If you enjoy simple beautiful food, using ingredients from your pantry along with fresh produce, then the latest cookbook Simple Beautiful Food from Nashville based cook, recipe developer and cookbook author, Amanda Frederickson belongs in your cookbook collection. The cookbook is filled with delicious recipes that are not only easy to make, but plate beautifully too… because as Amanda states beautiful and good tasting food is a concept that should go hand in hand.
In this interview, Amanda shares about when her love for food began, the one kitchen tool she couldn’t live without, a few of the recipes that should would serve at a dinner party and more.
When did your love for the culinary arts begin?
Looking back when I was younger I was always drawn to food. Back when I was growing up working in a restaurant wasn’t necessarily encouraged as a vocation. When I went to San Francisco in my mid-20’s that’s when my passion for food was really ignited. There was amazing food on every corner.
You attended the San Francisco Cooking School. What was one of the biggest takeaways from your time there?
It was a 6 month full time program which included both months in classroom and then in an actual restaurant kitchen. I would say that cooking school really gives you the base and the confidence, to know that you can go into any kitchen and cook and write recipes as well as anyone else.
In the food world there is a sense of urgency that you learn in a restaurant. If you finish one task you just move onto the next. Everything is important. Everything is urgent.
Williams-Sonoma is one of my favorite stores for kitchenware. What was it like working in the Williams-Sonoma Test Kitchen?
I was in the test kitchen for 2 1/2 years and during that time I wrote for the catalogs and made different recipes that were shared in the catalog.
What were some of the recipes that you wrote during that time (at the Test Kitchen) that you still make today?
The banana bread is a recipe that I still make, especially these days.
You co-wrote 11 cookbooks during your time at the Williams-Sonoma Test Kitchen, and since then you’ve authored two more cookbooks, The Staub Cookbook, and your latest cookbook, Simple Beautiful Food. When did you first come up with the idea for Simple Beautiful Food?
I first came up with the idea when I talked with my editor, who I’d worked with on my previous cookbook, The Staub Cookbook. I wanted to base a book on fridge foraging and she (my editor) helped me make it into something for everyone. It’s full of accessible recipes based on what’s in your pantry.
Sometimes I look at the food media landscape (on Instagram) and there’s such a focus on making beautiful food, but beautiful food needs to taste good too. So I would have to say that good tasting food and beautiful food should go hand in hand.
In the book you share your favorite pantry staples, some of your favorite items that are always on your grocery shopping list and a few of your favorite kitchen tools. If you had to pick one kitchen tool that you couldn’t live without, what would it be?
For pantry staples I love to have coconut milk, because that can be used in both sweet and savory recipes. It can be subbed for milk or cream. I also like to keep the standard pantry items such as rice, pastas, stock, as well as canned tomatoes in stock at all times. Chicken thighs are also always on my grocery list. You can do so much with those base essentials.
As for a kitchen tool that I can’t live without, it would be a meat thermometer. It’s a kitchen tool that everyone should have. It’s a great way to make cooking foolproof.
Out of all the delicious recipes included in the book which covers everything from brunches (my favorite) to weeknight eats and sweet treats in the ‘Something Sweet’ section … do you have a few personal favorites?
Dukkah-Crusted Crispy Chicken Cutlet with a Herb Salad — I recently shared this on Instagram
Sweet Savory Yogurt Bowl — this yogurt bowl is based off one that I used to always order at a Bay Area restaurant
Taragon Chicken Salad with Creme Fraiche – it’s so light
The Perfect Chocolate Cake — we celebrated my daughters birthday a few weekends ago, and this was the cake we made
If you had to put together the perfect dinner party (or brunch, you pick) which recipes from the book would be a must on your menu?
If I had to choose between a dinner party or brunch it would be a dinner party… because wine! I’d start off with Black Pepper Gourgeres. They are light, comforting and very adaptable. Plus, you can make them in advance, freeze them and then just pop them in the oven when you’re ready to serve them to guests.
While these wouldn’t all necessarily go together, I’d love to serve the Espresso and Brown Sugar-Braised Pork Shoulder with Fresh Corn Polenta, Lasagna with Chicken Sausage and Spinach and also the Zucchini and Eggplant Flatbread. The flatbread can look like a ‘nothing’ recipe, but it’s really delicious. It’s hardy, fresh and crunchy.
For dessert I would probably do the Millionaires Tart it’s one of my favorite. It’s basically a giant Twix bar in a tart form.
You plan to open a restaurant in Nashville this year. What type of cuisine will you be featuring?
COVID-19 definitely changed a lot of things as we’d originally planned to open the restaurant in the spring, so now we’re opening later in the year. The restaurant will be a quick service concept that will feature accessible wholesome food like with salads, grain bowls etc.
Pick up your copy of Simple Delicious Food here and follow along via Instagram @amandafrederickson
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