Kitchen Tour: Michelle Cooks with Art

New York

Walk through the swing door entrance to Michelle's kitchen and prepare to swoon. Not only does the space have all the requisites for a great cooking situation, but Michelle, founder of food blog The Sweet Beet, actually loves to cook!

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Amidst the luxury of the kitchen introduced by the apartment's previous owner and the constraints of living in NYC, Michelle tries to integrate wise environmental choices. She patronizes local farmers as much as possible, composts in her freezer, and minimizes waste.

All the while, she uses her kitchen as a place to prepare meals and entertain guests. There are two stools in the kitchen — strong indicators that she is used to being watched in the kitchen and encourages it.

Like the rest of Michelle's home, the kitchen is full of wonderful art and intriguing artifacts. She is able to meld pragmatism and beauty seamlessly and impressively, without compromising her ability to cook great food.

Michelle's Response to The Kitchn Survey

What's your cooking style?
Go to the farmers market. Buy whatever is the most colorful. Come home and cook it. I’m not a big recipe user – have never really had the patience for following directions of any sort !

What inspires your kitchen?
As for what gets cooked in my kitchen – the inspiration is either what’s in season or what I have a massive craving for! (Not always the same ☺ ) I’m a huge fan of cooking frittatas and slow-cooked steel cut oats (with honey, cinnamon and ground flax seeds) are a winter fave.

What is your favorite kitchen tool or element?
The simple grater is the un-sung hero of the kitchen. I use a small size, 2 directional grater from OXO and grate everything with it: hard cheese, lemon zest, ginger, garlic. There’s rarely a dish where the grater doesn’t get involved.

Best cooking advice or tip you ever received:
There is nothing that you cannot roast in the oven with salt and olive olive that will not taste outstanding.

Biggest challenge in your kitchen:
Not a lot of counter space right next to the stove so end up using half of the burners as counter space for the chopping board (with a fire extinguisher close by.)

Biggest indulgence:
La Pavoni espresso maker. It makes great espresso, but the frothing milk part is not it’s strength. It’s been relegated to very expensive counter art ☺.

Dream tool or splurge:
A very thin steel knife that I bought in the kitchen supply district in Tokyo. I use it to cut everything and it never needs sharpening.

What are you cooking this week?
Squash soup (I made this up but it is excellent!)

One butternut squash
2 cups broth (beef, chicken or veggie)
One medium white onion (don’t’ skimp on the onion, it is vital here!!)
1-tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
All-spice
Curry (optional)
Salt and Pepper

Chop the onion (does not need to be fine). Peel and then chop the squash (into med size cubes). In a large pot, melt butter then add olive oil then add onion. Let onion cook til starts to get a bit soft. Add squash to pot plus broth (you basically want the broth to nearly cover the squash cubes so add more/less depending on how much squash you have.) Add couple dashes of Allspice and curry. Add generous amount of S&P. Once it boils turn down to simmer. Cook about 20 mins or until the squash is VERY soft. At this point you can just turn off the burner and just let it sit covered as long as you want until you’re ready to puree it. Puree it by pouring it into a blender. Taste again to see if needs more spice or s&p.

Serves a lot and what’s not eaten can be frozen.

What cookbook has inspired you the most?
I love reading Alice Waters’s cookbook but I read it more like a book than as a cookbook. In general I’m not a big cookbook person – I tend to cobble together dishes that I’ve had at a restaurant or clip a recipe from a magazine or just make it up on the fly.

What's the most memorable meal you've ever cooked in this kitchen?
I love having friends to dinner and find 10 to be about the perfect size – one of the best meals I think I’ve made for friends is a miso-salmon. You marinate the salmon in the miso concoction for min one hour, then broil it, reduce the marinate on the stove and pour over it the salmon. Phenomenal and incredibly simple.

Resources:
Fridge: Subzero
Stove: DCS
Cabinetry: custom made
Steel stools: The Conran Shop

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• Check out the rest of Michelle's incredible home on ApartmentTherapy.com.

• Kitchen Tour Archive: Check out past kitchen tours here

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(Images: Jill Slater)

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