Do you recognize this gorgeous photo? These crispy oven fries are from a recent recipe over on the blog Alexandra’s Kitchen. I first heard about Alexandra’s blog from my friend Annie. We were discussing/lamenting some of the newer trends we’ve seen in food writing and blogging, and Annie said she had discovered a blog – Alexandra’s Kitchen – that was different from the norm. She was right and I’ve been hooked ever since. I’m always excited to see a new post by Alexandra, and I’ve bookmarked a lot of her recipes. So I’m very pleased to introduce Alexandra Stafford as the latest interview subject on the Sabzi Questionnaire.
My mother is an incredible cook. Still today, the best meals I eat are at her house. She is meticulous and picky and always uses the best ingredients. I grew up eating delicious food at every meal, and we always had homemade bread on hand for every meal – for toast at breakfast, sandwiches at lunch, just because at dinner. I grew up helping my mother minimally in the kitchen – making the salad dressing, setting the table, etc. But in high school and college, especially during the summer when I had more time, my responsibilities in the kitchen increased, and I learned how to make various things such as her tomato salad, and I learned how to marinate and skewer the chicken and how to roast the potatoes and make the mustard-red wine vinaigrette for them, etc. My mother and my aunt, too, both got me into cooking – they truly are the best cooks I know.
2. What do you always have in your refrigerator?
Milk, grapefruit juice, Greek yogurt, buttermilk, butter, eggs, mustard, beer, cheddar cheese, capers, olives, lemons, vegetables from our CSA, hot sauce.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Scent of a Woman, It’s A Wonderful Life, Bridesmaids, Clueless, any British period drama, Love Actually, Legends of the Fall, Good Will Hunting, Adventureland or anything with Bill Hader.
4. This is a 2 part question: what are a few of your favorite cookbooks and what is the last recipe you made from a cookbook?
Over the years I have done more and more vegetarian cooking. I will never be a vegetarian. I believe in eating local, humanely raised meat, and taht’s what I buy, but because it is expensive, I buy meat much less frequently than when I didn’t pay attention to these things. So, this summer, I have spent a lot of time with Chez Panisse Vegetables (Alice Waters), The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone (Deborah Madison), Jerusalem and Plenty (Ottolenghi) and Indian Cooking (Madhur Jaffrey). But a few of my all-time favorites include The Zuni Cafe Cookbook, Tartine, Chez Panisse Cafe Cookbook, The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, Tartine Bread, How to be a Domestic Goddess, and A New Way to Cook.
The latest recipe I made from a cookbook was the roasted acorn squash with maple butter from Dana Cowin’s new cookbook: Mastering My Mistakes in the Kitchen.
I live in Niskayuna, NY and there are a few places I love: Gershon’s for white bean and escarole soup and corned beef & pastrami sandwiches. I love the fresh juices at Pizza Buono. I love the chicken with preserved lemon and green olives at Tara Kitchen. I love the apple cider donuts at Riverview Orchard. I love getting a beer at Bier Abbey.
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Thank you so much, Alexandra! I loved getting insight into your cooking from these thoughtful answers. I think I see your white bean escarole soup (pictured above) in my near future.
(All photos credited to Alexandra Stafford.)