Who's Cooking: Nina Bennett, Syosset

Nina Bennett of Syosset with her pecan crusted

Nina Bennett of Syosset with her pecan crusted salmon. She says she’d love to make Bob Dylan her casserole surprise. Photo Credit: Newsday / Daniel Rader

advertisement | advertise on newsday

NINA BENNETT

A retired elementary and middle school teacher, Nina Bennett lives in Syosset with her husband, Holland, an engineer. They have two grown sons, Jonathan and Matthew, and two grandchildren.

Who inspired you to cook?

My mother. She was widowed at a very young age and believed the way to everyone's heart was through a meal. She could throw together an informal dinner party at the very last minute without giving it a thought. One of the first gifts she ever gave me was a cookbook called "Cook, My Darling Daughter." I don't remember the author, but the pages were frayed and there were notes in the margins. She had a heart full of love and her cooking was magical.

You're known for your use of leftovers. What are some of your best creations?

I make a fabulous chicken or turkey potpie. I use turkey or chicken I'd made the day before. I'm not a fancy cook; I just use a lot of good seasoning and vegetables and hold it all together with a can of cream of mushroom soup. I buy a frozen piecrust. If I don't have a piecrust, I'll throw everything in with noodles or pasta, sprinkle it with seasoned bread crumbs and bake it. My "casserole surprise" is great for a last-minute dinner party with salad.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

What about from-scratch cooking?

One dish I love to make is fresh fish with a pecan-crust topping made with panko bread crumbs and a little garlic. I like to serve it with thinly sliced zucchini sauteed in a little olive oil, with a pinch of kosher salt and some toasted sesame seeds, a pressed garlic clove and a sprinkle of water. It cooks in a covered frying pan in about three minutes.

If you could invite anybody in the world for dinner, who would you ask and what would you make?

I'm a child of the '60s, so I would invite Bob Dylan and make him my casserole surprise. He's gotten older and may not be able to sing, but he can probably still eat.

Where do you like to go when you eat out?

Subscribe to our newsletter for restaurant recommendations, recipes and more.

We love Haiku in Woodbury for sushi, Ben's in Woodbury for my kosher pastrami sandwich and Joanina in Huntington for special celebrations. You leave there a pound heavier -- and carrying a rose.


PECAN-CRUSTED SALMON

½ cup panko bread crumbs

½ cup finely chopped pecans

1 to 2 teaspoons butter

advertisement | advertise on newsday

1 to 2 cloves garlic, pressed

Pinch of kosher salt

1 pound salmon fillet, skinned and cut in half

 

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

2. Mix together panko and chopped pecans in small bowl.

3. Over medium heat, melt butter in frying pan. Add garlic and panko-pecan mixture. Stir until mixture is lightly browned and moist. Add salt and mix in.

4. Place salmon fillet on parchment-lined baking sheet. Spoon panko mixture on top of fillets, pressing gently so it adheres to the fish.

5. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until lightly browned. Makes 2 servings.

Subscribe to the Feed Me Newsletter for the latest restaurant news, recipes and recommendations.

Comments

Newsday.com now uses Facebook for our comment boards. Please read our guidelines and connect your Facebook account to comment.

You also may be interested in: