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Julia and Grace Turshen On Food Fears, Crummy Service Industry Jobs and Culinary Nostalgia

MrsMrsTurshen1.jpgGrace and Julia Turshen

The phrase "power couple" is used so often that most of the time it's pretty meaningless so when you actually come across a duo that is both captivating and intriguing, it is truly something to behold. Such is the case with the newlyweds Grace and Julia Turshen. They are brilliant women who have made names for themselves in the design and food worlds: Grace is the creator and owner of Design Sponge and Biz Ladies and also hosts a weekly radio show called "After the Jump" on Heritage Radio; Julia is a talented writer and cook who focuses primarily on cookbook writing, testing & developing recipes. The two connected after Grace published a heartfelt and personal post about friends and love on her site. Touched, and feeling bold, Julia responded to the article and closed with an invitation to dinner. The two shared an unforgettable meal at Five Leaves and the rest is history. I sat down with the couple in their beautiful Greenpoint home to talk food fears, nostalgia and their go-to dinner party dishes.

Carrot, Celery Root & Ginger Puree with Israeli Cous Cous
Heavy Cream (Ronnybrook) & Chives (Keith's Farm)
Bodhitree Mixed Greens with Breezy Hill Orchard's Apples & Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette
Homemade Fleur de Sel Shortbread
Meyer Lemon Curd & Spiced Butternut Squash Jam (Migliorelli Squash)

If you could learn how to make one food product, artisan or not, what would it be? Not a dish, a thing.

Grace Turhsen: I want to know how to make homemade pasta. Nothing, food-wise, makes me happier than hand made pasta with a ragu. It's my favorite thing in the world other than birthday cake. 

Julia Turshen: I would actually love to learn the process of making miso paste. I did a project in Korea and saw how they make their version of it, which was wonderful. I think I would like to go to Japan and learn though.

What is your breakfast routine like?

GT: We have a proper breakfast every day. Soft scramble eggs with local mushrooms and cheese. We often go to the farmers market in Greenpoint but we live next to this 24-Hour Market called "Rachel's" and it's amazing so we get a lot of stuff there. They stock this insane European white bread that we love to top with Salvatore ricotta and jam.

JT: Grace also makes really good pancakes. I've never been much of a pancake person, but i love hers with banana and chocolate chips.

If you have nothing in your fridge -- which I would imagine is virtually never -- and had to eat a condiment like food what would it be?


GT: Raspberry Jam or good BBQ Sauce.

MrsMrsTurshen3.jpgCarrot, Celery Root & Ginger Puree with Israeli Cous Cous

What's the ultimate nostalgia food for each of you?

GT: Smithfield ham and my grandmother's sweet mustard. Cutting huge chunks of ham with an electric knife is childhood for me.

JT: I think of Chinese take-out. There was a place on Hudson Street, which is now closed, that we always used to go to. Also, my dad is king of the toaster oven, so bagels were a big thing.

What are the biggest misconceptions of who you are and what you do?

JT: I feel like people often call me a chef and I don't identify myself as one, it's too grand of a title. I've been paid to cook, but I don't consider myself a chef. I'll take it but...I try to define myself as a writer.

GT: Most people expect me to be a human cupcake because of the aesthetic of my website. My job involves looking at so much -- patterns, colors, textures. But when I get home I want clean simple colors and pleasures.

Have either of you ever worked in the service industry?

JT: I worked at City Bakery. It was the only job I ever quit -- they didn't have air-conditioning and I wilt in hot weather.

GT: I worked at a Country Club Food Shack in Virginia where EVERYTHING went in the fryer. I was eventually promoted to the nicer restaurant, but then I broke all my toes moving a banquet table and that was the end of my stint in the food industry.

MrsMrsTurshen2.jpgHomemade Fleur de Sel Shortbread with Meyer Lemon Curd & Spiced Butternut Squash Jam

What food scares you?

GT: Uni or Oysters

JT: I'll try anything

Favorite comfort foods?

JT: Pizza and ice cream. So I should probably just go to kids' birthday parties.

GT: Pasta and birthday cake, like Duncan Hines cake.

What are you go to entertaining dishes?

GT: I always work from cookbooks and I love this Jamie Oliver pasta with roasted tomatoes and eggplant.

JT: I also make a lot of pasta or vegetables dishes. I really like paella and it's always a crowd pleaser. 

Lastly, if you could have lunch with anyone, who would it be?

JT: My grandmother, my mom's mom, I always wanted to meet her.

GT: Nikki Giovanni, she is my favorite poet.

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