Khoi Vinh


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AS DESIGN
DIRECTOR

of the New York Times website,
Khoi Vinh has set the standard for extending print publications to the
online world. He draws a parallel between cooking and learning how to
design and code on the web: “A little bit of knowledge and
skill leads to more and more, and as you acquire more advanced
techniques, you start to think about how to bring out the artfulness
inherent in the
medium.”

 
Q&A
Where did you buy your ingredients for this dish?
The turkey sausage is from the Greenmarket in Brooklyn

 

Is that the place you usually buy food,
or did you make a special trip?

I go there on the weekends, not every weekend but often enough, to buy select provisions.
 

If it’s your regular haunt, is there
something you really love (or hate!) about it?

Well
it’s only open on sporadic days, so that’s an annoyance. In fact, there
are two green markets near me—Prospect Park and Fort Greene Park—but
they’re both open on Saturdays and closed on Sundays, which I think is
terribly inefficient. I wish one were open Saturday and the other
Sunday. Anyway, that’s my one gripe.
 

Is this a dish you often make?

I
make it pretty often because it’s easy, fast and, in my mind anyway,
qualifies as real cooking.
 

Do you cook often?

I
try to cook at least two or three times a week. We live in a part of
town where there aren’t that many nearby restaurants, plus I really
burned out on the wasteful ritual of ordering delivery, so I like to
cook when I can.
 

Do you draw any connection between the
food you like to make and the kind of design you do? Is your approach
to one similar at all to yourapproach to the other?

Heh, that’s kind of a question for a
psychoanalyst. If I had to venture a guess, I would say that the link
is that the dish is very basic, simple and, I like to think, fairly
elegant. It’s incredibly not fussy.
 

When and how did you first learn to cook? Who taught you?
Living
in New York, I made it a habit for years to order in, night after
night. At some point, I tired of the waste—both all of the materials
necessary to package food for delivery and the cost—and I just couldn’t
do it anymore. So I started picking up really simple recipes here and
there and building a repertoire of dishes that I could make on my own
at home, quickly, easily and cheaply. This was over the past three
years or so.

 
Then, my girlfriend and I moved out to
a wonderful neighborhood in Brooklyn that was not particularly well
stocked with restaurants, so that just exacerbated the need to learn
how to prepare a greater number of dishes at home. We cook a lot
together (she has far more culinary experience than I do), which is
fun. I also like to try new dishes and try and push my skills a little
further with each one. It used to be that most every recipe seemed too
bewildering and ambitious for me. Now, a lot of new recipes seem more
manageable; instead of being intimidated, my attitude is “I can
probably figure that out.”

 
Subtraction.com-style Rigatoni and Turkey
Sausage
“It’s basically my own
recipe adapted from various other recipes and trial and error. I make
it pretty often because it’s easy, fast and, in my mind anyway,
qualifies as real cooking.”
 
INGREDIENTS
  • 24 oz. grape tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 lb. turkey sausage (loose), spicy or sweet
  • 1/2 lb. mezzi rigatoni
  • Fresh-ground sea salt and fresh-ground black pepper
  • Romano cheese
PREPARATION
  1. Cook
    pasta according to instructions on package—less 2 minutes so that they
    remain extra al dente (pasta will go back on heat later). Drain, then
    flush with cold water to stop from cooking further for now.
  2. Heat olive oil in large, deep skillet about a minute on high, then turn heat to medium.
  3. After
    a minute, add garlic and let cook until edges start to turn brown. Add
    turkey sausage and stir/spread with spoon so that it breaks up. Cook
    approx 5 minutes until it starts to brown.
  4. Add
    tomatoes, cook for approx 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until
    tomatoes begin to break down (firmness is gone) and thicken.
  5. Add
    pasta, additional teaspoon of olive oil into skillet, stir/turn pasta
    until fully coated inside and outside. Should take about 2 mins. This
    ‘bonds’ the flavor to the pasta.
  6. Distribute
    to bowls/plates, grate cheese on top and add pepper to taste. Add just
    a very small pinch of sea salt on top.

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