You've seen Iron Chef's Cat Cora cook for a television audience…but what does she make at home?
What's your favorite comfort food?
In an exclusive interview, Cat reveals some of her favorite foods and kitchen utensils. Plus, the meal that almost brought down the house—literally.
Cat: We make this really great homemade chicken soup, and I know that sounds so, you know, cliché. But we make the whole chicken, lots of veggies, and I kind of go Greek-style with it because I throw lots of lemon in it, lots of black pepper, some good sheep's cheese to finish it.
It's just real good and meaty, and I just love it. … That's what we really eat when it's rainy outside and cold, and we want some comfort.
Who was your greatest cooking influence?
Cat: I have to say, it's actually split. It's my family and Julia Child, because [my family members] were big influences early in my career. [Julia] was a big influence when I got to spend time with her when I was beginning my career.
What was the worst meal you've made and for whom?
Cat: There was a time … I had a date, and I burnt three bags of microwave popcorn in a row. I think that was my worst, and I did catch somebody's kitchen on fire with a chicken one time. … Their oven was dirty, and I didn't know. It caught the whole thing on fire. We had to get the fire extinguisher, and extinguish the whole chicken. That was it; dinner was shot. We had to get takeout—Chinese.
What's your favorite music to cook to?
Cat: It depends. If I'm outside, and it's a really sunny, hot day and I'm grilling, I'll listen to Bob Marley. If I'm inside, and it's kind of rainy and bluesy, I'll listen to Billie Holiday. If I want a little Rat Pack-y feel to it, I'll listen to a little Sinatra.
What's your favorite ethnic cuisine?
Cat: Many, many. I love Indian. I love Thai. I love anything Asian, anything that's Indian-influenced. I love spice, and sometimes it's not enough, so I ask for extra chili paste and chili flakes. [I like] anything that's got big, bold flavors and that pretty much covers every cuisine…so anything! There's not many that I don't like.
What is your favorite ingredient to cook with?
Cat: I cook with a lot of garlic. Garlic's probably my number one. And then citrus—lemons and limes—things like that. We have a lemon tree, we have a lime tree, and we have an orange tree that's in the neighbors' [yard].
What chef would you most like to cook alongside?
Cat: I'll tell you one person I would have loved to eat with that's has now passed away, and I never got to meet her but I love every single book she's ever written—M.F.K. Fisher, who is like the queen of culinary literature. I would have absolutely loved to have a meal with her.
[Her book] The Art of Eating is great, and I give that to all of my cooks when I open a restaurant. I say: "Go. Take this home and read this because you're going to have a deeper passion for food, a deeper understanding of food."
Who is your toughest food critic?
Cat: Probably Jennifer, my partner. She'll tell me straight up: "This sucked. Try again." She's very, very patient where I'm kind of this fast-paced [chef], and so she definitely can do a really good grilled, low-and-slow fennel chicken. She tells me: "Don't even open the top of the grill and touch it. Don't turn it, don't flip it, don't look at it." … She's someone I know will always tell me truth.
What are the three kitchen tools you can't live without?
Cat: I would say my Vitamix blender, my food processor and my collection of wooden spoons—got to have wooden spoons! If you don't have a wooden spoon in the kitchen, you've got to go out and get a wooden spoon. It's just…I can't explain it. It's just a love affair with the wooden spoons. It's just like the old country.
What would you want your last meal to be?
Cat: I think I'd do a little of everything. I think for my dessert, I'd have ice cream, peanut butter something and chocolate together. I'd definitely do great cheeses from everywhere because I love cheese—great breads, great wines. I'd probably do like a really great slow-cooked lamb shank, some fava beans and a really good gremolata there. … There's so many things that I would love to have—just a smorgasbord. I want a whole feast.
Get more advice from Cat
Breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes for a week
Printed from Oprah.com on Monday, March 10, 2014
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