I am a chef with degrees in culinary arts, English, and instructional technology. I'm not sure if it's because I can't decide what I love, or because I love it all. My culinary history began with my Norwegian grandmother who was a fantastic cook and hostess, and my American grandmother who was a home economics teacher and a magician in the kitchen. I learned American and European cuisine, and got a culinary degree to master the rest of it. I cook every day.
My favorite things to cook
I enjoy handcrafting semolina egg pastas, potato gnocchi, stir-fries, pad thai, smoked gouda cream sauce, and just about anything else. I'll tackle anything. I love to cook, no matter what it is.
My favorite family cooking traditions
Every Christmas, my maternal grandmother (the Norwegian one), prepares krumkake, a cardamom-infused, lacy cookie in the shape of a cone. They embody the essence of the smell of Christmas. Christmas mornings, growing up, were characterized by a savory egg custard casserole of my paternal grandmother's, studded with sausage and swirls of cheese. Despite a considerable culinary repertoire, I still prepare favorites from home--Mexican chowder, creamy chicken enchiladas, homestyle chicken noodle soup, and others. My family has a rich culinary legacy.
My cooking triumphs
Roasted rack of lamb with mustard-herb crust and creme dijon sauce. Rustic ratatouille. Pecan-crusted chicken breast in bourbon cream sauce. Bulgogi. Baklava. Demi glace. Tomato-apple Israeli couscous. Pistachio creme Bavarienne. Hand-pulled mozzarella. Chocolate pasta with white chocolate cream sauce and berry compote. Veal cordon bleu with plum tomato marinara.
My cooking tragedies
Once, while cooking for friends in a remote cabin in the mountains with very limited resources, I asked a friend to taste the pad Thai I had just finished. "It needs salt," he said, so I added more, though I didn't taste it myself. He suggested still a bit more, so I generously sprinkled it on, stirred it all together, and served it. The result was noodles and shrimp in an intolerably salty sauce, and to avoid starving, we had to rinse everything off in a small chinois. At the same cabin at a later date, I pulled a recipe for dinner in a pumpkin off a website and took it along without testing it first, something I rarely do. It was hideous, a concoction of tomatoes, baked beans, rice, and heaven knows what else.