Sitting around my dining room table with good friends, great food and wine, during tough economic times, a friend said to me, "Nicole YOU should have your own show on the Food Network!" I passively said "Thanks." That evening after the dishes were done, I really thought about what they had said. I was told over and over how people would pay for my cooking and self taught knowledge of food and wine. That year I began the process of thinking about what a catering business in NYC might look like. After brainstorming with friends, Coterie Cuisine came to be! The thought of a "coterie" or "intimate" environment to gather friends and loved ones, sounded right for people living in NYC. I considered many avenues in which to explore, in the end, after hosting many dinner parties, and catering for friends and loved ones, my company as a private chef came to be.
Which foods do you always have in your fridge or cabinet?
I like to juice every morning, so I always have plenty of ingredients for juicing: organic red swiss chard, organic kale, lemons, ginger, parsley, organic green apples, organic carrots, persian cucumbers and celery. Additionally, I always have arugula and beets in my fridge for salads and good balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil in my cabinet for sauteing, making dressings, etc.
Do you have any tips on shopping locally, or at green markets?
I think that shopping at a Green Market or local purveyor is the way to go so that you really know you are eating seasonally and locally. I love the colors you see at a Green Market and just by taking a stroll you can see things you would probably not see at your neighborhood supermarket (i.e. purple cauliflower).
It's important to become familiar with the different farms at your market and establish a relationship with their staff. A Green Market, depending upon the size, can become overwhelming as many different farm stands sell the same things but at different prices. If you establish a relationship with a certain farm stand, the likelihood of getting the best "bang for your buck" and freshest ingredients is far higher than just going stand to stand. Additionally, it's fun to know truly where your food is coming from rather than just grabbing it off the shelves. Lastly, I think the Green Market is a great way to try new vegetables and fruits that you may have been wanting to try or possibly have never even heard of. In New York City, we have many different options of Green Markets depending upon the seasons and I like to try out different markets to see the variety that they bring to the city.
What is your favorite kitchen gadget?
Right now I would say my favorite gadget is my juicer. I just throw things in and out comes a great, tasty and healthy juice that I have everyone morning. Around October, I decided to try juicing daily instead of my morning coffee and it works! I have great energy for my workouts, I can feel my synapses firing, it gets my system going and I don't get that high and low that you can get with caffeine. I just feel good (and highly recommend it)!
Which recipes would you suggest for someone who has made a resolution to eat healthier, or for someone who has become a vegan/vegetarian?
During the winter months, making soups and stews in bulk are a great way to eat healthy and not have to cook on a daily basis. Over the weekend, I usually make two soups, stews or chilli's for the week. All three can be put in the freezer for future use and easily defrosted for a quick meal. If someone is choosing to go the vegan/vegetarian route for the first time, it is extremely important to know how to get enough protein into your diet. It is important to be more conscious about protein when you are not eating animal proteins. Adding things like quinoa, farro, brown rice, tofu, and legumes is a great way to start. Be careful though....just because a restaurant or menu states that it is vegetarian or vegan does not necessarily mean it is 100% healthy. Make sure to stay away from fried foods, heavy oils and filling your stomach with only carbohydrates. Eating lots of leafy greens (kale, chard, collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens) and other vegetables will help keep you in check.
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