La Cocina showcases women we admire and their kitchens. Part photo essay, part interview, all admiration.
Here is our new episode of La Cocina, a conversation with Teresa Johnson.
Please describe your kitchen.
I feel like I’ve changed kitchens 100 times within the past year… but the look and feel somehow always remains. It’s like a narrow hug, where I hope to cultivate lots of laughing and eating. There’s room for many. But for cooks- I’d say 2-3.
There’s lots of plants and small bowls filled with kosher salt and lavender, always. Books overflow my shelves and take up space on my counters, waiting for their time to be chosen in moments of spontaneous inspiration. There’s also always noise- either from music, or from a podcast.
What’s your style of cooking? Do you taste as you go?
My style of cooking is usually done with music, and it depends on what I’m inspired by. I oddly don’t taste as I go? I sort of just go with the flow, and taste test afterwards to see what else it needs.
Do you like snacking/drinking while cooking?
Depending on the occasion, and how hungry I am- I’m usually always a snack as I go type of gal. I’ll have a different meal waiting for me while I cook the current meal. Wine usually makes an appearance if I’m feeling cozy, and my meal doesn’t involve too much focus. I can get a little distracted if alcohol is involved. Which isn’t always a bad thing! Again- just depends on the occasion.
We all have our tried and true meals. What is your...
“I can’t be bothered” meal?
CEREAL. Cereal is THAT bitch. And I can’t stress it enough. She’s everything and more.
“I want to feel comfy” meal?
Thick veggie and cream based soups with bread.
Anything with avocado, salmon, beans, potatoes, or eggs.
Favorite take out meal?
Currently, schnitzel or falafel on a baguette with pickled onions, cabbage, baba ganoush, lettuce, tomato with a side of fries (or fries inside, omg) from Egg & Bench / Aloo Gobi, samosas, mango lassi, naan and curry from Pearl Indian / A cheese burger from 5 Guys with a cold beer.
What is your all-time favorite meal, where did you eat it, and with whom?
My all time favorite meal would have to be Malaysian curry in Chinatown with an ex friend from college, circa 2016-2019. It was a pop-up called Asian Spicy Curry at Mama Eatery on Mulberry that is now temporarily closed due to COVID.
THE best curry I’ve ever had. We would go on cold, rainy days, and order the same thing: A big bowl of Curry Mixed Veggie Noodle Soup with Ho Fun noodles, full of puffed tofu, tomatoes, eggplant, and string beans for only $7, a side of scallion pancakes and passion fruit green tea with boba.
I would go alone, and sit and talk with the kind waitress who worked there at the time. She’s the same age as my mother, and has a daughter who is my age. We’d talk and talk, and she’d give me advice on life, boys, and food. It was special.
Whose cooking makes you feel the coziest and most cared for?
My partner Yuri and my friends. Everyone has their own cooking style, of course, but my friendships and partnerships are like family to me. I really feel the love through their food.
MADRE’s tagline is We all eat. We all rest. We’ve asked a lot about eating, so how do you build rest into your day/week/month?
Making time for myself to be alone with my thoughts. That’s really important for me. I need at least 2 hours of time for myself every day, if I can. Time for hobbies, walking, discovering something new. Listening to music, playing music, or watching my favorite movie. I need it. If not, I feel like a mad woman.
Teresa’s Baked Salmon
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit even though it’s already 100 degrees inside with all the windows open in your 4 story Brooklyn walk up with no AC on the hottest day in July.
Sweat through your shirt and make small talk with your friends as you frantically/nervously dice onions and brussels sprouts.
Sauté your onions in olive oil within a medium sized pan, deep dish preferred, until brown.
Add your Brussels to the pan and close the lid. Stir often but allow to brown. Add spices and herbs.
Boil small to medium potatoes in a pot of water until soft. Add lots of salt and bay leaves.
Take your filet of salmon and give a quick rinse before placing it on a bed of aluminum foil and pan sheet. Dress with lemon, herbs, olive oil, and salt and pepper.
Allow to cook for 20 minutes or until the inside of the fish is fully cooked. Nothing’s worse than overcooked salmon.
Have your partner prepare the garden salad by carefully chopping two healthy tomatoes, one onion, and 2 cucumbers with fresh dill, salt and pepper, and a bit of vinegar with olive oil.
Once everything has finished cooking, prepare your plates and add slices of sourdough.
To find more about Teresa:
Photographs by Naz Sahin