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Who's Cooking: Andrea Ziomek, Sound Beach

Andrea Ziomek of Sound Beach presents a platter

Andrea Ziomek of Sound Beach presents a platter of her roasted pear salad at a barbecue at her home on Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014. Credit: Kristy Leibowitz

ANDREA ZIOMEK

Andrea Ziomek, a corporate communications manager for a German engineering firm, lives in Sound Beach with her daughter, Katrina, a college student.

How did you end up on Long Island?

I grew up in Germany and left at 18 and moved to England to improve my English. I was going to be an interpreter. One rainy day, I found an International Herald Tribune on a back street of London and saw an ad for a job as a nanny in Port Jefferson. Back then, I was an impulsive traveler. I was 20 when I came to Long Island.

What was your culinary background growing up in Germany?

I always loved food. I spent a lot of time with my grandmother. She was a refugee from what is now Poland and cooked with a lot of Polish influence. I grew up in a very international household. My dad's side is German, one of my uncles married an Italian lady, my stepmother is from the former Yugoslavia and my stepfather is from Italy. My brother married a Chinese lady and lives in China. So I like to cook everything.

How do you describe your cooking style?

I'll take a German dish and Americanize or Italianize it. I just play around with fusing flavors and ingredients.

Who is your audience?

I entertain friends and family a lot. If I'm having a barbecue and bonfire, I'll do German bratwurst that I parboil in beer before grilling, serving it with pretzel rolls and homemade curry ketchup. I'll do a German potato salad and also burgers with sauteed bacon, mushrooms and onions. And homemade mac and cheese. Then two of my favorite salads, a Southwest shrimp salad and my all-time favorite: mixed greens with roasted shallots and pears, crumbled blue cheese and toasted pecans. I make a vinaigrette with honey, rosemary and fresh ginger.

If you could invite anyone to your table, who would you ask and what would you make?

I would invite Ina Garten (TV cooking personality). She cooks the way I cook. She is not a chef but uses really good ingredients and understands how flavors work together. I would make her my hybrid rouladen. I got the idea of using braciole and, instead of bacon and onions, put in a meat loaf mixture and roll it up.


ROASTED PEAR SALAD

For dressing:

¼ cup honey

3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary (1 large sprig)

½ cup good quality olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

For salad:

6 Bosc or Anjou pears, cored and cut into ¼-inch slices

10 shallots, peeled and cut into ¼-inch wedges

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ cup chopped pecans, toasted

6 to 8 cups mixed salad greens

½ cup crumbled Roquefort or Danish blue cheese

1. To make dressing, whisk together honey, rice vinegar, grated ginger and rosemary. Gradually whisk in olive oil, until emulsified. Add salt and pepper to taste. Dressing may be made in advance and stored in refrigerator; bring to room temperature and whisk well before serving.

2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

3. Toss pears and shallots with olive oil and place on parchment-lined baking sheet in single layer. Roast in preheated oven for about 25 minutes, or until tender, turning once. Set aside.

4. In dry frying pan, over medium heat, toast pecans, tossing so they don't burn, for around 2 to 3 minutes, or until fragrant. Remove from heat and set aside.

5. Place greens in large salad bowl. Top with roasted pear-shallot mixture, toasted pecans and crumbled cheese.

6. Drizzle dressing over salad. Makes about 10 servings.