• Jessamyn Waldman Rodriguez's Pantry •
Jessamyn Waldman Rodriguez is the founder and CEO of Hot Bread Kitchen- you know… the NY-based social enterprise that creates economic opportunity through careers in food? This org is everything we #pinefor: from their culinary training program to their delicious globally-inspired breads. We were lucky to step into Jessamyn’s home kitchen, and it’s a true reflection of her experience as an entrepreneur, bread baker, advocate for women, and mother. And her pantry is influenced by the inspiring immigrant women at HBK who have brought their culinary traditions with them to the US- it’s chock-full of colorful local and international foods, and (of course) a stellar bread basket to boot.
"We like to say Hot Bread Kitchen is the United Nations of Bread, and I feel like my kitchen is too. I’m influenced by my Jewish roots, my husband Eli’s Dominican heritage, the women from the 42 countries I have had the joy to work with at Hot Bread and, of course, all of the cookbooks that I read with voracious appetite. My style is many things at once: global and local, experimental and practical.
I am my most inspired when I am cooking for my friends and family. It is my happy place. I remember dishes from my childhood and travels-- I never forget a flavor. I’m lucky enough to be at the forefront of what’s happening in food thanks to the 70+ small entrepreneurs working out of HBK Incubates, so I’m always tasting something new and interesting.
markets & shopping
- There is nothing that makes me happier than finding a new hidden gem of a grocery store, a bodega with a particular national representation, or a get vendor at my local farmers market. When I travel, the first place I like to head is the local grocery store– it helps me understand what people are really eating. I visit the grocery section, check out the produce, and then, of course, spend a lot of time in the bakery. I learn so much that way.
- I moved to Queens (the borough of delicious) from Manhattan earlier this year and have been exploring tons of new options. On 108th Street in Forest Hills there is a strip of Central Asian and Bukharian (Russian Jewish) grocery stores and greengrocers. I play tennis at the USTA Tennis Center in Flushing Meadow Park on Sunday mornings and ALWAYS stop by on my way home. I love a good Jewish appetizing spread for a bargain, and the smoked, cheese, bread and pickles are all amazing. My favorite place is Carmel Grocery.
Haven’s Kitchen’s sauces are a great weeknight saver. Alison has truly created a NYC haven for food–and we’ve been lucky enough to place a few Hot Bread Kitchen graduates on her team!
I eat a lot of tahini—I make hummus from the Hot Bread Kitchen cookbook, salad dressing and, when I remember, love it over our grindstone rye with honey drizzled
We ALWAYS have leftover white rice and Dominican habichuelas (beans) in the fridge.
Hot Bread Kitchen tortillas made from nixtamal. These were one of the first products we ever made at Hot Bread Kitchen, and still one of my favorites. You can really taste the difference with corn freshly ground and nixtamalized masa. My daughter will not eat a flour tortilla or any other corn tortillas-- she can taste the preservatives and won’t touch ’em.
Good butter, of course. Unsalted for cooking, salted for toast.
Full fat yogurt for the kids–always plain, unless it is White Moustache! I love their sour cherry yogurt.
Tons and tons of fruit and veg.
We always have a stocked bread basket, of course! I’m constantly seeking out new breads (like triangular bread and other flatbreads from Gastronom.) My kids live on our Moroccan M’smen, so that’s a staple in our house.
If you’re making anything with good bread, you need good condiments—which is where Sir Kensington’s comes in!
Locally roasted Oslo Coffee, the only coffee my husband and I will drink! I do a good job with it, but when Eli makes the coffee, it is the best in the city.
Preserved fish is a must-- sardines or mackerel with a chopped salad is my dinner more often than I like to admit. I’m making whitefish salad for a brunch. I buy from family-owned New York-based Acme when I can.
Roasted unsalted cashews, almonds, rice crackers, and seaweed snacks are favorites for the kiddos
A variety of soba, vermicelli, and traditional Italian noodles and pastas
San Marzano tomatoes
We always have a few sweet treats– like Brazilian Brigadeiros from My Sweet, and Girl Scout cookies from my daughter’s recent cookie sale
A chef’s knife, of course—I love the Misen knife
A digital scale, a must for home and professional bakers
Standard wine key (the only way to open wine according to my husband, who works in the industry!)
Tostonera-- a wooden press that my husband and mother-in-law use to make tostones (delicious fried plantains)
Handheld coffee grinder + Chemex (hand grinding with a burr grinder results in the best cup of coffee and is a nice slow start to the day)
Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice was the book that I really dug into when I got started with the bakery. I used the copy I have to death when I was playing around in my home kitchen.
Claudia Rodin’s The Book of Jewish Food: I can read this for hours.
Pierre Thiam’s Modern Senegalese Recipes: When Chef Pierre joined our incubator back in 2011 and his cookbook is amazing. For passover I did two legs of lamb dibi style–you have to get his book to know what that means!
My friend and board member Gail Simmons’ beautiful new cookbook, Bringing it Home
The Hot Bread Kitchen cookbook: When I wrote the cookbook, which has been amazingly successful (we are now in the 5th reprint!) what I didn’t realize is how convenient it would be to have all of my favorite recipes in one place. I love having my family favorites alongside our baker’s favorites that I make all the time (like Nancy’s carnitas!)"
To Sum it Up:
pantry item she can't live without: Lentils and good canned tomatoes
one or two items that are always in her fridge: Tortillas and cheese for quesadillas
her go to inspiration cookbook: Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem. Doesn’t get old!
h ermost trusted kitchen tool: My instincts
5 adjectives that describe her pantry style: global, practical, flavor seeking, delicious, unprocessed.
her all time favorite market: I never meet a well-stocked market that I didn’t love. For everyday, Whole Foods is my go to, but we really need one in Queens! I love Union Square Greenmarket on a Saturday-- so much to buy, including Hot Bread Kitchen to stock up on my weekly grindstone rye and m’smen.
women in food she pines for: Naama Shefi, the founder of the Jewish Food Society, is doing such a great job getting a very cool non-profit established. My amazing board members, including Gail Simmons, Dana Cowin, Christina Tosi who help me all the time figure out all the time. And Mimi Sheraton, cuz who doesn’t?
her favorite music to jam out to in the kitchen: I am too often listening to NPR trying to catch up on the news, but, when I cook I love listening to Cuban legend Celia Cruz. We have an Amazon Alexa in the kitchen and my kids are always asking her to switch it up, so I end up listening to more Katy Perry and Disney than I would like.