We had the pleasure of meeting Ana Quincoces, chef, cookbook author, and Season two Real Housewives of Miami cast member, at our local Fresh Market recently.
She was there to promote her first kitchen product in the market, a versatile marinade that's low in calories, gluten-free and lick-your-fingers good. Ana was cool and collected while multitasking - something she is no stranger to! As she grilled up some tender skirt steaks that had been swimming in her lovely "Million Dollar Marinade" for a few hours, she also greeted fans, posed for pictures and very willingly granted an interview with us. She even gave us some tips on how to launch our own cookbook - our lifelong dream!
5 tablespoons of Million Dollar Marinade
2 Pork Chops
1 tablespoon of olive oil
3 tablespoons of heavy cream
2 tablespoons of water
1 tablespoon of whole grain mustard
1 tablespoon of dijon mustard
Place the pork chops in a bowl and cover with 4 tablespoons of the million dollar marinade. Turn the pork chops over a few times to coat completely. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-4 hours. The longer it marinates, the better!
Take the pork chops out of the refrigerator. Place a pan over medium heat on the stove and add one tablespoon of olive oil to the pan. Once the oil is hot, carefully place the pork chops in the pan.
Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side. You may need to cook them a little bit more if they are thick pork chops. Ours were on the thin side. Once they are cooked, take them out of the pan and allow them to sit on a plate or platter to rest.
To make the sauce, add one more tablespoon of marinade, whole grain mustard, dijon mustard, heavy cream and water to the pan while whisking. Cook for a few more minutes until it is warmed through. Serve over the top of the pork chops and eat!
Questions and Answers with Ana Quincoces
Q: What do you do to stay fit while being a chef and being around food?
A: I really don't eat that much food but I do have an insatiable sweet tooth. So it balances itself out. I do Pilates regularly. Beba is the best trainer in the world and has a gym in the garage. A couple times of week she puts me through her rigorous routine. You know what? I really don't obsess about it. I embrace my curves, I am Latin. I don't want to look super thin and emaciated.
Why deprive yourself of food? I love food! The most important thing is to enjoy your life and for me food is a major part of that enjoyment. To be honest, I really love to cook more than I love to eat.
You may find this crazy, but I rarely eat food that I make. Everyone finds that hard to believe. I always have people over my house and I make huge brunches and 10 course meals and I hardly eat but I always have dessert.
Q: What do you love about cooking?
A: I don't know if it's Latin thing or a Cuban thing but it's part of that nurturing gene that we are born with. Feeding people is one of the greatest acts of love! You are giving them something that they are putting inside of their body.
Q: Who was your culinary inspiration?
A: My Mom! My mom's house was Grand Central Station, everybody came there for every occasion, Christmas, Ground Hog Day, it didn't matter! I like that feeling of having a house full of life, cooking, the smell of food and love. I always prefer to eat at home then going out. I love going out to restaurants but to have everyone over while you are cooking is just great.
Q: What do you think about young peoples new found interest in cooking?
A: I am surprised by the younger generation. They really like to cook. My girls love to cook. A few years ago it used to be that people took pride in saying that they could only do dinner reservations. Now if someone says that, its almost embarrassing! Now people see cooking as one more thing that they know how to do. It makes you more, not less! It's an art-form!
When you have people over, get them to help you in the kitchen. People love to be involved in the cooking. Get them to chop something. They feel pride in what they contributed to the meal.
Q: Is the "Million Dollar Marinade" your first product?
A: Yes, this is my first product. It's such a versatile product. I am sure people will love it. It is low calorie, gluten free and also make a great bases for sauces or homemade salad dressings.
Q: Where can people purchase your "Million Dollar Marinade?"
A: Currently it is available in 6 Fresh Markets in the Miami area. (Pembroke Pines, Coral Springs, Aventura, Coconut Grove, Miami Beach, The Falls). It will also be sold on my website www.anaquincoces.com starting on September 5, 2013.
Q: What other products do you have in the works?
A: I have a seasoned salt that is coming out later in the year.
I am currently working on a jarred "sofrito". The Million Dollar Marinade is great to marinade meats but i want a product that's great to braise in or use in the slower cooker. My idea is basically to have courage in a bottle or jar. People are sometimes so afraid to cook! Its important to feel empowered in the kitchen. What's the worse that can happen? If it doesn't come out good, just order pizza.
If you don't love cooking, it's not going to come out good. If you put love into it, you won't fail.
Q:What is you favorite dessert?
A: Cream cheese frosting! Whatever is a vehicle for more cream cheese frosting. So carrot cake and red velvet.
Q: What is your favorite Cuban dish?
A: Ropa vieja for sure!
Q: We saw your tweets and posts on social media that you were working on a Versailles Restaurant Cookbook. What is the status of the book and when can we expect to see it on shelves?
A: I just finished it and we just did the photography. It's going to come out in the spring of 2014. The book is great and it's going to be a beautiful book! I am very excited about this project! Versailles is iconic! It is a tourist destination and the staple of Cuban food in Miami.
Q: We need to know! Is the croqueta recipe in the book?
A: Yes! The croqueta recipe is the book.
Q: How did the idea of a Versailles Cookbook come about?
A: I have been friends with the owners for a very long time. I celebrated every ballet recital, communion or major event at Versailles. The owner threw a party for me when I won "Hottest Chef in Miami" back in 2011. At that party, I mentioned to them, that they should do a cookbook and it all started from there.
This cookbook is more than just recipes, there is some history and short stories. It was really allot a fun to write. It was harder to write this cookbook than a regular cookbook because the recipes had to be scaled down so the home cook can replicate the recipes.
(Sarah Ann Jimenez, Ana Quincoces and Beba Rodriguez)