About a month ago, the wonderful people at Arnold Bread gave me the opportunity to interview Claire Robinson, host of Food Network’s 5 Ingredient Fix. Claire was so genuine over the phone and I had a great time chatting with her about no-fuss food, slimming down time in the kitchen, her favorite foodie ideas, restaurant recommendations and recipes with one of my favorite products – Sandwich Thins! I’ve talked about them a few times on the blog before. 😉
Below is the result of my interview as well as my favorite recipe she mentioned. Hope you enjoy!
Thanks for taking time to chat! First off, I’ve read that you’re the expert in no-fuss food and trimming time in the kitchen. What are your secrets to being successful with both?
It all boils down to ingredients. I understand busy – hosting a show and writing books keeps my schedule very full! So when I use fewer ingredients and choose them well, it’s much easier to put things together quickly and not have to go shopping for a bunch of different products.
When you have the time, of course, you can use longer recipes. I’m a trained chef and I love cooking. But when I use fewer ingredients I can actually taste everything that I’m eating. I also hate walking into a grocery store – I get distracted and by the time I get home I’m so tired!
How do you go about creating new recipes?
Because I like to make recipes with a short list of ingredients, I don’t work backwards and say, “I’m going to make a chili, so how do I make it with five foods?” Instead I find one ingredient to start with and spread out from there. We all love the idea of going to the farmer’s market. I love seeing what’s growing locally at the moment and get inspiration there. In reality, I don’t have a lot of time so I can find a few key ingredients at the farmer’s market and then go to the grocery store and get everything else I need. What’s piled in front of the store is usually what’s most in season and is usually what’s on sale, too. From there, you have to buy a few prepackaged ingredients to keep in the house. They will make your life easier! Get yourself a good olive oil, balsamic vinegar and fresh herbs.
What brought you to work with the Arnold Bread team?
I keep Sandwich Thins in the house because they are versatile and I can recognize what’s in them. I wrote the recipes – little pizzas, bruschetta, breakfast sandwiches, etc. But the funny thing is that, after I worked with them to give them recipes, they were still in my house and I just kept buying them and I started making them personally for me. One of my favorites is a chicken sandwich, but you can also make historically less good-for-you sandwiches like Reubens, Philly cheesesteaks and hot wings healthy versions that are more nutritionally valuable for your body and life.
We created a buffalo chicken burger that is amazing, with fat-free Greek yogurt, blue cheese spread and watercress. I love creating the things you love already. I make egg white frittata sandwiches after going on a run. The Sandwich Thins have so many uses because they’re thin and they cook evenly. They don’t use fake sugars, either. They use agave nectar.
Tell me a bit about your experience on 5 Ingredient Fix.
It’s been incredible. Every day I wake up feeling like I’m the luckiest person in the world. I get to do what I love most and teach people, and I’m around some of the most incredible people I’ve ever met. Every day it’s a fairy tale – to be honest, I didn’t expect the reality to be as great as it is. But even with 3 hours of sleep I wake up with a smile on the face.
What has been one of your favorite moments since joining the team at Food Network?
Looking back, what stands out to me is that I’ve been with the network for two years and now you start to feel like you’re part of a family. I remember certain moments – the first time I was in a room with a bunch of incredible chefs and they looked at me as their fellow colleague. The first time someone asked me a question about food and I realized I had worked so hard that I had never stopped to appreciate that I myself had become an authority in a field that I loved and admired.
I see you live in New York City. Any food experiences you’d recommend there?
Kee’s on Thompson Street in Soho has the best chocolate ever! Order the crème brulee chocolate and tell her I sent you. They run out all the time!
Shake Shack, but you have to go to the one in Madison Square Park! It has killer burgers and shakes right in the middle of city with gorgeous old architecture. It’s quintessential New York. And definitely grab a pork bun at Milk Bar. It’s run by David Chang of the Momofuku empire. I also recommend grabbing an ice cream to go – they have a lot of fun flavors like SweetTarts and salted caramel.
Aside from your passion for food, I read that you also enjoy a lot of – in my opinion – daring sports! Can you tell us more about skydiving, boxing and slalom water skiing?
I’m an athlete because I love to eat – I have to make sure I’ve got the fuel that I need. But I want it to taste good. I will always love food because it’s my biggest passion. I see sports I do – like open water diving – as seeking out adventure, which is a lot like seeking out flavor in food. I strive to feel like I’m living all the time. Cooking does the same for me through seeking out flavors and ingredients. It’s a lot of work but once you do it, you are conquering your fears and exploring new things. And it always keeps things interesting.
Big thanks to Claire for taking the time to talk to me! I took her advice on NYC to heart and ended up visiting the Shake Shack while I was there for BlogHer. It was awesome!
My personal favorite recipe that she shared was her Spinach Mushroom Mini Pizza.
Claire Robinson’s Mushroom & Spinach Mini Pizzas
Ingredients (makes 8 pizzas):
- 4 Arnold or Oroweat 100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Thins, separated
- 4 sundried tomatoes packed in oil; 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons of the oil
- 1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
- 8 ounces mushrooms, chopped (use any kind you like)
- 1 cup fresh baby spinach leaves, washed and dried
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 350°F. Toast Sandwich Thins halves just to light golden.
In a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil from the marinated sundried tomatoes over medium heat. Add mushrooms and cook until soft and moisture is released, about 5 to 7 minutes, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Meanwhile, pulse sundried tomatoes with 2 teaspoons of their oil in food processor until smooth and add ricotta. Pulse to incorporate and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Spread approximately 2 tablespoons of the sundried tomato and ricotta mixture on top of each toasted Sandwich Thins half. Top with a few baby spinach leaves and divide mushrooms between each. Place pizzas on a baking sheet and bake for 3 to 5 minutes to heat and infuse all the flavors.
Question: What is your favorite recipe with five ingredients or less?
Can’t wait to hear some delicious ideas! Hope you enjoyed the interview.