Jersey City, New Jersey
Brianna is a home cook who has traveled the world for her day job. She has combined her love for cooking with inspiration from the different locales and cultures she’s visited. Each place offers more great ideas for recipes.
IN THE KITCHEN WITH BRIANNA ASCHER
Tell us about yourself:
I currently live in Jersey City, NJ with my husband and our two kitties. By day I work from home as an Editor, helping academics publish their research in book form. I’ve traveled all over the world for work but have been strictly at home since 2020 (we all know why). Later in the day or on weekends, I chase the daylight to snap photos of my kitchen creations! I’ve followed a mostly ketogenic/low carb way of eating since March 2018. Most of my meals feature whole foods that are low in carbohydrates without sacrificing flavor. I tend to cook A LOT of meat. I’m enthusiastic about promoting ingredient awareness and embracing cleaner living (at least most of the time). I thoroughly believe that a good bunless burger or a rare steak can make any day better!
How did you get involved in cooking?
Around spring 2018 is when I started taking my physical health more seriously. I stopped buying microwave/processed ready-made meals, cut back on take-out, focused more on whole foods, and basically taught myself along the way. There was a lot of trial and error! I had tried popular meal kits where they send you the ingredients and instructions for how to cook them, took a few cooking classes, and I had an aunt who also taught me some things in the kitchen. All of this provided a nice foundation for me. I grew up battling disordered eating and didn’t have a lot of truly home cooked meals in my home – eating disorder recovery really does feel like a life-long endeavor and making sure that I am informed and paying attention to ingredients puts my mind at ease – I always check nutrition labels, but not necessarily for calories and fat information like I would have done in the past. Now, I focus on added sugars and actual ingredients, looking up what I don’t know and aiming to avoid overly processed products. I discovered that I have a few food sensitivities/allergies that I wasn’t aware of before (like gluten, lemon, and avocado!), so I prioritize ingredients that I know will make me feel my best. Cooking at home makes things much easier on me, and it helps that it’s less expensive than ordering in all the time!
Describe your cooking style:
Mise en place, mise en place, mise en place! That was the first rule of cooking I learned when my husband and I attended our first cooking class. I try to get everything organized, prepped, and measured out before I actually begin the cooking part – I’m a planner, and this helps a great deal with my anxiety, too. The organization allows me stick to a schedule (and helps me avoid burning/overcooking) and it makes it a little easier to follow my aunt’s rule: Clean as you go. Although, I do still tend to end up leaving a messy kitchen for my husband to clean…
How did you learn about grass-fed meats?
I actually talked to a local butcher about the differences between grass-fed/finished vs. grain-fed/finished meats one quiet day shortly after I started purchasing more meat that wasn’t whatever was on sale at the grocery store. I also learned a lot about grass-fed meat when I was in New Zealand for a work trip in 2019 – some of the tastiest meat I’ve ever enjoyed!
What is your favorite recipe featuring grass-fed meat?
My go-to will always be bun-less burgers. There are so many possibilities and topping combinations, and a burger can steal the show or share the stage with another protein.
You’re stranded on a desert island; luckily, you’re stranded with your top 5 ingredients and one must-have kitchen tool:
Assuming help is on the way and I won’t find myself stranded for too long… I absolutely must have a big cast iron pan as my kitchen tool. As for the top 5 ingredients, give me some quality salt, a thick and juicy NY strip steak, deveined shrimp, unsalted butter, and bacon! I’d have to figure out a creative way to cook that bacon and shrimp without tongs…
Best cooking secret/tip/piece of advice you’ve learned:
Other than mise en place and cleaning as you cook, always be sure to taste your food as you go! If you’re planning on having leftovers, be mindful of how much salt you use. It’s always easy to add more salt, but over-salting can ruin a dish!
What’s your favorite quote/song for culinary inspiration (if any)?
“Cooking is about passion, so it may look slightly temperamental in a way that it’s too assertive to the naked eye.” – Gordon Ramsay
“You added so much salt and pepper I can hear the dish singing ‘Push It.’” – Gordon Ramsay
Anything else you want to share?
Don’t worry so much about the presentation of your meals – as long as it tastes good and fuels you, that’s most important!
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