My love for food and cooking started when I was really small. My godmother had a catering company and a passion for food in a way that was infectious. I loved watching her and learning from her and became obsessed with watching Julia Child, Jacques Pepin and Graham Kerr. The Food Network didn’t exist and neither did the food bloggosphere. Despite my love for cooking, I never chose to become an accredited chef. I actually went to the School of Visual Arts and got a Bachelors in Fine Art majoring in Photography. Cooking was my escape, my way to relax. Through the years, my love for food remained fierce and somehow I always knew I would end up finding a way to make it my career. Then one day, I was fortunate enough to land a job working at Every Day with Rachael Ray magazine as the Executive Assistant to the Editor In Chief. My boss, Silvana Nardone and Rachel herself saw my passion for creating recipes and encouraged me to write for the magazine. I am, forever grateful to those amazing women for giving me the chance to follow my passion and the ability to learn on the job so to speak. In my opinion some of the best cooks, like my boss, Rachael Ray have no formal chef training at all.
Throughout my 12 years as a recipe developer I’ve received many questions about the profession. People are really curious about my career, how I got started and how one goes about creating recipes. People almost always assume I’m a restaurant critic which I am most definitely not, at least not professionally. 🙂 Anyone who dines with my girlfriend and I would say we definitely critic our experience but that’s just us, no one is paying us for that service. HA! When I tell people that a recipe developer actually creates recipes, the conversation usually goes something like this:
Them: “Wait. So you make up the recipes? Like, actually come up with the ingredients and stuff?”
Me: “Well . Yeah!”
The follow-up question is almost always “Are you a chef?”
My answer: “No. I’m not a chef, I just really have a passion for cooking. ”
Everyone is so amazed that I am able to come up with different ideas and be so creative without having a degree to back me up. They always want to know where my ideas come from if they aren’t coming from already published recipes. Honestly, I think its different for every person. Some food writers and chefs are heavily influenced by eating out, some by travel, some even by non-food related experiences. I would say that many things influence me. Sometimes a small idea or flavor profile is all I need to lead me to a recipe idea like these wings for example. I was thinking about peanut butter and jelly and how amazing they taste when you stir them together. Then my mind lead me to a sweet peanut sauce, like the ones served in Thai restaurants. Before you knew it, I thought about using it as a topping for sticky wings and POW this recipe was born.
I hope that by reading this blog you are able to feel inspired and allow yourself the freedom to create in the kitchen without the fear of “screwing it up”. You don’t need to be a chef to be a great cook. Don’t let seemingly perfect, fancy food images scare you away from the joy that a meal can bring you and your loved ones. Get in the kitchen, roll up your sleeves and have fun!
Peanutbutter & Jelly Sticky Wings
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
12-14 chicken wings
2 tablespoons natural smooth peanut butter
2-3 tablespoons strawberry jam
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and then top with a wire rack.
- Dry chicken wings very well using a paper towel.
- In a medium bowl whisk together flour, salt, pepper and garlic powder.
- Dredge (fancy shit word for Lightly toss) the wings in the flour mixture making sure to shake off excess.
- Place wings onto wire rack and place into preheated oven. Cook for 25 minutes, turning the wings over halfway through cooking.
- While chicken is cooking, make the sauce: In a small bowl whisky together peanut butter, jam, soy sauce and salt. The sauce should be thick but not too thick to baste over the chicken. Feel free to add a tablespoon of water to thin it out if yours isn’t spreading well.
- Remove wings from the oven and coat with peanut butter and jelly mixture using a silicone brush (you don’t HAVE to use this but I find it’s one of those tools that actually works well for this purpose).
- Set oven to broil and place wings back into the oven. At this point, turn your oven light on and watch them. You want the sugars from the Sauce to caramelize a bit and create a kind of sexy mahogany lacquer on the wings. Yeah. You’re a badass like that. 🙂