Kitchen Secrets :: What’s in My Pantry
A few weeks back, the lovely ladies behind the geniusly-sleuth blog, Pantry Confidential, blew open the cabinet doors to my kitchen - culinary and health secrets fully exposed. Christine Han and Hana Choi joined me for a weekend afternoon of cooking, brunching and snap-shoting while they perused my spice cabinet and fridge. Tidbits from the afternoon below. Check out the full interview, to get all my dirty little kitchen secrets (and beyond), over at Pantry Confidential.
How would you describe your food aesthetic + cooking style?
Very seasonally/market-driven. I get inspiration through all sorts of blogs, websites, magazines (lifestyle, travel, design, food and fashion). I’m a huge researcher (I was a history major in college at UVA) and that probably plays a part in my taste and aesthetic. I’m big on ethnic cuisines, particularly Mediterranean and Middle Eastern. And of course, just simple, delicious, market-fresh fare, rustic and modern at the same time - "American/French bistro,” I guess. I try to travel a decent amount in order to gain new inspiration and cooking techniques/flavor combinations. I was in London last year and there’s some very interesting things going on in the food scene there. Overally, my aesthetic is fresh, family-style, inviting with a bit of chic/cool thrown in, so I’d like to think!
Top pantry essentials in your kitchen?
Farro, great olive oil (I love Salvatore Brooklyn's), great Pecorino or Parmesan cheese, an arsenal of spices, beans, quinoa, excellent pasta, house-made vinegar from Brooklyn Kitchen, whole wheat pastry flour, almond and rye flour, variety of nuts – currently walnuts, pecans, pine nuts and pumpkin seeds are going on, truffle salt (a worthy investment/indulgence!), and some Marcona almonds for snacking!
How much does the health aspect of food come into play in the way you cook?
Health definitely plays a big part anytime I’m thinking about a new dish, or an old one. How to easily adapt something, make it a little lighter or bring out the health value in it.
Do you have a signature dish sure to draw raves from guests?
Hmm... I make a mean short rib dish. I have a butternut squash-sour cherry crostini recipe for Thanksgiving that’s been taken over by multiple friends. A simple roast chicken and fingerling potato dish will always have a guest coming back for more.
Favorite kitchen utensils or gadgets?
Mandoline. Microplane. A great chef's knife. Food processor (yes, worth the spend).
Do you have a secret (perhaps foreign) ingredient you love to use?
Piment d’Espelette (great on roasted potatoes, vegetables and eggs) and Harissa powder are current favorites. The Harissa rose powder is amazing on grilled or roasted chicken and grilled/sauteed shrimp. I’ve even used it in a summer potato salad before, delish! I also love these splurgeworthy farm fresh eggs from Grazin' Angus Acres, which you can pick up at the Union Square Greenmarket.
Who is your biggest food inspiration?
Grandmothers, not only my own. A handful of cookbook authors and chefs: Jamie Oliver, Nigel Slater, Claudia Roden, Paula Wolfert, Alice Waters, Barbara Lynch. Anyone cooking authentic food – something that comes from the heart.
Is there a tasty hole-in-the-wall, neighborhood spot you'd be willing to share?
Café Mogador. Amazing and simple every time.
Favorite cookbooks, blogs and sites you peruse?Bon Appetit, 101 Cookbooks, Nectar & Light blog, Purple Citrus and Sweet Perfume, The Food of Morocco, Cook Like a Chef, Tender by Nigel Slater, The Craft of Baking, Plenty and Ottolenghi: The Cookbook.
Whose pantry(ies) would you like to raid?
David Chang, Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Carmellini’s.
Poached Eggs with Asparagus, Piave and Truffle Oil
Serves :: 1
*Eggs are one of the healthiest ingredients around. Yes, please eat the yolks, they hold most of the nutrients! This is a deliciously quick and dirty brunch recipe that screams springtime with seasonal asparagus and the bright flavor of Piave or Parmesan cheese. Top it off with a touch of truffle oil and you (and your friends) will officially be smitten.
2 thin slices of French or whole wheat baguette
1 garlic clove, halved
Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
3-4 spears of asparagus
2 teaspoons white vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons freshly grated Piave or Parmesan cheese
Truffle oil for drizzling (if desired)
Rub baguette slices with garlic and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Grill bread over medium-high heat in a cast iron or on a griddle or grill pan for 3 to 4 minutes on each side.
Bring a large pan of water to a boil. Trim ends of asparagus spears, drop into water and blanch for 2 minutes. Plunge spears into a cold ice-bath or run under cold water. Pat dry and finely chop spears into 1/2-inch pieces. Set aside in a small bowl.
Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add vinegar. Crack eggs, one at a time, into a small ramekin and gently tip over into water. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted, blot on a paper towel.
Arrange garlic toasts on a plate. Top with eggs, asparagus, season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle Piave over top and drizzle lightly with truffle oil if desired.
*For a larger brunch party, multiply ingredient amount and poach each serving of eggs in fresh water-vinegar. Serve this up with a fresh mimosa or a springtime Prosecco sparkler (Prosecco with St. Germain and a lemon twist or simply mixed with cherry juice, as seen here!).
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