Cooking remains a creative outlet for me, a place of invention. The power of food is a magical force that deserves celebration. In the kitchen is where I take risks, trust myself, experiment with new techniques, and learn from the people I cook with. It is also, admittedly, where I fail sometimes—but that’s part of the process. In failure, we learn and fine-tune.
Six years ago Eden introduced me to using more cumin, coriander, and tahini in my cooking. She also recipe-tested for my cookbook and 1000% improved my chicken kebabs by telling me to change from chicken breasts to thighs. Beyond that my time with Eden is pure, unadulterated fun—always breaking into dance and uncontrollable laughter as we cook, always!
Meanwhile Daphne moves about the kitchen with grace and certitude. She can chat and cook on autopilot and her ease is impossible to not want to emulate. She introduced me to my all-time favorite snack—like, ever—which is simply Persian cukes with labneh, herbed sea salt, and olive oil. To date, I likely eat it three times a week. Thanks, Daph!
Once you’re comfortable with these methods you can riff on them, making cooking feel more like play and bringing joy and creativity into your kitchen.
There is a sense of pride that comes with cooking for yourself or your family, but making a healthy, home-cooked meal can be overwhelming. To make meal prep less daunting, I would suggest mastering a few techniques. Once you’re comfortable with these methods you can riff on them, making cooking feel more like play and bringing joy and creativity into your kitchen.
A well-stocked pantry will always deliver — here are a few of my flavor staples;
High-quality extra virgin olive oil is essential.
Add acid to your dish, usually from lemon. I also love champagne or apple cider vinegar.
Fresh herbs will brighten and elevate just about any meat or fish, especially when infused into a sauce with olive oil and acid.
An olive or a caper will serve as a punchy, briny element.
Use nuts for texture.
Consider adding fruit, like apple or dates, to your salads.
And lastly, having a creamy, sharp cheese on hand is always recommended.
Below are the recipes you see here, plus a few more techniques and takeaways for you…
Cooking Techniques and Takeaways
Make sure you heavily salt water when you blanch veg or cook pasta—a tablespoon just won’t do. You want your water to taste like the sea. This way as you cook your veg, it is fully infused with salt from the inside, not just on the surface.
Throw a few cloves of garlic still nestled in their skin into your roasting pan. The garlic will soften, sweeten, and caramelize, making it easy to squeeze out of its skin. Whisk together with pan drippings for a delicious jus to spoon over your chicken.
Room to Breathe
In order to get a gorgeous golden sear when roasting veggies, you cannot crowd your pan. When cauliflower or potatoes touch one another, they simply steam. This holds true when sautéing or searing, too.
Dry your veggies completely after washing if you want them to brown. Also pat down your protein with a paper towel before searing or roasting, for the same reason. You want that caramelized sear!
Always remember to bring protein to room temperature before cooking, otherwise your hot oil will immediately cool the pan and thus will not yield that golden goodness.
Use whole spices when possible. Simply crush them with the bottom of a pan. They are sure to deliver optimal flavor.
Tray on tray and some weight-bearing pressure was a hilarious new technique I learned from smashing the potatoes.
Tools of the Trade
Invest in a microplane zester, a super sharp knife, and a mandoline for wispy fennel slices.
When you parboil potatoes, always use cold water, and do not salt the water. Warm water and salt will make your potatoes starchy.
Get Your Rind On
While I love zested citrus and the delicate brightness it adds, long, paper-thin slivers of lemon rind yield massive flavor. To achieve these citrus sticks, use a vegetable peeler to peel 2-inch-wide strips. Then cut crosswise into very thin strips.
Smashed Potatoes with Horseradish Gremolata
2 pounds baby new potatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper
Small handful fresh dill, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon capers
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 lemon, zested
2 tablespoons freshly shaved horseradish
½ cup of creme fraiche
2-3 tablespoons of labne
Flaky sea salt, for serving
Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C).
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes and simmer until they’re tender, 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of your potatoes. Drain in a colander. Using a flat-bottomed cup or mug, gently smash the potatoes. Turn them onto a baking sheet; use two sheets if necessary to avoid overcrowding. Drizzle the potatoes generously with some oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast until they’re golden, about 15 minutes, then flip and roast until golden and crispy all over, about 10 minutes more.
In a small bowl, mix together the dill, capers, and garlic. Zest half of the lemon and horseradish over the mixture, add the oil, and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper.