John is an architect who believes that life is lived better in a modern, sustainably designed home. Jenny is an incredible cook with a fiercely green sensibility. Their kitchen is the place in their house that reaps the most from John and Jenny's combined attention.
The house was John's experimentin employing limited materials, a constrained budget, and green building techniques to create a home that feels devoid of construction or budget sacrifices. Jenny then enhanced the kitchen by adapting it to her intensive cooking demands. It has surpassed expectations and continues to impress, encourage, and inspire.
I had the pleasure of spending time in John and Jenny's home, and taking advantage of this incredible kitchen to prepare a carrot soup. Cooking with that much room, great tools, great appliances, sharp hefty knives, and 270 degrees of sun exposure was quite a gift.
The grey concrete floors cover radiant heating, but they are also great for camouflaging dust. The granite counters are rugged but sensuously textured. The wood slatted ceiling and walls create visual and temperate warmth. The kitchen is simple and straightforward in many ways, and yet replete with everything one needs to make a great meal, feed many, keep an eye on the rest of the living space, and enjoy him or herself while so doing.
John and Jenny's Answers to the Kitchn Questionnaire
What's your cooking style?
I am a serious home cook that loves pushing my own boundaries, with a tendency towards clean, Mediterranean style flavors that are ingredient driven.
What inspires your kitchen?
First: My husband, the architect of our home and number one customer at my personal restaurant.
And Second: Wine, the center of every dinner, and often the inspiration for what we are going to cook that evening. I love trying new things and picking abstract bottles of wine to inspire an entire meal.
What is your favorite kitchen tool or element?
My 10” Messermeister Chef’s knife. It’s the perfect knife for my hand, the fit, weight and balance are perfect and I just love it. So much so, I have two: one for the country and one for the city.
Best cooking advice or tip you ever received:
Try it. (My Mother has a great story about being too scared to try cheesecake until she was well into her twenties!)
Biggest challenge in your kitchen:
Being conscientious of calories. Fat is flavor and everything tastes better with butter, which is terrible for the hips!
Kitchenaid mixer. An old boyfriend gave me mine more than a decade ago and it is invaluable. Among other things, I can grind my own flour, and make sausage, pasta or ice cream with it.
Dream tool or splurge:
What are you cooking this week?
Garden Soups. Fall frost is right around the corner and my garden is chock full of veggies that need to be eaten. So I am going to work on soups.
What cookbook has inspired you the most?
Judy Roger’s Zuni Café Cookbook is the most inspirational, however Joy of Cooking is used the most as a reference book.
What's the most memorable meal you've ever cooked in this kitchen?
The night we brought our son home from the hospital. I shaved black truffle over (store bought) fresh pasta tossed in butter & olive oil, served with arugula & shaved fennel salad & we opened a bottle of Barolo.
Recipe for Carrot Soup from John & Jenny
Adapted from New Gourmet Today Cookbook
1 pound carrots
3 cups water
1 3/4 cup veggie or chicken stock
1 chopped onion
1/4 tablespoon coriander
1/4 tablespoon cumin
1/4 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons honey
juice of one lemon
Put everything except honey and half the lemon juice in a pot. Bring to boil. Simmer covered for 40 minutes.
To serve, stir in lemon juice and drizzle each portion with honey. Flavor to taste with salt.
May be served cold as well as hot.
• Messermeister knife
• Kitchen Aid
• Zuni Cafe Cookbook
• Joy of Cooking
• Countertops: 'Absolute black' granite with 'rain' finish
• Kitchen Tour Archive: Check out past kitchen tours here
(Images: Jill Slater)