Tarrytown resident Todd A. Stankiewicz, a financial advisor, is into seasonal cooking and creating dishes based on whatever ingredients are freshest. His favorite cooking companion is his Goldendoodle Bailey.
Started cooking seriously: About six years ago, when he met his wife. “We started making meals as something fun to do together and save money.” His quality-control sous chef: Bailey, his two-year-old Goldendoodle. Bailey’s favorite foods: Brown rice, boiled chicken, sweet potatoes, Greek yogurt, and pumpkin. Signature cuisine: Seasonal cooking. “I gear my meals to what is fresh in the stores and markets at that time.” Favorite seasonal dishes: For fall, apple dishes like apple-stuffed chicken, apple dumplings, apple-stuffed grilled cheese, and apple crêpes, plus his award-winning pork-and-pumpkin chili. For winter, meatballs and gravy. For spring and summer, Cajun salmon with tropical salsa and fried plantains. Go-to meal: Crispy pecan chicken with honey-mustard gravy and a side of homemade mashed potatoes. Most unusual dish: His award-winning pork-and-pumpkin chili. “These are flavors one would not expect to go together.” Most unusual ingredient: Pumpkin—in pancakes, chili, fondue, cream sauces, and even low-fat chocolate cupcakes. “It adds subtle flavor, moisture, and a load of healthy nutrients in a low-calorie package.” Signature breakfast: Homemade crêpes with different fillings, like homemade fruit sauces, fresh fruit, chocolates, meats, etc. Easiest dish to master: Pasta with homemade pesto sauce. “As long as you have a basic food processor, pesto sauce is fairly basic to make and tastes much better than store-bought.” Two can’t-live-without ingredients: “Good olive oil and good wine for cooking—and drinking—are essential to so many dishes and sauces.” Three essential spices: Sea salt, cumin, and nutmeg. Biggest cooking fiasco: Happened in culinary arts during high school. “We were making elephant-ear cookies and used baking soda instead of baking powder. The cookies tasted like salty sand and the jelly turned green. I still remember that you need an acid when using baking soda. I always triple-check now!” Fun fact: Stankiewicz tweets about great food, wine, and beer @T_Stank62.
Most food-splattered cookbook: Joy of Cooking. “It’s the chef’s Bible.” Most-visited website: epicurious.com. Cooking idol: Bobby Flay. “I enjoy cooking on the grill and he’s the master.”
Local Shopping & Dining Guide
Preferred markets: Whole Foods, especially for sausages and cheese, and Stew Leonard’s in Yonkers. Best farmers’ market: Tarrytown. Fave beer distributor: “Portchester Beer Distributors lets you mix and match six-packs.” Favorite local brewery: Captain Lawrence in Elmsford “to try beers not even in production.” Special-occasion restaurant: Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Fave everyday restaurants: Birdsall House in Peekskill, Bridge View Tavern in Tarrytown, and Moderne Barn in Armonk.
For Stankiewicz’s recipe for Cajun salmon with tropical salsa and baked plantains, please go to westchestermagazine.com/webexclusives.
Our Chefs’ Top Tips for Newbie Cooks
“Use fresh herbs and spices when possible. It is fairly easy and inexpensive to grow your own potted herb garden and the potency of the flavors is unmistakable—you will taste the difference. Consider basil, thyme, mint, tarragon, rosemary, and parsley.”
Gina M. Larson-Stoller, Cortlandt Manor
Brian Murdock, Mohegan Lake
Wendy Pregiato, Eastchester
Elly Kelly, Tarrytown
Susan C. Beer, Bedford/Pound Ridge
Lisa Ocasio, Cortlandt Manor
Mike Zollner, Port Chester
Tips, Hints & Ideas