Q + A with Julia Turshen, Author of Small Victories
Today, we’re thrilled to be sharing a Q + A with the charming Julia Turshen, author of the new cookbook Small Victories. A writer and recipe-developer, she’s coauthored Spain…A Culinary Road Trip with Mario Batali, It’s All Good with Gwyneth Paltrow, Mastering My Mistakes in the Kitchen with Dana Cowin, as well as The Kimchi Chronicles, Hot Bread Kitchepren, The Fat Radish Kitchen Diaries, and Buvette.
She also hosted the first two seasons of Radio Cherry Bombe and has written for Vogue, Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, Saveur, and The Wall Street Journal. She lives in upstate New York with her wife, dogs, and cat. Read on for her go-to quick meal, fridge essentials, and more!
Q: What is your strongest food memory that might carry some nostalgia with it? —@cannellevanille
A: I love this question, Aran! There are quite a few to choose from, but the one that comes immediately to mind is getting to pick what flavor cake and ice cream I could have on my birthday at sleepaway camp each summer. This decision always felt very major and also made celebrating my birthday away from my family a little easier.
Q: What is your go-to meal when you need to make something quick? —@kaileyerick
A: Scrambled eggs with hot sauce and a lightly dressed salad. Along with coffee if it’s the morning, a LaCroix if it’s lunch, or a beer on ice if it’s dinner.
Q: What is your strategy for using up all the bits and pieces of fresh produce? Hate seeing things hit the compost that should get eaten! —@sneakysquirrel
A: I hate seeing that, too! One word: frittata.
Q: What is your favorite make-ahead meal—one that can be prepped early in the day or prepped and frozen? —@catherine_sprod
Q: If you were to cook the ultimate meal—your absolute favorite—what would it consist of? —@oxfordhaus
A: Caesar salad, spaghetti with clams and a good amount of fresh red chile, very garlicky broccoli rabe, and a banana split or a slice of coconut cake that someone else bakes.
Q: I’d love to know what your top 5-10 fridge essentials are. —@annimal_planet
A: For you, Anna, I will tell you all 10! Half-and-half for coffee, parmesan cheese, kimchi, eggs, a variety of hot sauces (lately I’m really into Crystal), a variety of pickles (my favorites are made by Gordy’s), a jar of homemade vinaigrette, cleaned salad greens ready to go, lots of cans of LaCroix, and, last but actually most importantly, my wife Grace’s extra supply of insulin (she has Type 1 Diabetes).
Q: If someone wanted to own only one “high-tech” kitchen gadget, what should it be? —@chroniclebooks
A: Honestly, just a really great knife (I love my Misono 440), as I don’t think you need to plug anything in to make a great meal. If you do want something with an “on” button, my most used item is my dishwasher! Followed by my food processor.
Q: How do you keep your knives so sharp? —@aqualamb
A: This is a real compliment coming from you, Steph! Elise Kornack, my friend who is one half of Take Root, showed me how to properly use a wet stone, which I try to use for all of my knives every other week. In between, I keep their edges sharp with a standard sharpening steel.
Q: What does a “home cooking triumph” look like to you? And what do you do when it is more like a home cooking fail? —@carlagabrielgarcia
A: A triumph looks like a really satisfying meal that you’re proud of (and hopefully not a mess to clean up afterwards). I try to think ahead to avoid the fails, but when something is a dud, I try to remember that it’s just a meal, and there are always scrambled eggs.
Q: What is your process for recipe writing, which is gold standard? —@mcs3000
A: Great question! It’s very efficient because I spend a lot of time imagining every single step of what I’ll do (or remembering what I did when I winged the dish), and then carefully writing my recipes before I test them. This way, when I test them, I am updating a recipe that I’ve already written down, instead of trying to balance a pen and a knife at the same time. I then send recipes out to friends and family, along with a checklist of questions, to find out how they turn out when I’m not the one cooking.
Q: How do you keep your own unique “style” of food when you work with people who have their own distinct styles? —@cachuang
A: I turn off work when I’m cooking for my family and don’t follow or think about recipes!
Q: What was it like to transition from city life to country life as a young couple? What do you miss, what you don’t miss, etc… —@kathlearns
A: It has been one of the biggest, happiest surprises of my life. After spending most of my life in New York City, I was sure that I was a New Yorker through and through, and there was no way I could separate myself from the city. Little did I know, I’m a total country girl who really loves a slower pace and a lot more fresh air. I miss not being able to spontaneously see friends and family (we live close enough to the city that I still see them, I just have to plan far ahead) and I miss living around so many different types of people. I don’t miss much, to be honest, especially paying overpriced rent or having to put my dog’s leash on each and every time she needs to go out.
We can’t wait for you invite Julia into your kitchen and celebrate your own cooking triumphs!
Photography by Irene Kim Shepherd
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