I'm a native NYer (LI as a child, NYC as an adult) who recently returned to the States after 10+yrs in Waterford, Ireland. I spent many years in the restaurant biz, and love to feed people. I'm an experimental cook and tend to adapt recipes to taste and available ingredients...don't sweat following a recipe to the letter.
My favorite things to cook
James Campbell Caruso is an inspired chef in Santa Fe (originally from Boston) who learned from his grandmother. His restaurant, La Boca, was named best restaurant 2007-2008 in the Santa Fe guide. His book (El Farol- tapas and Spanish cuisine)is a must-have if you want to find new combinations for simple ingredients. I also use a few of Susan Branch's books again and again... very practical and easy to follow. Both of these chefs cook from the heart, and that makes all the difference.
My favorite family cooking traditions
I still use my late mother's big old books...they are stuffed with notes, lists and clippings. It was lovely to find stuff from my 1st communion party (circa 1960!!)in her handwriting. It also provides another chance for my sister (15 mos younger) to point out the special menus she never had. No wonder mothers drank martinis back then!!
My cooking triumphs
Mostly I can wow people with desserts (see James Campbell Caruso's flourless Double Chocolate-Espresso Torte!!)... but years ago there were some memorable nights: Coquilles St. Jacques, Veal Marsala, Lobster Quenelles. Thanks to my mom, I do great gravy and sauces. The single best would have to be Spaghetti&Meatballs with garlic bread ... my best friend and I made that in the early 80s for an older, no-nonsense farm widow who ran a B&B in Doolin, County Clare in Ireland. It took shopping in 5 stores to assemble the ingredients. Chris became instantly addicted to the butter/garlic/parsley concoction we were going to spread on the closest thing we could find to Italian bread. She just dipped and moaned with delight. She also served us the best meal of snapping-fresh mackeral (dropped in a basket at her back door) fried in butter with her peerless brown bread. mmmmmmmmm
My cooking tragedies
Trying to impress my new husband's family and friends in New Mexico... I was not yet prepared for the challenges of high altitude baking!!!