Behind the enviable big city gig and Brooklyn street cred, Miss Amy is actually a lovely Southern lady at heart. The natural hostess makes you feel right at home in her well-appointed apartment, which is cozy and curated just so, in a manner befitting a design professional with a keen eye for detail. Amy brings some of this comfortable, unfussy aesthetic to her kitchen, where she's been spending a lot of time cooking her way through treasured family cookbooks - after all, what's a little shortening among friends?
Read on for retro gems and to see how Amy marries form and function in her home!
Hello Amy! Please tell us a little about yourself.
I am the Copy Director in the Creative Studio at Real Simple. I also contribute to a blog for Herman Miller and have a personal blog over at m-dashing.com.
I am currently cooking my way through the many out-of-print cookbooks (including one first-edition!) of my long-distance cousin, Betty Feezor, who was a TV hostess in the 50s, 60s, and 70s in the Carolinas. She was the Martha Stewart of her time, and even made television history: in 1958, hers was the first videotaped color program ever aired. Unfortunately, that means that every one of her shows was taped over every day — and there are now only about two episodes around that you can see (check them out here.)
How would you describe your food aesthetic and cooking style?
Not fussy. Simple, but not boring.
How has your design background impacted the way you cook and eat?
Not necessarily in the way I cook, but in the way I present things. Now, I am not silly enough to buy a kitchen gadget or piece of serveware only because it looks great. But I WILL take longer than the average bear to find something I like that merges form and functionality well.
What's your favorite dish to make at home?
Lately, I discovered a "mayonnaise bread" recipe in one of Betty's cookbooks. Quick and simple and way better than I ever expected.
Do you have a go-to dish that's sure to draw raves from guests?
This Grilled Skirt Steak with Chimichurri Sauce recipe by Mark Bittman. Always a crowd-pleaser — and it’s so easy!
What's your idea of a perfect party?
Well, given that my space is the size of what my grandma used to call a “two-butt” kitchen, my perfect dinner party would first start with an actual table to have guests sit around! In a perfect world, however, it would include great drinks, several dear friends, and probably a sizable portion of cheese.
What are your favorite kitchen utensils or gadgets?
My Vitamix blender. I’m so in love. It makes smoothies, soups, nut butters, guacamole, even ice cream. Best investment ever.
I also have a soft spot for my grandmother’s bread knife.
Where do you shop for kitchen supplies?
Other than the expected (Williams-Sonoma and Sur La Table), I hit up A Cook’s Companion, a lovely kitchen store in my neighborhood. I also dig Whisk over in Williamsburg.
Top pantry essentials in your kitchen?
Olive oil, garlic, whole-wheat pasta, chicken stock, agave, dark chocolate, tea.
Do you have a secret, surprise or unexpected ingredient you love to use?
It’s not really an ingredient, but I always have an interesting selection of teas at the ready from different places I’ve traveled. Right now, I’ve got some fruit-flavored types that I scored during a trip to South Korea last fall.
Who is your biggest culinary inspiration?
My mom. She’s just about the world’s best baker. Her red-velvet cake recipe alone would make you melt.
Do you have a tasty hole-in-the-wall you'd be willing to share?
A friend recently introduced me to Dos Toros Taqueria in Union Square — delish! You can also get great Vietnamese sandwiches at Nicky’s on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn.
I love the Rancho La Puerta cookbook I scored on a trip there last spring. And, of course, anything by Betty Feezor.
What do you like to listen to while you cook?
I actually write about music for Herman Miller, so I get tons of great recommendations each week from the people I interview. I’ll usually have a mix playing from my computer or my iPad. A coworker also recently discovered Chiptole Radio (seriously — it’s really good), so I might have it on.
Whose pantry would you like to raid?
Grant Achatz’s. Can you imagine all the magic inside?
Best tips for novice home cooks?
Just try. It’s never as hard as you think it’s going to be. Also, YouTube is your best friend.
Cousin Betty's Lemon Buttermilk Pound Cake
Adapted from "Betty Feezor's Carolina Recipes Volume 1"
1 cup shortening
½ cup butter
2 ½ cups sugar
3 ½ cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Combine butter, shortening and sugar; cream until fluffy.
3. Add eggs one at a time and mix well (but don't overbeat).
4. In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking soda.
5. Add lemon flavoring to buttermilk.
6. Alternate adding portions of flour mixture and buttermilk, beating well after each addition.
7. Pour batter into a greased and floured tube cake pan; bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
8. After cake is cool, top with Mom's Powdered Sugar Glaze.
Mom's Powdered Sugar Glaze
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon almond flavoring or vanilla extract
3 tablespoons water
1. Using a wire whisk, combine all ingredients in a bowl until you reach the desired consistency: "just a little thinner than gravy." Add more water, if needed.
2. Heat on low in a saucepan for easier drizzling (optional).
3. Using a spoon, drizzle over cake or cookies.
4. Let cool and serve.
Thanks, Amy! Don't forget to follow Amy's cheeky musings on her blog, m-dashing.com, as well as on Twitter (@amyheartsny). And for those curious, a classic Betty Feezor clip for you to enjoy!