2011 Summer Interview Series,  Thoughts

2011 Summer Interview Series | Randy Lay at Recipes Randy Cooks

Randy is Kathy’s husband and I met him through the same channels I did Kathy. He cooks up a killer meal and served us several times when we were living in Florida. He’s always got interesting views to discuss and is always up for trekking to take photos with us when we’re out in the wilds of Florida. Recently he started blogging his recipes and we’ve made Penne with Italian Sausage, Fresh Tomatoes, Feta, & Herbs and can vouch for it’s awesomeness. Hope your hungry so you can try some of his recipes!

First off, give us an idea of who you are, why you blog and your geographic location.
Well, firstly, I am a dad, husband, and a very proud grandpa! I am an outdoors enthusiast, a photographer, and a self-trained cook. I love travel and music and pretty much all of the above contribute to my passion for food. I first began blogging because my daughters and friends had been asking me for recipes and calling me for cooking tips. What began with sharing recipes and photos by email and Facebook eventually evolved into Recipes Randy Cooks. I live in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Pho Ga
When did you first become interested in cooking, particularly more elaborate cooking than most people would attempt?
Is it possible to be born with such an interest? It seems as though I was always comfortable in the kitchen. My mom was a great cook and she recognized my fascination with food early on. She encouraged me by answering questions and letting me help her in the kitchen. I remember coming home from school as a kid and watching Julia Child or the Galloping Gourmet while doing my homework. I always say I was a cooking show fan before cooking shows were cool!

What has been your favorite dish to make over the years?
Fish has always been my specialty but if I had to choose one dish in particular it would have to be my Creamy Chicken Enchiladas. This is the one my daughters request over and over for special occasions through the years and surprisingly, it’s not yet been posted on my blog. I’ll have to work on that!

Is there a particular dish that you’ve not had luck with that you wish to improve upon?
One of the things I love about cooking is that I learn something new nearly every day and I am constantly challenging myself. Converting recipes to healthier “Clean Eating” versions has been my recent ( and ongoing) challenge. Just yesterday I made a Cole Slaw that I found somewhat disappointing. I made the dressing using non-fat plain yogurt as the base and agave nectar as the sweetener and although the flavor was pretty much right on…I thought it came out watery and not creamy enough. I have already formulated a plan to improve on the recipe and will try it again this week while it is still fresh in my mind.

From what do you draw your food inspiration? Particular blogs, magazines or chefs?
The blog itself has been something of an inspiration, inspiring me to create and to cook “bloggable” recipes on a regular basis. I motivate myself by choosing what I will cook next, be it a protein or a particular cooking method (sometimes an ethnicity) and formulating a plan in my mind. It’s not unusual at all for me to fall asleep dreaming up my next recipe.
Online, I read and contribute to food discussion forums almost daily; sites such as chowhound.com, cheftochef.net, and epicurious.com. I read Eating Well, Cooks Illustrated, and Fine Cooking magazines cover to cover every month and I used to watch the TV Food Network religiously though lately not so much…as they have become more and more reality based they seem to have lost my interest.

Penne Mediterranean
What ingredients should every person have in their pantry or fridge to put together a good home cooked meal?
Well I came up with a whole week’s worth but I went back and revised it to: a box of pasta (whole wheat penne), fresh onions, garlic, and celery, a large can of whole tomatoes, a medium can of quartered artichoke hearts, and a block of Parmesano Regianno. Pair that with a pound of Italian (turkey) sausage, a salad, and a nice crusty Italian loaf (Whole Wheat of course) and you have one of my favorite easy meals.

Calories don’t count—you are in food heaven—what would be the perfect day, food-wise, from breakfast to after dinner desert?
If you asked me tomorrow this would probably be entirely different. Today food heaven would be…

Breakfast: Lobster eggs benedict, fresh mixed berries with plain yogurt drizzled with dark agave nectar, fresh baked croissant, black coffee, and fresh squeezed orange juice.
Lunch: French onion soup with melted gruyere cheese, 12 oz charcoal grilled Kobe beef rib eye steak, French Fries (fried in duck fat), baby greens with crumbled Maytag bleu cheese, black walnuts, and fig & walnut vinaigrette, with a Stags Leap Cask 23 Cabernet Sauvignon. Tangerine sorbet with cranberry walnut cookies
Dinner: Seafood gumbo, fresh oysters on the half shell with mignonette sauce and beluga caviar, shaved asparagus salad with crispy prosciutto, grilled Alaskan halibut and snow crab legs with champagne lemon vinaigrette. Hot blackberry cobbler with pomegranate and dark chocolate chunk ice cream.
Digestif: Courvoisier L’Esprit

Is there a particular dish or food that you wish more people knew about and ate? Something that might be particularly misunderstood or scorned?
Quinoa is the first thing that comes to mind. It is a tasty, versatile, complete protein chock full of nutrients and half the people I mention it to look at me like I’m speaking Greek. Actually Peruvian might be more like it as it has been cultivated there since the ancient Incans called it the “Mother Grain” way back when. There is a good article here and I’ll be posting more about it on the blog.

Snaper Francaise
And finally, tell us the five people you’d love to have over for dinner and why!
J.J. Grey – Because he and I have so much in common and I love his music. With so much to talk about, I am certain we would become great friends. JJ Grey.com

Alton Brown – This one probably goes without explanation but I have always appreciated his humor, his enthusiasm for food, and his seemingly down to earth demeanor.

Julia Child – Need I say more?

Leslie Neilson – I know this one may seem off the wall but did I mention I love humor? He lived out his days here in Fort Lauderdale and I always thought it would be fun to meet him, hang out, and laugh. They just did a piece about him in the local paper; his epitaph reads “Let ‘er rip!”

My Mom – She is still living, though 4 hours away now in her new home, and I cherish every moment that I get to spend with her and my pop these days

Randy writes delicious food blogs at Recipes Randy Cooks, share his photography here and has a photography Facebook page with his wife Kathy. Photos copyright Kathy Hunt.

Thanks for participating Randy!


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