Stan is a trained chef, working as a personal chef at the moment, so it was with great pleasure that I witnessed the creation of a frittata in his tiny, compact, New York City kitchen.
Stan loves food. All styles, shapes, and sizes of it. In fact, he's on the board of the Vendy's, an awards event that celebrates the best street food and raises money for a legal defense fund and advocacy of street vendors.
When Stan moved into this apartment four years ago, the previous owner's kitchen was barely completed. Stan improved what he inherited with a great stainless steel backsplash and new lighting, but continues to adapt to its size and layout. He loves the open window into the living room, however. When he hosts and cooks a meal, guests like to watch as if the preparation were a performance!
Stan's Response to the Kitchn Survey
What's your cooking style? Pretty ecclectic. Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Latin and South Asian are my favorites but tend to be improvisational and heavily influenced by what's at the Union Square Farmers Market which is nearby. Generally cook very healthy - except for dessert - in which case the gloves are off.
What inspires your kitchen? I like to deconstruct, recreate (and sometimes improve on) dishes I've had elsewhere, especially when traveling. Then I tend to hack away at it until I feel like I've figured it out. I'm on a Japanese kick right now. I also like to do test runs of dishes I'm planning to make for clients so I can work out the kinks and make sure I can prepare them in a reasonable amount of time in their homes.
What is your favorite kitchen tool or element? A ridiculously expensive but incredibly well balanced and beautifully made Misono chef's knife. I got it at Korin, probably after a few too many drinks. A close second is my Microplane.
Best cooking advice or tip you ever received: "Cook with love. It comes through in your food." That was from Veronica Lindemann, one of my instructors at culinary school. It's completely corny and absolutely true.
Biggest challenge in your kitchen: It's a New York City kitchen. Space. I'm learning over time to make do with less. especially gadgets. A few really good tools go a long way. Nobody needs a garlic press, use your knife.
Biggest indulgence: Really good quality ingredients make all the difference in the world. I really don't mess around with that. Olive oil, Chocolate, Cheese, Fish, Eggs, Milk, Produce, etc. I try to get the best stuff I can get my hands on. You can taste it.
Dream tool or splurge: If I had the space I'd like a commercial grade ice cream maker - Lello makes a great one. One day I'd also like to swap out a couple of the gas burners for induction ones.
What are you cooking this week? Braised Lamb Shanks and maybe a Sweet Pea Custard. For dessert, Crepes with Dulce de Leche and caramelized sugar - its a family favorite - my Mom is from Argentina.
What cookbook has inspired you the most? I like to use them as triggers for ideas or get some guidance on technique. One I like a lot was "Kitchen Diaries" by Nigel Slater. Another which isn't really a cookbook, but is far and away the best book in the world on how and why food reacts when you cook it is "On Food and Cooking" by Harold McGee. It's nerdy and fascinating.
What's the most memorable meal you've ever cooked in this kitchen? Any meal that brings people together and they really enjoy eating makes me pretty damn happy. There are a lot of things I'd still like to tackle and, hopefully, some of them will be on the money. I recently made an Egyptian lentil soup as part of a dinner and one guest said the just the smell of it made her feel "transported" back to a trip she remembered fondly. I can't ask for better praise.
8 Large Eggs
1 small/medium yellow onion
2-3 tablespoons Flat leaf (Italian) Parsley, rough chop
6-8 fresh Shitake mushrooms, stems removed, caps sliced in strips
5-6 stalks asparagus
3-4 fingerling potatoes, rinsed then cut into "coins"
1/2 grated flavorful cheese - I used Caciotta from Dancing Ewe Farms. Other good options are Pleasant Ridge Reserve, A raw milk Gruyere, a nice sharp Cheddar is great too.
Kosher or Sea Salt
Fresh Ground Black Pepper
1) Blanch Asparagus - Bring pot of water to a boil, add plenty of salt - enough to make it taste like sea water. Cook about 4 minutes (depends on the thickness/freshness of asparagus). Should come out bright green and crisp-tender texture. Immediately plunge asparagus into iced water to stop cooking. Wrap in moist paper towels and keep cool (in fridge) until ready.
2) Chop onion into small dice. Sweat to tender in olive oil (or butter). Season to taste and set aside.
3) Saute Shitakes in olive oil until tender and get some color.
4) Saute Fingerlings on low/medium heat in olive oil until somewhat tender but not falling apart.
5) Slice Asparagus stalks in half lengthwise. Trim ends so that each piece is slightly shorter than the radius of the saute pan.
6) Gently mix eggs, fold in parsley, shitakes, potatoes, onion, season well with salt, fresh black pepper and Piment D'Espelette if you have it.
7) Heat oven proof saute pan, coat well with olive oil and or butter. Pour in egg mixture and set on stove at low to medium. Cook until it begins to set, steam will start to seep from the edges.
8) Midway through, lay the asparagus stalks around in a spoke pattern, the eggs should still be somewhat wet so the asparagus can "stick".
9) Slide under the broiler for 5-10 minutes to finish. Keep an eye on it so it gets a nice golden color but doesn't dry out.
Enjoy it warm, room temperature or cold. I like it with a little crunchy sea salt (Maldon is great) on top and a drizzle of sriracha
Optional, slice some good chorizo and saute in olive oil and add in as well.
Thermador Oven and Gas Top Range
Kitchen Aid Professional Mixer
Jenn Air Dishwasher
Sub Zero Fridge which I inherited and really hate. It has died on me three times -once with about $500 worth of food inside.
For Knives: Korin - 57 Warren Street
For Spices: Kalustyans - 123 Lexington Ave
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(Images: Jill Slater)