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.
A trained chef and photographer, Jamie Tiampo owns SeeFood Media, a kitchen studio specializing in food-focused TV and web video production. Saukok owns 57Grand, a weddingwear collection inspired by New York, and REVEL, a shop-able inspiration site for modern celebrations.
How do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? Do you have a favorite dish to share? Or a favorite recipe for a romantic dinner for two?
On our first date, Jamie made me an amazing meal with crab cakes made from scratch and homemade apricot ice cream. We continue the tradition every Valentine’s Day – Jamie makes me dinner!
What’s your favorite thing about cooking together?
We love being adventurous with trying native cuisines when we travel, and then incorporating those flavors into our own cooking. Jamie is like a mad scientist in the kitchen – there are no recipes!
What is your own soul food?
A good bowl of noodle soup! Our families are Chinese, so when we’re feeling less than one hundred percent, our “chicken noodle soup” is a steaming bowl of rice noodles in an aromatic pork or beef broth. Mmm!
What’s your favorite brunch recipe?
We love our make-your-own waffle station when we have guests over for brunch. Our machine makes 3 mini-waffles, so there’s no over-indulging. We always have warm maple syrup and freshly whipped cream on hand, and vary the batter recipe from buttermilk to ginger spice.
Jamie: My perfectly sharpened knives. When I travel to friends’ kitchens, I prefer to bring my own!
Saukok: My purple dishwashing gloves. Gotta clean up in style!
Do you have any suggestions for must-have items when you’re just starting out?
A great set of knives is one of your must-have investments. After that is an investment in a good set of pots and pans. They make a real difference to how you can control heat on your food!
Any tips for entertaining for a large group?
Serve dishes family style! It helps keep food hot and guests can pick and choose what they like to customize their meal.
Great food is key, but equally important is having time to enjoy being with our guests. We plan things out and prep most items before guests arrive, and clean as we go along. A barbecue on our rooftop is our idea of a perfect dinner party. On the menu: baby back pork ribs, corn on the cob, and zucchini marinated with homemade vinegar.
What advice did you receive when you first started cooking that has stuck?
Always taste and season at every step of the way, not just at the end. You don’t want your food to be bland after you’ve slaved away at it for hours!
What’s the grandest food-love gesture you’ve made?
While Jamie and I were dating long distance, he learned that I adore spaghetti with meat sauce. After visiting him in San Francisco one weekend, I flew back to New York and was surprised to find a FedEx package filled with an ice-packed container of homemade Bolognese at my door.
Any advice do you have for couples who aspire to cook and entertain more?
Experiment! Cooking is a ton of fun. Don’t feel you have to be perfect right away. As for entertaining, try things one step at a time. Start off with just some cheese and wine when guests are over. Once you get the hang of hosting, add some hot appetizers to your next shindig, and then graduate to a full meal after that!
Any tips for pairing wine with food?
If you’re cooking with wine, try to use the wine you plan to pair with the dish. That way you can reinforce the flavors of your food.
Which ingredients are always in your fridge at home?
Butter, lemons, soy sauce, Sriracha, black bean sauce, kim chee, Dijon mustard, tahini, Thai chiles, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and good white wine.
Any kitchen secrets?
Clean as you go and prep ahead of time. Keep ingredients in separate prep bowls so everything will be ready and within reach while cooking.
Find more advice and recipes for cooking together in our book Two in the Kitchen.