Over the holiday season I had the opportunity to review a few recipe cookbooks from Robert Rose and one of the titles was 125 Best Indoor Grill Recipes.
I’m always curious to read the bios of the authors of any book so I was shocked yet very excited to know that the author, Ilana Simon, is from Winnipeg! Naturally, I HAD to request an interview and here we are! Busy schedules prevented us from getting together in person but we chatted online, so I hope you enjoy getting to know her as much as I did!
1) Ilana, I was pumped to know that you are from Winnipeg! Born and raised?
Yes I was born and raised in Winnipeg and love living here – we are so fortunate to be able to enjoy Manitoba grown vegetables, fresh herbs, honey, wild rice, mushrooms, Lake Winnipeg pickerel and Goldeye…the list goes on! We live in a bountiful province!
2) How did you get into food writing and editing?
I had always been a foodie and passionate about cooking so when I was able to combine this interest with my journalism – I was thrilled! I was a food columnist at the Winnipeg Free Press for 12 years and loved being able to share my enthusiasm for cooking, food and nutrition, and, of course, recipes with my readers.
3) How do you decide what you are going to write about? Do you just stick to what you are passionate about? You clearly love fondues as you’ve written a “bible” (I’d love to come to one of your parties!)
I love to discover new things too so I wouldn’t say I only focus on things I am already passionate about… I am a curious person and like figuring out components of a dish I sampled at a restaurant and replicating it.
I also enjoy developing new recipes and cooking with unusual or new ingredients.
As for fondue…who doesn’t love a fondue party? It’s such a sociable way to entertain and so easy on the hostess! In advance, you can shop, chop, grate and marinate…then when your guests arrive you can enjoy spending time with them around the fondue pot as everyone “cooks” their own dinner! And I might add that, in my experience, fondue creates a special and memorable family dining experience- kids love dipping and dunking bread into a bubbling cheese fondue, meat into a delectable broth or fruit in a decadent chocolate fondue.
4) Indoor grilling is new to our family and I love the flexibility it offers. Do you recommend any particular types of indoor grills? We’ve had a couple in our house that didn’t last long, and I think the biggest factor for our family is the ease of cleaning.
I love the versatility of indoor grilling too- it’s fast, simple, healthy and can be used year-round- important in our climate! As well, the flexibility of an indoor grill is ideal for students away at college, anyone who lives in an apartment or who craves that irresistible bbq taste in the dead of winter!
As for ease of cleaning, indoor grills have come a long way from the earlier versions. I would recommend a contact grill with removable grill plates -most are dishwasher safe now- and variable temperature controls.
6) What are your top 3 items to cook on an indoor grill?
That’s a tough one but I would have to say salmon, chicken breasts and panini sandwiches.
7) Name one food item that folks wouldn’t believe you’ve grilled indoors and what was the outcome?
S’mores! And they turn out fantastic! Way less mess than over a campfire too.
8) What are a few of your own personal favourite recipes from your cookbook 125 Best Indoor Grill Recipes? I’ll be posting my fave at the end of this interview.
That’s also a hard one, but I would point to some family favourites over the years: grilled vegetables, shrimp satay, chicken nuggets.
9) What’s next for your food writing career? New books on the horizon?
I have a few cookbook ideas percolating at the moment…I will definitely keep you posted. Thank you so much for your interest. Enjoy the “thrill of the grill”!
Well great minds must think alike because my favourite recipe from this cookbook is Shrimp Satay! As promised, here’s the recipe, bon appetit!