I recently attended a gorgeous garden dinner with a fresh, seasonal menu prepared by the terrific women who write the blog Loulies. Bettina (pictured on the right) and Suzanne served grilled beef tenderloin with piles of warm homemade corn tortillas, handmade sauces and grilled vegetables. I had to know how to make these tortillas! Luckily, I received a private lesson in my very own kitchen and am happy to now share what I’ve learned here with you.

Bettina Stern and Suzanne Simon write the delightfully clean, no nonsense cooking blog Loulies, where they share cooking wisdom and helpful tips, such as: Trust your taste and cook what you like. Have a smile, sense of humor, and a mix of ethnic and earthy. Be casual. Stretch to be stylish. Shorten the distance from soil to plate – foods in season are always the easiest to turn into a tasty meal. Pretty smart stuff, right?

Bettina’s love of food began when she was working summers as a chef and employee of Ina Garten’s Hamptons’ food shop, The Barefoot Contessa. She grew up in Manhattan where street food and gourmet dining were a big part of her life. The biggest influence on her cooking has been the nightly dinner table discussions, debates and arguments about food with her husband and three children.

Suzanne’s biggest influence is the farmers market. She is very picky when it comes to shopping, especially for meat, and choosing the right ingredients. She recognizes the overlap between our environment and what we eat and the importance of sustainability. She volunteers much of her time to healthy school lunch initiatives, school gardens and plant-based nutrition.

What three items are in your refrigerator at all times?

Greens (of any type: arugula, kale, chard, etc), miso, and chipotle en adobo sauce

What is your favorite thing to cook for your families?

Asian Noodles with Bok Choy and Green Beans

Penne with Quick Tomato Sausage Sauce

Indian Chicken Korma

Where do you get your inspiration?

Our inspiration comes from farmers markets, great cookbooks, traveling and the desire to eat well.

We wouldn’t be able to function in our kitchen without our…

Cast iron pans, Vitamix [blender] and good knives

Tell us about Loulies. How did you meet and what made you decide to begin working together?

Bettina and Suzanne met at a cocktail party many years ago and had a wonderful discussion about food and favorite cookbooks.  Bettina was in a cookbook club at the time and invited Suzanne to join.  They have been cooking together and sharing meals ever since.

How has writing Loulies changed meals at home?

Writing for Loulies has changed our style of cooking at home by helping us realize that there is a simplicity to good food and that following a recipe is not enough – the way you handle dough, the right moment to drain a pot of pasta, the touch and smell of things, these are just as important.

What were weeknight meals like when you were growing up? How has this experienced influenced your cooking today?

For Suzanne, weeknight meals were mostly around the dinner table. The food was basic Joy of Cooking-style. For Bettina, growing up in New York City, seeking out the best restaurants and finding inspiration from new flavors inspires her cooking.

You are sending a powerful message to your children in carefully choosing your food from local sources. What do you hope they will learn from observing your style of food procurement and home cooking?

For us, it is not just about local sources. It is also about well-grown or well-reared [foods] and trusting your source.  We try to use organic produce as much as possible, but this cannot always be achieved.  Food procurement and home cooking are personal decisions – the important thing is to be happy with your choice and to feel lucky to have a choice.

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