The only thing better than preparing a homemade meal is being cooked for. This past Friday night I found myself, happily, in the West Village at the table of a friend: the CozyCook.
When you first walk into the CozyCook's apartment, you are met with walls painted in cheerful yellow and violet, spotless ebony hardwood floors, an oversized candy-striped designer settee that one might imagine Alice in Wonderland might have sat on during her Tea Party with the Mad Hatter, other mid-century modern-inspired furniture (including a table that CozyCook designed herself in college), and a French singer crooning softly from the stereo. This apartment's interior, with its European sensibility and colorful global-boho chic, would feel right at home in an Architectural Digest spread. Or in the Latin Quarter of Paris. Or the West Village in New York City, for that matter.
As an architect, the CozyCook is wearing a dress that is, in itself, architectural. It's very Scandinavian and geometrical, with a front fastening zipper, the fabric is made of part metal and the collar can be worn in any number of ways with an entirely different effect.
Since she is one of the most organized people I know, it's no surprise that the CozyCook has kept a detailed notebook with the menus / recipes for the dinner parties (averaging about one a month) that she's hosted in her home through the years. We flip through lists of appetizers, entrees and desserts and which wine was brought by whom. What a great way to remember times shared with friends, is what I'm thinking.
For dinner this Friday, we enjoy some wonderful sauteed grape tomatoes, which the CozyCook prepared in a recipe out of the Barefoot Contessa Cookbook (ingredients: tomatoes, parsley, garlic, basil, thyme, olive oil), as well as her very own Watercress Salad with Shrimp and Cannelloni Beans (featured below).
The CozyCook, In Her Own Words*
Hometown. Richardson, Texas
Current Town and Neighborhood. New York City (West Village)
Signature dish. It changes, but right now, probably lasagna.
What music do you listen to when you cook? Radiohead or whatever is popular. But when I have guests over I switch to Henri Salvador.
Who taught you to cook, when and why? I taught myself to cook with cookbooks after college. Primarily, it was for monetary reasons. I didn't want to ever feel I was missing out on good food because I couldn't afford to eat out. Fortunately, I lived near a Fairway.
Favorite novel or movie about food. Babe.
Some of your pet peeves about cooking: Erroneous recipes, when the kitchen gets really hot, and when the cooking takes so long that it is no longer fun.
Best secret cooking tip. I prep everything beforehand and clean dishes as I go.
Tell us about the funniest cooking/culinary experience you had. In 2000, I was in Geneva with my sister. At one of the restaurants, I didn't know what one of the dishes was. I looked it up in my language guide and it translated into "raw beef." I laughed it off, thinking, "They wouldn't serve raw beef!" So I ordered it, and they brought me this carving board sized platter of thinly sliced raw beef. It was my first experience with carpaccio, and now I can't get enough of it.
Why do you love to cook. It feels good to be able to take care of myself in this most basic way.
How do you make this fantastic salad? I use:
- 1/2 bunch watercress
- 1/2 lb. medium shrimp (peeled and deveined)
- 1/2 cup canned cannelloni beans
- 1/2 lemon
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Trim stems off of watercress, rinse well, and arrange on plate.
- Squeeze some of the lemon half onto the watercress. Season with salt and pepper.
- In a medium frying pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.
- Add shrimp. Stir until cooked through a few minutes.
- Add white beans to pan. Squeeze rest of lemon juice on top. Season shrimp-bean mixture with salt and pepper. Cook until beans heat through.
- Spoon shrimp-bean mixture onto watercress.
- Serve immediately.
Servings: 1, Prep Time: 15 min., Calories per Serving: 407, Pair with: Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay
Copyright Sweet & Victuals2008. This article and photograph is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.