Draw Me A Fridge

Draw Me A Fridge: Luisa Weiss

Luisa Weiss's sketch of her fridge.

For this new installment of our Draw Me A Fridge series (read about it here), Alexia spoke with Luisa Weiss.

Luisa Weiss blogs at The Wednesday Chef and is the author of the best-selling food memoir My Berlin Kitchen, which was published last September by Viking. She’s half American, half Italian and was born in Berlin. She moved back to her birth city three years ago, after spending a decade in New York. She now lives in Berlin with her husband Max and their 10-month-old son Hugo.

What are your fridge/freezer/pantry staples?

Fridge: Dijon mustard, a wedge of Parmesan, ketchup, at least two jars of jam at any given time, maple syrup, yogurt (whole milk for my son, lowfat for me), brown sugar (to stay moist!), unsalted butter, a tube of tomato paste, eggs (dinner’s always possible with eggs in the house), Sicilian colatura [a salted anchovy sauce] leftover from recipe testing my book, a jar of Better Than Bouillon stock base and a box of baking soda (for odor control).

Freezer: Ages ago, I read that you should keep spices in the freezer; ever since then, my freezer has been so cluttered with all those little pots and jars that it drives my husband crazy. There’s also always a box of frozen whole-leaf spinach, a bag of frozen peas and several Parmesan rinds wrapped in tinfoil in there.

Pantry: Pasta, lots of different rice varieties (I’m obsessed with my rice cooker), grains, flours, baking ingredients, canned fish, dry beans, dried fruit, nuts, lots of bottles of vinegar, coconut milk, soy sauce and canned tomatoes.

Do you do the grocery shopping for your house yourself? How often? Do you usually buy from the farmers’ market, shops?

I go grocery shopping almost every single day. I go to the farmer’s market for fruit, vegetables and farm eggs once or twice a week, but the rest of the time, I head to the stores in my neighborhood. It gives me an excuse to go outside with Hugo and since we live on the 4th floor without an elevator, I can’t do bulk shopping anyway. I get what I need that day and then I huff and puff my way up the stairs with the baby and the shopping bag. I go to Aldi for dried nuts and fruit, to the organic bakery for bread, and the Turkish grocer for fresh herbs and olives.

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Draw Me A Fridge: Alexandre Cammas

Alexandre Cammas
Photography by Dustin Aksland.

For this new installment of our Draw Me A Fridge series (read about it here), Alexia spoke with Alexandre Cammas. (Interview conducted in French and translated by us.)

Food writer Alexandre Cammas is the creator of Le Fooding, a guide that helps you find the latest restaurants to get a great meal anywhere in France, and also organizes events in France and beyond. The Fooding 2013 guide can be ordered on the website.

What are your fridge staples?

Yogurts, eggs, compotes, cheeses, cured meats from Italy, Spain and Aveyron*, and plenty of leftovers for an impromptu meal.

In the freezer, I store good bread (in case I run out of fresh) and frozen pizzas from Enzo Pizza, a dodgy-looking pizzeria in my neighborhood that sells excellent homemade frozen pizzas. (I got the tip from Bertrand, the chef of bistro Les Papilles.) I also keep frozen homemade tomato sauce for an easy pasta dinner, ice cubes and olives for a summer Ricard, and bottles of San Pellegrino throughout the year.

Do you handle the grocery shopping yourself? How often and where do you go?

I go shopping on the weekend in my neighborhood with my family, mostly around rue Daguerre**. I buy meat from Hugo Desnoyer every now and then (it’s expensive!) and bread from the former Moisan bakery. There is also a fine cheese shop, an Italian deli (the lasagna is especially tasty) and a good fishmonger on the same street.

What is the most surprising thing in, or about your fridge?

The terrible mess that’s in there! You’re likely to find things gone bad in teeny-tiny shrink-wrapped containers that have been forgotten in the back. Also surprising: how bad it smells when there’s a slice of Appenzeller cheese in there. Even under a glass dome, the smell just grabs you!

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Draw Me A Fridge: Dan Barber

Dan Barber and Alain Ducasse.

For this new installment of our Draw Me A Fridge series (read about it here), we spoke with Dan Barber.

Dan Barber is the chef behind one of my all-time favorite restaurants, Blue Hill, in NYC’s Greenwich Village, and a farm-restaurant upstate, Blue Hill at Stone Barns, to which I’ve been longing to go for years. He is one of the most prominent chefs in the US, he’s an active participant in the discussion on ethics and sustainability, and he works with food and ideas with equal talent.

I recently had the opportunity to meet him in Paris, where he had been invited by Alain Ducasse to cook a special lunch at the Plaza Athénée hotel. Alexia Colson-Duparchy, who runs the Draw Me A Fridge series on Chocolate & Zucchini, joined me, and we talked about breeding, spoons, and fried eggs, among other things.

Clotilde Dusoulier

Tell us a few words about this lunch that you’re cooking at the Plaza Athénée.

Lately I’ve been devoting a lot of my time to breeding. It’s not genetic engineering, it’s natural selection done with modern technology to make it go very fast, so that you get to where you want to go in two years as opposed to a hundred years.

Many chefs and people who love food want to go back to old seeds, the so-called heirlooms. But what’s interesting to me is how we can use some of the genetics from the past and help move it to the future. Heirlooms mean you stop at a particular moment in time: somebody says, that’s a great tomato, okay, we stop, and we’re going to pass down the seeds. It may be a fantastic tomato, but I think we can do better. I know we can do better. You have to use these genetics and those breeders who help us concentrate on flavor and disease resistance. It’s very important for farmers.

Tomorrow’s lunch is about that idea. We brought ingredients for each course. Wheat is a big one for me, because I’m working with a wheat breeder very closely. There will also be celtuse, a type of lettuce. We worked with a breeder on it and we planted it in dust from hazelnuts. The celtuse took some of the flavors from the hazelnut. It’s great.

Usually I use local ingredients, but I feel the theme of this lunch is more important.

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Draw Me A Fridge: Clea

Clea's Fridge
Illustration by Olivier Valentin. Click to enlarge.

For this new installment of our Draw Me A Fridge series (read about it here), Alexia spoke with food writer Claire Chapoutot.

Claire Chapoutot is better known as Clea, of Clea Cuisine-fame, a food blog in which she’s been presenting her mostly vegetarian recipes (she describes herself as a flexitarian) since 2005. Claire has two new cookbooks out: Recevoir en bio and Solo et bio (La Plage editions).

Although her blog and recipe books are only available in French (for now), her recipes are so delicious they are worth brushing up on your high school French, or registering to your local Alliance Française.

But as a bonus for non-French-speaking readers, Claire has kindly allowed me to translate her pain d’épices recipe, one of Alexia’s personal favorites (see bottom of post).

AC: What are your fridge staples?

CC: Each shelf is dedicated to a specific category of products: on the top shelf are my homemade yogurts (with cow’s milk for my daughter, and vanilla soy milk for my boyfriend and myself). The shelf below is for jams — all prepared by my mom! Then on the shelf below, I store all sorts of condiments and mustards, umeboshi prune paste, marinated artichokes and other stuff.

The next shelf is for fresh products. Right now I have ham, tofu and ravioles in there. I also have a big Tupperware-like box, in which I store cheeses. And a bowl with eggs right next to it — I find they keep longer in the fridge.

In the crisper, I have vegetables that don’t do well in the open air, as well as fresh ginger and bags of prunes once they’re open, to keep then nice and moist.

Then you have the door… also very well organized! I have my more exotic condiments in there, such as tandoori and curry pastes, wasabi, ginger and preserved lemon paste by Le Voyage de Mamabé, tomato concentrate, small bottles of lemon and lime juices (which I use when a recipe calls for only a little bit), bottles of all sorts of non dairy milks and, when we have them, fruit juices.

I also store the more fragile vinegars in the door, such as a pomegranate-flavored one, and bouillon cubes that I find less gritty when kept cold. I almost forgot: you will also find my matcha tea, agar-agar and the more “alive” of organic flours, such as chestnut flour.

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Draw Me A Fridge: Hervé This

Hervé This

For this new installment of our Draw Me A Fridge series (read about it here), Alexia met with Professor Hervé This.

Hervé This (pronounced “tiss”) is an internationally renowned physico-chemist, a professor at the AgroParisTech institute, and the only person to hold a doctorate in molecular gastronomy, a cutting-edge field he co-created with Nichola Kurti. (See also: Notes from the moleculat gastronomy conference.)

A long-time accomplice to famed French chef Pierre Gagnaire, a popular French television personality, and a bestselling cookbook author, he uses the latest research in the chemistry, physics, and biology of food to challenge traditional ideas about cooking and eating.

Amongst his many projects, he has been commissioned by the Ministry of Education to create cooking workshops in French primary schools, and he is tirelessly determined to reinvent the way we cook. At the time of our meeting, Professor This was on his way to Canada to introduce his concept of “note by note cooking” or, in his own words, “the world’s next culinary trend” (more information on his blog). His latest, just-released book is called La Cuisine note à note en douze questions souriantes.

AC: What are your fridge staples?

HT: My wife laughs about the fact that there is always a piece of smoked lard to be found in the fridge, even though the lard is smoked and salted precisely so that it can be kept outside of a fridge!

My fridge is actually really, really, packed. On the top shelf, I keep all sorts of homemade preparations such as chutneys (that could be kept outside the fridge as well), harissa, ketchup, and ginger preserves.

The freezer is also very crowded. In it you’ll find meat filling for pâté vosgien* since I always make too much of it. You will also find small containers of stock from pork trotters Sainte-Ménehould [an age-old specialty made of pork trotters that have been bound and slow-cooked in white wine, with herbs and spices] that has cooked for over four days. The result is a stock so tasty that just a teaspoonful is enough to bring flavor to any dish.

AC: That sounds good.

HT: You bet. I make a mean pork trotters Sainte-Ménehould! Oh, you will also find a bottle of vodka.

But back to the fridge… I keep dried tomatoes in oil (baked at 95 degrees Celsius and preserved in olive oil with lemon juice, salt, sugar, thyme, and rosemary); lemons preserved in salt; homemade pissalat [a condiment from Nice made with puréed anchovies, flavored with cloves, thyme, bay leaf and black pepper, and mixed with olive oil] of which I made three kilos — I should have enough for years since I only use a tiny bit at a time.

In the door of the fridge, I keep poutargue [a.k.a. bottarga, a sort of fish spawn pickle preserved in salt, also known as the “Mediterranean caviar”], capers, unsalted butter and salted butter, fat from foie gras, and a garlic saucisson.

You will also find foie gras that was cooked in the dishwasher (in a Ziploc bag closed with paper clips with a mix of white wine, port, salt and pepper). Obviously, we also have eggs, and yogurts for the whole family.

Right now, you will also find two small terrines, one with a beautiful bread dough that I had to retard because it was proofing too quickly, and the other one for an Arabic-style bread. There is also a shrimp curry — for tomorrow probably –, shrimp bisque after a typical regional recipe from Charentes, and an asparagus and watercress soup.

You would also find Laughing Cow cheese wedges, because they melt well and are quite handy to have. Also, some crottins de Chavignol [a goat cheese produced in the north-west part of the Sancerre wine region] that have been in there for ages.

And I always keep fruits and veggies on the countertop.

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