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Jenn

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Jenn Cuisine

Hi! My name is Jenn, and I am part of Daring Cooks! I am a newlywed (we’re coming up on...

...our 1st anniversary!) currently in New England here with my husband. I am an environmental scientist/chemist, and cooking is by far my favorite hobby. I am a total foodie who can’t turn down a chance creating at a new culinary experience, which is why I love participating with the Daring Kitchen!

My husband is gluten free, and before I met him 3 years ago if you had asked me about what being gluten free means I wouldn’t have had a clue. Now, 3 years later, we have really got a system for living gluten free and eating pretty well. But that doesn’t mean I don’t still say a little prayer every time I put a gluten free baked good in the oven, hoping it will come out right. ? Mostly I try to make dishes that require few if any substitutions – rather than simply replacing foods he used to love and attempting to recreate them exactly, much of the time I like to try to find other ways to make tasty dishes that never needed gluten in the first place instead. In reality, I do some of both.

I’d like to think my approach to food is pretty simple – make flavorful vibrant food using the best, freshest ingredients. I try to find ways to make and appreciate food and flavor, without being overly fussy. At the end of the day, food is meant to be eaten, not hung on a wall in a museum. I strongly feel that cooking should not be something people are afraid of – cooking instead, is how you learn about yourself and develop or share your own culture as you interact with others and food. Food is central to life, and beyond the calories are memories, emotions, and meaningful experiences that should never be ignored.

How long have you been blogging? Do you like it? What’s your favorite post you’ve written?

I had blogged about various topics previously, but after my wedding last year decided to really focus on my food blog. I also have a photo blog too, but its posting is much more sporadic. While I love photography, food is my real passion. I love blogging. I really enjoy writing about my food, taking pictures, and most of all, interacting with the awesome foodie communities that I have found through blogging. It is a very fulfilling hobby!

How long have you been blogging? Do you like it? What’s your favorite post you’ve written?

As far as my favorite post, I would have to say it is one I wrote this past summer about beef stroganoff. It was part of an event called “Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten Free!” and the theme was to make a post about gluten free camping food. It totally brought me back to all of my favorite memories camping and backpacking with my family when I was younger, and so I adapted one of my dad’s recipes that was a camping tradition for us to a gluten free version for the post. I really love it when I can connect food to family and life experiences. After all, that is when the food is most enjoyable, when people are eating together making and sharing memories!

If you could bake/cook with other Daring Bakers/Daring Cooks, who would they be and why?

There are so many that I would love to cook with! And many with far more experienced than me. I think it would be awesome if we could do Daring Kitchen meetups of say, gluten free cooks, and we all got together to have a big cooking party.

Who taught you how to cook and/or bake?

While my family was a definite foodie family, cooking wonderful meals all the time, I actually did not learn a lot of technique from my family. A lot is mostly self-taught. I’ve read books, articles online, and practiced practiced practiced ? I have picked up several tips along the way. However, if I had to choose someone from whom I have learned the most, it would probably be my grad school advisor, from all of his demonstrations in his kitchen at various social get-togethers of our lab group.

What is the ultimate comfort food to you?

This is a toughie, as I tend to think that I make a lot of comfort food. There are Vermont baked beans that are a winter tradition in my family, made with apples and maple syrup. Cheesy potatoes au gratin or homemade mac and cheese is up there on the list too. But I would have to say that the ultimate comfort food has to be French onion soup, made from scratch with a fresh baguette and melted yummy cheese (hmm…notice a theme here?). It’s something my mother made frequently when I was a kid, and I strongly associate food and taste with memories. So whenever I have French onion soup, memories of pure joy come flooding back to me. The fact that one dish can be so powerful amazes me every time I eat it.

Where is your favorite vacation (holiday) destination?

My husband and I honeymooned out on Cape Cod in Provincetown during the Fall last year, and it was pure heaven, both for relaxation and for taste. We seriously ate freshly caught yummy seafood every single day, and I have a total weak spot for good seafood! I loved all the Portuguese influences in the cuisine there too. Everyone was super friendly, and we found some real gems food wise.

Other than cooking and/or baking.. what hobbies do you enjoy?

My main other hobby is photography. I do not consider myself very good at it, but I like to explore how to create various pictures with my camera. I also have a photography blog along with a food blog, but its postings are much more sporadic. My father gave me a beautiful DSLR as a wedding gift, and I have been having an awesome time with it!

Other than food and photography, I am an avid runner. Well, avid may be a bit too ambitious of a word. I like to run. It is by far my favorite form of exercise, and I love running outside on trails where there is pretty scenery. Speaking of trails, camping/hiking/backpacking are all pretty consistent hobbies as well.

Do you watch any competitive cooking shows? Like Top Chef or Hell’s Kitchen? If so, which is your favorite and why?

I watch Hell’s Kitchen. Chef Ramsay is totally one of my culinary idols. I would just love to spend a day in his kitchen and see how he cooks, or visit one of his restaurants. I love his style of cooking because it is not pretentious and highlights fresh flavor combinations. I know Hell’s Kitchen isn’t so much about Chef Ramsays cooking, but I did create a shrimp and pea risotto dish after watching his show. One episode actually caught him (while yelling of course) telling someone how to do it. So I took those instructions and tried it out for myself. I’ve made many tasty risottos since!

How long have you been a Daring Baker/Daring Cook and what’s your favorite thing about being in the group(s) so far?

I started with Daring Cooks since its inception this past Spring. So far my favorite aspect is how while the challenges require the essence of a recipe, in the end they really give you a lot of freedom to express yourself. I have always treated recipes as evolving creatures, and I love finding ways to adapt them so that my gluten free husband can enjoy them. Instead of being confronted by cooking challenges and only acknowledging all the limits put upon us by various restrictions, one can create tasty diverse cuisine by thinking positively and using a little creativity. It’s like a puzzle I need to figure out. I also enjoy seeing how so many people interpret the same dish, and how much variation there can be! It’s great!

Are you known for making a certain dish or dessert? If so, what is it?

I do have what I would call a “signature dish”. It is a morel, sausage and sage ravioli that I developed for a food blog contest last Spring (in which I also lost, lol). I have since made it a number of times for family and friends, and already have requests from both sides of the family for it for Thanksgiving!

Which season (Winter, Summer, Spring, Fall) is your favorite.. why?

Definitely Fall. I am not one for much hot weather, and I love all of the colors, especially from growing up in New England. Fall is also time for eating apples and pumpkin, and I love any excuse to cook with pumpkin!!

You can visit Jenn on her blog Jenn Cuisine