LJ and his wife are both architects and both like to cook but because LJ's wife is from Northern Italy, she takes food preparation to a whole new level.
LJ renovated the entire Brooklyn kitchen within the last year — the last vestige of a full scale apartment renovation. Operating on a very modest budget, LJ's approach is ingenuity, simple elements from IKEA, and a lot of incredible salvaging opportunities. There always seems to be someone whose great vanity or sink or cabinet just doesn't work for them but works swimmingly for LJ.
The Kitchn Questionnaire
What's your cooking style?
Shabby chic northern Italian.
What inspires your kitchen?
Functionality, everything has a place, easy to keep in order.
What is your favorite kitchen tool or element?
Wood cutting board, where I lay out the dish palette before starting.
Best cooking advice or tip you ever received:
Don't get messy with too many ingredients, keep recipe simple to enjoy full flavors. Read the recipe once or twice and put it away, then improvise the rest. Trust your taste and judgment to make the dish your own.
Biggest challenge in your kitchen:
Ventilation, could use an exhaust to outside.
Large integral sink.
Dream tool or splurge:
None. I have no cooking tool fetishes.
What are you cooking this week?
LJ just brought home pork chops… some bitter greens would do well.
What cookbook has inspired you the most?
Il Talismano della Felicita' by Ada Boni. A staple in authentic regional Italian food.
What's the most memorable meal you've ever cooked in this kitchen?
Thanksgiving 2006. It was a feast for sixteen guests.
• Custom stainless steel counter top and integral, over-sized sink made on The Bowery by a Chinese cooking supply company.
• Hansgrohe Talis S Pull-out kitchen faucet.
• The cabinets are Ikea Akurum with Abstrakt doors and exposed panels. The cabinet pulls and accessories are also from Ikea.
• All of the appliances are Frigidaire.
• Round cutting board from Macy's in Brooklyn.
• Wine rack is the Winetube by Kim Almsig.
• Pans: Cuisinart.
Frittata con le Erbe
Olive oil, as needed
4 zucchini, coarsely cut
2 leeks, coarsely chopped
1/2 kg fresh spinach (about 1 pound)
8 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 handful chopped thyme
1 handful of the top of a fennel, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Balsamic vinegar, to taste
Heat up olive oil in large pan and add zucchini. Pan should be large enough to handle all ingredients when cooked down so that the frittata is approximately 1” thick. Fry on med/high until almost transparent, turning gently. Add leeks and more olive oil if needed. Reduce heat to medium and sauté for approximately 5 minutes.
Add spinach so that it overfills the pan and cover with lid for 5 minutes turning occasionally. When spinach is cooked down, remove any excess water. Beat eggs, Parmesan, thyme, fennel fronds, salt, pepper, and nutmeg together in large bowl and transfer the cooked spinach mixture to the bowl. Hand mix, clean out pan with paper towel and add oil. Heat on med and transfer egg mixture into pan. Cover for 5 minutes or until liquid is almost gone on top but do not allow bottom to burn. Carefully flip frittata over and cook on other side for 1 minute or until solid.
Remove from heat. Serve with balsamic vinegar to taste.
(Recipe courtesy of LJ)
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(Images: Jill Slater)