The winning cook and powdered sugar-dusted squares of her Gluten-Free Gingerbread Cake
Q&A with alexandramph
It’s midnight and you’re hungry. Do you reach for something savory or sweet?
Usually something sweet, like a bowl of cereal or yogurt. Or ice cream if it's been a really long day!
An ideal dinner party includes a) 2 people, b) 4 – 6 people, or c) 8 or more.
Four to six people would be my preference, especially if I'm the one cooking. I like having intimate conversations and hearing what everyone is saying. I love the feeling of walking away from a great meal and having connected with someone.
How did you first become interested in cooking?
One of my earliest memories is standing in my parents' kitchen playing with water and flour at my PlaySkool kitchen set. I always liked helping my mom make dinner, so it was a natural progression to start exploring recipes in my own kitchen. But, I will say I didn't really get into cooking until after college. I had more time at night, which allowed me to try recipes and get more creative with my meals. This was also around the same time that I started blogging. I love being exposed to new ideas and recipes, and being able to share my own! Once I eliminated gluten from my diet, I was really forced to get creative with baking and try to adapt recipes.
If you were reincarnated as a single dish, what would you be?
This is like being asked, "What's your favorite food?" which is impossible to answer. Because really, how can someone have one favorite food? But, I still find myself dreaming about a pizza that I ordered a lot when I lived in Philadelphia. It contained artichoke hearts, asparagus, and goat cheese with fresh basil. So simple and delicious.
Describe your weekend cooking style.
I use Sundays to do a lot of my food prep for the week. Cleaning and sautéing vegetables, making a big pot of beans or grains, or making soup for the week. Taking the time over the weekend to plan out meals really helps me stay on track during the week. I also use the free time to bake; it's probably my favorite way to spend an afternoon.
Is there one ingredient you can’t live without?
Spinach. It is kind of absurd how much spinach I consume in a week.
Describe your most spectacular kitchen disaster.
Oh man, this is going to expose one of my big secrets. I volunteered myself to make cupcakes for a bridal shower over the summer and planned to do everything from scratch. I would make lemon and chocolate cupcakes with fresh raspberry buttercream icing. I splurged on cake flour and all of the ingredients to really make the occasion special (did I mention I was Maid of Honor?). I made the lemon cupcakes with no problem. But the chocolate ones were another story. It was getting late into the night and this cake recipe just would not rise. The cupcakes felt like hockey pucks and were inedible. I have to admit that I ran to the store and bought boxed chocolate cake mix because it was the only way I'd get them finished and have time to sleep!
What music (if any) do you listen to in the kitchen?
I love to have music on in the kitchen. I usually listen to a local alternative rock radio station, so I can sing along.
Which cookbook(s) do you reach for most often?
I have a three-ring binder with four years worth of Martha Stewart Living recipes that I pulled out of magazines over the years. It's poorly organized, but contains some of my favorites. That's usually my go-to for a quick recipe or meal inspiration.
What is your most cherished food tradition?
A somewhat new food tradition in my family is having sticky buns on Christmas morning. It is wonderful to wake up to the smell of sweet cinnamon. When I had to eliminate gluten from my diet, it was the one thing I insisted we continue having. My mom is a trooper and makes two recipes now: one with wheat flour and a gluten-free version for me.