We recently met Victoria, the Itsy Bitsy Balebusta on Twitter, her joy and passion for food came across immediately. Her tag line, adventures learning how to make a home and take life with a grain of salt (& a bit of chocolate too!) and her sharing her love and memories of her grandmother is inspiring. Victoria lives in Montreal. It is so wonderful to welcome her to the JoyofKosher Kitchen where we get to find out more about this young up and comer.
Tell us about your blog and how you got started:
Last year when my grandmother fell ill, I wanted to do something to recognize and celebrate the amazing women in my life. I come from a vibrant Portuguese family where food is the central aspect to all get-togethers. When I started keeping kosher my family was absolutely incredible and did all they could to help makeover all of the recipes so that I could continue to share and pass on traditional family recipes. This blog is my small way of celebrating the amazing women who have made me who I am today. Each recipe I share helps me to preserve and share memories in the hope that these dishes will bring others together to create memories of their own!
What is your earliest cooking memory?
I can remember standing next to my grandmother in the kitchen at an early age, watching her prepare breakfast and allowing me to pour milk into the sauce pan or sprinkle the cinnamon as a final touch. My earliest cooking memory that really stands out would have to be in grade ten when I was taking a cooking class at school and attempted to recreate the meal at home for my family. After a lengthy grocery-shopping trip I sent my family to sit in the living room while I prepared the meal – tomato galette and a zucchini casserole. My brave little brother made his way through half of the meal before asking if he could please make a sandwich instead! Even though we all ended up having sandwiches that night, it didn’t ruin my love for cooking and helped give me a sense of humor when preparing meals for my family!
What is your favorite kitchen implement / utensil / gadget?
For years I dreamed of owning my own KitchenAid stand mixer. A month before she passed away, my grandmother Avo Lina, made it happen (making me promise that I’d make plenty of challah and cake!). It proudly sits on my kitchen counter now and every week while I’m making dessert and challah I like to think she’ll always be a part of all the prep.
What's your favorite kosher dish to cook?
My favorite kosher dish to cook would be kugel! Broccoli kugel and potato kugel are definitely my favorite. They’re fun to make with very little prep or clean up and are versatile. I also love to make schnitzel! I love trying new spices in the breading as well as different ways of preparing the chicken – to date one of my favorites is to coat the chicken with barbeque sauce and then into the breading infused with whichever spices come to hand!
Who is your cooking inspiration?
My parents are my cooking inspiration. I’ve always loved and admired how they take such pride in preparing meals for the family together. Their attention to detail, creativity and passion to bring us all together over a warm cooked family meal has taught me a lot
Please share a favorite cooking tip or trick with our readers:
My favorite cooking trick is roasting chicken in chicken soup broth with seasoning spices. No matter what the chicken recipe, if it calls for roasting I do this first and then add the necessary ingredients called for. I find this keeps the chicken moist and tender. I also always run eggs under warm water for 30 seconds before adding them to my batter. I find this produces fluffier results!
Which recipes are you sharing with us today?
Today I’ll be sharing two quintessential Portuguese family recipes. The first is Bacalhau, which is a traditional Portuguese dish incorporating codfish and potatoes. Its form and texture is akin to lasagna but its flavor is distinctly European. My mother takes great pride in preparing it the same way her mother did and I am proud to do the same in my own kitchen now!
No meal is complete without dessert, so I’ve also chosen to include my grandmother’s Chocolate Almond Bar recipe. It’s a quick dessert to pull together and has always been one of my favorites. My grandmother would prepare these bars for me, wrapping them in parchment paper and placing them in a tin. The smell of them baking, brings me back to being in her home!
When life gets messy I find the best way to step back and regroup is by creating a messy kitchen! There's nothing like mixing bowls and measuring cups strewn about & the smell of warm Challah or cupcakes baking! I cook & bake to preserve the memory of & celebrate the incredible Balebustas in my family! Next to them, I’m still an itsy bitsy balebusta, learning what it takes to make a home & how to take the batches life gives us with a grain of salt (& lots of chocolate!). You can find out more about me at http://itsybitsybalebusta.blogspot.ca/p/about.html