Billy and Krista have been married for four years and both of them enjoy being creative in the kitchen.
Cooking since the age of 12, Krista says that her parents taught her the ways around the kitchen.
“I remember standing in the kitchen growing up and asking a lot of questions,” shares Krista.
Now that she is married, she adds that her mother-in-law, Linda Thomason, has been a nice added resource, and has also been a cooking asset to Billy, who has been cooking since entering his college years at UGA.
“Mom taught me the basics to survive,” admits Billy. “She was always worried I wouldn’t be able to feed myself.”
Over the years, he attempted many “copy-cat” recipes of his favorite restaurants and always tried to perfect them.
Billy’s favorite attempt was a creamed spinach dip recipe that was inspired by a chef, Victor Chavez, in New York City many years ago.
Billy travels to New York occasionally and during one trip, a co-worker suggested trying the spinach dip at Smith & Wollensky. Billy ordered the dip and fell in love with it.
Last Thanksgiving, his mother had asked him to bring a side dish to the family event and Billy searched and searched for a copy cat recipe to the perfection he had tasted at the restaurant.
When he ran out of luck on his hunt, Billy finally decided to call the restaurant himself and request the recipe.
He explained that he was from a small town in Georgia and wanted to make the delicious dip for his family for the holidays.
The employee refused to give out the recipe himself but suggested to call the head chef to ask him for permission to share his brilliance.
Billy contacted Chavez who was so flattered that he decided to share his masterpiece.
Billy attempted to make it but had to scale the ingredients down to a family portion size instead of restaurant quantity.
Billy admits that it wasn’t quite the perfection that he tasted in New York City but it was close.
The Thomason’s made sure to pass along their cooking knowledge to their children.
They admit that the oldest son, who is now out on his own, can cook just about anything and their daughter is learning her way around the kitchen as well.
They also shared that their four-year-old son knows how to crack eggs and help cook a few things, including banana bread.
The couple agrees that Krista is the main chef in their household, but on the weekends when Billy gets tired of looking at the T.V. screen, he will find his way into the kitchen or outside to the grill.
Regardless of who cooks, the family gathers together at the dinner table each evening to enjoy what has been created in the kitchen.
When Krista isn’t cooking, she’s cleaning or grocery shopping with her mother-in-law and Billy is playing video games or spending time with the family.
The couple still finds time to have date nights in which they will attend various sporting events or the occasional movie. “We have no life outside of our family,” laughs Billy.
Today, the couple is sharing their recipes of “Billy’s Creamed Spinach Recipe” and “5 Point Pork Chops”.
To nominate someone for cook of the week, email Tasha at firstname.lastname@example.org.
5 Point Pork Chops Five Point because there are 5 ingredients in the marinade
6-8 pork chops (I prefer bone-in, about 1 inch thick)
1 green onion/scallion per pork chop
1 large (14 oz) can crushed pineapple in juice (not syrup)
1-4 jalapeño peppers (depending on desired spiciness)
1/3 cup- ½ cup soy sauce
Lots of ginger (fresh is best, 2 large roots worth!) or dried works too…don’t be shy; you can’t get them too gingery.
Combine all scallions, pineapple, jalapeños, soy sauce and ginger in food processor or blender. Chop it all up until it looks like greenish brown mush. If you like it spicy, use about one half of a fresh jalapeño per chop and don’t de-seed them. If you prefer less spicy, core and de-seed the jalapeños before adding to the mix. The more ginger, the better. For best taste, use freshly peeled ginger root and lots of it. Place the chops in a dish/container or two zip lock bags and completely cover with the marinade mixture. Cover the dish/seal container or zip the bags and refrigerate over night…the longer you soak the chops, the more flavorful they become.
When it’s time to cook them, pre-heat your grill to medium-high heat. Put the chops on heated grill for 4-6 minutes each side (time depends on thickness). Put some of the excess marinade on them while they are cooking on the grill and discard the rest. Once they are done, let them rest for about 5 minutes to finish cooking and redistribute the juices. Scrape off any marinade that might be piled on them and enjoy!
Billy’s Creamed Spinach Recipe Inspired by Chef Victor Chavez at Smith & Wollensky, NYC
1 ½ stick butter
1 small finely chopped onion
1 to 1 ½ cup finely chopped shallot
1 teaspoon minced garlic
½ cup flour
½ gallon half and half or milk- scalded (slowly heated to below boiling)
1 teaspoon nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
5 lbs fresh spinach- chopped or torn
Heat the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions, shallots and garlic. Cook until soft. Whisk in flour and cook for 2-3 minutes, not allowing mixture to obtain any color. Whisk in warm milk and cook until thickened. Season with nutmeg and salt/pepper to taste. Keep warm until ready to use.
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the spinach and cook for 2 minutes. Blanche with ice water. Drain in a fine mesh strainer, pressing with a large spoon to release as much water as possible. Return to pot. Add cream sauce and cook until flavors meld, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
*Don’t be stingy with the shallot! Makes about 8 servings (the spinach really cooks down)