Q&A with Vegetable Gratin Contest Winner

December 17, 2012

Congratulations to lapadia, whose French Onion & Rutabaga-Baguette Au Gratin won the Best Vegetable Gratin contest, earning her a large Apilco Porcelain Oval Au Gratin Baker from Williams-Sonoma!

lapadia rutabaga
The winning cook (at center) grating cheese during a cooking demonstration; her decadent French Onion & Rutabaga-Baguette Au Gratin

Q&A with lapadia

It’s midnight and you’re hungry. Do you reach for something savory or sweet?

I reach for something savory and cheesy.

An ideal dinner party includes a) 2 people, b) 4 – 6 people, or c) 8 or more.

My ideal number of people for a dinner party is 8. Actually, the more the merrier. My philosophy is "Eat, Drink, and be Merry!" I love parties, including planning, organizing, entertaining, cooking with and for family and friends.

How did you first become interested in cooking?

It all began while spending time in the kitchen with my mom and grandmother -- they were a team and my kitchen inspiration. I loved baking yeast breads of all kinds -- there is just something about the feel of the dough, kneading, creating, shaping, and slowing down to relax while waiting for it to rise. It was all fun, and today, it is somewhat therapeutic for me.

If you were reincarnated as a single dish, what would you be?

Pizza. The "Frienda Kinda Pizza.” My Grandma Angelo called her pizza “the frienda kind.” In fact, she called a lot of things the frienda kind. Her Italian slang, the best I can explain it, means something, anything, which is the most familiar.

Describe your weekend cooking style.

"I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food." - W. C. Fields

Is there one ingredient you can’t live without?

Olive oil -- extra virgin, of course.

Describe your most spectacular kitchen disaster.

Hmm. Should we talk about the time I dropped the old dried beans I was using to blind bake a pie crust, and while taking the crust out of the oven I brushed my hand against the hot element, causing me to drop the beans all over the place, some of which started to burn and smoke on the bottom of the oven, which set the smoke alarm off, the smoke alarm I couldn’t reach without using the heavy ladder that needed to be brought in from outdoors and my husband was gone at the time? No, let’s not.

What music (if any) do you listen to in the kitchen?

The chatter and laughter of those around me is music to my ears. Otherwise, George Frederic Handel or the Beatles.

Which cookbook(s) do you reach for most often?

I have a large cookbook library, but probably Julia Child's The Way to Cook and my mom’s 1950-something Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook for nostalgic reasons, as well as online sources.

What is your most cherished food tradition?

I have made so many variations of pizza for friends' parties, co-workers' parties, family parties...square, round, deep-dish, hand-tossed, and grilled. I am not only remembered for the pizza, but for a combination of pizza and the party moments that go with it. This is a tradition I cherish and love!

To learn more about lapadia, check out her profile and blog!

8 Comments Add a Comment
  • Hpim0228

    drbabs says: Congratulations! I still use your pita bread recipe! And I'm up for a pizza party, too.

    about 1 year ago Reply to this »
  • A

    lapadia says: Thanks, Barbara! I love your Greek salad, I've made a version many times since you posted it...and of course it needs pita :). Okay..your name is on the pizza party list,(as well as the meatball slider party a few of us talked about not to long ago), now, to come up with the perfect meeting place!!

    about 1 year ago
  • 290

    aargersi says: Congratulations! I want to come to the pizza party too!!!! The bean story is pretty darn funny ...

    about 1 year ago Reply to this »
  • A

    lapadia says: Thanks, Abby! That was the short bean story, my cat was cautiously running around probably due to my actions because he is deaf and couldn't hear the fire alarm! Pizza party would love if we all could figure on it in the future, my husband and I still have not taken that Route66 trip you and I talk briefly about...some time ago :)

    about 1 year ago
  • Olupines

    Bevi says: Congrats lapadia! Your Q&A is quite entertaining! All the best.

    about 1 year ago Reply to this »
  • A

    lapadia says: Thanks, Bevi! It was my job in the office...back in the day, to entertain, to help the day go by fast :)

    about 1 year ago
  • Sara_lorikeets

    hardlikearmour says: Congratulations, lapadia! Lovely Q&A, too. I sure hope I'm invited to one of your pizza parties someday!

    about 1 year ago Reply to this »
  • A

    lapadia says: Thanks, Sara...I think we can figure out a future pizza party time! :)

    about 1 year ago

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