Who are we? We’re just two little peas in a pod!
My husband, Mike, and I are just cooking kinda pea-ple. We cook pretty much every night of the week, and we enjoy it (ah, yes, the eye roll). Seriously, why order in or carry out meh food that costs a fortune when there’s fun to be had in the kitchen? The fact that there are just two of us now only increases our desire to get into the kitchen and whip up something tasty and healthy. Sure, some of our experimental dishes are more enlightened than others, but typically they all turn out pretty darn good, and they cost a lot less than delivery.
Mike and I are both self-taught home cooks with 20+ years of experience. My first exposure to cooking came from “hiding out” in the kitchen with my mom (the only safe haven from my two pesky older brothers). From her, I learned the essential basic skills and a handful of important tricks of the trade (like how to add dry ingredients to liquids without creating lumps). But for the most part, I learned to cook in a tiny New York apartment by painstakingly following recipes I had found in magazines and cookbooks. Martha Stewart was the lifestyle guru at the time, and never one to shy away from a challenge, I set out to learn to cook like her. I got a reality check when my first complete meal took me an entire day to prepare. But in that bare-bones galley kitchen, I eventually taught myself to cook everything from Coq au Vin to saybayon. I threw my first dinner party…and I made a lot of mistakes. Diana Ross’ daughter lived in the apartment next door, and although we never spoke, I’m certain she often wondered what the heck was going on in there – turns out cursing and aromas both travel through thin apartment walls equally.
Mike really learned to cook when, as an American expat living in Capetown, South Africa, he became the stay-at-home-dad to two young girls, and he had to feed his family. Many of his first dishes were inspired by his grandparents, an Italian immigrant grandfather and the French Canadian grandmother. He taught himself to cook the recipes that had been passed down through his family, and then expanded his repertoire by adding new dishes which he was exposed to during his 12 years living overseas.
Similarly I was influenced by the varied cultures -Moroccan, Turkish, Indian, Lebanese, Israeli – that I experienced during my five years living abroad, and I found myself incorporating those robust flavors and cuisines into my ever-rotating cooking Rolodex. Over the years, I’ve been inspired and influenced by a wealth of amazing chefs — from Jamie Oliver to Rachel Ray — but no single chef has inspired me more than Yottam Ottolenghi. His clean, simple, healthy style of preparing the most delicious foods imaginable is unequalled in my opinion. But more on that later.
When fate brought Mike and I together over seven years ago, one of the many elements that drew us together was our mutual love of cooking. We spent countless hours talking — me in Chicago, he in London (thank God for Skype!) — about what we enjoyed cooking, our favorite meals/food memories, and our individual styles of working in the kitchen. When we married, my dad asked, “Aren’t you worried about the proverbial ‘too many cooks in the kitchen’?” To which we replied, “Not a chance!” Being in the kitchen together, creating something new or something comfortable, is one of our greatest joys. We truly are two peas in a pod.
Although he is a more traditional cook and I am more experimental, we both share a mutual attraction to the “kitchen dance.” That’s really what it is, if you think about it – a beautiful dance. But unlike a dance, when it’s over, it isn’t really over. You have a delicious finale to enjoy together!
This blog is intended to inspire empty-nesters, or those just starting out in that tiny NY apartment, to prepare easy, healthy dishes for two people that won’t take too much time and will make you love to cook. We have selected some of our favorite recipes and hope that they become favorites of yours as well. Salut!