I'm always on the look out for other food-minded couples, so when a wonderful friend told me about the Culinary Couple, I knew I had to get in touch. Emily and Nick write up their homey, comforting adventures in the kitchen on their blog, and do adorable things like challenge each other to their very own Iron Chef competitions.*
I was able to chat with the Culinary Couple last week about cooking with your significant other.
What is the best thing about being a culinary couple?
We both feel fortunate to have found a mate who can share a love for food. Food is woven into every part of our lives and our relationship. It’s in celebrations at fancy restaurants and experimentations in the kitchen. It’s in holidays with family and dinner parties with friends and quiet dinners over candlelight. We take pride in being a young couple that is not afraid to test our culinary boundaries.
How has cooking and food helped shape your relationship?
To us, cooking isn’t just about preparing delectable dishes. It’s about making memories in bites bursting with flavor, taking pleasure in other cultures, and sharing a bottle of wine while sautéing, stirring, and simmering.
We learn lessons together in the kitchen. We experiment and laugh at our mistakes. We tell secrets while savoring bowls of homemade soup and share dreams while eating strawberries in the warm sun.
Now, and in the future, we will always find time in our busy lives to enjoy a meal together.
I find that one of the best parts about cooking in a team is that you push each other to test your culinary boundaries with new ingredients and techniques that might seem a bit ambitious or scary when cooking for one. Do you find this to be true for you all?
It’s true that we wouldn’t attempt many of the meals we do without each other. Besides the fact that it’s much more fun to share a meal, we’ve introduced each other to new flavors and ingredients.
Emily has shared her love for mushrooms, shrimp, and cherries, and Nick has introduced her to blue cheese burgers and authentic German cuisine. He makes a mean Wiener Schnitzel!
Together we’ve experimented with pumpkin and pomegranates and avocados. We’ve tried escargot, duck, and Chilean sea bass. We have no fear when it comes to testing our taste buds!
What would a perfect day in the kitchen look like?
For now, we have to settle for an apartment kitchen with a four-burner stove, a small refrigerator, and limited counter space — but we make it work. It feels like home when the kitchen table is speckled with flour and pots crowd the stovetop and sweet smells drift from the oven. While one chops, the other stirs, and it doesn’t matter that we’re constantly bumping into each other. We sip beer and set the table while listening to music. It’s casual and comfortable and cozy.
We dream of one day cooking in a gourmet kitchen with stainless steel appliances, a double oven, a spacious island, and a gas stove. But for now, our apartment kitchen is just perfect.
What are your all-time favorite books to turn to for culinary inspiration?
We look to the Web for inspiration more often than print cookbooks. Some of our favorite sites are allrecipes.com, foodnetwork.com, and smittenkitchen.com. Of course, we also have a collection of cookbooks including several versions of Betty Crocker, a few written by Rachael Ray, and one that showcases the best Amish recipes. And our coffee table is always stacked with food magazines like Bon Appetit, Taste of Home, and the latest from Wegmans.
Favorite cooking shows?
We love the thrill and spontaneity of the Iron Chef. We marvel over the chefs' abilities to convert simple secret ingredients into pieces of art — both to the eye and to the tongue. We even adapted the television show into our own competitive version! So far we’ve challenged each other to Battle Limes, Battle Peanuts, and Battle Apples.
We also enjoy watching Bobby Flay grill from his Brooklyn brownstone and Jamie Oliver offer tips from his garden.
Do you have a go-to weeknight dinner?
We love all pasta, but our favorite is simple whole-wheat spaghetti topped with an easy and flavorful homemade sauce. The sauce is a combination of sautéed garlic and onions and canned stewed tomatoes. We add lots of oregano, crushed red pepper, and fresh basil. Sometimes, if we’re really hungry, we add chicken or sausage. The longer it simmers, the better it tastes. This is our go-to meal because we always have the ingredients on hand, and it’s just so yummy!
What’s the best special occasion dinner you’ve made together?
Valentine’s Day 2008 — it was our first valentine’s day together, and rather than paying $100 for a fancy fare, we created an impressive and delicious meal of our own. After watching “No Reservations,” we poured glasses of wine, tuned the laptop to Pavarotti, and began to cook. We seared scallops and added them to wild mushroom risotto. This was served after an appetizer of white asparagus and heirloom tomatoes with warm shitake dressing. And for dessert we made a heavenly chocolate hazelnut lava cake.
*I have a not-so-secret wish to challenge the Culinary Couple to an Iron Chef competition! Wouldn't that be fun?!