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Cooks We Love: Elizabeth Stark

We love the blog Brooklyn Supper for its seasonal approach to beautiful, simple food that allows the ingredients to truly shine. Husband and wife team Brian Campbell and Elizabeth Stark make and photograph food that you both want to make and can handle making on any given weeknight (or, some of the slightly more complicated recipes can be saved for a leisurely Sunday). With dishes like Loaded Sweet Potatoes with Tangelos, Avocado and Haloumi; Toasted Millet and Cauliflower Fritters; and Berry Buttermilk Popsicles, cooking seasonally with whole foods and lots of produce often seems even more enticing than eating out. Recently Brian and Elizabeth were featured in a short video on The South of Brooklyn that details their big move from Brooklyn to Charlottesville, VA. Judging from the beautiful and bountiful recipes on their website, they’re settling in just fine.

Website or blog: Brooklyn Supper

Blogging since: 2008

Where you call home: Charlottesville, VA

What’s your earliest cooking memory? Honestly? My older brother teaching me how to “cook” Spaghetti-O’s.

How would you characterize or describe your cooking style today? Seasonal, simple, and from scratch. During the growing season, we source the majority of our ingredients from local producers through our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), the farmer’s market, and our nose-to-tail butcher.

What’s your favorite thing to cook at home? Why? I love the total chaos in the kitchen just before a big, festive meal. And then, sitting down with friends or family to a great feast.

What are three things you have in the pantry at all times? Canned tomatoes because they’re always handy on those nights when you have nothing else planned. A selection of whole grains like farro or quinoa, for salads or easy lunches. And sea salt, because almost everything tastes better with salt.

What’s your “There’s Nothing in the Fridge Dinner”? The one thing you often whip up with very few ingredients or, perhaps, very little inspiration? If I have a lot of fresh vegetables on hand, I’ll throw together a simple pasta or grain dish, one full of greens, tomatoes, and maybe a little cheese. In the winter, hearty shakshouka –– eggs poached in a thick tomato stew –– hits the spot every time.

What are some of your kitchen goals – skills you want to improve on or recipes you want to try or master? I am just terrible with homemade bread. I’ve tried many times, but always seem to come up with dense, dry loaves. One of these days, I’d like to set aside a bit of time to master the yeasted arts.

How has becoming a mother changed your experience as a home cook? Before kids, Brian and I might spend hours making homemade pasta for dinner and then sit down to eat at 10pm. These days, convenience and ease is key. I’ve found that planning our family’s meals ahead of time makes the biggest difference. And while I’ll blog about more complex dishes from time to time, I strive to keep my recipes approachable and simple.

What are some of your favorite cookbooks and/or food blogs? We have a bookshelf filled with cookbooks, but the books I find myself turning to again and again are: The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters, The Big Sur Bakery Cookbook, Cooking in the Moment by Andrea Reusing, Food in Jars by Marisa McClellan, and The Lee Brothers Southern Cookbook.

There are so many wonderful food blogs out there right now; it’s hard to choose favorites! I love The First Mess for Laura’s wonderfully laid-back writing style and her absolutely sumptuous imagery. F for Food, created by a husband and wife team, always serves up gorgeous photos, compelling stories, and really delicious food with a distinctly Southern influence. I also regularly click over to the The Faux Martha, Yummy Supper, Turntable Kitchen, Simple Bites, Autumn Makes and Does, Lottie + Doof, My Name is Yeh, and The Vanilla Bean Blog.

Besides other cookbooks or food blogs, where do you draw inspiration for your cooking? By now it’s almost a cliché, but most of my inspiration comes from visiting the market or our local butcher and seeing what’s in season and really good right now. The most inspired meals start with a really unique ingredient, something fleeting like gooseberries, ramps, or an exotic mushroom; I then head to the kitchen and start experimenting to find the best way to highlight it. Seasonal eating is one thing, but crafting a dish around something that’s only available for a few days a year adds immediacy to my food that I really love.

Where else can we find you? I’m on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. I’m also a regular contributor to the Food channels on Cosmopolitan.com and Babble.com, and an occasional contributor in print to Vegetarian Times.

UP NEXT IN THE SERIES: Cheryl Sternman Rule

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