When Alexis deBoschnek, recipe developer and host of shows such as Buzzfeed’s “Tasty,” began working in food media, she noticed that while many folks touted sustainability, few knew how to make it really happen. Her experience growing up in the Catskills helped her make the connection.
“We have chickens which laid the eggs that we eat. Then the shells go in the compost, and we put the compost on the garden so we can grow things that we end up eating. Everything falls into each other. It’s part of living in a rural area,” she said.
In deBoschnek’s new book, To the Last Bite, she explores this idea by creating accessible recipes that use each ingredient from root to leafy stem. Complementing these recipes are lists of handy tools, pantry items and annotations with tips on how to use the leftover bits from each recipe to make the next dish.
The influence of deBoschnek’s mother touches every page. She describes her mother as a unicorn, saying, “[When I was] a kid, she’d say, ‘Get in the car. We’re going to find chanterelles.’ We’d drive to some pine forest and spend the afternoon foraging, which in retrospect is so dreamy and amazing. She just had this real spirit of adventure and curiosity.”
We chatted with deBoschnek to explore tips from her experience in video production, gardening beginnings and the dish her mother always asks her to make.
What is something that you learned from video production that you apply in your everyday kitchen?
Being organized. There’s a reason why chefs like to have everything ready to go before they start. It makes such a difference. Read the recipe before you start. It’s something small, but you will have such a different experience of what you’re getting into before you start cooking. I’m guilty of it, too, but it makes the experience so much better.
What’s your favorite ingredient from your garden?
There is something so satisfying about growing your own garlic. We go through a lot of garlic. It never lasts through the season.
Any recommendations for someone who wants to start gardening?
A tomato plant would be a great place to start. Low effort, high reward. Buy a small one, transplant it and you have a head start. When people have that first tomato that they have grown, they’re like, come on!
What’s the first step for a home chef wanting to reduce food waste?
The easiest way is to get a big Ziploc bag and put your scraps in there. Onion skins, carrot tops, carrot peels, any of the ends and bits that you’re throwing away. Save those and make a stock with them. It’s so easy to do and much more flavorful. You just add water.
Most useful tool in your kitchen?
I love rasp graters for citrus, garlic, ginger, cheese. All of it.
What dish do you make that your mother loves?
The Green Skillet Pie
2 Tbsps olive oil
2 large shallots, thinly sliced
1 large bunch Swiss chard, leaves and stems separated and thinly sliced, divided
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 medium bunches Lacinato or dinosaur kale, tough stems removed, leaves thinly sliced
3 cups arugula, roughly chopped
1 cup roughly chopped parsley leaves and stems
½ cup roughly chopped dill
1 ¼ tsps kosher salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
All-purpose flour, for dusting
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
1 large egg beaten with 1 tbsp water
2 tsps sesame seeds
2 tsps black sesame seeds
Preheat the oven to 375˚.
Heat the olive oil in a large stainless steel or cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil begins to shimmer, add the shallots and Swiss chard stems and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden brown at the edges, 4 to 5 minutes.
Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add the Swiss chard leaves and kale and cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted by half, about 3 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and add the arugula, parsley, dill, salt and pepper and stir to combine until just wilted.
Lightly flour a clean surface. Place the thawed puff pastry on top of the floured area and use a rolling pin to roll it out to a 12 x 16-inch rectangle. Cut the pastry
into twelve, 4-inch squares. Brush the pastry squares with the egg wash.
Layer the puff pastry pieces over the greens, still in the pan, overlapping slightly to make sure the greens are covered. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds.
Bake until the puff pastry is deeply golden brown and puffed, about 45 minutes.
Let the pan cool for 10 minutes. Serve straight from the pan, making sure every scoop has a bit of puff pastry and greens. Greens skillet pie can be covered and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, but be forewarned that the puff pastry will get soggy over time.
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