Edward Wengler works for AIG. He lives in Point Lookout with his wife and two children.
Who taught you how to cook?
I’m self-taught. I always loved to do it. When I was a kid I used to wake up early and make corn muffins for the family. It’s like a construction project for me. I take everything out of the cabinets to put something together. It’s always been a hobby.
How would you describe your cooking style?
I’ll go on a roll. First I’ll learn about Chinese cooking, do a lot of that. Then I’ll do Indian cooking. I like to go to Asian supermarkets, Indian supermarkets. I like to be adventurous. Those markets have great produce, very fresh vegetables, and they are cheaper, too. But I also love to cook my grandmother’s recipes, her babka, her bread-and-butter pickles, her sauerbraten. Those recipes are probably 100 years old.
What else do you like to cook?
I get my clam license for $8, kayak across Reynolds channel and go clamming, fill up a bucket, and kayak back and make a Rhode Island clam chowder.
Any favorite markets?
I love going to Two Cousins Fish Market in Freeport. You can buy the whole fish, and then you go in the back and they clean it for you. I go to Patel Brothers in Hicksville for daal, spices. You can get a tremendous amount of spices for next to nothing. Cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cinnamon. H & Y Marketplace, which is Korean, has pickled ginger, fish products, udon noodles, miso. I never cooked with miso before and then one day at a yard sale I bought a beautiful illustrated book on cooking with miso for 25 cents, and then I learned how to cook with it. You buy a container of it and it last for years. I’ll search those markets just so I can get something different. I have 10 different kinds of rice wine vinegars in the house.
Where did this dish come from?
It was pure accident. There was a dish we made a lot. It was called Monastery Lentils and it called for sherry. My wife was making it one day and when she went into the cabinet there was no sherry, so she used peach schnapps. I thought, this is going to be a diaster. But it was delicious. It’s great when it’s cold, because the peach schnapps infuses the tomatoes.
Do your kids like your food?
They’re a little picky. Embarrassingly so. But my friends appreciate it. We have a few friends who love to cook and eat. We have them in the backyard and everyone brings their A game, something special. It’s a party.
1/4 cup olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
One 16-ounce can chopped tomatoes, with juice
1 bunch Italian parsley, chopped
3 cups low-sodium canned chicken broth or vegetable
1 cup brown lentils
1/4 cup peach schnapps or more to taste
Ground black pepper
1. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and carrot and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes.
2. Add the tomatoes, parsley, chicken or vegetable broth, and lentils. Bring to a simmer and cook, covered, until tender, about 45 minutes.
3. Add the peach schnapps. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve warm or at room temperature. Or cover, refrigerate, and serve cold. Makes 4 side-dish servings