Naomi Garfinkel, co-owner of Pet Sitters Club, lives in Great Neck with her husband and daughter.
When did you become interested in cooking?
My mom always had homemade meals every night when I was a kid, so that's where it started. When I lived in Manhattan before I was married, I washed dishes at Peter Kump's cooking school to earn credits to take classes. Since then, I've continued to cook, experimenting on my husband and daughter.
How would you describe your style?
When I had my daughter, I knew I wanted to have the same family meals around the table that I had growing up. With work, I need to keep it simple so I could cook every night. But at the same time, I like to try new ingredients and spices, find something that interests me when I read the recipe, test it out on my husband and daughter, and use it for guests if they like it a lot. I think that if you really love to cook, just think about the flavors you like and experiment on your family. Have fun and it will really show in the food when you make it.
Where do you get your ideas?
From all over. Online, I'll be reading articles. I really enjoy picking up cooking magazines and perusing them. One I really like is Clean Eating. It's got simple recipes and all-natural ingredients. I don't really cook a lot of red meat. I do a lot of chicken and fish.
What's the genesis of this recipe?
We all like chicken cutlets and I wanted something that was grilled and clean. I never really cooked with tarragon, so I bought a bunch. I decided to experiment. I originally used olive oil for grilling, but I switched to avocado oil for health reasons.
Any tips for success?
I'm really about not spending a lot of time on prep. I have 20 to 30 minutes to make dinner. I use a mini food processor to chop the tarragon and garlic. We live in an apartment, so I can't just go outside and barbecue. I bought this amazing flat-top grill pan that goes over two burners so I can cook a lot of chicken at once. I use very thin-cut chicken because it cooks quickly so it doesn't give it time to smoke and burn. Leftovers are great. To reheat them, I place the cutlets in a steamer basket over water for a few minutes. Never use the microwave, which will dry out the chicken and make it rubbery.
What are Persian cucumbers? What are Campari tomatoes? Are there any substitutes?
Persian cucumbers are the size of Kirbys but thinner and have no seeds. You can use English cucumber or Kirbys, which have a nice, sweet flavor. I don't like the regular cucumbers, the waxy kind. Campari tomatoes are the ones on the vine. I used to use grape tomatoes but the flavor of Campari tomatoes is much better.
NAOMI'S GRILLED GARLIC TARRAGON CHICKEN WITH MEDITERRANEAN SALAD
For the chicken:
2 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
1 to 2 tablespoons avocado oil plus more for grilling
1 to 2 pounds thin-cut chicken cutlets
For the salad:
4 Campari tomatoes cut into eighths (bite size)
2 to 3 peeled Persian/Israeli cucumbers cut into quarters
1 to 2 slices good Greek or Israeli feta cheese, diced
Extra-virgin olive oil
1. Combine the tarragon, garlic, salt and avocado oil in a large zipper-lock bag. Add the chicken. Massage the chicken in the bag to evenly coat. Refrigerate for 15 minutes to 6 hours. (If you are in a hurry, you don't have to marinate the chicken, just coat and grill.)
2. Drizzle a little avocado oil onto a flat double grill pan and wipe off the excess with a paper towel. Heat over high. Place the chicken on the pan and cook until golden brown on the outside and cooked through. Alternatively, heat a gas grill to medium-high and grill until cooked through. Cooking time is quick, but will vary based on the thickness of the cutlets. Transfer to a platter and cover to keep warm.
3. Make the salad: Toss the tomatoes, cucumbers and cheese in a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt to taste. Arrange on a platter alongside the chicken and serve. Makes 3 to 6 servings.