We spoke with Iron Chef ‘s leading lady about her new cookbook, Cat Cora's Classics with a Twist, which is collection of culinary standards infused with healthy tweaks and flavorful additions.
What are some go-to ingredients that you use to keep a dish healthy?
The big four ingredients that I go to are vinegars, spices, herbs, and citrus. Using techniques such as toasting garlic and caramelizing onions can really jazz up the flavor of a dish without adding anything.
What are your tips for making a dish both kid and adult friendly?
Using certain techniques, such as putting fruit on skewers, can be a great way to get the kids involved in the kitchen and also present food in a fun way. I tend not to use a lot of black pepper or a ton of green herbs when I’m making a meal for my kids because it turns them off. I also steer clear of most chile peppers for them.
In the spirit of doctoring up classic recipes, which recipes in the book are geared towards the novice home cook?
They pretty much all are, that is the beauty of this cookbook. Recipes like the Soft Tacos with Grilled Chili-Lime Flank Steak and Pineapple Salsa are fun, easy starter recipes for beginners. They can also be adjusted, like if someone is not comfortable with the grill, then they can always pan-sear the steak or put it in the oven.
Do any of the recipes in your new book have a funny story behind them?
Most of them do. Throughout the book there are stories of how I came to certain recipes. One of my favorite recipes in the book is Cat and Mo’s Enchilada Pie. This was one of my mom’s go-to recipes that she would make for us growing up. Every recipe has a story.
What are some must-have kitchen items that every home cook should have?
Everybody should have a blender, a good knife, and a food processor.
Of those items and appliances, which ones should you splurge on and which should you save on?
Splurge on a good blender, knife, and food processor. Save on things like wooden utensils. These days there are such a wide variety of manufacturers out there that it is fairly easy to bargain shop.