Food Editor Christine Gardner, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu and Texas A&M University, recently released a cookbook, “Favorite FLAVOR,” featuring more than 125 recipes and 100 color photos of the best and most-talked about recipes she’s created for the Tyler Morning Telegragh’s Flavor section.
Here, she discusses what inspired her and how she chose the recipes included.
Q: What inspired you to write “Favorite FLAVOR”?
A: The title was inspired by the name of the food section — Flavor. And since it’s a collection of my best recipes from the section since I became food editor, it had to represent all of the favorites.
I had been planning this book for some time, and as the list of favorites grew, I knew it was going to be difficult to narrow down the best of the best.
I’ve written hundreds of recipes for the newspaper, cooking classes and the FRESH Ideas cooking segments that air on CBS19, but the book contains all of the ones that have received the best feedback from readers and tasters.
Equally important are the photos. I know we eat with our eyes before we eat with our mouths, and many people won’t buy a cookbook that doesn’t have a photo with nearly every recipe. Taking the recipe photos every week is one of my favorite things about being food editor.
Q: Who is the cookbook for? Beginners? Or do you have to be an experienced hand in the kitchen to make the recipes work?
A: I think it hits all levels of expertise. The recipes are written with very clear instructions and designed to create great tasting food that would appeal to any type of palate.
When I read a recipe, I tend to skip the ones that have a long list of ingredients and endless instructions. If I put an ingredient in a recipe, I examine what it does for the recipe and what purpose it serves in building flavor.
I try to write recipes that will hit a broad spectrum of people, from beginners to advanced. As long as the flavor shines through, the recipe is a success for anyone that tries it.
Q: What was the best part of writing this cookbook for you?
A: I love seeing everything together in such a beautiful presentation. I wanted the book to have a very professional look that could rival the quality of other popular cookbooks that it would sit next to it on the shelf.
It also perfectly reflects the comfortable and fun attitude for food, cooking and eating that I try to display each week in the Flavor section.
For me, food is about fun times with family and friends, and there’s no reason for food to be boring. There’s a lot of versatility with the recipes in the book and they can be mixed and matched in many ways.
For example, I recently made one of the Asian sauces in the appetizer chapter, but instead of using it as the recipe is written, I poured it over meatballs and cooked it all in the Crockpot. It was easy, delicious and something that could be done for a party or a simple weeknight dinner.
Recipes should be a guide, not a rule, and the kitchen is a great place to be creative. Food and flavor really keep me inspired.
Q: What are some of your favorite recipes included in this book? What were the most requested?
A: One of my favorites and also the one people ask for the most is the San Marzano Marinara. I’ve been perfecting it for many years, and I don’t think it can get any better. And so many other people love to make it, too.
It’s hard to pick a favorite, because each recipe that made it into the book had to be one that I really love or it wouldn’t be there.
Q: What kind of response have you been getting from people who have purchased one at a book signing?
A: People have been very excited and purchasing multiple copies — one to keep and others to give as gifts. They are thrilled at how visual the book is and how beautiful all the food looks. They are also excited and proud that it represents Tyler in such a nice way. You know how Tylerites are when it comes to East Texas pride.