“This,” Molly Ringwald says, her fork dangling over the succulent-smelling roast chicken she’s just help prepare, “would be my last meal before prison — if that ever happens.”
The only thing that Ringwald might be guilty of is being busy. The ’80s teen movie icon (“The Breakfast Club,” “Sixteen Candles,” “Pretty In Pink”) is now a traveling jazz singer, an author, a wife and mother of three young girls, and “a bit of a foodie.”
During her recent two-night gig at Boca Raton’s JAZZIZ Nightlife, the 45-year-old Ringwald got to flex her musical and culinary muscles in the restaurant’s kitchen with chef Justin Flit. The occasional food writer helped make fresh pasta with black truffles and roasted chicken. The menu’s right up her alley: roast chicken is Ringwald’s “go-to” meal, and while she cooked with truffles often when she lived in France, she doesn’t get to work with them much now, because “my husband can’t stand them!”
Ringwald was very impressed with the restaurant’s Imperia pasta maker, on which she had her inaugural pasta-making lesson, learned secrets like adding some of the water the pasta was cooked in back into the dish as an emulsifier, how to properly truss a chicken and then finish the chicken in the 700-degree pizza oven.
“I bought a little hand-crank pasta maker for my kids for Christmas. I think I’m going to take it back and get one of those there!” she says later of the restaurant’s pasta maker.
Settling in to enjoy the meal she’d just made, Ringwald dished on life and food in a casual Q & A.
Q: I know roast chicken is something you cook often. There’s a video of you on Chow.com making your version, on which you’re very particular about the cleanliness of the oven.
A: (Laughs) Yes, you have to roast it at such high heat that you have to clean the oven really well or it will smoke.
Q: You seemed really taken with the restaurant’s pasta maker.
A: It’s great. I bought the hand crank kind for my kids for Christmas, because I thought it would be fun for them, but I might have to return that now!
Q: How long have you been cooking?
A: My whole life. My mom was always a really great cook — she went to professional chef training after I graduated — so I watched her.
Q: What’s your favorite thing to make?
A: I’m really a fancy chef. I’ll take two days to prepare a meal. My husband’s the get-it-on-the-table chef in our house. The last thing I made was coq au vin, served a flambé. The kids love it.
Q: As a foodie, do you think that there’s more good food out there, or that there’s a lot of inferior food masquerading as good food knowing that people will fall for it?
A: I think there’s been progress, on the whole. I think that when our government gets serious about things then inherently they do. I think the fact that things like Lunchables exist … they shouldn’t. We should not be training kids’ taste buds on Lunchables. That’s not food! And that results in our obesity problem that people fight their whole lives. We have to know that you can make things like mac and cheese healthier.
Q: What are the challenges of having a 10-year-old daughter who has decided to be a vegetarian?
A: It’s been a little difficult. When she was a baby she didn’t like meat, and now it’s “now I really don’t like it!” Kids like animals, only they still like bacon, until they realize it doesn’t come from bacon. (Laughs). She’s pretty limited (in what she eats) but I tell her ‘You’re only as limited as your imagination.’ She doesn’t necessarily like vegetables. I call her a pastatarian.
Q: You’re involved with an organization called L.A. Kitchen, that re-purposes discarded food for people who need it. Tell me about that.
A: I remember when my parents ran a restaurant. My mom would pack up everything and take it to a shelter herself. L.A. Kitchen is a well-organized group that gives hot, healthy meals.
Q: Do you have a favorite restaurant?
A: One of the best parts of traveling is getting to know restaurants where we are. Nashville has a really great food scene — I like Catbird Seat there. Comfort, in Richmond, Virginia, is a great restaurant.
Q: I know that you’re not only a cook, but a food writer as well. I read the funniest, most moving piece in Parade about your first date with your husband, Panio Gianopoulos, that you weren’t even sure was a date. You wrote about falling in love with his very garlicky tzatziki and being conscious of the garlic as you were flirting.
A: (Laughs) I still eat a lot of tzatziki, but with not as much garlic.
HOMEMADE TAGLIATELLE WITH BLACK WINTER TRUFFLES
This recipe was created by Jazziz Nightlife executive chef Justin Flit, who made this dish for Molly Ringwald in the restaurant’s kitchen. Watch the tutorial on video at MyPalmBeachPost.com/molly-video.
For pasta dough:
17 ½ ounces 00-type Caputo pasta flour
18 egg yolks
2 whole eggs
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons kosher salt
Semolina flour, for dusting pasta
3 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Black truffle shavings for garnish
Place flour in large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, combine yolks, whole eggs, olive oil and salt. Add to flour.
Using your hands, mix all ingredients until pasta dough starts forming. Knead by hand for 10 minutes until dough is shiny. Cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rest at room temperature for at least 1 hour.
Using pasta machine and pasta dough, start at highest setting on pasta machine and run the dough through the machine multiple times, making your way all the way down to lowest setting. You should be able to see your hands through the dough. Dust the dough with semolina flour if necessary to keep from sticking. (Watch the steps on video at MyPalmBeachPost.com/molly-video)
Using a pasta cutter or pizza wheel, cut pasta into long tagliatelle ribbons (about 1/4-inch wide). Freeze pasta in plastic bags until ready to use.
Bring pot of water to boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente.
Make the sauce:
In a saute pan combine 3 tablespoons butter, 2 tablespoons pasta water and a pinch of salt.
Place pasta in saute pan and add 4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan.
Place pasta in serving bowl, finish with more Parmesan and grate black truffles over pasta.
HERB ROASTED WHOLE CHICKEN WITH FINGERLING POTATOES AND ROSEMARY-SAGE GREMOLATA
Recipe courtesy of Jazziz Nightlife executive chef Justin Flit.
For rosemary-sage gremolata:
3 tablespoons fresh rosemary
3 tablespoons fresh sage
5 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
Chop all fresh herbs (use a sharp knife to prevent the herbs from turning brown).
Combine the herbs with the garlic, the lemon zest and juice, olive oil and salt in a mixing bowl, stirring to meld flavors. Reserve at room temperature if you plan on using it the same day.
For roasted fingerling potatoes:
2 pounds fingerling potatoes
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
5 ounces reserved rosemary-sage gremolata
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Rinse fingerling potatoes well and dry off. Cut potatoes in half and place in a mixing bowl with salt, black pepper and 5 ounces of the gremolata.
Place the seasoned potatoes on a sheet pan and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, depending on the size of the potatoes. You can serve potatoes immediately or allow to cool at room temperature.
For roasted whole chicken:
One 3 ½-pound free range chicken
4 tablespoons kosher salt
Maldon sea salt, for finishing
The night before: Place chicken on sheet pan with a rack and allow skin to dry out overnight in fridge.
The next day, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Season chicken with kosher salt and place in oven for 20 minutes. Rotate after 10 minutes for even cooking. After 20 minutes, drop oven temperature to 350 degrees and cook until chicken reaches internal temperature of 160 degrees. Allow chicken to rest for 10 minutes. Carve chicken beginning with legs, then carving breasts.
To serve: Place fingerling potatoes on plate, top with chicken and spoon gremolata over the chicken. Finish with Maldon sea salt.
SEE THE VIDEO
Watch Molly Ringwald make tagliatelle pasta with chef Justin Flit in the kitchen at Jazziz Nightlife in Boca Raton. You’ll find the video at MyPalmBeachPost.com/molly-video
Justin Flit is executive chef at Jazziz Nightlife. Sample his cooking at the Mizner Park restaurant and jazz lounge, located at 201 Plaza Real, Boca Raton. For reservations and more information, call 561-300-0730 or visit JazzizNightlife.com. Reservations also are available at OpenTable.com