Can you describe your culinary roots? My father was Greek and my mother was Chilean -- her grandfather left France to go make wine in Chile. My parents were living in Venezuela when I was born. I grew up with my mother cooking a lot of Chilean and Mediterranean dishes.
How would you describe your personal cooking style? I love food. I can pretty much cook anything in a broad range of styles, but I'm not good with dough. I like to collect recipes and put my own spin on them. I do a lot of Mediterranean and Chilean dishes.
Is there one dish you're especially known for? Chicken and peas, a typical Chilean dish. It's a simple dish, a hearty dish, one of the first my mother taught me to make.
If somebody dropped by unexpectedly, what would you whip up? I would make faro (wheat berries) -- that's my latest kick. I would probably do a faro salad, but I also love it in wine sauce with a steak.
Where do you like to eat out? I love eating off the street. When I travel, I eat off food carts. If I'm going to be in town, typically it's either sushi or French, French being on top of my list. I've only lived in this area a couple of years, so I go to Cassis in Huntington for French, and for sushi I go to Nisen in Commack.
What about takeout? I usually go to the bodegas and get empanadas. My favorite place is a Colombian bakery in Brentwood because I can also get empanadas, chicken and morcilla -- blood sausage. I love that stuff with an arepa.
Pollo Arvejado (Chicken with Peas)
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 chicken leg
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 onion, thinly sliced
1/2 green or red bell pepper, diced
1 carrot, cut into coins
1/4 cup white wine (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
Water or chicken broth, as needed
1 cup frozen peas
1. In a large, heavy saute pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken legs and cook until brown on both sides.
2. Remove chicken from pan and add garlic, onion, bell pepper and carrot. Saute about 7 minutes. Then add wine and deglaze pan, stirring up brown bits. Add salt, pepper, paprika, oregano and bay leaf.
3. Return chicken to pan. Add water or broth to almost cover chicken. Partially cover pan, lower heat to a simmer and cook about 20 minutes.
4. Add frozen peas and simmer an additional 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Add more broth or water if the chicken appears dry. Remove bay leaf. Serve with rice or mashed potatoes. Makes 4 servings.