Interview: Maria Cornejo

I've been a fan of Carol Han's blog Milk & Mode for a while now.  She has found the intersection of fashion and food--what could be better?  I'm also a big fan of Maria Cornejo.  So when I came across this article on Bon Appetit, I got excited.  I was fortunate to work with Maria at a storytelling workshop led by one of my clients Karen Harvey.  After spending two days together in the workshop, I came away inspired by Maria's natural ease and her incredible design talent.  In my eyes, she embodies the word goddess and this interview only affirms my feelings.

 

Kitchen Couture: Designer Maria Cornejo's Ceviche

By Carol Han

A few days ago, Chilean-born fashion designer Maria Cornejo had the best meal of her life: homemade gnocchi, made by her husband, photographer Mark Borthwick, and served with fresh basil pesto and lasagna with bacon and vegetables. They ate by candlelight in the garden of their Brooklyn brownstone. And she was wearing (we had to ask) the Long Sarah Dress in Tribal linen from her spring/summer collection.

To us, the dinner sounds just as sophisticated and lovely as her garments. An award-winning designer who counts Tilda Swinton, Cindy Sherman, and Michelle Obama among her customers, Cornejo makes clothes for the thinking woman--simple lines that curve and swoop along the body, and prints that hold attention.

Here she takes a quick pause from fashion week prep to talk food and cooking, which she happens to love, and shares a ceviche recipe she learned to make while growing up in Chile.

What's your go-to snack after a long day of fittings? Roasted seaweed

What do you eat to celebrate a new line? Tacos and margaritas

How often do you cook? My husband Mark Borthwick does most of the cooking at our house. I usually cook when he is traveling or for our picky teenage son, Joey.

What are a few of your favorite restaurants? 5 Burros in Queens for fish tacos; Il Buco and Frankies 457 for fresh, quality Italian; Hibino in Cobble Hill for sushi.What is your favorite city and can you tell us what your top 5 favorite places are in that city? Los Angeles: Animal Restaurant, Lucques, MOCA, Getty Museum, The Botanical Gardens at the Huntington LibraryWhat are your top three tips for entertaining? Cook with togetherness and with love, candles set the ambience, and make sure you are able to enjoy the time with your guests.What is the one kitchen accessory or tool you couldn't live without? A blenderWhere are some of your go-to tableware items and where did you buy them? Our wooden serving spoons we collect from world travels and Lebanese Silverware from Liwan in Paris.Maria Cornejo's Ceviche

INGREDIENTS 1 1/4 pounds fresh red snapper (or similar firm white fish), rinsed, patted dry, and cut into 1-inch cubes Juice of 15 limes (enough to cover the fish) 1 red onion, thinly sliced lengthwise 1 garlic clove, minced 1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped 3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped Salt and pepper

PROCEDURE In a large bowl, combine fish chunks, red onion, garlic, jalapeno, cilantro, and salt and pepper. Cover with lime juice. Refrigerate and let marinate for 3 hours. Serve chilled.

Moment: Last Night's Dinner

Last night we took inspiration from this month's Food and Wine feature and whipped up this delicious dish while listening to Lykke Li and enjoying how good it feels to be home after our adventures in Berlin and San Francisco. We declared it one of the best meals we've ever made.  The addition of the fresh limes at the end brighten the whole dish up and are a perfect contrast to the earthiness of the kale and beet greens.   Enjoy. dtdinner300

Red Rice with Sliced Sirloin Steak and Peas

1/2 cup red rice (see Note) 3 tablespoons vegetable oil 2 garlic cloves, minced 6 ounces thinly sliced sirloin steak 1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced 1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger 4 cups thinly sliced mixed dark leafy greens such as beet greens and kale 1 cup fresh or thawed frozen peas 3 tablespoons soy sauce 1/4 cup chopped cilantro Lime wedges, for serving

1. In a small saucepan, cover the rice with the water and bring to a boil. Cover the saucepan and cook over low heat for about 25 minutes, until the rice is tender and the water is absorbed. Spread the rice out on a baking sheet and let cool.

2. In a skillet or wok, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil until shimmering. Add the garlic and cook over moderately high heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the sirloin, season with salt and cook, turning once, until browned, 1 minute; transfer to a plate.

3. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in the skillet. Add the onion and ginger and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 6 minutes. Stir in the greens and stir-fry over high heat until wilted, about 1 minute. Stir in the rice and peas, then the soy sauce and steak and stir well. Season with salt and white pepper and transfer to a bowl. Garnish with the cilantro and serve with lime wedges.

Make Ahead

The red rice can be prepared through Step 1 and refrigerated, covered, for up to 2 days. Bring the cooked rice to room temperature before proceeding.

Notes

There are many varieties of red rice; Yu prefers Thai red cargo, which can be found at Asian markets and at Whole Foods.