August 4, 2009 / 2:33 PM / 8 years ago

Chef Costello boils down the essence of cooking

<p>Chef Lauren Braun Costello is shown in this undated handout photo. REUTERS/Nicole Braun Carrasco/Wink</p>

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Chef Lauren Braun Costello believes knowing the highest standards of cooking produces the best dishes. The 32 year-old New York native co-wrote “Notes on Cooking” with Russell Reich, a former student. The book contains 217 nuggets of tips, insights and advice on cooking.

Costello, who is also a teacher and a food stylist, spoke to Reuters about food writing and her view on cooking.

Q: What do you want people to take away from your book?

A: “There is more to cooking than the recipe and the ingredients they are using. There is a way of thinking and feeling your way through the kitchen.”

Q; How tough was it to structure your thoughts on cooking in this concise format?

A: “The book was written with the most essential information. We assigned categories and divided them up. It was less forcefully structured. It was more free-flowing. We let the content speak for itself.”

Q; What is your view on short-cuts like using store-bought stocks and sauces, which are prevalent on TV cooking shows?

A: “Everybody’s lifestyles are different. Everybody’s needs are different and everybody’s interests are different. But we have to have standards. But it’s okay to fall short of those standards. I fall short of those standards. At least we know what our anchor is.”

Q; Are your students seeking different things in this recession versus better economic times?

A: “As a teacher, I haven’t seen a change in the economy with the cooking classes. I have noticed more of a shift in the restaurant culture where people are not going to spend $500 for dinner. Cooking is truly an essential craft. People still find, more than ever in a recession, that they find great joy in cooking.”

Q: What do you eat when you are at a restaurant?

A: “At a French restaurant, I‘m always gravitated toward game meats. I love sweet and savory dishes. That’s why I love Asian cuisine.”

RECIPE

Lemon Poppy Seed Pound Cake (8-12 servings)

3 eggs

2 cups sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

1 cup sour cream

zest and juice of 1 lemon

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2-1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease 1 large loaf pan or 4 mini loaf pans. Set aside.

2. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until thickened and a pale yellow color. Beat in the oil, sour cream, zest, lemon juice, and vanilla until smooth. Combine the flour, poppy seeds, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Add to the egg mixture until blended.

3. Fill greased loaf pans 2/3 full. Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden on top and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

4. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to cool completely on wire racks. Drizzle the loaves with a powdered sugar glaze made with just enough lemon juice to make the right consistency.

Reporting by Richard Leong; Editing by Patricia Reaney

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