Great Minds Eat Alike: Kate Jaffe’s BGSK-Inspired Favorites

We started our Great Minds Eat Alike series this fall in order to mix up the usual BGSK offerings with interviews and submissions by cooks and eaters whose mentality towards cooking and eating meshes with ours. Today we bring you a tour through BGSK from Kate Jaffe, a BGSK contributor and fan, who learned how to cook by using the recipes on these pages to motivate her own self-education in the kitchen.

Kate Jaffe was born and raised in Westchester County, NY. She currently works as a teacher in Westchester and lives in NYC. A lifelong food lover and adventurous eater, she really started cooking herself when she began living with her boyfriend. Read on to find out about her journey through small kitchen cooking.

–Cara and Phoebe, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOKS

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I have always been a reluctant chef. While I have loved eating adventurously my whole life, cooking was not something that came naturally to me. Both my parents and my brother spent most of my childhood cooking interesting, inventive dishes, whereas I preferred to go out to eat at my favorite restaurants. Fast forward to my early twenties and I am now living with my boyfriend on a slightly tighter budget. Going out to dinner is still such a relaxing, enjoyable experience for me. But I realized, budget-wise, that I could not keep doing it multiple times a week. During college I would eat out every night! No more. After watching Barefoot Contessa I learned about Big Girls, Small Kitchen [note from P&C: that’s us!], and had to check it out for myself. Much to my delight, these recipes were geared toward someone just like me: young, working in a small kitchen, and obsessed with food. I started off reading through the current postings and then found myself digging through the archives. I was able to start my cooking during the summer–I am a teacher and am lucky enough to have July and August off.

I couldn’t resist feeding my sweet tooth, so I made the Yellow Butter Raspberry Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Buttercream. Since I do not own a Kitchen Aid mixer (yet!) and did not want to lug my mom’s all the way to my apartment, I got out my trusty (and easily tucked away) hand mixer. After mixing the batter, I was able to gently fold in the raspberries by hand, and then I used the mixer again for my delicious icing. The fact that these cupcakes came out a success absolutely boosted my confidence. Even more, my boyfriend was thrilled with the results and began to love me even more. I then moved on to a delicious garlic-infused salad dressing and the Artichokes with Caper-Scallion Mayonnaise.

I decided to take a big cooking break due to a very hard semester at grad school but as soon as winter break started, I got to work on my soups. The Garlic Soup and Green Goddess Soup were such hits in my tiny household and my boyfriend was once again very impressed with my cooking skills. Of course I had to give credit where credit was due and have been explaining my great admiration for the Big Girls, Small Kitchen blog.

A few other favorite recipes I’ve come to love are the “deconstructed” Eggplant Parmesan Rigatoni (a huge win with the boyfriend, who is Italian) and the Sweet and Sour Tofu. The tofu in particular was a big adventure for me since I have never worked with tofu before, but it was such a welcome addition to my diet. I try to be healthy, but tend to veer off course when something is especially tasty. This tofu is delicious, healthy, and easy. (Unfortunately, my boyfriend is not as fond of tofu as I am. I’m sure if he had actually tried the recipe, though, he would have loved it!) Big Girls, Small Kitchen has turned me into a real at home cook and I am so grateful for that. I have been able to slowly discover my style as a chef and have enjoyed experimenting with various recipes. Many cookbooks that I read are geared towards at home cooks with large kitchens and all of the latest appliances. I was so excited to find recipes that could be modified to my kitchen tools and that were made by people my age. My friends and family are totally impressed with my new skills and I look forward to showing them off in a more public setting at my housewarming party when I move to a tiny NYC kitchen soon.

–Kate Jaffe, BGSK Contributor

Posted in: Recipes
  • http://otm-inthegalley.blogspot.com/ SeattleDee

    Big “AttaGirl”s to you, Kate, for your growth as a cook and for sharing your story. Cooking can be such a satisfying adventure, no matter what the size of your kitchen.

  • http://twitter.com/RedHeadedWriter J

    I just discovered your website and blog. I am psyched. I want to become a really good cook – or at least – someone who doesn’t poison people.

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