Name: Philissa Nomathemba Williams
From: Born in Georgetown, Guyana and raised in New York and Washington, DC.
Profession: Fashion designer at Thembe Fashions
Tri-mushroom soup with bok choy and carrots
Gingered tofu with spicy-sweet soy sauce and sesame-ginger kale salad
S n P
Make this first. Kale salad is best when left to marinate in the fridge for up to an hour.
Pull kale from stem and wash thoroughly. Great if you can buy the pre washed and cut; saves a lot of time. Tear up the kale leaves and set aside. Peel garlic, slice and dice into small pieces, chop one or two, depending on your love for garlic and add to kale.
Add Salt, pepper, sesame oil, olive oil, and balsamic all directly onto kale. If you make dressing free style like I do, make this dressing the same way. Just judge by the amount of kale you have. You don’t want to drench it though. Get your hands dirty and massage the kale with all the ingredients. Make sure the dressings gets all over. You may add juice of one lemon as well if you like. Transfer kale to a bowl and refrigerate till your ready to serve.
Tri-mushroom soup wtih bok choy and carrots:
Homemade vegetable broth
3 types of mushrooms of your choice
S n P
Scallions- save some for garnish
Cilantro for garnish
Carrots- added at end
Bok choy- added at end
Korean chili flakes
To make broth add ends of any veggies and/or herbs you have around to water. Your best bet is onions, carrots, celery, you can also use turnips and mushrooms stems and 2-3 bay leaves. I added the ends of my bok choy and cilantro stems. Once your broth has come to a boil, drain broth to remove veggies. Return broth to pot and bring to a boil again. Reduce to half if possible; it will give your broth more flavor. Then add 3-4 cloves of sliced garlic, salt, pepper, scallions, chili flakes; (depends on your spice level), dry parsley and let simmer another 15-20. Once your broth is finished add the button mushroom, then your wild mushrooms and finally the sliced oyster mushrooms. These mushrooms are added about 15 mins before finishing the soup. This is to keep them fresh and only steamed/ warmed through. We don’t want limp mushrooms. Place bok choy leaves in the bowl and then ladle soup over. Next, added raw carrots, a handful of cilantro and pinch of salt on top. If you prefer a little more spice, sprinkle more chili flakes.
The longer it simmers, the more infused the tofu.
2 cm think slabs of hard tofu
Ginger-about a fingers length and 2 fingers wide
In either a deep skillet or medium sauce pan bring water to a simmer with thinly sliced ginger and a pinch of salt. Once the water has simmered for about 10 mins, add the tofu; just covered by the water. Bring the temperature down to a low simmer while prepping and finishing everything else. Let simmer a minimum of 25-35 minutes.
How did you get into cooking?
Well, my mother had started working again and didn’t have time to make dinner anymore, so she told me one day that it was my time to step up. I was a bit intimidated because I never made anything. My job was to set the table and do the dishes sometimes. Making a whole meal was totally new for me. However, after watching my mom cook for so many years, I suppose I hadn’t realized that I knew more than I thought. Making dinner became fun each night. Even tasty.
Where do you get your inspirations for cooking?
I have worked in restaurants for over 15 years. I’ve been everything except the owner by now. I always kept close to the kitchen and got the know the chefs. Working in the front of the house we had to know everything about the food; ingredients were most important, but I also paid attention to the plating. The presentation of the dish was important to me. So now, when I think of a dish or menu I consider the ingredients and the way it will be presented. My dishes must have flavor, color and texture. I look online for recipes and ideas, then make them. I add or subtract things depending on who I am cooking for. The dish must also be complete; meaning balanced.
How was your approach to cooking changed over the years?
Like most Americans I suppose I was a meat and potatoes girl; not literally but meat was an essential part of the meal. It was more about sustenance not really substance. Now I cook for flavor and presentation. My dishes must look appealing. Before you eat it, I want you to feel the need to take a photo first.
How has living in BCN influenced you in the kitchen?
Living in BCN has enabled me to use new and more seasonal ingredients. What is seen as a delicacy ;such as artichokes, in the States here is actually an everyday supermarket item eaten by everyone. This allows me to buy and cook them regularly and experiment. Being next to the Mediterranean also allows for fresher fish which can be pricey in the states as well. I have been able to cook fresher ingredients at a lower cost. Overall, cooking has become more regular for me here and also fun to go to the market and see what I can try next.