Kitchen Tour: Elizabeth's Tiny Gourmet Outpost

Elizabeth cooks up a storm from high up in the sky — the 42nd floor of her apartment building. Her kitchen is small but bursting at the seams with quality ingredients and expert tools.
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Elizabeth cooks and bakes from scratch. She thinks nothing of making her own bread, her own stock, or an elaborate meal for breakfast. Her kitchen fits seamlessly into her life. Working from home means that Elizabeth can integrate prep work or oven time easily into the workday. As a result, Elizabeth often eats home-cooked meals and always eats extremely well.

The kitchen layout and cabinetry came with the apartment, so when Elizabeth moved in, she was determined to personalize it. Using nothing more than cut-out images, prints, and newspaper clippings, as well as the occasional odd cooking implement, as accessories, Elizabeth has created a beautiful, cozy, very personal cooking space. One cannot help but be inspired to create great things here.

10 Questions for Elizabeth (and Her Kitchen)

What inspires your kitchen and your cooking?
Space, local farmers, and memories of exceptional meals at excellent restaurants. Specifically: having a kitchen with ample storage space inspires me to enter and fill the relatively free surfaces; meeting farmers and learning about how they ride the seasons inspires me to consider how my purchasing and cooking habits fit within the big picture; memories of a lunch at Lutèce, a dinner at the Quilted Giraffe — these linger in the back of my mind, not inspiring me, but reminding me how much I love good food and how happy I am to live in a city where it matters.

What is your favorite kitchen tool or element?
There's probably a name, but it's a wire basket whose handles flip around to form feet. Pretty and symmetrical. I use it to plunge vegetables.

What's the most memorable meal you've ever cooked in this kitchen?
It was not a meal (though it felt like one because there were so many steps); it was a cake. I made a Sachertorte for my former beau. I don't really bake fancy cakes, and had never dreamed of making one until he said he'd like one for his birthday, so I researched recipes, watched videos, compared chocolates, solicited advice, and then made a test one. Then came the real one. The plan was to decorate it with a full moon in white icing. The glaze wasn't cool enough when I painted the moon, so the icing "ran" — not beyond the perimeter of the circle, but it wrinkled — until the effect was positively lunar. It did not go unnoticed. He really liked the moon.

Biggest challenge in your kitchen:
Standing for long periods on a bare marble floor.

Biggest indulgence or splurge in the kitchen:
This winter I bought a digital thermometer.

Is there anything you hope to add or improve in your kitchen
I hope to find a large, gorgeous wooden cutting board and decide on a mandoline.

How would you describe your cooking style?
Every day is different, but I clean up as I go along.

Best cooking advice or tip you ever received:
Practice a dish before you serve it.

What is your favorite cookbook?
I use Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone quite a bit, but the cookbook I'm most attached to is Eleanor Early's New England Cookbook.

What are you cooking this week?
Probably Peter Berley's lemon risotto with shellfish and tomato and vegetarian egg drop soup, a couple of loafs of challah, and gougères for a night when a friend will bring her salmon quiche.

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Elizabeth's Recipe for Five Cups of Peter Berley's Roasted Shellfish Stock

Equipment:
Large sauté pan
Stock pot (large enough to hold 8 cups of liquid)
Stirring implement
Fine-mesh strainer or strainer lined with cheese cloth
Skimmer
Heat diffuser
Thermometer

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons regular olive oil
Dry shells from 1 pound of shrimp
Dhopped dry shell of a 1 1/2-pound lobster
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 medium onion, thinly sliced (not half-moons)
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
8 cup water
14-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, drained juice only

Preparation Notes:
Make certain the shells are dry. If need be, you can toss them with oil and roast them in a roasting pan at 350°F.

It's best to begin with a live lobster and kill it by hand with a knife just behind its head. If it's too difficult to separate the fresh meat from the shell, gently parboil the lobster for four minutes. Make certain the lobster shell is chopped — it can be pulsed in a food processor.

Procedure:
In the sauté pan, heat the oil over high heat. When it begins to smoke, add all the shells and sauté them, stirring frequently, until they turn bright red.

Add the wine and deglaze the pan.

Add the carrots, celery, onion, and fennel seeds. Add eight cups of cold water and the tomato juice.
Bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.

Strain and return the stock to the pot. Simmer until it reduces to five cups. The stock can be frozen for up to one month.

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(Images: Jill Slater)

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