon terrine. From i8tonite with Chef and Simply Fish Author Matthew Dolan & Recipe for Smoked Salmon Frittata
tuna cucumber persimmon terrine

Who do you most admire in food?
Anybody that agrees that food has the ability to take people away from their lives, their issues, and create a moment of joy. There are loads of us doing this, but those that care about the individual receiving the food first, I admire you. And we waste too much food in the USA. So if you are controlling your portion size and making efforts to reduce food waste, I admire you even more.

Where is your favorite place to eat?
There is a Korean inspired place here in San Francisco, Namu Gaji, and it has become a regular thing. They do a really good job.

What is your favorite restaurant?
I have to say, Farm Shop in Brentwood (LA), California is a very amazing and consistent place. That said, Liho Liho Yacht Club in San Francisco is a stunner, as well.

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
I only have accidental tattoos, or scars from burns if you will, after twenty-eight years in the kitchen. I think that they are a lot cooler and less of a time commitment. Not opposed, maybe one day?

Recipe: smoked salmon and farm egg frittata with basil, lemon, chives, and tomato

serves 4

Recipe for smoked salmon and farm egg frittata. From i8tonite with Chef and Simply Fish Author Matthew Dolan & Recipe for Smoked Salmon Frittata

what I cook at home, actually this is also from the book

10 free-range or organic eggs (if farm-direct, the flavor’s even better)
½ cup sour cream
Juice of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
½ pound Pacific or sockeye smoked salmon, sliced into thin strips
1 cup basil leaves, destemmed, torn
2 Tablespoons (½ bunch) fresh chives, diced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise (reserve ½ cup for garnish)
2 Tablespoons cooking oil
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter

what to drink
Blanc de blanc champagne
Txakolina Rosé from Spain
Your favorite daytime drinking beer
Bloody Mary

what to tell the fish guy
You probably don’t need the fish guy for this one. There is usually a refrigerated case close to the fish counter that will have what you are looking for. But, if the fish guy has some smoked fish options that are not pre-packaged, you can ask where the fish is from and when it was smoked. Normally, fish will be brined or cured before smoking. If you go the prepackaged route, check the sell by date; the fresher the better.

method
Preheat your oven to 400°F. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, sour cream, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, pepper, and cheddar cheese. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, fold in the sliced smoked salmon, basil, chives, and ½ cup tomatoes. Heat a cast-iron skillet or nonstick pan over high heat and add the oil and butter. Once the butter has melted and the combination begins to slightly smoke, add the contents of the mixing bowl. Using a wooden spoon, stir everything in the pan in an effort to evenly distribute the garnish throughout the egg mixture. Cook for 3 minutes and place in the oven. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until the eggs are fully cooked. Remove from the oven and allow the frittata to cool for 2 to 3 minutes. Turn the frittata over onto a cutting board and serve.

plating
I usually cut this into pie-shaped slices. Add ½ cup of the sliced cherry tomatoes on the side to serve.

 – The End. Go Eat. – 

 

Photos copyright 2017 by Anne-Claire Thieulon

i8tonite with Oy Vey Vegan Author Estee Raviv & Vegan Stuffed Peppers Recipe

i8tonite with Oy Vey Vegan Author Estee Raviv & Vegan Stuffed Peppers RecipeThe first thing I noticed, when talking with Oy Vey Vegan Cookbook author Estee Raviv, was her passion for her work. Now in food, you will find passionate people (we all love to eat). Raviv is an artist. Cooking is an outlet for her creativity – and that anyone can relax – and cook – in the kitchen. Cooking is Art!

Cooking is Art. i8tonite with Oy Vey Vegan Author Estee Raviv & Vegan Stuffed Peppers Recipe

Raviv’s foray into Vegan cooking and eating came about because of her digestive issues. After being raised in Israel, where cheese and dairy are plentiful and delicious, she experimented with elimination diets – and found that eating vegan changed her life. That change is why she started writing her blog, as well as her new cookbook, Oy Vey Vegan. She was so happy that she felt so good, and wanted to share this with the world.

Raviv noted that, like all of us when faced with changing our way of eating, she found it difficult to change her state of mind, and said, “What am I going to do now?” How could she change her routine – and ways of thinking? Well, we can all learn from her – she created her own menu for every day, and found alternatives that are healthy and not trying to be something else. Raviv avoids processed food – she noted that “you can be vegan and eat junk, so coming to veganism as a healthy aspect of a plant-based diet is helpful. Vegan eating is very healthy for us and, of course, it can prevent all types of cancers and other chronic diseases.” Her own menus sound delicious, starting with oatmeal for breakfast (which she loves), and then whatever healthy snacks she chooses for the day – lots of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and very creative salads that contain plant-based protein. Eating vegan is a whole new world that is fascinating and creative, and she thrived in it.

cooking segment on TV. i8tonite with Oy Vey Vegan Author Estee Raviv & Vegan Stuffed Peppers Recipe
cooking segment on TV

Appearing on a regular basis with a cooking segment on tv in Oregon and Washington, and teaching cooking classes with From Estee’s Kitchen, Raviv is happy to share the things that she is cooking for her family every day.

i8tonite with Oy Vey Vegan Author Estee Raviv & Vegan Stuffed Peppers Recipe
My book in store

Her cookbook, Oy Vey Vegan, includes recipes that she uses every single day. It’s an excellent tool for people that want to eat vegan and don’t know how, as it includes simple and accessible global recipes using fresh ingredients. Most recipe ingredients are in the fridge or pantry all the time, and there are also traditional Jewish dishes with a vegan spin. Examples include vegan pate, which is a staple in every Jewish holiday meal, and matzo ball soup, which she recreated into a vegan version (without eggs) and says, “it tastes better than the traditional dish.”

My herb garden. i8tonite with Oy Vey Vegan Author Estee Raviv & Vegan Stuffed Peppers Recipe
My herb garden

Raviv was most passionate about the joy of eating, remarking that “most if not all of the recipes in Oy Vey Vegan are guilt-free – you can eat and feel good about yourself, and don’t worry about quantities. If you put good things in your body, food is medicine, food is good – as long as you eat the right things, you can eat without guilt.”

As a takeaway from her cookbook, tv segments, cooking classes, and blog (i.e., her life’s work!), Raviv hopes that she can help people with health issues, by teaching about using food as preventive medicine. If you eat right, you can prevent so many diseases. Raviv said, “Act now – don’t wait to be sick, but start now – and change your opinion or stigma about veganism…there’s so much more to eat than seeds and lettuce. If you eat a balanced vegan meal that contains protein, you won’t be hungry, and will be super-satisfied. And if I can change other people’s lives, I’ll be very very happy.”

She loves to eat, is passionate about food, and can eat as much as she wants. Delicious food as preventive medicine? Sounds good to me.

Book signing event at New Seasons Market. i8tonite with Oy Vey Vegan Author Estee Raviv & Vegan Stuffed Peppers Recipe
Book signing event at New Seasons Market

Food People Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

What is your favorite food to cook?
Eggplant, salads, tempeh, quiches. I love to cook mostly everything! I love to cook, period:)

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Fruits, vegetables, tempeh and Almond milk.

What do you cook at home?
Everything vegan, mainly recipes from my book and new recipes that I develop. Today, for example, I made a sprouted lentil salad with orange slices and sunflower seeds, homemade hummus and stuffed eggplants.

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
First, I love people that love to eat. People that appreciate good healthy food, and people that are passionate about food in general.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal? People that are not open to try new food. People that think that vegan food is not satisfying food or not good food.

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex?
Pyrex for sure.

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
Wine

Your favorite cookbook author?
Crossroads cookbook author Tal Ronnen

Cooking at my outdoor kitchen. i8tonite with Oy Vey Vegan Author Estee Raviv & Vegan Stuffed Peppers Recipe
Cooking at my outdoor kitchen

Your favorite kitchen tool?
Food processor

Your favorite ingredient?
Love avocado, every day! Year round!

Your least favorite ingredient?
Margarine – does not exist in my kitchen

Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen?
Clean up

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
Hard to choose because I love so many but Probably Mediterranean

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Tofu

Favorite vegetable?
Eggplant

Chef you most admire?
Giada de Laurentis

Teaching a cooking class. i8tonite with Oy Vey Vegan Author Estee Raviv & Vegan Stuffed Peppers Recipe
Teaching a cooking class

Food you like the most to eat?
Kale salad with crunchy tempeh on top…and avocado, of course

Food you dislike the most?
Bok choy

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?
Travel with my family / barre class / hikes with my husband /

Who do you most admire in food?
My mom – she is an amazing and creative cook

Where is your favorite place to eat?
If to be honest, at home but I do like to eat out in an Ethiopian cuisine, or at Jory restaurant at the Allison inn and spa (Oregon wine country)

How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
None, not my thing

 

Recipe: Vegan Stuffed Peppers

i8tonite with Oy Vey Vegan Author Estee Raviv & Vegan Stuffed Peppers Recipe

Growing up, my mom used to make stuffed peppers all the time. And I loved it! Of course, she used meat and rice in her recipe. I recreated it vegan-style and it turned out so flavorful! No meat is necessary to create an amazing stuffed peppers dish.

Ingredients:

6 colorful bell peppers

Filling:

1 teaspoon olive oil

4 cup celery stalks, chopped

4 green onions – chopped

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 cup pearl barley or brown rice

1/4 cup quinoa

1 1/2 cups boiling water

1 tablespoon fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped

salt

pepper

Sauce:

1 1/2 cup boiling water

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 teaspoon no chicken base

1 teaspoon sweet paprika

1 teaspoon agave

Salt

Pepper

 

Directions:

For the filling:

In a sauce pan on medium heat add olive oil, celery, green onions, salt and pepper. Saute for a couple of minutes.

Add the spices: turmeric, paprika and onion powder, Saute for a couple more minutes, then add the pearl barley, quinoa, boiling water. Lower the heat and let simmer until all the water have evaporated. Add parsley or cilantro, mix and Set aside.

For the sauce:

Add all the ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a boil.

For the peppers:

Cut the top part of the peppers and keep it to cover the peppers after you fill them. (You can remove the green core.)

Scoop out the seeds.

Place the peppers in a wide pan; try to fit the peppers tightly.

Fill the peppers with the filling mixture and cover them with the top part of the pepper.

Pour the sauce over the peppers and let simmer for an hour, or until the peppers are soft.

Every 10-15 minutes, take a spoon and pour some sauce on the peppers, to keep them moist and flavorful.

Be creative and you can always use the filling in any other veggie you like. This specific filling is super light because it has a large content of the celery, and a lesser amount of carbs.

– The End. Go Eat. –

 

i8tonite with Food Expert Simran Sethi & Recipe for Sweet Potatoes With Mustard Seeds

i8tonite with Food Expert Simran Sethi and recipe for Sweet Potatoes With Mustard SeedsThe best way to describe food writer Simran Sethi is to say she is more telegenically inclined and far more accessible as a writer than Michael Pollan, Marion Nestle, and Michael Ruhlman. Of course, it’s a subjective opinion; Pollan is probably the most famous, but Simran Sethi’s book Bread, Wine, Chocolate: A Slow Loss of Foods We Love might push her over the top. Part memoir, travelogue, and science, published last year – and due for a paperback edition in October, she has become the food expert who teaches us how to be food experts along with her.

i8tonite with Food Expert Simran Sethi and recipe for Sweet Potatoes With Mustard Seeds

Complete with flavor wheels which detail profiles of beer, chocolate, wine, and bread, her book is a discussion about how we only eat about 30 types of foods, which are harvested around the world. This is leading to “mono-crops” and loss of other edibles that we should be eating. Did you know the banana that we eat from our local grocery store, the Cavendish, is only one variety? According to Ms. Sethi and the World Banana Forum, there are more than 1000 varieties of the fruit. And of that number, we consume nearly 48 millions tons.

i8tonite with Food Expert Simran Sethi and recipe for Sweet Potatoes With Mustard Seeds
Simran Sethi interviewing wheat farmer Gyanni Singh outside of Amritsar, India.

Sethi’s is no stranger to journalism or the world of food. Her broadcast career began as senior correspondent for MTV News India in Bombay. At one time, she was the environmental correspondent for NBC News with contributions to The Today Show, CNBC, and MSNBC. She has written and hosted shows for The Sundance Channel, PBS, and Treehugger.com on sustainable environments and ethical markets. Her research knowledge is vast; she is an expert at telling a compelling story.

i8tonite with Food Expert Simran Sethi and recipe for Sweet Potatoes With Mustard Seeds
The Golden Temple during Karah Prasad preparation, Amritsar, India.
i8tonite with Food Expert Simran Sethi and recipe for Sweet Potatoes With Mustard Seeds
Farmer grappling with dropping water tables in Punjab, India.
i8tonite with Food Expert Simran Sethi and recipe for Sweet Potatoes With Mustard Seeds
Halwais preparing Karah Prasad at the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India.
i8tonite with Food Expert Simran Sethi and recipe for Sweet Potatoes With Mustard Seeds
Donated wheat for Karah Prasad in the Golden Temple kitchen in Amritsar, India.

 

i8tonite with Food Expert Simran Sethi and recipe for Sweet Potatoes With Mustard Seeds

However, she decided to write a book on food, one of her favorite topics. She says, “We celebrate through food. We mourn through food. There is nothing that affects us more than our food. In writing this book, it was incredibly humbling to travel to some of these places and see its origins. I wanted to go deeper and teach the world through the lens of food.”

i8tonite with Food Expert Simran Sethi and recipe for Sweet Potatoes With Mustard Seeds
Wild coffee flowers held by farmer Tebeje Neguse.
i8tonite with Food Expert Simran Sethi and recipe for Sweet Potatoes With Mustard Seeds
Coffee seedling held by Simran Sethi in the Kafa Biosphere Reserve.
i8tonite with Food Expert Simran Sethi and recipe for Sweet Potatoes With Mustard Seeds
Coffee blossoms from the afromontane rainforest in Kafa, Ethiopia.
i8tonite with Food Expert Simran Sethi and recipe for Sweet Potatoes With Mustard Seeds
Farmer Vicente Norero on his cacao plantation in Balao, Ecuador.
i8tonite with Food Expert Simran Sethi and recipe for Sweet Potatoes With Mustard Seeds
Fermenting and drying cacao, Esmeraldas, Ecuador.
i8tonite with Food Expert Simran Sethi and recipe for Sweet Potatoes With Mustard Seeds
Close-up of harvested cacao, Esmeraldas, Ecuador.

Food People Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

How long have you been cooking?
Since age 14.

What is your favorite food to cook?
My favorite foods are the ones cooked for me.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Whole milk for coffee, seasonal fruit, local eggs.

What do you cook at home?
I assemble. Pasta and greens, bread and cheese, egg on anything.

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex?
Pyrex.

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
Cider.

Your favorite cookbook author?
Zora O’Neill and Tamara Reynolds wrote a cookbook that played off their Queens, NY supper club called Forking Fantastic!: Put the Party Back in Dinner Party. I have never wanted to cook as much as when I am reading (and re-reading) that book.

Your favorite kitchen tool?
This gigantic pan I got when I appeared on the Martha Stewart Show. It was the audience gift but I begged.

Your favorite ingredient?
Salt

Your least favorite ingredient?
Turmeric

Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen?
Cook

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
Italian.

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Well-raised pork.

Favorite vegetable?
Mushrooms

Chef you most admire?
Most? Tough. Floyd Cardoz, Alice Waters, Dan Barber, Heather Carlucci.

Food you like the most to eat?
Avocado on home-baked bread with a little Penzey’s Turkish seasoning sprinkled on top.

Food you dislike the most?
Fast food.

How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
None and none.

Recipe: Sweet Potatoes With Mustard Seeds (Sookhi Aloo)

i8tonite with Food Expert Simran Sethi and recipe for Sweet Potatoes With Mustard Seeds
Sweet Potatoes With Mustard Seeds (Sookhi Aloo)

3 medium sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 small red chili, thinly sliced (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake sweet potatoes until they are just slightly undercooked, 30 minutes. When cool enough to handle, peel and cut into ½-inch pieces. Set aside.

2. Add oil and mustard seeds to a medium skillet over high heat. Fry seeds, periodically shaking pan, until seeds start to pop. Reduce heat to medium.

3. Mix in potatoes, turmeric, cayenne pepper and salt to taste. Cook, stirring infrequently, until a crust forms, 10 minutes more.

4. To serve, garnish with cilantro and chilies, if using.

 

PHOTO: STACEY VAN BERKEL FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL 

Simran Sethi profile photos: Cem Ersavci for Dumbo Feather

India, Ethiopia, & Ecuador photos: Simran Sethi

 

 

 

– The End. Go Eat. –

 

Disclosure: Sethi is a PR Client of co-editor Brian Garrido.

i8tonite with Azerbaijani cookbook author Feride Buyuran & Recipe for Fresh Herb Kükü

i8tonite with Azerbaijani cookbook author Feride Buyuran & Recipe for Fresh Herb KüküI’ve recently fallen in love with the cuisine of Azerbaijan – thanks to the efforts of Feride Buyuran. With her new cookbook, Pomegranates and Saffron – the first comprehensive cookbook on Azerbaijani cuisine published in the U.S. – and her impressive and inspiring cooking website, http://azcookbook.com/, she’s singlehandedly promoting Azerbaijani cuisine to an audience unfamiliar with it. There are few Azerbaijani restaurants in the US – you can count them on one hand – and while the cuisine is somewhat familiar, because of its Persian, Russian, Middle Eastern, and Turkish influences, much is new and exciting.

Imagine a country where East and West are beautifully intertwined in the cuisine and culture and where its treasured cooking secrets are waiting to be discovered. Welcome to Azerbaijan. In Pomegranates and Saffron, Feride Buyuran takes you on a delightful culinary journey through this beautiful land in the Caucasus.

i8tonite with Azerbaijani cookbook author Feride Buyuran & Recipe for Fresh Herb KüküIn the cookbook, there are over 200 tempting recipes for appetizers and salads, soups and stews, pasta, meat, vegetable and egg dishes, breads, saffron rice pilafs, aromatic drinks, and desserts, all adapted for preparation in a Western kitchen. Interspersed throughout the text are fascinating glimpses of local culture and traditional proverbs related to food that will make your adventure even more memorable.

i8tonite with Azerbaijani cookbook author Feride Buyuran & Recipe for Fresh Herb Kükü

Pomegranates & Saffron has won 4 major awards, including Gourmand Best in the World Award, U.S. Winner of Gourmand World Cookbook Award for Best Eastern European Cookbook, Living Now Book Award with a Silver Medal in the Ethnic Cookbooks Category, and a National Indie Excellence Award in the International Cookbooks Category.

 

I chatted with Feride via Skype, and as we talked, I grew more and more impressed with her worldview – and cooking. Originally from Azerbaijan, Feride moved to the US about 15 years ago. While she visits home as often as possible, she wanted to cook the foods she grew up with, to satisfy her cravings for food from home. Feride had started a recipe notebook when she was 13, curating those recipes as stories. To supplement that small notebook once she was in the US, she started calling her mom, grandma, sister, and other family members (all excellent home cooks) to ask for recipes from home. She conceived of her cookbook when she was 8 months pregnant (talk about pregnancy food cravings!), and has worked for 7 years on her book and accompanying website. She talked about not giving up on her dream, and gaining an education in the publishing industry – that “it’s a hard road, but so worth it.”

i8tonite with Azerbaijani cookbook author Feride Buyuran & Recipe for Fresh Herb Kükü

It shows. The book is beautiful, informative, and chock full of cultural goodness. The website shares recipes, links to interesting food articles, and travel and cooking inspiration. When I asked Feride what she’d want to say to readers about Azerbaijani cuisine, she noted, “Don’t be scared of the name Azerbaijan. The food is a beautiful melange of cultures, and is unique. The ingredients are widely available in the US and not scary. See for yourself how delicious it is!”

She is the perfect bridge to representing two countries in cooking, an ambassador from Azerbaijan who shares the best way to learn about a place – through its food, recipes, and culture.

i8tonite with Azerbaijani cookbook author Feride Buyuran & Recipe for Fresh Herb Kükü

One thing I loved learning about the culture and cuisine of Azerbaijan is the traditional hospitality toward guests. For meals, the table is filled with as many dishes as possible, putting the best you have out for your guests. If there’s a celebration (birthday, wedding) meal, there’s a person at the head of the table to make toasts. Meals are to be lingered over, while enjoying the time spent together.

i8tonite with Azerbaijani cookbook author Feride Buyuran & Recipe for Fresh Herb Kükü
Food People Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

What is your favorite food to cook at home?
Stuffed grape leaves – dolma. Very laborious, but the entire family is crazy about it.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Plain yogurt (homemade) and milk (because I always need a batch to make yogurt again), and fresh herbs (cilantro, parsley, etc).

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Enjoying the food set in front of him or her and being appreciative.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
An extremely picky eater is the recipe for an unpleasing meal.

i8tonite with Azerbaijani cookbook author Feride Buyuran & Recipe for Fresh Herb KüküBeer, wine, or cocktail?
Generally speaking, none, as I am not much of a drink lover. But I do enjoy a few sips of wine or cocktail with friends at get-togethers.

Your favorite cookbook author?
I have a few in mind – Faye Levy, Claudia Roden, Darra Goldstein, Anna vom Bremzen, Najmieh Batmanglij, and others. Their books are enlightening and their recipes appeal to my taste.

Your favorite kitchen tool?
Cliche, but a good knife and a sturdy cutting board. Also a good blender for those impromptu smoothies.

i8tonite with Azerbaijani cookbook author Feride Buyuran & Recipe for Fresh Herb KüküFavorite types of cuisine to cook?
Turkish, Azerbaijani, Middle Eastern, Eastern European.

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Beef and chicken. I don’t cook with pork, and tofu is ok once in a while.

Favorite vegetable?
Eggplant all the way, although it is actually a fruit.

Chef you most admire?
No favorite. I don’t want to pick a celebrity chef because there are many chefs out there who are equally talented yet don’t have media exposure. So, to me, any chef who is hard working, creative, yet humble is admirable.

Food you like the most to eat?
I love food of all sorts and anything delicious is good for me. I love anything with eggplant. Also, lamb kabab. And, if it’s pomegranate season, I love the fruit. I also like dried fruits. b. See? My list can continue.

Food you dislike the most?
It’s more of an ingredient – wasabi. Every time I try to like it, my palate says no.

i8tonite with Azerbaijani cookbook author Feride Buyuran & Recipe for Fresh Herb Kükü

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?
Dancing flamenco (my hobby), reading when my brain is not cluttered, and chatting with friends around tea table.

What do you most admire about food?
Its innate power to bring people together. Everywhere.

Where is your favorite place to eat?
At home, in any home. I love homemade foods. They come with stories and if it’s a good company, with a good dose of laughter.

What is your favorite restaurant?
I really like ethnic restaurants serving traditional or fusion foods. There are a few on my mind but no absolute favorite yet.

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
No tattoos. But I am beginning to wonder if a pomegranate tatoo would look good on me.

Recipe: Fresh Herb Kükü

i8tonite with Azerbaijani cookbook author Feride Buyuran & Recipe for Fresh Herb Kükü

In Azerbaijan, kükü (read: kyukyu) is the general name given to dishes in which main ingredients—vegetables, herbs, meat or fish—are bound with eggs, then browned on both sides on a stovetop. It is not to be confused with omelet, as the featured ingredients in kükü are used in far greater amounts than eggs. By its appearance and texture, kükü can be likened to a Persian kookoo, Middle Eastern eggah, Spanish tortilla or Italian frittata.

Simplicity in itself, fresh herb kükü is by far the most popular and the most frequently made kükü of all in the versatile kükü repertoir. In this light summer dish, fresh herbs are mixed with eggs, then the mixture is leveled in a frying pan and cooked in butter on both sides to yield a tender, flavorful interior laced with a golden surface

If you wish, add some fresh mint to the kükü, and if in season, fresh green garlic (green parts only) as well, decreasing the amount of other herbs accordingly. Sometimes, spinach is added too. Herb-laden tender kükü wedges can be served cold or at room temperature as an appetizer or immediately as a light standalone dish with bread or as a side dish to rice pilaf. You can also make it a part of your breakfast and brunch menu. Don’t forget to drizzle the kükü with thick, creamy garlicky yogurt sauce, for that extra touch of authenticity.

Serves 4

Ingredients
2 packed cups chopped fresh cilantro
1 packed cup chopped fresh dill
½ cup fresh green onions
5 eggs
½ teaspoon salt
Ground black pepper to taste
¼ cup unsalted butter or clarified butter (can substitute olive oil)
Garlicky yogurt sauce (mix 1 cup plain yogurt with crushed garlic to taste) or plain yogurt, to serve

Instructions
In a large mixing bowl, combine the chopped fresh herbs and eggs. Season with salt and pepper, then stir with a spoon to mix well.
Melt the butter or oil over medium heat in a 10-inch non-stick frying pan. Pour the herb-egg mixture into the pan to fill it completely, leveling it with the back of a spoon. Cook until golden brown on the bottom, 5 to 8 minutes.
Using a knife, carefully cut the Kükü into 4 wedges (or 8 if you wish). Gently turn the wedges over to brown the other side. If you need to, add more butter or oil to the pan.
Remove the cooked Kükü from the heat and transfer it onto a serving platter. Serve with bread or as accompaniment to rice pilaf.
Separately serve a bowl with garlicky yogurt sauce or plain yogurt, to spoon onto Kükü to taste.

The End. Go Eat.

i8tonite with Hawaiian Author and Food Writer Sonia R. Martinez & Recipe for Salade Niçoise with fresh ‘ahi

i8tonite with Hawaiian Author and Food Writer Sonia R. Martinez & Recipe for Salade Niçoise with fresh ‘ahiSonia R. Martinez was born in the island of Cuba, and has always been drawn to tropical climes and cuisines. For the last 22 years she has lived on the Island of Hawai’i in a beautiful rain forest where she loves to play in the garden, grow herbs, collect cookbooks, test recipes, visiting farms; learning and reporting about new sustainable growing techniques, read voraciously, and work on crossword puzzles.

Her passion for food and cooking led her to own kitchen/gourmet shops and cooking schools first in Orangeburg, South Carolina and later in the Miami, Florida area. After moving to Hawai’i, she and her son owned Akaka Falls Inn, a B&B, cooking school and gourmet shop in Honomu for several years.

She has been a food writer and columnist since early 1999, writing a monthly column for The Hamakua Times newspaper of Honoka’a. Sonia is also a regular contributor to Ke Ola Magazine as well as many other local publications. I first met Sonia in the early days of Gather, a website that featured great writing and an even greater community. Her recipes, photos of life in Hawai’i, and generous, smiling personality attracted many followers, including myself. Her care and attention is genuine and I consider her decade+ friendship one of the best things coming from the islands to Michigan! She has been a beacon for visitors to visit Hawai’i, promoting the delicious local foods there, as well as encouraging healthy and fresh eating. Her recipes, food photos, and sharing of local farmer’s markets, island food, and the beautiful place she lives in has inspired countless readers.

i8tonite with Hawaiian Chef, Author, and Food Writer Sonia R. Martinez & Recipe for Salade Niçoise with fresh ‘ahiHer cookbook Tropical Taste, published in 2001, is a compilation of three years’ worth of monthly columns published in The Hamakua Times and is now in its second printing after being picked as one of the “Best of the Best” cookbooks in Hawai’i by Quail Ridge Press. Her second cookbook, From Soup to Nuts, was published a year ago .

Sonia has maintained a blog for several years, sharing her adventures in food and gardening and her ongoing love affair with Hawai’i at www.soniatasteshawaii.com

i8tonite with Hawaiian Chef, Author, and Food Writer Sonia R. Martinez & Recipe for Salade Niçoise with fresh ‘ahi

 

Food People Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

What is your favorite food to cook at home?
Mainly simple and fresh…but I grew up with the ‘waste not’ concept and love to find creative ways to recycle leftovers so they don’t look or taste like leftovers.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Eggs, butter, cheese…I can live on cheese.

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Appreciation and enjoyment of the food.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Inattention to the food or the other extreme, showing off their ‘gourmandise’

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
Definitely wine…unless I’m eating a paella or Arroz con Pollo…then I do enjoy a very cold beer. I am not fond of cocktails.

Your favorite cookbook author?
This is a hard one. At one time I owned a collection of well over 3000 cookbooks. Lost them in a fire, but in no time at all, my ‘new’ collection grew by leaps and bounds with gifts from friends who were trying to replace the lost ones, plus the many I added through the years. A couple of years ago, I started going through them and culling them to a manageable 4 shelf units in my office and hallway instead of all over the house. It was a time of hard decisions, but now know exactly what I have and where to find it…No mean feat, since I still own about 500, give or take.

I have an extensive collection of Cuban and Hawaiian cookbooks; a few Spanish & Portuguese, some Italian ones and Tropical Fruit ones, plus several on herbs & spices, a few single topic ones (sushi, dim sum, chocolate) and several of the classics that don’t fit into any of the categories mentioned…and of course, my own two titles, Tropical Taste and From Soup to Nuts.

Your favorite kitchen tool?
My Santoku knife…I seem to reach for that one above all other ones.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
Tropical, Cuban, Italian.

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
I’ll eat anything but am most creative with chicken. I am not fond of tofu.

Favorite vegetable?
Asparagus, any way it can be prepared.

i8tonite with Hawaiian Chef, Author, and Food Writer Sonia R. Martinez & Recipe for Salade Niçoise with fresh ‘ahi

Chef you most admire?
Although I have met a few of the well-known chefs in the culinary world, and admire several of them, I will have to say that there are three ‘local’ chefs I admire the most on this island. Sam Choy of Sam Choy’s Kai Lanai in Kailua-Kona, James Babian of Pueo’s Osteria in Waikoloa, and Diana Soler of Aloha Bayfront Café in Hilo, for their commitment to using locally sourced ingredients whenever possible and their honest approach to food. Simple, fresh, beautifully prepared and presented without ostentation.

Food you like the most to eat?
Any shellfish but love scallops

Food you dislike the most?
Anything that is an imitation of the real thing

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?
Play in the garden…I love planting edibles among our ornamental landscaping (I even joy weeding!), and am a voracious reader.

i8tonite with Hawaiian Chef, Author, and Food Writer Sonia R. Martinez & Recipe for Salade Niçoise with fresh ‘ahi
View from Sonia’s back yard

Who do you most admire in food?
My mentor and inspiration from way back has always been Shirley O. Corriher, who came to my first cooking school as a guest cooking teacher fairly often in the early 80s. She demystified so many of my preconceived notions in cooking and her enthusiasm and love of all things food served as great encouragement.

Where is your favorite place to eat?
A good sushi or seafood restaurant.

What is your favorite restaurant?
Takenoko’s Sushi in Hilo, is in my opinion the best sushi restaurant anywhere. We’re lucky if we can get reservations since the waiting list is so long, but it is well worth the waiting. I also enjoy dropping by Aloha Bayfront Café in Hilo for lunch. The food is always fresh, delicious, and beautifully presented, the staff is friendly, and you’re never rushed to vacate the table.

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
No tattoos. My mother would have killed me!

Recipe: Salade Niçoise with fresh ‘ahi

i8tonite with Hawaiian Chef, Author, and Food Writer Sonia R. Martinez & Recipe for Salade Niçoise with fresh ‘ahi

One of my favorite simple and healthy meals to prepare at home when I can buy fresh ‘ahi (tuna) is my version of a Salade Niçoise.

Season to taste fresh ‘ahi (tuna), sear in avocado oil, serve on a bed of fresh spinach or Manoa lettuce, boiled potato wedges, hard-boiled eggs, tomatoes, sliced onions, a handful of lightly steamed haricot vert, and asparagus, dressed simply with Honey Wine Vinegar to which I had added a vanilla bean.

 

The End. Go Eat. 

All photos courtesy and copyright Sonia R. Martinez

i8tonite: with Erika Lenkert, Creator, EIC of GFF Magazine & Her Best Effing Chicken

i8tonite: with Erika Lenkert, Creator, EIC of GFF Magazine & Her Best Effing ChickenSan Franciscan-born and bred Erika Lenkert is the creator and editor in chief of GFF (Gluten Free Forever) Magazine. She is also a bon vivant, a traveler, a culinary writer, a single mother, and –  importantly – a lover of great food. She says, “I’ve always been a food person. Growing up as a child of a single mother, my mother would take me everywhere to eat, but I also needed to fend for myself in the kitchen. When I was in junior high and high school, I was working as a receptionist, and then cold-calling at another job, but with the money (I earned), I would take myself out to eat.” Even more prescient of her future undertakings, as a child, Lenkert would gather her friends together and they would play how to create a magazine, creating subscription cards along with feature stories

After graduating from UC Berkeley with a degree in English Literature, Lenkert began a career as a freelance writer – and never looked back.  For twenty years, she’s been a food writer for both San Francisco and Los Angeles Magazines and penned prolifically for Food & Wine, InStyle, San Francisco Chronicle, Elle, Travel & Leisure, and numerous other outlets with an approachable but knowledgeable voice. Furthermore, she’s written several books, including Party Girl Primer, Raw with Chef Juliano Brotman,  and The Real Deal Guide to Pregnancy.

Beet-Hummus - from i8tonite: with Erika Lenkert, Creator, EIC of GFF Magazine & Her Best Effing Chicken
Beet Hummus

 In 2014, Lenkert, who has been gluten intolerant since 2001, originated a Kickstarter campaign, raising close to $100,00 for a new culinary book about cooking without gluten; hence, GFF Magazine was born. “Starting a magazine was a crazy idea,” she says. “I feel like I bit off more than I could chew. I’ve always been more of a barter type of person but I found that I had to ask for what I needed without the possibility of giving it back.” At that time, she states, it was the most difficult in her life as she was going through a divorce, starting GFF, and found herself sick for the first time in her adult life with erythema infectiosum, commonly called the “fifth disease.” However, she never gave up her lifelong mission of creating a quality culinary magazine along the lines of Gourmet, except for the new health-oriented generation. “The food always has to be the star,” she says.

In March 2016, Lenkert partnered her second baby – she has another with two legs — with Meredith Corporation, who currently publishes well-read titles devoted to food and wellness such as Eating Well, Shape, and Better Homes & Gardens. Essentially, the relationship moves Lenkert’s quarterly publication from 12,000 issues to 250,000, with a newsstand price of $9.99 under their specialty titles. In today’s publishing world – with journals dropping like flies – it’s nothing short of a miracle. Truth be told, the deal was probably sealed with Lenkert’s infectious enthusiasm for her work in creating a culinary periodical. She – a runaway train knowing its’ true and right destination – states, “The name of the magazine might be GFF, but I want people to have the opportunity to cook and eat well. I want to give people happy food.” (Readers of i8tonite can receive a special price with the promo code: SPRING16. Sign-up via gffmag.com).

Food People Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust)

i8tonite: with Erika Lenkert, Creator, EIC of GFF Magazine & Her Best Effing ChickenWhat is your favorite food to cook at home? The “Best Effing Chicken”—a stupidly simple, over-the-top delicious boneless roasted chicken recipe taught to me by SF chef Daniel Patterson. It uses two ingredients and takes two minutes of prep, and it’s seriously fabulous.  Or caramelized broccoli – I regularly make a meal out of it.

What do you always have in your fridge at home? Califia Farms vanilla almond milk, butter, eggs, and peanut butter.

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal? A penchant for skipping the small talk and getting right into the frank, honest conversation.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal? Resistance to sharing food.

Frittata. From i8tonite: with Erika Lenkert, Creator, EIC of GFF Magazine & Her Best Effing ChickenBeer, wine, or cocktail? Depends. GF beer after a long day, wine at a dinner party, and a Manhattan out with friends.

Your favorite cookbook author? I don’t have time to read or cook from cookbooks. With 45 or more recipes in each issue of GFF, whenever I finish one, I’m off recipe developing, testing, and writing for the next.

Your favorite kitchen tool? A good knife. I’m not a gadget girl (less is more for me), but I do like my microplane, too.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook? Favorite? Japanese. Most common? Italian or “Californian” (i.e., a bunch of fresh stuff thrown together).

Acai Bowl with Fruit. From i8tonite: with Erika Lenkert, Creator, EIC of GFF Magazine & Her Best Effing ChickenBeef, chicken, pork, or tofu? Chicken, though I’m leaning more and more toward a vegetarian diet.

Favorite vegetable? Broccoli

Chef you most admire? Hiro Sone. He makes such beautiful food. Literally and figuratively.

Food you like the most to eat? Sushi. And French fries. 🙂

Food you dislike the most? I’m not a hater.

What is your favorite non-food thing to do? Travel, though that always includes food exploration.

Spread. From i8tonite: with Erika Lenkert, Creator, EIC of GFF Magazine & Her Best Effing ChickenWhere is your favorite place to eat? Anywhere there’s good company. Or good food. Or fun bar-dining. Or all three.

What is your favorite restaurant? I don’t have one. But Nopa is my San Francisco fallback—because it has the aforementioned elements that make up my “favorite place to eat.”

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food? My skin is unadulterated—except for the sun damage from iodine-baby oil sun-tanning in the ‘80s and living on Maui in my 20s.

Recipe: Best Effing Chicken

Get the butcher to debone 1 large whole chicken (they’ll do it at Whole Foods). Salt it with 1 teaspoon of salt 1 to 3 hours prior to cooking and reserve in the refrigerator until 10 minutes before cooking. Lay the chicken flat, skin-side up, on a rimmed sheet pan and broil it about 3 inches from the heat, or until the skin is very crispy and brown, about 10 minutes. Turn the oven temperature down to 250°F and cook for 25 minutes. Cut the chicken into entrée-size pieces, transfer to a platter, and prepare to be blown away.

 

– The End. Go Eat. –

 

 

i8tonite with Grow Your Own Cake Author Holly Farrell & her Pumpkin Soda Bread Recipe

i8tonite with Grow Your Own Cake Author Holly Farrell & her Pumpkin Soda Bread Recipe“Who doesn’t love cake?” Thus my introduction to Holly Farrell began, when I called her at her gardener’s cottage on an estate in the UK, near the Shropshire/Herefordshire border. Farrell is a serious gardener, mom of a toddler, and the author of Grow Your Own Cake: Recipes from Pot to Plate, a genius book that is both a backyard gardening guide and cookbook. The beautiful, inspiring photos are by Jason Ingram.

 

i8tonite with Grow Your Own Cake Author Holly Farrell & her Pumpkin Soda Bread RecipeFarrell has a delicious twist to her cake recipes, though – she has a vegetable garden devoted to all things cake. How did this come about?

In college, Farrell majored in history. Which led, curiously, to gardening. What? Yes, well, love entered the picture, too, as you’ll find out in a moment. She got the growing bug working at a chili pepper farm, after which she trained at RHS Gardens Wisley, where she gained the Wisley Diploma in Practical Horticulture and the RHS Certificate and Diploma, both with Commendation – and met her husband! They now live on the country estate where he is the Head Gardener.

i8tonite with Grow Your Own Cake Author Holly Farrell & her Pumpkin Soda Bread RecipeSoon, she started writing garden books – and freelancing on kitchen gardens for private clients. Now one thing that’s a bit unusual, you’d think, for gardeners – sometimes the accommodations where they lived didn’t have big gardens, because the estate had such extensive gardens! So, she has been growing her own fruit and vegetables for many years, in a variety of settings, from allotments to container gardens. I think for Farrell, gardening is like breathing – something you do no matter where you are. It was amazing to hear her clear passion for gardening –  and her love of teaching how to grow things – from across the pond.

Farrell has always cooked, and always liked cake. This book is a glorious combination of the two, where ingredients you never thought would be in a cake are the stars – or the firmament.

i8tonite with Grow Your Own Cake Author Holly Farrell & her Pumpkin Soda Bread Recipe
lavender shortbread cookies

She hopes to inspire people to expand their gardens – and palates. This book will appeal to gardeners who are already growing, and bakers who have never gardened, too. Using freshly grown ingredients (including herbs and flowers) – especially from your own hand and land – makes such a difference. Can’t grow much? Start with herbs in pots on your windowsill, and get the rest from local farmers at your farmer’s market.

i8tonite with Grow Your Own Cake Author Holly Farrell & her Pumpkin Soda Bread Recipe
Rose cake

I love this book, for it teaches much in both the garden and the kitchen. If you know one, skip ahead to the other. But the recipes (50 of them!) shine, I will be honest. Her chapters include spring and summer cakes, autumn and winter cakes, afternoon tea, pudding, and savory bakes. When I asked what readers might be surprised about her book, Farrell mentions that she while she loves gardening, she doesn’t grow her own wheat, or raises cows and chickens – and the recipe that raises the most eyebrows is the savory cheesecake (you know I flipped right to that page after our afternoon chat, and indeed, I was both intrigued and impressed. Making soon!).

As a mom, I asked Farrell for tips were to get kids started baking (and gardening) early. She said to start early by baking sweet stuff! And while plenty of people are great at hiding vegetables in a cake, that’s not what she’s about. She prefers getting kids to appreciate growing things, picking, and then cooking them. Their time and efforts are rewarded and they’ll want to try it again (and again).

I was impressed with Farrell’s philosophy on gardening, eating, and life. She noted that, “so much goes into the experience of eating – where you are, who you’re with, if the sun is shining, etc. The cakes in the book will taste good, but hopefully you’ll be in a good place, a garden, and the satisfaction of having grown it yourself will make it better.”

To that end, she’s shared two recipes to inspire you.

Questionnaire, with a nod to Proust:

What is your favorite food to cook at home?
Cake! Or anything involving cheese.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Butter and eggs, and parmesan cheese (see above).

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
I’m terrible at deciding between dishes in restaurants, so it’s always nice when they order the other choice so I can try both!

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Poor table manners.

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
Cocktail.

Your favorite cookbook author?
Too many to choose, but for the writing, Nigel Slater and recently Ruby Tandoh.

Your favorite kitchen tool?
My silicone spatula.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
Anything sweet – pudding, dessert, cake…

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Chicken, but I couldn’t live without pancetta for ragu.

i8tonite with Grow Your Own Cake Author Holly Farrell & her Pumpkin Soda Bread Recipe
Pea Cheesecake (told you. Make one!)

Favorite vegetable?
Broccoli – it’s what I crave when I’m under the weather, but for baking with, carrots.

Chef you most admire?
Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall do great work with their campaigns for better food.

Food you like the most to eat?
I couldn’t live without chocolate.

Food you dislike the most?
Visible fat on meat – I just can’t stomach chewing it. Or semolina and rice puddings, a school-dinner legacy.

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?
Gardening.

Who do you most admire in food?
Michael Pollan writes so well, and his Food Rules is brilliant.

Where is your favorite place to eat?
At the kitchen table with my husband and daughter.

What is your favorite restaurant?
The best meals I’ve ever had out were at Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir, and at a little place called Da Enzo in Rome.

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
Hah! No, sorry, I’m not nearly rock and roll (or brave) enough for tattoos.

Growing Carrots & Carrot Cake Recipe

i8tonite with Grow Your Own Cake Author Holly Farrell & her Pumpkin Soda Bread Recipe
Grow your own carrots…

G R O W CARROTS
When I first started growing my own vegetables, I had a friend who thought carrots is carrots is carrots. I presented him with my home-grown roots for dinner, pulled from the soil that afternoon. ‘Oh’, he said, ‘so that’s what carrots are supposed to taste like.’

BEST VARIETIES
For recipes that call for blended or grated carrot, sweet, juicy, long, blunt-ended varieties are best, such as ‘Sugarsnax 54’, ‘St Valery’,
any of the ‘Nantes’ type or the shorter ‘Amsterdam Forcing’ for growing in pots. When using whole carrots, as in Root veg
tarte Tatin, baby carrot varieties such as ‘Paris Market’ are a good choice, and also suitable for growing in pots.

PLANTING
Sow carrots in a sunny spot in spring, and again at intervals until late summer. Scatter the seed thinly in a drill in well-prepared soil free from large stones. Small carrots can be grown in pots, and this is actually preferable to growing them in heavy clay soils.

MAINTENANCE
Carrot flies are attracted by the scent of the foliage so avoid brushing it while tending the plants. To protect the crop from such pests, cover with horticultural fleece or fine mesh. Clear plastic tunnels can also be used if aired daily. Check the edges and folds regularly for slugs and snails. Thin the seedlings once the roots have grown to a usable size, leaving one plant every 10cm/4cm or so.

HARVEST
Satisfying as it is to just pull up carrots using the foliage, this should be avoided so the root does not break; instead use a fork to lever them out of the ground. Carrot thinnings provide the first harvest, while the main crop will be ready around four months after sowing.

Recipe: CARROT CAKE

i8tonite with Grow Your Own Cake Author Holly Farrell & her Pumpkin Soda Bread Recipe
for this amazing carrot cake!

Perhaps the most well-known of all the vegetable cakes, and with good reason, carrot cake comes in many guises. This sponge version is lightly spiced, moist and includes a zesty buttercream. It is light enough for baking with fresh, sweet carrots in summer.

MAKES A TWO-LAYER CAKE
YOU WILL NEED
2 x deep, round cake tins, 20cm/8in diameter, greased and base-lined

INGREDIENTS
Cake:
200g/7oz peeled carrots
2 tbsp natural yogurt
1 tbsp orange juice
330g/11oz plain flour
300g/10oz light brown muscovado sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1½ tbsp baking powder
180g/6oz unsalted butter
3 eggs

Candied carrot:
1 peeled carrot
70g/2½oz caster sugar
70ml/2½fl oz water

Buttercream:
300g/10oz icing sugar
150g/5oz unsalted butter
3 tsp lemon juice, to taste

Decoration:
1 lemon, zest
75g/2½oz walnuts and/or pecans, toasted

METHOD
• For the cake, preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/gas mark 3. Grate the carrots, then blitz in a food processor or blender with the yogurt and orange juice to form a rough purée. Set aside. Sift the flour, sugar, spices and baking powder into a large bowl, then beat in the butter until it has coated the dry ingredients and the mix looks like breadcrumbs. Beat in the eggs until just incorporated, and then the carrot purée for 2–3 minutes. Divide between the two tins. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Then remove from the oven and turn out the cakes to cool on a wire rack.
• For the candied carrot, using a zester or small knife, pare long, thin strips of carrot into a small saucepan. Then add the sugar and water. Bring to a simmer over a medium heat and cook for about 5 minutes, until a thin syrup has formed. Hook out the carrot strips and leave to cool on a wire rack.
• For the buttercream, sift the icing sugar and beat with the butter to combine, then add lemon juice to taste. Beat for 5–10 minutes until light and fluffy.

TO ASSEMBLE
Use half the buttercream to sandwich the two layers of cake together, and the other half to cover the top. Grate over the lemon zest and finish by sprinkling over the toasted nuts and candied carrot.

 

Recipe: PUMPKIN SODA BREAD

i8tonite with Grow Your Own Cake Author Holly Farrell & her Pumpkin Soda Bread Recipe

Soda bread, which is created using baking powder rather than yeast, requires no kneading and no proving. It is best served warm, making it an ideal choice for a quick weekend lunch. Tradition has it that the cross sliced into the top of the bread is to ward off the devil, but whatever the origin it makes each loaf easy to tear apart into
chunks to share.

MAKES 2 LOAVES

YOU WILL NEED
1 × baking sheet, dusted with flour

INGREDIENTS
500g/1lb 2oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp salt
pinch of freshly ground pepper
4 tsp baking powder
150g/5oz grated pumpkin
100g/3½oz grated
gruyere cheese
300ml/½ pint buttermilk

METHOD
• Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6. Mix the flour, salt, pepper, baking powder, pumpkin and three-quarters of the cheese quickly and thoroughly in a large bowl. Then make a well in the centre.
• Pour in the buttermilk and stir until it comes together as one ball of dough. Work as quickly as possible until the ingredients are all incorporated, but do not mix for longer than necessary to do this.
• Divide the dough into two equal pieces, and shape each into a ball. Put on to the baking sheet and flatten slightly. Cut a deep (almost to the base) cross in each ball, sprinkle with the remaining cheese and dust with a little flour.
• Bake for 25–30 minutes, until the bread sounds hollow when tapped on the base. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

TO SERVE
Serve warm or cold. The loaves will last 2 days at most, and are best eaten as soon as possible after baking.

 

Inspiration, indeed. Spring is here – what are you planting, with a mind to bake and eat?

The End. Go Eat.

i8tonite with Philosophy Professor and American Foodie Author Dwight Furrow

i8tonite with Philosophy Professor and American Foodie Author Dwight FurrowSan Diego Mesa College Professor Dwight Furrow specializes in the philosophy of food and wine, aesthetics, and ethics. He is also a Certified Wine Specialist with certification from the Society of Wine Educators and an advanced level certification from the Wine and Spirits Educational Trust. Furrow is the author of Edible Arts, a blog devoted to food and wine aesthetics, and evaluates wine for the Sommelier Company. I am fascinated by his writings on Mindful Eating, and since discovering them, have enhanced my dining experiences with thoughtful practice.

i8tonite with Philosophy Professor and American Foodie Author Dwight FurrowFurrow’s new book, American Foodie: Taste, Art, and the Cultural Revolution, will change the way you think about food. In this book, he shares:

* How food preparation and consumption is both an art form and one of life’s essential pleasures.
* How slow and purposeful approaches to food can improve our lives as opposed to fast and convenient.
* Elements of American history that have kept the nation from developing its own respected cuisine – until now.
* The philosophy of the foodie craze as a search for aesthetic authenticity in our increasingly pre-packaged world.
* 10 reasons to eat mindfully (that have nothing to do with losing weight)
* Why food bloggers are the heart of the food revolution.

It’s time for a new way to look at food and how we eat – and Furrow does just that.

Food People Questions:

What is your favorite food to cook at home?
Soups. They can easily be adapted to any situation, are the perfect medium for creativity in the kitchen, and hard to screw up.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
A good cheese, preferably a little stinky.

i8tonite with Philosophy Professor and American Foodie Author Dwight Furrow
Parmesan crisps with soppreseta and Radicchio

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
A belief that the most important thing in the world is a good meal.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
A mile-long checklist of foods they don’t like. (Exceptions for health issues, of course.)

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
Oh, definitely wine. Nothing goes better with food than wine.

Your favorite cookbook author?
Peter Kaminsky and Gray Kunz. To my knowledge they only wrote one cookbook, The Elements of Taste, but it was a revelation for me.

Your favorite kitchen tool?
Cast Iron Frying Pan. Versatile, indestructible, and holds up to high heat.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
Spanish (especially Tapas), Italian, Mexican

i8tonite with Philosophy Professor and American Foodie Author Dwight Furrow
Peanut sesame noodles with Sichuan pepper

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Pork – nothing beats braised pork. Why is tofu on this list?

Favorite vegetable?
The ones that are really fruit: avocado and tomato

Chef you most admire?
Ferran Adrià. A genuine artist in the kitchen. Of course, his restaurant El Bulli closed. Knowing when to quit is a virtue.

Food you like the most to eat?
Tapas-style, lots of flavor sensations in one meal. If you don’t like something, you can just move on.

Food you dislike the most?
Eggs. They are fascinating, fun to cook, and I hate that I don’t like them. But I just don’t.

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?
Read, especially philosophy. No, I’m not a masochist.

Who do you most admire in food?
Artisan winemakers, brewers, coffee-roasters, and small build-from-scratch restaurant chefs/owners. They are doing it for love.

Where is your favorite place to eat?
Home. It’s where I can be creative and where my most appreciative audience resides.

What is your favorite restaurant?
Juniper and Ivy (San Diego), Uchi (Austin), Curate (Asheville), Pok Pok (Portland)

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
No

Recipe: Pan-Fried Fish Filet with Radish and Citrus Sauce

 

i8tonite with Philosophy Professor and American Foodie Author Dwight Furrow

The red radish is an afterthought – a colorful garnish or peppery accessory to a salad, but seldom the star of the show. This strikes me as a great injustice. After all, the radish is brightly colored, pleasingly plump, crunchy, and distinctively flavored. It’s not boring, offensive, or unwelcoming. It doesn’t deserve to be ignored.

I will make it my mission in life to rectify this injustice. The problem is that radishes lose their crunch and peppery flavor when you cook them. Boredom looms. But with just enough heat, they acquire a pleasing nutty/earthy flavor that pops when you pair them with caraway seeds.

So here is the launch of the Radish Redemption Project. Plenty of citrus and ginger, some soy to provide umami depth, and gently roasted radishes enhanced by the pungent notes of caraway make a fascinating sauce for buttery pan-fried fish.

Serves 4

Ingredients:
8 radishes, cleaned and trimmed
2 tablespoon olive oil (divided use)
2 small garlic cloves, minced
1/2 small onion, minced
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon caraway seeds, crushed
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 cup flour seasoned with salt and pepper
4 fish fillets, mildly flavored, such as tilapia or halibut
2 tablespoons butter
cilantro for garnish

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Slice radishes in half, pole to pole, then place the cut side down and cut each half into thirds. (Each radish is cut into 6 equal portions)
3.  Toss sliced radishes with 1 tablespoon olive oil and roast in the oven for 6-8 minutes. Reserve. (Radishes should still have some crunch but lose their raw flavor. Be careful not to overcook)
4. Warm olive oil over medium heat. Saute onions and garlic until soft.
5. Add ginger and cook briefly, then add citrus juices soy sauce, honey, caraway seeds, and cumin and stir. When sauce begins to simmer, reduce heat to low then cover so the sauce does not reduce too much.
6. Pat fish dry and put seasoned flour on a dish or pan.
7. Heat frying pan to medium high and melt butter (be careful not to burn the butter).
8. Dredge fish in flour and fry in frying pan until fish is lightly browned and cooked through. (If your frying pan is too small for 4 filets, cook them 2 at a time and keep warm in the oven.)
9. While fish is cooking, adjust consistency of the sauce if necessary, add radishes to the sauce and increase the heat briefly so they will warm.
10. To serve, distribute sauce on plates with radishes on the border, top with fish filet and garnish with cilantro.

The End. Go Eat.

i8tonite: with America’s First Culinary Couple, Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough

NOTE:  This is an original post we wrote in October 2015.  We like to pull a Saturday Night Live, and occasionally have rebroadcasts. Heh.

Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough are America’s first culinary couple sort of like Julia Child and Jacques Pepin except, they are married, like Lucy and Desi. As a business partnership, they have written 26 cookbooks and ghost-written six more for star vanity projects. Ham: An Obsession with the Hindquarter (2010) and Vegetarian Dinner Parties (2014) were nominated for the coveted James Beard Award for “Best Cookbook”. As a couple, they have been together for 19 years – meeting in an AOL chatroom while living in New York City. Even then, they were ahead of their time.

There isn’t a comparative food coupling in the culinary world like Bruce and Mark.  Certainly, not cooking in a restaurant, on a Food Network or Cooking Channel show. Or for that matter on PBS or Logo. Instead of going through today’s star-making channels – YouTube and reality television – the pair did it the old-fashioned way. Hard work.

You might say, “What about so-and-so?” They started on reality television running around the world.

“What about the Food Network’s blah?” They stick to one food type.

“What about…?” Nay. She was a well-known actress before she met her husband.

Bruce and Mark are a team, having written and eaten their way to a successful career and a country Connecticut home. They finish each other’s sentences in the adoring, long-time love affair way and they laugh at each other’s jokes.  If Woody Allen were casting for a movie during his Annie Hall days, Bruce and Mark would embody the  perfect museum-going Manhattan pair. Smart. Literate. Witty.

The type-A personality couple spends almost 24 hours together but maintain separate endeavors to keep the relationship strong. Weinstein, the cook of the couple, knits runway-ready sweaters (of course, he does) and has written a book about it (of course, he has). Scarbrough, the writer and academic, teaches Chaucer (of course, he does) and has just created an iTunes podcast for the couple (of course, he has). Supposedly, they do play a mean game of bridge as partners in their off-time from the stove and computer.

Somewhere – amongst over two dozen cookbooks written –the prolific twosome has time to appear on QVC hawking mass cookbooks about pressure cookers to mid-Western cooking hobbyists. There’s also the column contribution to Weight Watcher’s online  and they can be viewed on Craftsy.com espousing on – what else? – cooking.

Pressure Cooker
Photo by Eric Medsker

Like fellow comedic pairings before them, such as Gracie Allen and George Burns,  making the audience laugh is much a part of who they are as what they do when whipping up garlicky mash potatoes. It’s a blend of entertainment and cooking.

To the outsider looking in,  their relationship seems to embody a lot of laughter….and eating. And drinking…. with lots of laughing. For Bruce and Mark, it all appears to be about having fun and enjoying life. After all is said and done, the inspiring pair is enjoying it all except they would like to have a little bubbly with all that love.

Food People Questionnaire:

What is your favorite food to cook at home?

Ham_ An Obesession with The Hindquarter
Ham: An Obsession with the Hindquarters. Photo by Marcus Nilsson

Bruce: Oxtails, beef tongue, or veal cheeks—tough choice.

Mark: As you can see, there’s no need for me to cook at home. I write the books. I get fed. It’s a great trade-off.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?

Bruce: See the above answer.

Mark: Skim milk—because I think it actually makes the best foam for my morning four-shot latte.

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?

Bruce: A nice shirt—I’m going to be looking at it all night.

Mark: Well, maybe not, Bruce! I really like good conversation skills. Give-and-take. Back-and-forth. First time someone says, “Another thing about me is . . .” I’m out of there.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?

Bruce: Slurping solid food.

Mark: Texting. Please. Stop.

Beer, wine or cocktail?

Bruce: Cocktail to start, wine with, beer after.

Mark: Wine. I hear they’re making it in other colors besides red these days. Wouldn’t know.

Your favorite cookbook author?

Bruce: Fuchsia Dunlop. My Sichuan master.

Mark: Abby Dodge. It’s right every time.

Your favorite kitchen tool?

Hands by Martinak15Bruce: My hands.

Mark: His cleaned and dried hands.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?

Bruce: Anything east of India. Crazy about Sichuan these days. Want to come over for a ten-course tasting dinner?

Mark: Worcestershire sauce. Seriously. I make the best.

Beef, chicken, pork or tofu?

Bruce: If only tofu had bones.

Mark: Well, lately, salmon fillets. Cilantro, mint, sliced fresh jalapeños, olive oil, crunchy salt. Trust me.

Favorite vegetable?

ArtichokesBruce: Artichokes, preferably trimmed and cleaned by someone else

Mark: Winter squashes as so much. I had a roasted Blue Hubbard the other night that was orgasmic.

Chef you most admire?

Bruce: Tony Wu. Ever see this guy hand-pull noodles? Check out his youtube videos.

Mark: Right now, Daniel Eddy at Rebelle in New York City. Kick. Ass. Food.

Food you like the most to eat?

Bruce: Grilled burger any day of the week.

ƒEpoisses
Photo by Edsel Little.

Mark: I have a healthy appetite. Enough said. But my choice indulgence is Époisses de Bourgogne.

Food you dislike the most?

Bruce: Root beer. I have to wipe it off my tongue with a rag.

Mark: Jell-O. Period. Also, panna cotta, its evil twin.

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?

Bruce: Play Chopin preludes.

Mark: Read lyric poetry. I have a podcast on it. Check it out: Lyric Life on iTunes.

Who do you most admire in food?

Bruce: Bill Niman. He changed the way we think about food in this country.

Mark: My agent. Twenty-seven cookbooks sold for us ain’t too bad.

Where is your favorite place to eat?

Bruce: Siena. No questions.

Mark: Joucas, France. (There’s only one restaurant. See below.)

What is your favorite restaurant?

Beach Point Coast, Prince Edward Island
Beach Point Coast, Prince Edward Island

Bruce: Richard’s Fresh Seafood on Covehead Wharf in the national park on Prince Edward Island, Canada

Mark: The restaurant at Le Mas des Herbes Blanches in Joucas, France. Go in the summer when the lavender fields are in bloom against the red cliffs of Roussillon down in the valley.

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?

Bruce: Some things you have to leave to the imagination.

Mark: No. And I still have things you can imagine.

Ricotta/Spinach Dumplings, Parmesan Cream Sauce (6 servings)

Vegetable Dinner Parties
Photo by Eric Medsker

From Bruce and Mark:  Winter weekends are made for dinner parties. As the sun sets early and the darkness creeps over our yard, we banish the cold by lighting the candles and serving hearty, warming fare like this casserole. The tender, spiced, even lemony dumplings are baked in a simple cream sauce that emphasizes their luxurious texture while softening some of their sweetness. It’s best minutes out of the oven, so plan your timing carefully.

  • One 10-ounce box frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • 8 ounces regular or part-skim ricotta
  • 4 ounces Pecorino Romano, finely grated (about 1 cup)
  • 3 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup semolina flour, plus additional for rolling the dumplings
  • 1 tablespoon minced chives
  • 1 tablespoon minced dill fronds
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole or 2% milk
  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine, such as a California Chardonnay
  • 2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated (about 1/4 cup)
  1. Squeeze the thawed spinach by the handful over the sink to remove excess moisture, then crumble it into a large bowl.
  2. Stir in the ricotta, pecorino, egg yolks, semolina, chives, dill, zest, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, the salt, and nutmeg to form a wet but coherent dough. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  3. Spread more semolina flour on a large plate. Use damp, clean hands to form the dough into 24 balls, each about the size of a golf ball, rolling them one by one in the semolina to coat thoroughly before setting them on a large lipped baking sheet.
  4. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Working in batches, add 5 or 6 dumplings and boil for 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to scoop them out, drain them, and transfer to a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Repeat with the remaining dumplings.
  5. Position the rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F.
  6. Make the sauce by melting the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Whisk in the flour until a creamy paste. Slowly whisk in the milk in a steady, fine stream until the paste has dissolved. Whisk in the wine and continue whisking over the heat until thickened and bubbling, 3 to 4 minutes. Whisk in the Parmigiano-Reggiano, then pour this sauce over the dumplings in the baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper over the casserole.
  7. Bake until lightly browned and bubbling, about 20 minutes. Cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Ahead: Complete the recipe through step 6 up to 2 hours in advance; store, lightly covered, at room temperature.

Garnish: Although we’re not a fan of side dishes at dinner parties, this casserole could use a little contrast. Spoon the baked dumplings and sauce onto plates, accompanied by grilled asparagus spears, drizzled with a flavorful but light vinaigrette.

Note: Make sure the lemon zest is in fine bits. If you don’t use a small-bored microplane to grate the zest, mince it on a cutting board to make sure no one ends up with a big thread in a single dumpling.

The End. Go Eat. 

(Correction: Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough’s monthly column was incorrectly attributed to Fine Cooking Magazine. It is Weight Watcher’s Online.)