Warm weather has arrived, cueing al fresco dinners with farmers’ market-inspired spreads, summer-approved cocktails, and the best of company. The seasonal timing is perfect for introducing our next guest, Alexis deBoschnek, author of the conscious cookbook, To the Last Bite. We sit down with Alexis and chat about her approach to conscious cooking and reducing waste (think no-scrap left-behind!) with incredibly satisfying ingredients and techniques you’ll savor long beyond the season.
Read on to get to know Alexis along with her summer entertaining tips and a crowd-pleasing salad that uses up an entire head of celery (you know, the one that’s just sitting in your crisper begging to be eaten!).
Without further ado, the incredibly talented, Alexis deBoschnek!
We’re getting right to it! You just came out with your first book, To the Last Bite!! Tell us all about it!
I’ve been working on To the Last Bite for over two and a half years, and it’s so surreal to see it finally out in the world. The book is all about how to make the most of your ingredients while encouraging readers to think and cook more consciously, cutting down on food waste in the process. It’s definitely not a zero-waste cookbook, but I’ve formatted it to be like one of those Choose Your Own Adventure books where every recipe connects to another one in order to inspire you to use up all of an ingredient. In many cases, that means you have multiple options for ways to use up a bunch of parsley, a container of sour cream, or a tin of anchovies. The book was photographed at my family farm in the Catskills by Nicole Franzen and styled by my best friend Rebekah Peppler.
What inspired the book?
There’s been a real shift the last few years in our collective attitude towards how to be more sustainable. While there’s real enthusiasm, I find that often people don’t know where to start. Growing up in the Catskills we really embodied this whole circle-of-life lifestyle: we had chickens which laid eggs that we ate. The egg shells would go into the compost. The compost would get turned into our garden where we grew vegetables in the summertime, and so on. I felt like I was in a unique position to share this way of life in a way that was a bit more accessible and attainable, with recipes people could actually get excited about, while being more conscious along the way..
What’s the first recipe we should make from To the Last Bite?
Short answer: all of them. The long answer is that I love and make so many of these recipes on a weekly basis that it’s really hard to choose just one. One of my all-time favorite recipes is the Tomato Galette (the cover girl!) and if tomatoes are ripe in your area, it’s a real show-stopper. For something with lower lift, try the Carrot Ribbon Salad
The Celery Salad with Walnuts and Pecorino, sounds so refreshing. Tell us more!
Who hasn’t had a bunch of celery go bad in their crisper more than once? I wanted to develop a recipe that used up a ton of celery in a way that felt new and exciting. I love that this recipe comes together in minutes using just a handful of pantry staples. It’s crunchy, creamy, cheesy, and incredibly satisfying. Maybe this is the first recipe you should make?
What are your hosting tips for Summer?
I’m all about leaning on dishes that can be prepped and made ahead so that by the time your friends show up you can spend your night with them rather than in a hot kitchen!
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received, either professionally or personally?
Kindness will take you far. Oh, and don’t read the comments.
What keeps your hustle going every day? What motivates you?
I don’t know if I should admit this, but I’ve never really had a life plan. I’ve just said yes to opportunities that sound fun and exciting, and somehow ended up in this position. I genuinely can’t wait to see what’s on the horizon.
After the pandemic hit – you packed up your bags, left LA, and headed back to the Catskill Mountains. What drew you away, and how has life changed since moving upstate?
I grew up in the Catskills and left when I was 17. I lived in New York City for 7 years, and Los Angeles for 7 years. When the pandemic hit, my partner, Ryan, and I thought it might be an adventure to spend the winter in the Catskills (I know that sounds crazy, but we like to ski!). It turned out to be a real homecoming for me, and we loved it so much that after 6 months we decided to stay. Since moving there my life has really done a 180˚. I feel so much more at peace and more grounded. I have an amazing community, I spend most of my time outside, and I just feel better overall.
What do you wish you had known 5 years ago?
Almost 5 years ago to the day I had just started a new job that ended up changing the trajectory of my career. I felt so lost at the time, and I wish I had really trusted in the ebbs and flows of life, because it all eventually works out one way or another.
Five things you can’t live without right now?
What’s next for Alexis deBoschnek!
If I have my way, a second cookbook! But in the meantime, I’ll be working on my newsletter Side Dish and basking in the joy that is summer in the Catskills.
1/4 cup raw walnuts
1 egg yolk
4 garlic cloves, grated
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup good olive oil
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar 1 bunch celery stalks, sliced into 1⁄8-inch slices on the bias, leaves reserved
2 ounces pecorino, thinly sliced
Heat a small pan over medium-high heat. Add the walnuts and toast, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer the walnuts to a plate to cool to room temperature. Once cooled, roughly chop and reserve for later.
In a glass measuring cup or small bowl, whisk the egg yolk, garlic, Dijon, salt, and pepper, until smooth. While whisking, drizzle in the olive oil until emulsified. Add the vinegar and whisk to combine. Taste to adjust seasonings. The dressing can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
On a plate, scatter the celery slices and leaves. Pour over the dressing, top with the pecorino and walnuts and serve immediately.