Explain who you are and what you do.
My name is Christie Morrison. I’m the Senior Editor of Special Projects at America’s Test Kitchen in Boston, MA. My job is to create the curriculum for cooking classes on our online cooking school and with our various business partnerships. I teach many of those classes, and I’m also a cast member of our Cook’s Country television show.
What does a typical day look like to you?
If I’m going to work out, I need to do it in the morning or it just won’t happen (and I’m not a morning person by nature). Then it’s about an hour’s commute to work that I fill with podcasts or by reading cooking magazines. One of the best parts of my job is that I’m developing about 4 courses in various stages at any given time, so I don’t really have a daily routine. I might be researching one class while I’m writing a script for another, meeting with colleagues to discuss an upcoming video shoot, and editing a class to go live at just about the same time. I also like to stop by the test kitchen to see what the cooks are working on to get ideas for future classes.
I used to cook all day long as a test cook for Cook’s Country magazine, which meant I had to taste recipes all day and never wanted to cook at home. Now that I’m working on curriculum, I can’t wait to get home to experiment in the kitchen. It’s also given me a chance to develop a real interest in food styling and photography.
We really enjoy seeing the salads and hearty bowls you have created. What inspires you to maintain a healthy lifestyle?
Working around food every day is often a mixed bag. It’s so exciting to be surrounded by creative people and interesting dishes, but it can be really difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle. There’s always something cheesy or sweet to try, and cooking and tasting all day can really sap your energy. Since I don’t have to taste dishes as part of my job anymore, I’ve tried to make a real effort to bring a tasty, healthy lunch to work. I’m so glad you like the salads and bowls; they’ve become a fun outlet for me to try new recipes and play with colors and textures. Meal prepping on the weekend is crucial; I like to cook a few different proteins, grains, and vegetables so I have options during the week. I’ll mix and match the prepped food with raw and pickled vegetables, greens, nuts, and cheeses for a choose-your-own-adventure situation each day.
What is the best cooking advice you have ever received?
When in doubt, add acid. Learning to season dishes well can be a difficult; people are afraid to go too far, so they often underseason. The key is learning that seasoning doesn’t just mean salt and pepper. It’s usually a squeeze of lemon or a teaspoon of vinegar that makes a dish come alive.
What do you love about ramen?
It’s my kind of comfort food. Keep your mac and cheese, I say. I’ll take my noodles slightly chewy and swimming in a rich, savory broth. It’s a few simple components, but the flavor is complex. Plus, it’s a great base for adding toppings for texture and added flavor. The fact that it comes together quickly is an added bonus.
Where/from whom did you learn about cooking and how to make a great ramen bowl?
I didn’t really start cooking until after college, and then I learned from food magazines, cookbooks, and cooking shows. That sparked an interest that turned into a passion. I left my job and went to culinary school about 10 years ago, and I’ve been cooking professionally ever since. Living in Boston has given me opportunities to try some really good ramen; I’ve taken cues from bowls I’ve eaten and I’ve also been inspired by talented cooks and photographers on social media.
What is your favorite Mike’s Mighty Good ramen flavor and how do you make it?
I really haven’t come across a flavor I didn’t like, but I think my favorite might be the Pork Tonkotsu – the first flavor I tried. I topped it with roasted broccoli, baked tofu, sautéed mushrooms, fried shallots, a jammy egg, and a drizzle of homemade chili oil. That bowl set the tone, but I change it up every time I make it. The versatility is part of the fun.