Tampa/St. Petersburg, Florida
Q: Why is eating grass-fed meat different? How does it affect your cooking? Is it just about health? Or is there more to it than that?
A: I think that grass-fed meat is different, because grass is what cud-chewing animals are really supposed to eat. I remember growing up and seeing cows on the green fields, relaxing and eating grass, that is the image that most of us have. However, not many of us know what cows are being fed now and the picture is not that pretty. I think it does affect our health, because it is not natural. And if it is not natural it’s probably not healthy. Grain-fed meat is lower in nutrition, high in fat and contains GMOs. What is more, the conditions in which animals are kept and cared just break all the rules of humanity and safety for food products.
Q: What is your favorite recipe (using a grass-fed meat)? What would you prepare with it for the perfect meal?
A: I do not have a favorite recipe at all—I love so many things that it is hard to choose something that I could call my “favorite”. However, there are few recipes that are simple and that I share with my family and friends. One of the recipes is a favorite of my friends, because it’s healthy, but it’s fast so they can still call it fast food—that’s my Bison Burgers with Crispy Herb Potatoes and Arugula Salad. The second is also fast, but it is perfect for a romantic dinner or for a little fancy dinner with couple of friends—the NY Strip Steak with Mushrooms and Asparagus and Garlic Bread.
Q: What type of cuisine (Korean, Italian, etc.) do you enjoy the most? Does this influence your cooking? Are there ingredients or cooking styles from this cuisine that you have incorporate into your home cooking?
A: Much like my response to the question about my favorite meal, I do not have a favorite type of cuisine. However, living in Florida I do love using my grill for meals—plus, it is also a way to get my husband involved in making food, because he is the grill master. ;) I also like to mix the influences and recipes of various cuisines depending on what I feel like eating and what I have in my fridge. I do love Italian, Polish, Mexican, Cajun, and Thai cuisine. But overall, I would say that Italian and Polish cooking have the most influence in my kitchen and on my cooking: Polish, because I am 100% Polish and just love sauerkraut, potatoes, onions and marjoram; and Italian because I just love basil and oregano and I grow them in my house.
Q: What is one dish or cuisine you'd like to master, or learn more about?
A: I really like this question because I know what weaknesses in cooking I have. I am not great with Asian cuisine, but I really would love to master sushi. I do already know a lot about it, but I would love to spend a day with a sushi chef and be able to watch their work step by step. Sushi doesn’t seem difficult, but I know each chef has little secrets to make it special and that is what is so amazing about it, it tastes different everywhere you go.
Q: What are some of your family's food and cooking traditions? Which ones do you carry on?
A: I grew up in Poland, I moved to the United States only three years ago, so I do have Polish cooking traditions and a lot of them. My mom is an amazing cook and that is who I thank for the ability to cook and for having a “taste” (what we call a good sense for cooking and flavors in Poland). I do make a few things that my mom makes and that are actually my husband’s favorites. First and the most important are traditional Polish pierogies with sauerkraut and mushrooms; I actually make my own sauerkraut, because it’s really difficult to find good sauerkraut in a grocery store. Next, barszcz, which is a beet soup with a lot of garlic and marjoram. And my favorite, which is my mom’s specialty, Bigos, which is like a stew with sauerkraut, wild mushrooms, sausage, chicken or pork, plums and tomatoes. All of my mom’s friends ask for it when my parents are having a party. I could probably keep going, because there is just so many Polish dishes that I love, but I will stop myself there before I get really hungry.
Q: In the recent film Julie & Julia, home chef Julie Powell tackled the recipes of famous chef Julia Child. If you were to choose a famous (or not-so-famous) chef as your inspiration who would it be and why?
A: I do not have a favorite chef, but I do have a dream. I would love to travel around the world and meet regular people who cook traditional meals in different countries, because that is how you learn the original cuisine and taste the original recipes that have been the same for generations.
Q: What websites do you like best for finding recipes and for connecting with other home chefs?
A: When I have an idea to make something, and I’m looking for some tips, I just browse for hours. I look through the ideas that other people have and I always come up with my own version. I usually don’t follow the recipes perfectly, I love to modify them and add my favorite herbs and spices to make my own version.
Q: Do you have music on when you cook? If so, what songs/artists are on your kitchen playlist?
A: I love listening to the music while I am cooking. My favorite is Pandora radio, which chooses music for me. I put in a name of the band that I feel like listening to and it chooses music from other bands that have a similar style based on my choice.