#108 | Everyday Dorie
The Way I Cook
By Dorie Greenspan
Intro: Welcome to the Cookery by the Book Podcast with Suzy Chase. She's just a home cook in New York City sitting at her dining room table talking to cookbook authors.
Dorie Greenspan: Hi, I'm Dorie Greenspan and my latest cookbook is Everyday Dorie: The Way I Cook.
Suzy Chase: It's so nice to chat with you again. Last time we talked it was about Dorie's Cookies. Now Everyday Dorie is similar to Around My French Table but not French. Talk a little bit about that.
Dorie Greenspan: It's so not French, Suzy. In fact, so many ... I realized as I was looking at the recipes that I'd collected for this book that my cooking has really changed over the years. So Around My French Table was published in 2010. So, that's eight years ago. And over that time, I've been living more in Connecticut. I still live part-time in Paris. I still live part-time in New York City. But I'm really spending a lot more cooking time in Connecticut where I am so far away from a supermarket. And I don't have ... There's one specialty store but it's kind of a trek. And so, I realized that my cooking has become simpler and way more practical, that I'm really depending on all those great condiments that I got from the supermarket that are sitting on the refrigerator door and the stuff that I've got in my pantry. So this is truly, when I say everyday cooking, this is everyday cooking.
Suzy Chase: Reading cookbooks makes me happy. Writing cookbooks makes you happy. What about writing cookbooks makes you happy?
Dorie Greenspan: Suzy, everything. I love creating new recipes. My husband says that if my editor didn't say, "Okay, time's up, you've got to turn them in," I would just be constantly working on tweaking recipes. I love creating recipes. I love writing them. When I'm writing them, I'm thinking about the person who's going to be in the kitchen making them. And I like to think of writing recipes as a conversation that I'm having with a home cook. And that's a pleasure for me. And I love sharing what I've done. I love knowing that what I've worked on will be made by someone else and that person will share the food at his or her table. Every step of the process of writing a cookbook has its own kind of pleasure.
Suzy Chase: Talk about how you sneak in a little surprise in everything you make.
Dorie Greenspan: I love, I love when a dish has something unexpected especially when you think you know the dish. So for instance, meatballs and spaghetti. It took me years to make meatballs and spaghetti because every time I would make the meatballs, my husband would say his mother's were better.
Suzy Chase: Oh no.
Dorie Greenspan: We've all been through that, I think. But the truth is, I didn't love meatballs. Take a meatball, take a bite of it, take another bite, all the bites were the same. And so, the surprise that I snuck into the meatballs, walnuts and oats. So the oats kind of make the meatballs a little fluffier. They make some space in the meatballs. And the walnuts are a change in texture. And so, now when you have this meatball, every bite is a little different.
Or one of my favorite recipes in the book is called Oven Charred Tomato Stuffed Peppers. I love this dish for a million reasons. The surprise is, okay, when you look at it. It is sweet bell pepper. I cut it in half. And what you see are halves of cherry tomatoes all over the top of the peppers. And they're drizzled with oil and there are some herbs thrown on top of them and they go into a really hot oven. And they become soft and sweet and melty and charred. But what you don't see is that little surprise tucked under the tomatoes. It's a highly seasoned breadcrumb mixture. And so, you taste the peppers and you taste the tomato together and you think that's what you're getting, you're getting tomato and pepper. And then, you get something more. It's a great dish. It's beautiful when it goes into the oven. It's beautiful when it comes out. You can make it ahead. You can serve it hot, warm, or room temperature. So for me, that's like my ideal. That recipe, I think, is the spirit of my new book.
Suzy Chase: So you split time between New York City, rural Connecticut, and Paris. Where will you be celebrating the holidays this year with your son and new daughter-in-law?
Dorie Greenspan: My new daughter-in-law, I'm so happy for our whole family. The joy of having a new daughter in law is having a jointly expanded family and yes, we will all be together. She's been in our family for a few years now and we celebrate holidays and birthdays together.
So we will be having Thanksgiving as we have had for the past few years at a friend's house in New York City. And we split the cooking. Well actually, everybody who comes brings something. One of her friends always brings lasagna because that's what she had for Thanksgiving growing up. And so, there's a turkey. And I always make a cranberry sauce and I'm in charge of dessert. I make a soup. And this year, I think I'm going to make the roasted butternut squash soup from the new book. And I'm going to surprise everyone because in addition to my usual pumpkin pie, I'm going to bring a dessert from the book which I just think it's going to be perfect for Thanksgiving. It's called the Triple Layer Parsnip and Cranberry Cake.
Suzy Chase: Perfect.
Dorie Greenspan: Yeah. I think it's going to be just the right ending for the dessert. It's a three layer parsnip cake. Think carrot cake but parsnips. It has cream cheese frosting and filling and it has a cranberry jam that you make in a flash. And I put it between the layers and so you get that beautiful pop of color with the really comforting cake.
Suzy Chase: I like the trend in cookbooks where if you're a more seasoned cook, you can swap items in a recipe. And you've constructed all of your recipes so ingredients can be swapped. Give me an idea of what you would swap in, let's say, your Warm Squid Salad.
Dorie Greenspan: Oh, I love that salad. That's a really simple salad and squid cooks in a minute so it's a great spur of the moment salad. But you might not have squid at the spur of the moment. So, that's a salad that could easily take shrimp instead. I always keep some shrimp frozen at home. You could also use the base in the salad for some leftover chicken if you had it in the refrigerator. So I like, as you said, when you can play around with a recipe, when you can make your own choices, when you can do at home what I do at home which is look at what I've got and find a place for it. As I said, this book is truly my most practical cookbook.
Suzy Chase: You have a book you've talked about called L'Art de Couper le Fromage, The Art of Cutting Cheese. What is the proper way to cut brie and around cheese like Camembert?
Dorie Greenspan: That book was given to me when we first moved to ... Actually, I bought it when we first moved to Paris about 20 years ago because I realized that I wasn't cutting a ... A cheeseboard would be passed around at a friend's home for dinner and I was looking left and right to see how people were cutting their cheese because I knew that I didn't know that rules.
If you've got the whole cheese that's round, then you want to cut a pie shaped wedge out of it. If it's being served as a wedge, never, never, never cut off the nose. Don't cut off that tip. You want to cut a slice from the long end of the triangle. And what you're really aiming for is to cut cheese so that the last slice of whatever cheese it is looks like a little mini version of what the whole cheese was. It's not always easy. And that's why I bought the book. There are rules for pyramid shaped cheeses and for square cheeses. But with a brie or a Camembert, the reason you don't cut the tip off is, well, it doesn't look so pretty afterward, but the tip is the best part of the cheese.
Suzy Chase: I know.
Dorie Greenspan: Right? So if you cut it off, you're considered selfish.
Suzy Chase: Oh no.
Dorie Greenspan: So you want to cut the cheese so that everyone gets a bit of that tip.
Suzy Chase: The pressure.
Dorie Greenspan: I know. That's why I bought the book.
Suzy Chase: I think we all need that book. And then, I heard that it's impolite to go back for seconds.
Dorie Greenspan: The way a French dinner party works is you compliment the host or hostess who's cooked the meal by complimenting the food that he or she has made and you are allowed to ask for seconds for everything that's homemade. But the cheese was not made by your host and so you get to go around once. You may take as many pieces of cheese as you want and as much cheese as you want, you just aren't supposed to take seconds.
Suzy Chase: Okay, I'm going to write all this down.
Dorie Greenspan: Call me if you need help.
Suzy Chase: Oh gosh, I will. I'll call you tomorrow. So I heard you say, "Had I been born French, I wouldn't have learned to bake." Talk a little bit about that.
Dorie Greenspan: You know, I'm convinced of that. It's not ... The way we bake at home in America is so different from the way French people bake at home. French people rarely bake at home. In part, it's because there are so many pastries available and there's so many pastry shops that are ... I think it's like a zoning regulation that every other street has to have a pastry shop. And so, there's pastry everywhere. And there isn't, for a long time, ovens weren't reliable. I mean, my first apartment in Paris was an adorable apartment and it didn't have an oven because it was in a building that was so old that the electricity and gas lines ... well, there were no gas lines ... couldn't support everyone having an oven. And this is still true in some places in Paris. So baking wasn't the pastime that it is in America.
Also, French people do bake but they bake very simple things. The most popular homemade dessert is a yogurt cake and that's made ... Almost every French person can make a yogurt cake and can recite the recipe from memory because it's based on the size of the yogurt container. I don't know it by heart but it's like one container of yogurt, two yogurt containers of oil, three yogurt containers of flour. It's a very simple, incredibly delicious cake. But the tradition of home baking is not as strong in France as it is here.
Suzy Chase: Julia Child once said to you, "We're so lucky because we work in food and that means for the rest of our lives, we'll be learning something new." What did you learn while putting this cookbook together?
Dorie Greenspan: Well, as I said, I learned something about myself and the way my cooking has changed. And I learned, Julia was so smart. And I learned about boosting flavors. I learned about getting the most out of each ingredient, that you don't need a long, long list of ingredients to make a dish flavorful. You need the right ingredients. You need the right combination of ingredient. I learned a lot about flavor working on this book.
Suzy Chase: Let's say I'm coming to your house in Paris. What do I get when I arrive?
Dorie Greenspan: If you come to my house in Paris, what you get when you arrive is the same thing you get if you come to my house in New York or Connecticut. You get gougeres. So gougeres are cheese puffs. They're made with the same dough that you would use to make cream puffs but they're savory. They have cheese in them, a mixture of cheese. And that's become my house special. So I make the gougeres. I think last Christmas my husband said that I made about a thousand gougeres.
Suzy Chase: A thousand?
Dorie Greenspan: This year I'm going to ... Oh, I think so.
Suzy Chase: Oh gosh.
Dorie Greenspan: Because I was making a hundred at a time. This holiday, I'm going to make the little marks on the tile behind the oven and keep count of how many gougeres I make. So aside from the fact that they are so delicious, they're the perfect welcome bite because you make the dough. I scoop the dough using a little cookie scoop. Scoop out the dough and freeze the gougeres unbaked. I freeze them on a little cutting board or something. And then, when they're frozen, pop them into an airtight container. And then, whenever company arrives, you just pop them directly from the freezer into the oven and you have ... the whole house smells cheesy, warm, delicious, inviting. And you've got this hot, I was going to say warm, but they're hot, these hot cheese puffs to serve with champagne, sparkling wine, or white wine. Which is the other thing that I would give you as soon as you came through the door.
Suzy Chase: I love it.
Dorie Greenspan: So I've been making gougeres forever. And in Everyday Dorie, I actually changed my recipe. Something I hadn't done in, I don't know how long but we were talking before about having a surprise in a recipe.
Suzy Chase: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Dorie Greenspan: I put a little bit of Dijon mustard into the batter. The batter is fairly neutral. It's a holder for all that good cheese that you put in it. And so, I put some mustard in to kind of perk up the flavor. And I also put some toasted nuts into the gougeres. It can be walnuts. It can be pecans. So again, you have that element of surprise. You have the custardy, cheesy puff and then every once in a while you get a little bit of the chew and snap from toasted nuts.
Suzy Chase: The other evening, I made your recipes for Fresh Off the Cob Corn Chowder on page 72 and your Dark Chocolate Pudding on page 294. So the chowder is a complete meal. I think all you just need to add is a crusty roll and you're set. I read your Playing Around box on that recipe because I was out of bacon. So, I used shrimp instead.
Dorie Greenspan: Someone once said that my Playing Around box just gives people permission to play around, to make changed in the recipe. And that's what I really hope that people will do. If you find a recipe you like, I hope you'll make it your own. Shrimp is a great addition to this.
So the chowder is ... it has potatoes because chowder. It has corn. And you're actually taking the corn off the cob but you're using the cob to flavor the soup. And one of the things that ... Well, I couldn't stop playing around with this because I was thinking you could add a little cream or half and half to it. Or you don't have to. You could drizzle a little oil over the top, like chili oil just to add some pop to what is a really soothing, comforting dish. Pesto would be good with the chowder. Grated Parmesan would be good. Ham instead of bacon. I mean, just shrimp or lobster instead of or in addition to any of the ingredients. My mind just keeps going after I've created a recipe and I think that about all the possibilities. And so, I provide the Playing Around box in the hope that it will get you thinking and obviously, Suzy, it did.
Suzy Chase: It sure did. So the Dark Chocolate Pudding made me a little nervous because the recipe said to whisk energetically. And the liquid starts out so watery. So you really have to have faith that if you energetically whisk, it's going to firm up into a pudding and it did.
Dorie Greenspan: I was just waiting for the, "And it did."
Suzy Chase: It totally did. But I was just like I've got to be energetic.
Dorie Greenspan: Well, you know, when I'm writing the recipes and working on them, I work on them after I've developed them and I've written them, they get sent off to Mary Dodd, my recipe tester, and she works on them and we go back and forth. But I'm trying to, as I said, think about the home cook, think about ... I try to be with the cook cooking the recipe but of course, I won't physically be there. So I try to give you as many keys to success as possible. And so, the word energetically is there so that you'll pay attention and do that.
Suzy Chase: I did. And it said energetic whisking for about five minutes or so. So I was like here we go.
Dorie Greenspan: Did it say it will be your workout for the day?
Suzy Chase: No. No, you need to add that in the next printing of the book. No, it was incredible and it definitely thickened up as pudding should and it was so good.
Dorie Greenspan: Oh, I'm so glad. I'm so glad. I love that pudding.
Suzy Chase: I, like you, feel like pudding is a very American thing. What do your French friends think of this pudding?
Dorie Greenspan: To them, they think it's French. If I said this is American chocolate pudding, they would say oh, no. This is just like our creme au chocolat or it's a little bit or very much like crème patisserie, like pastry cream. They would recognize this pudding immediately and take it as their own.
Suzy Chase: Now to my segment called My Last Meal. If you had to place an order for your last supper on earth, what would it be?
Dorie Greenspan: I don't have to have a typical meal. And while I always told Joshua, our son, that he had to eat his meal before he got dessert. This is my last meal so I don't have to do that. I would have as much ice cream sundae as I wanted. That's what I would have. With hot fudge, with toasted nuts, with vanilla ice cream, with coffee ice cream, with chocolate ice cream. Maybe with some mint chocolate chip. I could have anything, right?
Suzy Chase: All the things. Where can we find you on social media and the web?
Dorie Greenspan: I am @doriegreenspan, D-O-R-I-E Greenspan. On Twitter, on Facebook, on Instagram. And my website is doriegreenspan.com.
Suzy Chase: It's always a pleasure chatting with you and I'm so excited to see you tonight at the 92nd Street Y.
Dorie Greenspan: Oh good. Good, good, good, good, good. Thank you, Suzy.
Suzy Chase: Thank you for coming on Cookery by the Book Podcast.
Follow me on Instagram at Cookery by the Book. Twitter is @IAmSuzyChase and download your kitchen mixed tapes, music to cook by, on Spotify on Cookery by the Book and as always, subscribe at Apple Podcasts.