Today we have a great Q&A with Faith Durand of the always-inspiring food site The Kitchn. Faith writes about all things food-related for the site, including dinner parties, which she says she throws at least twice a week--an impressive feat! Here, she talks about her love of Laurie Colwin, favorite Trader Joe's product, and her go-to dish when entertaining in a pinch.Faith Durand. Day job: Managing Editor of Apartment Therapy's The Kitchn. In between I do freelance recipe development and food writing. My first cookbook, Not Your Mother's Casseroles, will be out from Harvard Common Press in January. (No canned soups. I promise.) My husband Mike and I live in Columbus, Ohio, home of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams as well as many other wonderful artisans and farmers.
1. Name, occupation, and city
1. Name, occupation, and city
2. When was the last time you threw a dinner party, and who was invited?
I cook for big groups of people at least twice a week. My husband is a professor at Ohio State, and we often have his work colleagues or other groups of friends over. The last dinner party was for a bunch of friends (10, I think) and we had grilled pork loin, olive oil fantail rolls, a salad from the garden, and maple baked beans. Loads of beer. (Our friends can really put it away; we sound like a bar when we put out our recycling.) For dessert there was cherry coconut ice cream and, in honor of Mike's birthday, lemon olive oil cake.
3. What is the best menu you've ever made for company?
That is a hard question, since menus are so closely tied to the season and who is there. I think I have to go with the one I made for my parents and in-laws last August. We had a very simple meal of grilled steak, roasted herbed potatoes, and salad from the garden. My mother-in-law said it was the best meal she had ever had. It doesn't get much better than that!
4. What's your preference: wine, beer, cocktails?
All of them! Wine or beer for dinner, cocktails in the summertime, outside around the grill. I am drinking lots of boozed-up watermelon aguas frescas right now. This very minute, in fact.
5. What's your favorite dinner party soundtrack?
In the summertime, folk and country, like Patty Griffin and Buddy Miller. In the winter, I love this improvisational medieval guitarist named Rolf Lislevand. Sounds arcane, but his music is just perfect for a candlelit supper. Floating, beautiful background music.
6. Some friends are coming over for a last-minute dinner tomorrow night. What do you make?
Homemade pasta, because it suddenly dawned on me (I must be the last person in the Western world to have realized this) that it is snap-easy and fast, and then everyone thinks you're a genius. Zucchini from our over-eager plants, green salad with good olive oil, a fruity pie or cobbler for dessert. Homemade ice cream, and white wine from Trader Joe's.
7. Do you usually cook everything yourself, or do you have help?
Well, my darling husband makes the coffee every single morning. He is the breakfast expert: eggs, pancakes, burritos. We love dinner parties; it's definitely a group effort. We also try, collectively, to keep a dinner party journal, although I forget half the time and serve the same thing three weeks in a row.
8. Do you ever buy store-bought food, or is everything on your table made from scratch?
I do like to experiment and learn how to do something myself. My current obsession is tonic water - working on that. But after I learn how to do it I often get bored and just buy it thereafter! Butter, however, I do love to make myself. It's cheaper, and so easy. I like to buy good-quality things like prosciutto and canned tomatoes for quick, easy meals. I am also an unashamed fan of Trader Joe's frozen pie crusts. They're amazing.
9. What do you like to serve for dessert?
Fruit crumbles, quick yogurt cakes, and homemade ice cream. I am an ice cream junkie.
10. If you could invite anyone over for dinner (living or dead), who would it be?
Laurie Colwin. She singlehandedly taught me about home cooking, and writing about cooking. I never had a big sister; I wish it could have been her. And she ate capers out of a jar with a spoon, and so do I. We would dine on boiled beef, lime pickle, capers, and damp gingerbread. It would be heavenly.
[Photo: Faith Durand]