Our Ashley Covelli interview is a great source of inspiration for anyone who has ever considered taking their cooking to the next level. In this interview, Ashley tells all about how she started her cooking blog, and shares with us some great cooking tips and tricks!
1. How did you start your website? What inspired you to create it?
I started Big Flavors from a Tiny Kitchen back in 2006 as a creative outlet after a long day at my graphic design job. I wasn’t feeling creatively fulfilled at work, and I figured since we had to eat, I may as well try to make it look pretty and photograph it.
Big Flavors started out as a place for me to record the meals that I cooked at home and share my successes (and failures!) with my friends and family who lived across the country from me. As my confidence in the kitchen grew, I began experimenting with new ingredients and flavor combinations and eventually started developing my own recipes.
2. What recipe do you like to cook the most?
I don’t repeat recipes too often, but one of the ones that I probably make the most often is my version of my grandma’s deviled eggs. I have mayo-free and French-inspired versions as well. Deviled eggs are always a fun party dish, and they bring back great childhood memories for me.
3. Which is your favorite kitchen tool?
Instant Pot, hands down! It’s one of the few kitchen gadgets that I bought years ago and still use multiple times per week. I use it for everything from cooking eggs to steaming rice, making French dip sandwiches, pot roast, mashed potatoes, lamb shanks, yogurt, and more.
I have a lot of Instant Pot recipes on Big Flavors and am constantly working on developing and adding more. It’s seriously one of the best investments I’ve made. And it isn’t very expensive at all – and it goes on sale on Amazon quite often.
4. Which is the best cooking advice you’ve ever heard?
Always crack eggs into a separate dish (one at a time) before adding them to a recipe. Not only is it great for making sure you don’t get any shells in there, but if you’ve ever had the misfortune of getting a rotten egg, you’ll know why this is so important. It’s happened to me 3 times in my life, and the smell is not something I’ll ever forget!
You can’t tell from the outside of the egg if it’s rotten, but once you crack it the smell is the most revolting thing you can imagine. If you had cracked the egg and added it right into your cookie dough (or whatever you’re making), you’d have to toss the whole thing and start over. So I always take the time to crack it into a bowl before adding it into my recipe.
5. What does a healthy meal mean for you?
It’s all about balance. I try to cook with real foods and ingredients that are recognizable. We eat a lot of fruits and veggies and do a mix of meaty and meatless meals. I shop for fresh, in-season produce when I can, but I won’t shy away from buying or preparing decadent treats occasionally as well. I’m not above fast food for dinner or ice cream for dessert. Everything in moderation!
6. Which chefs or cooking bloggers inspire you the most?
7. Which is your favorite ingredient?
That’s tough – I really do like a wide variety of foods and cuisines! Cinnamon is a good one – there are lots of different varieties of cinnamon (Vietnamese, for instance, is spicier than “standard” cinnamon) and it’s great in savory dishes.
I added cinnamon to the Instant Pot Persian Beef and Celery Stew that I made a few weeks ago and it really added a nice depth of flavor. If you’re ever at a spice shop that offers multiple varieties of cinnamon, take your time and smell them and notice the differences between each one. It’s really fascinating!