To promote the release of her new book A Girl and Her Pig, April Bloomfield—the celebrated chef of New York's The Spotted Pig, The John Dory, and The Breslin—conducted a cooking demo on Wednesday night at The Brooklyn Kitchen in Williamsburg. The British-born chef is most well known for her combination of classic English and rustic Italian fare and her love of animal parts.
Like April's cooking, the demo was quite relaxed, with April demonstrating her Chicken Liver Toast and Smoked Haddock Chowder (both on the menu at the 'Pig) to an audience of about 50. Click through the slideshow for some basics on the techniques and recipes.
The book itself, which sports a picture of Bloomfield on the cover with a pig flung over her shoulders, is part memoir, part recipe book. "My big epiphany with cooking came when I discovered that you don't have to always be refined," she explained to the crowd while talking about her first experience at London's The River Cafe. "The chef asked me to chop some herbs fine, so I chopped them really really fine. He came over and told me, 'April. They don't have to be quite that fine."
This rusticity and easy manner carry over into the recipes in the book, which she says are even further simplified from the already pretty relaxed approach taken at the restaurant. If the remaining recipes are as easy as the chicken liver toast and chowder, it'll make a fine book for home cooks indeed.
More April Quotes
Some other choice quotes from the evening:
On the Popularity of The Spotted Pig's Hamburger: "I love that the burger is so popular. If my partner Ken Friedman were here, he'd probably give you some story about the place of the burger and rock and roll in American culture, but really it's just a good, simple burger."
On her Favorite Restaurants in New York: "I love Maialino and am a big fan of Nick Anderer. I took eight friends on a Sunday night for a really great supper. I also love Prune. But I'd say my favorite is Chinatown. I love running around for noodles, dumplings, buns..."
On What She Cooks At Home: "I don't have time to cook at home! I guess I most often cook pasta. Something simple with tomatoes and guanciale."
On Toast: "I like toast."
On Her Favorite Salt: "I like Maldon salt from England. I wouldn't use it for, say boiling a potato or anything. It's a good finishing salt with nice crunch. For cooking it's just plain kosher salt."
On Her Formative Burger Experience: "I never liked burgers growing up because, well, English people aren't very good at making burgers. They add raw onions to the meat, which is just not good. Then I had a burger when I was a teenager in Devon, and it was just chopped beef, tomato, and lettuce in a bun, and it was lovely and juicy. That's when I understood what a burger was." [Editor's note: we couldn't agree with you more!]
On Her Favorite Pig-Based Dish: "I'd suppose it's pig shoulder. Pig shoulder just braised in milk, and you throw a lot of lemon zest in there, so the milk curdles up and you end up with these nice chunks of, well, pork-flavored cheese at the end, and the meat gets tender. Delicious."
On Her Olive Oil Of Choice: "Olive oil is one of those things that you add to a dish at the end, and people will ask you 'this is so good, what's the secret?' And it's not really a secret, it's just good olive oil. I use an organic extra-virgin olive oil from Chile."
On Lemon Juice: "I like to finish dishes with fresh lemon juice. It adds a kind of more-ish flavor, as in, you taste it and you want more."