The recipes in our latest release, Cherries, are outstanding, as is the author behind them. Stacy is a food writing veteran: she’s written several cookbooks, including the just released Around the Fire, with Portland, Oregon chefs Greg and Gabrielle Denton; and she’s worked in magazine test kitchens at Everyday with Rachael Ray and Food Network Magazine.
We chatted with Stacy about some of her “favorites” in food, from cookbooks to earliest memories.
Which cookbook(s) couldn't you live without?
I have only one bookcase in the house, but it’s overflowing with cookbooks—they’re jammed into crevices, stacked on top of the shelf—and somehow it is always threatening to keep growing. I plead my case to my husband about once every 6 months that I need them all. But our compromise is always that I should keep only what can fit in the bookcase. The books that continue to make the cut are titles like Canal House Cooks Every Day, David Lebovitz's Ready for Dessert, Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook, and Nigel Slater’s Tender and Ripe cookbooks. I also keep reaching for a new book I just co-authored (but that's not why) called Around the Fire with the chefs from Ox restaurant in Portland. I use it all the time, especially for their chimichurri recipe and to find inspiration for vegetable dishes.
What's your favorite cherry recipe?
I feel like making a really good pie and hearing everyone go crazy over it legitimizes you as a cook. (Right? People are always bragging about their pies.) The sour cherry pie in my Short Stack volume is that recipe to me. It’s got a really buttery, craggly crust and crispy sugar granules on top, but the fruit is so bright and juicy and tart. It’s unreal in summer, still slightly warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream
List the guests of your dream dinner party.
I’d pretty much just want to hang out with my nieces and nephews—they range from ages 4 years to 4 days old at the moment—and eat spaghetti and meatballs.
What's your favorite city to dine in?
I read this question as "Yes: an excuse to talk about my love for Italy." I live and breathe love for that country and its food and food culture. My favorite places to eat there have probably been Palermo in Sicily, and of course Rome. I continually look for any reason to go back to Rome.
What's your first food memory?
I don’t think it was my first, but one of my favorite early memories of food was when a woman from China came into our class to teach us about Chinese food. She fried eggrolls in a little portable wok and I ate cellophane noodles for the first time, using chopsticks and everything. It blew my mind then, and looking back I think it is so cool that the school went out of their way to expose us to other cultures through food.
Do you have a kitchen hero? If so, who?
My grandma Stella. I get teary just thinking about being in the kitchen with her. She does everything by muscle memory, and what’s just a weeknight dinner to her is a history lesson in Italian cooking for me. Of the millions of things we’ve all learned from her, she's taught my siblings and I how make the most simple but incredible tomato sauce (she calls it “gravy” and sometimes adds braised beef and sausages for flavor) and how to flip and make a perfect frittata, two tricks that I’m pretty sure have won over the family of any guy I’ve ever dated.
What's the weirdest job you've ever had?
Weird isn’t maybe the best word for it, but one of the more random jobs I’ve ever had was taking care of an elderly woman who was in poor health for a summer in between college semesters. We’d watch Golden Girls in her room instead of going to run our errands, or she loved to go split a short stack of pancakes at the diner or go out for coffee frappuccinos. Food makes everyone happy.
Buy your copy of Cherries here.