With Valentine’s Day approaching, we’re spotlighting real couples who cook together, from our book Two in the Kitchen. Here, they share their tricks, first-hand experience and entertaining know-how gained from time shared in the kitchen.
After several years in Boston heading up a catering company and different kitchens, Lisa and Emmett moved to Austin and opened ASTI Trattoria and FINO Restaurant Patio & Bar. Both spot reflect their continued passion for travel and culinary adventure.
What was your first home-cooked meal as a couple?
Emmett cooked and I brought flowers. He made a roasted sweet potato salad with watercress and pecans, chicken breast with ancho chile sauce, and a poached pear with chocolate sauce. That was a long time ago!
What is your approach to entertaining?
Casual. We like to move the party from the kitchen (hanging around the center island as we cook or make cocktails) to the dining room table to the outdoor table to the patio. We always have lots of candles and good music. For starters, we often serve tapas-style food: spiced nuts, marinated cheeses, skewers, grilled breads with toppings.
Do you have a go-to meal for company?
We love to cook paella on our “custom” outdoor grill (cinder blocks with wire grates). It’s great for any number, we just change up the size of the pan and the ingredients. It’s fun to make and always a crowd pleaser.
All things bubbly. All Italian wines. An anejo manhattan (Lisa) and Blanton’s with one big ice cube (Emmett).
How do you maintain kitchen bliss as a couple?
Don’t critique the way your partner cooks — especially if cooking for you!
Any time-saving secrets?
Our pressure cooker. It cooks dried beans in a quarter of the time and they come out consistent and creamy. It’s also great for quick steel-cut oatmeal.
What’s always on the table during meals?
Lots of opened and unopened wine — and a corkscrew.
How do you set the table?
We use a runner instead of a tablecloth and oversized vintage white linen napkins; small vases of flowers, groupings of votives, and a few cellars of salt.
What’s your favorite home-cooked meal for two?
Roasted whole chicken, potato mashers, and lots of greens.
Find more advice and recipes for cooking together in our book Two in the Kitchen.