1. What's your worst food memory
So in preschool it's not really expected that the food will be great, but mine really took the spice cake. Every two weeks or so we would be served "beef and rice" which, as I remember it, consisted of of rice and beef of equally grey and mushy consistency. I could barely choke it down with my small cup of milk and was once told I was hurting the cook's feelings by not finishing my portion of the stuff. Beef and rice will forever symbolize the gastronomical and emotional trauma of early childhood.
2. Best food memory
Hmm, a more difficult question. Like my worst food experience, by best ones are tied up with emotions. I remember my first dinner out with just my dad to a steakhouse in Denver, CO while we were away for a soccer tournament. He bet I couldn't finish my t-bone steak so I attacked it like a starving wolf and remembered it as the best steak ever when I actually finished it (and no doubt had indigestion in the hotel room later that night). Another favorite is my grandmother's french toast, smothered in gooey peaches and powdered sugar when we spent our first Christmas away from the home I grew up in.
3. My signature dish is.
Aside from soba noodles in dashi broth that I eat almost every night with whatever vegetables I have around, I recently made my own tomato sauce from farmers' market heirloom and roma tomatoes. I combined it with basil, maitake mushrooms, and spicy Italian sausage over Barilla pasta. It was amazing (totally surprised myself) and ate it for lunch at work almost two weeks in a row. I'm actually clearing my schedule for tomorrow so I can make even more sauce and enjoy it throughout the winter!
4. One of my favourite food photographs.
Of someone else .. pretty much everything Laura Letinsky has ever done. I was so happy to see her speak a few years ago. http://lauraletinsky.com/ This is one of the first photographs of her's I fell in love with immediately: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_
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5. Ingredient I'm currently obsessed with is
Tomatoes! I'd always picked them off my sandwiches and burgers when I was younger but now I love choosing them at the farmers' markets for both photographing and making sauces.
6. Worst kitchen injury
I was chopping lettuce for taco night with a brand new knife when it went right into the base of my left thumbnail. I didn't need stitches but it was a major damper on an otherwise fun evening.
7. Cake I ask for on my birthday
I actually don't care for cake or other baked goods, but if I had to pick it would be chocolate ice cream or French silk pie. When it comes to sweets I really prefer sour gummies and Apple-O's.
8. Favourite ChefSharon Ardiana of Ragazza in San Francisco. I love that she opened this restaurant as an homage to the lady cooks in her family. I also love that she has the most incredible dough for her pizza … and i've had a LOT of pizza.
9. Share with us one of your favourite recipes
Buckwheat Noodles in Hot Peanut Sauce (adapted from Wok Every Day) - Serves 4
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/2 cup chicken broth (I typically use vegetable broth. water, or even mirin)
- 1/2 teaspoon dark sesame oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons red chile-garlic paste (Sambal)
- 4 green onions, white part only, minced (I use the green parts, too, with the cilantro for garnish)
- 1/4 chunky peanut butter (creamy is okay)
- 8 ounces thin buckwheat noodles (also known as soba)
- 3 tablespoons peanut oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger
- 3 cups shredded Chinese (napa) cabbage
- 1 cup grate carrots
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
* This is where I deviate from the recipe because cabbage gives me gas, so I'll use maybe a cup of it along with the carrots, and add in a cup of cubed tofu and shiitake mushrooms. You can really add whatever you want to this dish (even chicken or pork) as long as you prepare it in thin slices to minimize cooking time in the wok before you add the noodles and sauce.
To make the sauce: in a saucepan or a small woke over medium heat, combine the soy sauce, brother, semsae oil, chile-farlic paste, green onions, and peanut butter. heat, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes, oruntil the peanut butter melts and the ingredients are well combined Remove from the heat and set aside.
- The book says to cook your soba noodles in the wok … you can, but if you have a small pot, use that and save yourself the trouble of draining and drying your wok before stir-frying -
Cook noodles according to directions. Drain.
Heat oil in wok over medium-high heat. Add the ginger and stir-fry for a few seconds, or until fragrant. If using meat, sauté until cooked through. Then, add the cabbage and carrots (or other vegetables, tofu, etc.) and stir-fry about 3 minutes, or until the cabbage softens. Add the noodles and stir-fry for 1 to 2 minutes, or until heated through. Add the sauce and mix well.
Divide noodles among bowls, sprinkle with cilantro, and serve immediately. * I deviate here too and eat about 1/2 of it, saving the rest for lunch the next day.
10. Favourite kitchen appliance and what I make with it most often
Living in San Francisco means I have a tiny kitchen, so I don't have too many major appliances beyond my refrigerator and stove. I love my stainless steel cookware my mom bought me as a graduation present, as well as the CutCo knives I received for Christmas from my sister. I make do with the basics, really. I did however recently come to own a hand-me-down deep-fryer that I've used a couple times and am eager to use more often, especially as it gets colder and I crave fried chicken and French fries.
11. If you were on death row, what would your final meal request be.
Oh no, not this question! So hard. Part of me wants a New York City cheese pizza, part of me wants a dozen oysters and champagne, and another part wants a perfectly grilled grass-fed steak from my home state of Montana. But I'm dying, so I can get all three, right?
12. What did you learn from you mother/grandmother that you use often in the kitchen.
Both my mother and grandmother taught me that recipes aren't perfect. As someone who both loves and hates authority, this was a thrillingly difficult concept to understand. But, over time, I've learned to trust my instincts in the kitchen, and I believe that they are nearly always right.
13. What the name and address of your blog
Charlotte Ann - www.charlotteann.com (Fun fact: this was the name I would be called if my mother was upset with me).
14. What are five things you can’t live without? (don't have to be food related)
- The mountains
- Salt/soy sauce
- My camera
- Bordeaux wine
15. What are your favorite cookbooks that you would recommend every home cook own and why?
How To Cook Everything by Mark Bittman - great and basic reference for pretty much everything (because sometimes I just need to be reminded how to roast vegetables or how to make a simple béarnaise sauce)
Everyday Harumi by Harumi Kurihara - beautiful book with relatively easy and delicious and healthy Japanese recipes. The photography is also gorgeous.
Wok Every Day by Barbara Grunes & Virginia Ban Vynckt - I picked this one up when I got my wok from The Wok Shop in San Francisco's Chinatown and cooked several of the recipes immediately. I don't use it much anymore (save for answer #9) but it has plenty of great advice about woks and the best type for your kitchen and style of cooking. It covers a global assortments of cuisines you can make with your wok, organized by method (steaming, braising, stir frying, deep frying, smoking, and grilling).