DomestiCAITedDomestiCAITed: Cooking with ‘Top Chef' Winner Stephanie IzardCaitlin Fitzgibbons

I’ve done my best to to impart some tips on DomestiCAITed for cooking, cleaning, entertaining and crafting in an effort to show that this stuff isn’t that hard. You know, I thought – up until about a week ago – that I had done a pretty good job. Then I cooked with Stephanie Izard, winner of Top Chef ‘s 4th season and of the fabulous Chicago restaurant Girl & the Goat , and realized I have so much more to learn. Additionally, the event was hosted by Cascade and Kitchen Aid, who taught me some easy ways to do something I seriously despise…cleaning. I brought back all the tips I could scrawl in my notepad. Here it goes.

1. Always Cook With Stephanie Izard.
Sometimes when I’m cooking, little questions pop up in my head when I’m following a recipe. “How much salt should I use?” “Am I cooking the meat/vegetables on the right heat?” “There’s too much broth, what do I do with all this broth?” If you’re cooking with a chef that made the recipe, in this case Stephanie, you just turn around and ask her what to do. That’s it. It’s really pretty easy. “Hey Steph, what’s going on with this broth sitch? Help!” “No worries Caitlin, add more pasta.” She’s the best and as you can see from the photo below, we’re a great team.

2. Practice cleaning artichokes before you cook with Stephanie Izard.
Just believe me, okay? It sounds super type-A, but like,  just because you’ve had artichoke before when you studied abroad, or on some flat bread pizza at that  pizza place in your neighborhood, doesn’t mean you know how clean an artichoke. I watched Stephanie do it first and I thought it would be easy. Turns out, I kind of blacked out from excitement while she was talking and so I just had to follow everyone who had paid attention. I think I made a fool of myself. Regardless, some how the photo below makes it appear like I have knife skills. Not the case. I feel if I had only been more focused I would have been hired on the spot to cook at Girl & the Goat. Clearly that didn’t happen.

3. Wear an apron.
You’ll feel like a queen. A lot of times I don’t wear an apron because I’m like, “Hey, I’m not your housewife!” I was wrong. Aprons are bliss. You don’t need to get some frilly girly apron, a simple one will do, but what it does is allow you to just wipe your hands on the fly. It’s great for multi-tasking and saves a lot of paper towel use. Then you just toss it in the washer-super easy.

4. Have a friend pre-measure all recipe ingredients for you.
When I arrived to cook with Stephanie, I was obviously excited. I initially forgot to look around because I think I was in shock when I walked into the kitchen. However, my right hand decided to volunteer me to cook in the spot next to Stephanie. Before I knew it, there I was cooking pot-to-pot with this ridiculously talented chef. I knew her skillz were rubbing off on me because cooking just seemed so easy, but another thing that made following the recipe really simple was that all the ingredients were pre-measured. It’s really the best way to do things. Moving forward, I think it’d be nice if I could recruit a friend or two  to do this for me. I’ll let you know how that turns out.

5. Don’t microwave eggs.
I swear I’ve only done this three to eight times, but when Stephanie found out, she was not pleased. I’m sorry, but when necessity calls, I’m not going to rule out this option for a quick high protein breakfast. Not me. Not ever. No way.  I’d always recommend taking shortcuts like microwaving eggs. Although maybe you shouldn’t trust me, as I’m responsible for the burnt breakfast below. Yeah, it’s an everything bagel that I Instagrammed because I’m a jerk.

6. Use seasonal produce.
Buying seasonal produce, especially locally, is going to make a dish taste more fresh and is a more sustainable choice. Seasonal fruits and vegetables can be used to inspire our own recipes. I learned from Stephanie that improvisation has definitely played a part in her cooking. She is always playing with new seasonal ingredients and flavors, sometimes making dishes 2 or 3 times before they appear on the menu at her restaurant. Notice below how I’m just soaking in everything Stephanie has to say… serious Fitz face.

7. Use Cascade.
Okay, I know, this seems like blatant product placement. However, I swear I’ve been using the Cascade Complete All-in-one  ActionPacs since I learned about them and they’ve been working. I have the worst dishwasher. The dishes need pre and post washes, and that’s honestly just way too much work. I’m usually too clueless with cleaning products and just grab the cheapest option, but if your landlord provided you with a less than ideal dish washer situation, I recommend the pacs. If I have to do less cleaning, that’s really ideal.

8. Send your landlord endless literature about great dishwashers.
I found out there are better dish washers out there and not only for aesthetic reasons. There are some that actually clean more effectively. Yep, I know. While I learned a lot about different models available from Whirlpool, it really wasn’t me that needed the pep talk. I needed my landlord there getting the training, getting so sucked in that he would buy me a top of the line appliance. I’m going to write him a lil’ note.

9. Make Artichoke Fideos.
This is the dish we made with Stephanie from her cookbook, Girl & the Kitchen. It’s insanely good.  Although there are many ingredients – and I did learn it with the chef herself – it is easy, I promise.  While there is lamb in the dish, it can be left out for an equally delicious vegetarian option. Here’s a link to the recipe: http://tinyurl.com/7pumgas The dish can be made to serve as a main course or divided into small ramekins for appetizers, like those pictured below.

10. Don’t tell anyone that you learned any of this.

I think it’s important to keep any domestic skills on the down low. Who needs to know you can make delicious chocolate chip cookies? No one, because then you’re going to have to make them on the regular. So play it cool. Take my tips above to heart, but don’t go blabbin’ or you’ll be stuck in the kitchen all day, which is not ideal- unless you run your own restuarant, which would be awesome and mean you shouldn’t take any of my advice.

XX,
Caitlin

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  1. I love this post. Now, we just need to invent a website where friends can sign up to pre-measure our ingredients for us!
    And also? I love aprons. They are wonderful. I have too many. And always look for ways to get more. It’s a sickness I think.

  2. Love this post! That was a fun evening. I like your spin on it. :)